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Butterflies of the French Alps

 

Dates & Prices

BOOK HOLIDAY NOW

Dates: 30 June – 7 July 2018

Price: £1,295

Single Room Supplement: £100

Deposit: £150 per person


Price Includes: All meals, accommodation with private facilities and air con, ground transport, services of guides, printed & bound holiday report and donation to Butterfly Conservation

Not Included: Flights, travel insurance, drinks and any other personal items

Conservation Donation: 10% of profits donated to Butterfly Conservation

Leader: David Moore + second guide for larger groups

Group Size: Minimum of 4 and a maximum of 12 guests plus 1-2 leaders.

Grade: Gentle pace in mountain terrain. Ideally suited for photography

Holiday Highlights


  • See 100+ butterfly species in a week – more than 115 in 2015 & 2016 without rushing around!
  • Special species – Glandon Blue, Mountain Fritillary, Peak White, Apollo, Small Apollo, Safflower Skipper, Large Blue, Purple-edged Copper, Mountain Clouded Yellow, Alpine Heath and many more!
  • Stunning scenery and rich flora & fauna of the Alpes-Maritimes & Alpes de Haute Provence
  • Enjoy a wealth of alpine flora and birdlife too!
  • Plenty of time to enjoy the butterflies & flowers, for recording, photography and just to sit and enjoy!
  • Contribute to Butterfly Conservation – that’s our observe & conserve pledge!

Explore the stunning mountain scenery of the French Alps & discover a treasure trove of butterflies and alpine flora!

BOOK HOLIDAY NOW


Explore the stunning mountain scenery of the French Alps & discover a treasure trove of butterflies and alpine flora!

france-map

This is a 2 centre butterflying holiday, set amidst magnificent scenery in an unspoilt part of France, where there is a richness of butterflies – both in terms of species diversity and the numbers of butterflies themselves. This is one of our most popular and very successful tours, led again this year by David Moore. David knows France very well for its butterflies and he also speaks fluent French, a handy bonus! David has been visiting and studying the Alps for several years and as such his knowledge of the area and its butterflies is superb and he will be showing us some of the best butterfly hot spots as we search for the areas key species. David is also on the team of the ever popular UK Butterflies online community, where he is an active member and also coordinates the identification service element of the site.

The Mercantour National Park is one of the richest butterfly regions in Europe, with over 150 species recorded from the immediate locality. It is also home to over 2,000 species of flowering plants, 400 of which are endemic to the region. They include the iconic Martagon Lily (Lilium martagon) and a number of species of Houseleek (Sempervivum) and Gentian (Gentiana).

The other wildlife of the Mercantour is equally rich. Several thousand Chamois live in the park and are frequently seen. Marmots are fairly common and easily seen at higher altitudes. Birds include Golden and Short-toed Eagle and Common and Honey Buzzards.

In the Mercantour we will be located in a lovely small hamlet, surrounded by rich butterfly habitat. In mid-July the species diversity is at its peak and it is quite possible to see over 40 species within a short walk from the hotel (our group in 2014 saw 63 species there on the first day!). The location provides access to the Tinée valley and eastwards to the Valdeblore region and onward to the Vésubie valley. We shall be visiting a number of species “hot-spots” from this base, ranging in altitudes of 900m to 2,000m and beyond 2,300m. We will also visit the higher reaches of the Tinée valley which leads ultimately to the Col de la Bonnette, the highest road pass in Europe at just over 2,800m.

The Alpes de Haute Provence is a rugged and unspoiled region of the southern French Alps. We will be located in a small hamlet of which provides a convenient base from which to explore the Col des Champs to the west and the Col de la Cayolle to the north. These regions are almost totally unspoilt, with almost no human habitation and very limited farming. The routes to both of these Cols offer a number of convenient stopping points from which to explore and see the species that occur at different altitudes along the way.

