Thank heavens there seems to be more of a willingness to co-operate – between the French and Italian side of the “Mercantour” that is!! The Mercantour spills over into the Parco Naturale Alpi Marittime ...which even on cross border maps has been a big “void” the other side of the border. The PNAM was created in 1995, thanks to the merger of the Argentera Natural Park (1980) and the Riserva del Bosco dei Laghi di e Palanfré (1979 ).
It is a parc sans frontières for sure which shares many economic and cultural ties. Since 1984 there have been efforts to work together across the 35km border to jointly protect and develop the beautiful mass of over 100,000 hectares. It is one of the largest National Parks in Italy with of course the same natural beauty and richness of flora and fauna that is found in the Mercantour, and climbing Argentera at just under 3300m is not to be sniffed at.
The Park was given a slightly different flavour thanks to the hunting exploits of King Victor Emanuel II, with much of the terrain criss-crossed with mule tracks. These mules carrying the “support” team of up to 200-300 trackers - the entourage of the King.
In later times, the old paths of the Salt Route were bolstered with military installations as Italy sought to beef up its border prior to WWII. The legacy of this is not pretty but interesting in military history terms.
The frontier is easily reached from the French side via the Col de Fenestre and you can be rewarded for your exploits in reaching the “divide” by dropping down for a well deserved dip in thermal baths at Termi di Valdieri, or enjoy the wolf park at Entraque.
Spacebetween run short break holidays on horse and on foot across the border into Italy.
Website - http://www.parks.it/parco.alpi.marittime