Hiking the "Valley of Wonders" in Mercantour National Park

Detailed engravings carved into stone by early humans
The Provence region of southeastern France is known for its beautiful and high-class destinations along the French Riviera. However, outdoor enthusiasts will be pleased to learn there's also plenty of nature excursions in the region. One great outing that combines world-class hiking with fascinating archeological history is found in the southern Alps of Mercantour National Park, at what's known as the Vallée des Merveilles ("Valley of Wonders"). A two-day guided hike of this area reveals the valley's secrets. 

The excursion begins in the town of Tende, located at the base of the Alps near the border with Italy. After meeting your guide, you'll embark deep into the park, journeying through stunning mountain passes and green alpine forests. There's even time for a picnic lunch on the shores of a glacial lake that leads into the Vallée des Merveilles.

After dropping off your heavier gear at a mountain refuge, you'll continue on to the petroglyph zone. It's an incredible site; there are around 40,000 stone engravings in this area, which were done by humans of the late-Neolithic era over 5,000 years ago. They feature representations of men and bulls as well as geometric shapes and even weapons like daggers and halberds. The guide will always be on hand to explain any hard-to-decipher images as well as contextualize the experience by summarizing the archeological history of the area. 

After viewing the petroglyphs, it will be time to return to the refuge. All told, this is a medium-difficulty trek that involves 5-6 hours of hiking.

Tours that Include Hiking the "Valley of Wonders" in Mercantour National Park

Rock engravings in the heart of the Merveille Valley
Map of Southern Alps and the French Riviera: Hiking & Culture Tour - 4 Days
Southern Alps and the French Riviera: Hiking & Culture Tour - 4 Days

On this nature and culture tour, you'll experience the best of the Southern Alps and French Riviera, famous for their alpine scenery and Mediterranean coastal beauty. Over three days, you'll discover the historic city of Nice, the valleys of Mercantour National Park, ancient petroglyphs, and much more.