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Why History Buffs Should Visit The Rock Carvings Of Vallée des Merveilles In France

Vallee des Merveilles, France - Petroglyphs
Vallee des Merveilles, France [Image Pexels]
Vallée des Merveilles (Valley of Marvels) is located in the Mercantour National Park in southern France. The name is justified when you find that around 40,000 rock carvings have been found in two different sites. What makes them even more special is that the petroglyphs are from various different eras of history. Meanwhile, history buffs can find them on the slopes of Mount Bego in the valley, as well as in the Val de Fontanalba. While the latter is less visited, it features just as many fascinating carvings. For those not keen on history, the Mercantour National Park itself is a wonderful visit for its beautiful, rocky landscape.

The scenery of the Vallée des Merveilles

Vallee des Merveilles, France - Petroglyphs
Vallee des Merveilles, France [Image Wikimedia Commons]
As the site is in the high alpine region of France, its landscapes are stunning, with craggy cliffs and lakes. Moreover, the valleys are teeming with wildlife, including ibex, chamois, marmots, and a number of rare birds, including the bearded vulture. While exploring, it is easy to imagine the lives of the people who first lived here and created rock carvings 5,000 years ago.

Travelers should bear in mind that hiking in the mountains here can be treacherous, as the slopes of Mount Bego are covered in loose rock. Also, it is important to travel with a guide on an official tour.

Petroglyphs – carvings from the past

Many of the petroglyphs (rock carvings) in the area date from the Neolithic era, right through the Bronze and Iron Ages, to the Roman and Medieval periods. Among the many carvings, tribal figures can be seen, along with animals and weapons. The carving below has been named the Chief of the Tribe.

Chief of the tribe petroglyph in the Vallee des Merveilles, France
Chief of the Tribe petroglyph [Image Wikimedia Commons]
Many of the carvings are thought to have been created to track the movement of the sun and to measure the passing of time. However, the image included below has the title, “The Sorceror”

Petroglyph "The Sorceror"
The Sorceror [Image Wikimedia Commons]

Musée des Merveilles, Tende, France

A number of the most important petroglyphs have been moved to the Musée des Merveilles in Tende, close to the site. Moreover, the museum has copies of many of the most famous carvings. Located in Avenue du 16 Septembre 1947 in Tende, entry to the museum is free.

Musée des Merveilles, Tende, France
Musée des Merveilles [Image Vimeo]

Getting to the Vallée des Merveilles in France

It cannot be stressed more that travelers must be accompanied by an official guide when viewing the rock carvings on site. This is due to the fact that they are fragile and some are gradually wearing away due to erosion.

Tours to the Valley of Marvels are only normally available from June through October, due to heavy snowfall in the mountains. Meanwhile, tours do include a hike of around 2-3 hours one way, or alternatively, transport is available in a 4×4 vehicle.

Find out more about the Vallée des Merveilles on the official website here and book your tour to see the amazing petroglyphs of the Valley of Marvels.

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