A selection of the star butterfly species to see during the holiday include Glandon Blue, Titania’s Fritillary, Mountain Fritillary, Apollo, Small Apollo, Mountain Clouded Yellow, Safflower Skipper, Silver-spotted Skipper, Carline Skipper, Shepherd’s Fritillary, Weaver’s Fritillary, Mountain Green-veined White, Darwin’s Heath, Alpine Heath, Large Ringlet, Piedmont Ringlet, Peak White, Large Blue, Alpine Blue, Purple-edged Copper, Scarce Copper, Great Sooty Satyr, Alpine Argus, Amanda’s Blue, Mountain Alcon Blue, Meleager’s Blue and Duke of Burgundy.clouded apollo

The combination of the loftiest peaks of over 3,000 m in proximity with the Mediterranean sea has created an area with the richest  flora of any part of France with over 2,600 species. It is the  meeting point for many different habitats such as alpine, subalpine, Apennine, Mediterranean and middle European plants.  During the ice ages, the tops of these mountains close to the sea remained clear of ice, sheltering a large number of plants which otherwise would no longer exist today. The geological diversity of the region and the close proximity of calcareous and siliceous substrates has also contributed with the richness of the flora.

Fine alpine meadows are home to Gentians, Potentillas,  Phyteuma, Campanulas, Pedicularis, Violas, Vanilla orchids and Lilum bulbiferum. Mediterranean drier areas host Pyramidal orchids, Lizard Orchids, Dianthus, Psoralea bituminosa, Xeranthemun and Helichrysum. River-side meadows host Armeria alpina, Geranium macrorrhisum, Malva moschata, Erigeron and many species of Trifolium. Rocky areas are home to Sempervivum, Sedums and Saxifragas.

Day 1: Arrival at Nice airport and transfer to hotel. Local excursion if time permits.

Day 2-4: Exploration of Mercantour National Park.

Day 5: Transfer to Alpes de Haute Provence (organised stops en route)

Day 6-7: Exploration of Alpes de Haute  Provence.

Day 8: Transfer to Nice.

Peter & Janet…I would say immediately a great trip, the group was really terrific, excellent interaction and our guides absolutely first rate as were the sites we visited and the assistance given by one and all. Our dearly beloved leader Roger was outstanding and if he is runs a trip for Greenwings next year you can put my name down now!

Elaine and John…We had a perfect Greenwings holiday in the French Alps, with wonderful scenery and an amazing array of butterflies. The guides were helpful and very knowledgeable, the hotels comfortable and the door-to-door transport excellent, all topped off by a superb photographic trip report. We loved this holiday and can’t wait to go again with Greenwings!

Dave M…This was the first time I’d been on an organised wildlife holiday. As a result expectations are dependent on more than those applicable to an ‘ordinary’ leisure holiday. After all, if the wildlife disappoints, then no matter how good the organisation, accommodation, travelling, etc, then ultimately the trip will prove decidedly unfulfilling.

Well, no such problems with this Greenwings expedition to the French Alps. You just KNOW that when time becomes an inconsequential dimension that you’re having a good holiday. This trip exceeded expectations for many reasons.

Not only was the planning executed magnificently but the wealth and variety of species encountered combined with the knowledge and conviviality of the guides meant that the trip turned into something far greater than I had dared to anticipate.

Well over 100 species of butterfly were seen, including several ‘iconic’ ones. What’s more, the leader’s intimate knowledge of the local terrain proved as illuminating as it was productive. Where else could you find someone who could drive you to a dung heap in an isolated area of the French Alps where so many rare and precious butterfly species could be seen in such numbers?

Every site visited was wholly different from the others, and as such, the species range just kept growing and growing. Butterflies apart, there were amazing sights to behold – marmots, chamois, lizards, golden eagles, vultures, rare alpine plants….the list is practically endless.

With group sizes limited, you feel at times as though you have your own personal tutor! Overall, well worth the money – had I tried to see so many species independently it’d have probably taken me over a month (and cost me a lot more)!

If you wish to cram as much as you can into a short period and be in the safe and reliable hands of people who know EXACTLY what they’re doing, then I can’t recommend Greenwings enough. I’ll definitely be using them again…..the sooner the better!

Dave W…The French Alps trip in July 2014 was an absolutely magical week in the company of like-minded guests and two brilliant guides. The whole holiday was just superb. I can’t wait for Provence 2015!

 

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