My unforgettable encounter with the Mercantour wolves

My unforgettable encounter with the Mercantour wolves

Want to see wild animals in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region? Take a family or couple out to meet the wolves of the Mercantour.


We often associate the Côte d’Azur to rhinestones, glitter, jetset, luxury and the Cannes festival, which is quite true. But did you know that there’s another, more authentic Côte d’Azur? I’m taking you into the hinterland, close to the mountains and pretty little villages clinging to promontories, embedded in valleys. There are many national parks and great hiking trails. The Côte d’Azur is the perfect region for a host of unusual activities for young and old alike.

In fact, I invite you to take a look at all our articles on accommodation and activities for couples, friends and families in the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur region:


There are truly few places in the world where you can see wild wolves. I’m thinking of Canada, in the private park of Aventuraid in Girardville but this is a completely different experience, as you’ll be coming into contact with wolves. For a less intimate but just as real approach, there are a few authentic places to admire them in France, such as the Gévaudan wolves at Saint Léger de Peyre (Lozère) or the Sainte Croix animal park in north-east France (57). But it’s at the gates of the Mercantour, in the Alpes Maritimes, between La Colmiane and Saint Martin de Vésubie (a small traditional mountain village of 1000 inhabitants), that we were invited to discover the parc Alpha and its wolves of Eastern European origin! In the heart of the Mercantour National Park, wolves live in semi-liberty alongside their fellow residents, the chamois.

Just 1h15 drive from Nice, we arrive in a quiet, green, high-altitude setting. An ideal place for animal lovers, and even more popular with families. For me it was a first discovery, even though I’m a local.

The peaceful setting lends itself perfectly to this special encounter.

A small but important reminder: the wolf returned naturally to the Mercantour massif in 1992.


Parc alpha | travel advice | animals | wolves | mademoiselle-voyage | alpes-maritimes




Located between 1500 m and 1800 m altitude, the Alpha Park was created to enable visitors to observe wolves in their natural environment, to better understand their behavior and to demystify this wild animal that has often been feared since time immemorial. All year round, visitors are invited to immerse themselves in the life of the 3 wolf packs. It’s the perfect opportunity to discover the wolf’s environment from the shelter of specially designed observation blinds. Don’t expect to leave with a souvenir photo of you cuddling the animal.


The tour of the park begins with scenovisions rather well conceived and imagined to better understand this animal and the place it has played or still plays in our society.


  • The Time of Men, which show 3 short films in converted barns, to give a better understanding of the history of the wolf in France and its relationship with man over time. This educational project welcomes wolf packs to a tourist structure, retracing the history of bergers and eases tensions. As well as being interesting, this little film is very playful and therefore captivating for children.


  • Time of the Wolf allows you to observe the 3 Parc Alpha wolf packs from up close and personal, and watch them being fed.

Here we are not in a zoo but in a nature reserve where several packs live. (between 20 and 25 wolves). As the wolf is a rather timid animal and wary of humans, the park decided to create huge enclosures covering several hectares. To ensure unforgettable photos and the opportunity to observe these small, or even large, hungry creatures from elevated walkways, feeding sessions are scheduled at fixed times. Careful, I can already see you coming and saying: ah, they feed these beasts so the wolves are used to man! I’m going to stop you right there! The park manager did everything in his power to minimize this. No close contact is possible with the animal, no petting, games or other, they want to keep the animal instinct of the wolf and don’t tame it! As a result, a few people are allowed into the pens to place fresh food on the ground or approach them in case of need (injuries, litters…). That’s why, for those of you considering a visit to Parc Alpha, I invite you to look below in the info box for the feeding times and try to be there at that time, because outside that window there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to see them for sure!

The different packs are separated to avoid the worst! Several packs coexist in this park, including the Erps, the pack of Pelago and black wolves which can be observed from the caretaker’s house. The visit to Alpha Park continues with the long-awaited face-to-face encounter with the wolves. We just have to wait for them, but sometimes the wait is longer because they’re hesitant. That day, we waited just a few minutes to see them. A little fearful, they stealthily grab a piece of meat, shred it with their powerful jaws and leave. Others stay for our enjoyment, while some compete for the best song! I fall back into childhood for a moment.

Want to be a caretaker for a day? Alpha Park makes dreams come true. Every day, caretakers explain the life of the wolf packs to visitors, and show them how each wolf behaves during feeding. Accompanied by the park’s professional staff, the trainer for a day puts himself in the shoes of an animal handler and gets up close and personal with the wolves. It can be a great experience!



Parc alpha | travel advice | animals | wolves | mademoiselle-voyage | alpes-maritimes

Parc alpha | travel advice | animals | wolves | mademoiselle-voyage | alpes-maritimes




Let’s take a walk in the woods while the wolf isn’t there. If the wolf were there, he’d eat us!

After shooting these wolves with all our cameras, we headed for the black wolves of Canada through the park’s trails. These wolves, which arrived in the park in March 2014, are becoming much more desired, so much so that I wondered if we were going to see them as they hide behind the trees and hardwoods. But as luck would have it, the cubs were having fun and magically headed our way! Males and females followed, to our great delight! Then, from you to me, I got a slap in the face, because at that moment, I could really tell the wolf from the dog, with his huge paws, his mouth and his yellow eyes – you know the eyes of Little Red Riding Hood! A pure moment of happiness that I recommend for young and old alike.


Parc alpha | travel advice | animals | wolves | mademoiselle-voyage | alpes-maritimes

Parc alpha | travel advice | animals | wolves | mademoiselle-voyage | alpes-maritimes


A veritable key player in the tales and legends that have lulled our childhood, the parc Alpha offers a unique opportunity to observe them in their natural habitat. You’ll have a wonderful time as a couple or with your family. For your comfort, remember to bring warm clothing, as the park is located at an altitude of 1,500 meters. What’s more, the road leading to the park is a mountain road, a little winding with many bends, so if you suffer from motion sickness, remember to take medication.



If you’d like to enjoy a green, natural and relaxing setting, while taking part in sporting activities and hiking, spend a few nights in two types of accommodation at the gateway to the Mercantour:


  • Perched cabins located at an altitude of 1600m, designed to accommodate 4 people from 120€ per night.
  • The Green Ecolodge Hotel at La Colmiane or The Ribambelle in Saint Martin de Vésubie
  • The 4 comfortable and well-appointed gîtes, sleeping between 2 and 5 people.


Practical information:

  • Entrance fee: €10/adult in low season and €14/adult in high season, Children aged 4 to 12 €8 in low season and €12 in high season and free for children under 4.
  • Family pack 2 adults + 2 children : 30.00€ and 7€ per additional child
  • Park open 7/7 from 10am to 5pm (ticket office closes at 3pm) from April to November and from 10am to 6pm (ticket office closes at 4:30pm) in July and August. The park is also open the rest of the year during school vacations and weekends
  • Groups on Wednesdays and Thursdays
  • A snack bar and picnic area will enhance your day at Alpha Park.
  • Feeding schedule:

| 11h15: Médical traning & Rencontre soigneur

| 12h00: Feeding

| 14h30: Meet the groomer

| 15h45: Feeding


  • Distance by car: 1h15 from Nice on the A8, la provençale.
  • Pets not belonging to the park are not allowed.



Avant de partir, je vous invite d’ailleurs à consulter tous nos articles sur les hébergements et les activités à faire en couple ou en familles dans la région Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur:




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Cet article est mon ressenti et mon expérience. Il fut possible grâce à une collaboration avec le Comité Régional du Tourisme Paca et le CRT Côte d’Azur que je remercie pour leur invitation




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