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 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.
A selection of the star species to see 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, Purple-edged Copper, Scarce Copper, Great Sooty Satyr, Alpine Argus, Amanda’s Blue, Mountain Alcon Blue, Meleager’s Blue and Duke of Burgundy.
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, although we will explore only up to about 2,000m altitude.
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.