In Mercantour National Park, "Alpes Azur Mercantour" is a land of exceptional astronomy, acknowledged since the end of the 19th century. In 2019, the territory even joined the restricted circle of the fourteen International Dark Sky Reserves renowned in the world.
During your stay in Mercantour National Park, the quality of the night skies can’t leave you feeling unmoved. The "Alpes Azur Mercantour" territory has indeed been recognised as an International Dark Sky Reserve. It is the third such reserve in France, after the Pic du Midi de Bigorre in the Pyrenees National Park and the reserve in Cevennes National Park.
A wide range of hikes and activities are available for discovering the nightlife and secrets of the Milky Way. On the agenda: night hiking with a mountain guide, snowshoe walking in winter and static observation. You will be spoilt for choice in ways for marvelling at the starry skies, an exceptional experience in Mercantour!
Emblematic sites welcome you
From the Calern plateau to the heights of Mount Mounier, via the Aspre summit, the Bonette-Restefond pass and the Moutière valley, Mercantour National Park has countless emblematic sites for stargazing. Some of them still welcome many astronomers, both professionals and amateurs, who find here the ideal conditions for their research, discovery, awareness-raising and educational activities.
Let the moon shine on you, in summer like winter
The moon plays a beautiful role in Mercantour's nature whatever the season. In winter, you will see it at night as in daylight through its reflection on the snow cover. In summer, the moonrise at sunset will leave you with unforgettable memories. In Mercantour, you will find the purity of magical skies in exceptional observation conditions, filled with stars and constellations, typical of mountain environments far from cities and light pollution.
Lure yourself in a sporty hike on Mount Mounier
From the top of its 2,817 metre-height, Mount Mounier is found in-between the Var and Tinée valleys. A majestic summit, it gives out breath-taking views for hikers and puts them in the footsteps of the fabulous history of Alpes-Maritimes astronomy. Raphaël Bischoffsheim built an observatory there in 1893, a one-off operation at the time. Destroyed twice by fire, then rebuilt, and finally abandoned, all that remains today are the ruins.
Aspre summit: an open-air shelter in the mountains
A path leads to Aspre summit from the magnificent hamlet of Les Tourres. Capping at 2,471 metres, this summit stands well to its name. Nothing grows on this austere, wind-beaten summit, except for the remains of an old observatory which would have been used for experimenting with the installation of a telescope; proof of pure skies. In the summer of 2008, several improvements were made to offer visitors a small open-air shelter on the mountains.