© Crt Côte D'azur France - Frederic Gibrat

Celestial contemplations on the Côte d'Azur / French Riviera

If you’re looking for a peaceful place to contemplate the stars, you need to head for the Alpine region of Mercantour on the Côte d’Azur! Mercantour National Park has recently joined the very exclusive club of astronomical observatories and national and regional natural parks that protect their skies from light pollution. An exceptional location to discover on the Côte d’Azur.

Have you heard of the International Dark Sky Reserve label?

With an area spanning 2,300 km² over 75 towns and villages, the Mercantour National Park reserve allows for observing over 3,000 stars. The exceptional quality of the site’s starry sky and its enhancement for scientific, educational, cultural and tourism purposes have allowed it to earn the prestigious International Dark Sky Reserve label. The reserve includes a central zone where the natural darkness is as maintained in as far as possible.

A national label that undertakes to reduce light pollution

This label commits regional players to conduct actions to preserve the site and reduce light pollution. Well-reasoned lighting has therefore been put in place to preserve the site’s biodiversity. The negative impact of artificial light not only reduces the view of the stars in the sky, but also has consequences for the flora and fauna. Amongst other things, the direction, migration, reproduction and pollination of various species are upset. It also alters their perception of night and day. Concrete solutions have already been implemented and studies have been launched to sustainably protect this ecosystem.

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The Côte d’Azur / French Riviera, an astronomical land!

From the heights of Mont Mounier or Nice, to the summit of the Aspre, the Bonette-Restefond pass or the vale of La Moutière, this exceptional land offers perfect conditions for professional and amateur astronomers, for their research, discovery, awareness and educational activities. In the Alpine foothills of the Côte d’Azur, the Calern astronomical observatory is one of the last astronomical observation sites dedicated to research that is still active in mainland France. It is now protected as an “exceptional astronomical observation site”. The Nice Observatory, founded in 1881, offers a remarkable scientific, historic and natural heritage. Built by Charles Garnier, it notably houses the largest mobile dome in Europe, designed by Gustave Eiffel.

Starry walks and planetary landscapes to discover

Under the impetus of an enthusiastic astronomical photographer who wanted to optimize his night-time shots, the Villages under the stars project currently groups together 12 towns in the region that have modified their public lighting equipment to encourage sky watching. If you dream of looking at the stars during a beautiful summer night, the Open Dome Night is for you! On the programme: fun and scientific activities for children, conferences for the whole family and an introduction to the sky by the region’s amateur astronomers. Nothing compares to a walk for contemplating the beauty of nature and the splendour of the sky! From Mercantour to the Porquerolles islands, through Verdon, the Estérel and the Maures mountain range, this is the promise of a family outing in the open air, to discover planets and astronomy!

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