Visiting the National Park of Mercantour was on my bucket list for a long time. So, in February I booked my flight, hotel room and a car. By the end of July, I packed my things and went to live out my dream. But before I plunge into a narrative about me hiking in the mountains and jumping with excitement over the views, let me tell the story from the very beginning.
The Beginning: La Brigue
My friend and I [who happens to be my landlord, yep] took the flight Paris-Nice, hopped in our rental car and drove our way up; but just before we arrived in our hotel, we stopped in a little town called La Brigue.
This medieval town was initially an Italian provence, but it was annexed by the French in 1947. Today, with a population not over 800 people, the place is very quite and peaceful. At the end of its narrow streets, opens up a view on the mountains that surround it.
Classified as a historic monument, La Brigue has quite a few sites to offer to a curious mind.
Collégiale Saint Martin
Collegiate church of Saint Martin was the first place we headed to. It is situated within La Brigue perimeter and is hard to miss. Mixing roman and baroque architecture, its foundation is a XIIIth century building.
As I walked in, my attention was immediately drawn to the ceiling painted with a beautiful blue color. The richness of the colours and decorations make you go ‘oh là là’ or just ‘wow’. I don’t consider myself religious, but I love architecture and Collégiale Saint Martin has a special place in my memory.
Sanctuaire De Notre Dame Des Fontaines
This chapel is a must visit place if you are nearby. 4 kilometres away from La Brigue, it nests at the foot of a mountain.
The story tells that once upon a time the natural water sources of La Brigue dried up and les villageois could not water their fields. They prayed and promised to raise a chapel for the Virgin Mary if she fills the sources with water once again. And apparently their prayers were heard!
The building was raised and two painters decorated its walls with frescos telling the life of the Virgin Mary, Jesus’s childhood, his life and the last judgement. The fact that the frescos stayed practically intact and with no restaurations over the course of centuries makes this place even more special and unique.
Side note: if you happen to go there, check opening hours! The ticket price is around 4 euros which is totally worth it.
We didn’t get to visit other sites in La Brigue as our time was limited, but I cannot recommend it enough. I hope I captured the charm of this little town in the photos and it inspires you to visit one day. If you have any travel recommendations, please share in the comments below, I’m constantly adding stars to my google map 😉
P.S. So here is the first part of my journey. Although, my ultimate destination was the National Park of Mercantour, we visited quite a few places along the way. Writing about all of it at once would be too much. Lately, I’ve been struggling to upload posts on a regular basis because I’ve been doing a bit of traveling and am constantly busy. BUT. Good news, I have a lot to share with you and part two and three will be up on my blog soon.