We just bought a PDA with GPS Navigation for France. So, of course, we had to test it out by taking a road trip. We decided to head out to St-Martin-Vésubie, which is only a couple-hours drive from Antibes. We had no luck finding a hotel reservation ahead of time, so we thought we would go up for just the day if we couldn’t find a hotel when we got there. Our first stop, after about a half an hour on the road, was the small village of Levens at an altitude of 600 meters, where we strolled around among a picturesque stone church and some colorful buildings in the busy main square with a couple of terrace cafés. Strangely enough, it seemed like a focal point here in Levens was the popular public swimming pool, sitting on the top of the village with beautiful views of the valley and the mountains surrounding it.
The River Vésubie
From Levens we followed the twisting and turning road (D19) along the River Vésubie, until it straightened out again at D2565, which got us all the way to St-Martin-Vésubie. Just off the main square in town, we stepped into a two-star hotel called La Bonne Auberge, where they had one room available for 53€ a night with breakfast included. It was a pretty basic hotel, but we didn’t see anything better in the area, and it was nice to have a place to spend the night.
St-Martin-Vésubie is a charming medieval village with a mountain spring which flows through a narrow channel down the center of the main pedestrian street, which is lined with small shops and busy restaurants. After a terrace lunch at a small restaurant on this cobbled street, we wandered around all the other charming little streets in this main part of the village, while the rain came down on top of us. We decided that, since it was raining, it might be a good time to tour the areas nearby by car, so we headed directly north for about 20 minutes.
Le Boréon – Parc des Loups
In Le Boréon, it was still as cool as it was in St-Martin-Vésubie – light sweater weather – but it was perfectly dry and still very sunny. We hiked around the beautiful alpine area for a bit before we noticed the Parc des Loups, which we had heard of before. We went into the main center by the lake, and got tickets for 9€ each to enter into the Park of Wolves. The Parc des Loups is a Wolf Sanctuary that was created when it was noticed that after a long absence, the wolves were slowly, but surely returning to this area in the National Park of the Mercantour by crossing over from the nearby Italian border. There has been a lot of contention between the local shepherds and those that want to protect the wolves, who sometimes attack and kill the sheep. So the sanctuary was created in order to study the behavior of these fascinating animals, and to find a way in which they can cohabitate with the other animals in the region. There are only about 40 wolves that officially live in France, while nearby Italy is home to around 500 wolves.