Climb to the peaks, dream by a lake, surprise wild animals … in the mountain natural parks, adventure is at the end of the road. A big breath of fresh air.
In Reunion, three circuses and the Moon
It is said to be not very shy but the tec-tec, one of the endemic birds of Reunion, is rather very interested. He feasts on the insects that we unearth while walking. The papangue is really wild, you have to look up to see the only raptor in Réunion National Park, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In Salazie, to the east, the mountains are covered with chouchou (cristophine), a vegetable popular in Reunionese cuisine. In Mafate, in the center, the most isolated of the circuses, the islets (hamlets nestled on the plateaus) are havens of peace. In Cilaos, to the south, the Piton des neiges (3,070 m) attracts everyone. Don’t miss the sunrise at the top. Not to mention the Piton de la Fournaise (2,632 m), the active volcano on the island that you climb through the plain of sands. There, we have the impression of walking on the Moon.
The Maison du Parc in the Plaine des Palmistes, tel. : 02-62-90-11-35. Reunion-parcnational.fr
In the Mercantour, high-altitude lakes and rock engravings
From the highest peak, Gélas (3,143 m), to the Mediterranean, it’s just under 40 kilometers as the crow flies. The Mercantour National Park is the Alps that plunge into the sea. A proximity that gives this territory all its geological wealth, a crystalline massif and exceptional biodiversity. More than half of the flora species recorded in France grow here. The Valley of Wonders, located between 2,000 and 3,000 meters, is one of the best known sites, engravings dating from the Bronze Age are inscribed on large slabs of schist. Other breathtaking landscapes complete this alpine journey, such as the high-altitude lakes where stone pines and larches reign supreme. That of Allos (2,230 m) is known to be the highest natural lake in Europe.
Mercantour Natural Park, Tel. : 04-93-16-78-88, Mercantour-parcnational.fr
In the Ecrins, from glaciers to flowery meadows
Briançonnais, Valloise, Oisans, names of evocative valleys often associated with the conquest of the high summits. And not without reason, the Ecrins National Park is the second place for mountaineering in the Alps after Chamonix. The dream for lovers of high mountains, climbing and ridge races. A park with very different atmospheres in the north and in the south. South side, we approach the Mediterranean with vegetation and a southern climate. The Serre-Ponçon lake (780 m) is one of its treasures. In the north, high mountain atmosphere: jagged peaks, glaciers and flower meadows with the Meije (3,983 m) and the Grande Barre des Ecrins (4,102 m). Without forgetting the novelty of this summer: from July 15, it will be possible to make the great tour of the Ecrins by mountain bike, 400 kilometers of paths to discover the seven valleys of the park.
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