Tour Details

Dates:11th of Jun - 18th of Jun 2024
Availability:3Guaranteed departure
Group Size:Minimum 4, maximum 12 guests
Grading:Easy day walks
PricesFull price: £1,495.00 / person Single room supplement: £175.00 / person Deposit: £150.00 / person
Price includes: Accommodation, all meals, ground transportation, services of your guides, and a holiday report
Not included: International travel, drinks and other personal items, holiday insurance

Tour Highlights

  • A beautiful and spectacular part of the Alps at a time of year when flowers are reaching their apogee and butterflies are emerging en masse. Lush mountain valleys, beautiful meadows and a fabulous array of butterfly species await, along with a quiet, comfortable hotel, excellent local Italian cuisine, quiet roads and a never ending supply of fresh Alpine air.
  • Around 100 species will be seen during the course of the tour.
  • In particular, we will be concentrating on the nearby colonies of Scarce Fritillary, a butterfly with few sites in western Europe. Other headline species to look out for are Apollo, Titania’s Fritillary, Alcon Blue, Clouded Apollo, Poplar Admiral, Lesser Spotted & Nickerl’s Fritillary, Reverdin’s Blue, Northern Wall Brown, Scarce Copper and, if we’re lucky, the eye-wateringly beautiful Southern Swallowtail.
  • Our main base for the holiday is in the small spa-village of Bagni di Vinadio, which is perfectly situated in a river valley teeming with butterflies. For the final two nights, we will cross into France and sample the midsummer delights of the hilltop town of Rimplas in the Mercantour Park.
  • A donation will be made to the European Butterfly Group, supporting proactive research and conservation

Tour Description

This tour will suit those who enjoy being surrounded by thousands of easily accessible alpine butterflies at a fabulous time of year, as the burgeoning vegetation in this achingly beautiful region reaches its midsummer climax. Encompassing the alpine regions of both Italy and France, we enjoy the best of both butterfly worlds – and cuisines!

Travelling from Nice via the spectacular Col de la Lombarde, we will spend five nights in a delightful, Italian spa village set in an unspoiled mountain valley prior to crossing back over the border to shorten the return journey and, at the same time, take in a sample of the wonders to be seen in the French part of the Mercantour National Park.

The prime target on this trip will be Scarce Fritillary Euphydryas maturna, with the Italian population only having been discovered fairly recently. This beautiful butterfly has a very restricted range, but is fairly common at its epicentre, and is easy to observe, being prone to settling in moist tracts of land and also occasionally on its human admirers!

Other species of interest will be Alcon Blue Phengaris alcon, Nickerl’s Fritillary Melitaea aurelia, Reverdin’s Blue Plebejus argyrognamon, Lesser Spotted Fritillary Melitaea trivia, and possibly Southern Swallowtail Papilio alexanor.

The valley in which the hotel is located is flower and butterfly rich, with large numbers of Apollo Parnassius apollo, Clouded Apollo Parnassius mnemosyne, Almond-eyed Ringlet Erebia alberganus, Northern Wall Brown Lasiommata petropolitana, and many others.

The second part of the tour will be based in the French hilltop village of Rimplas, which will give us the opportunity to explore the famous forest track at the end of the road from the hotel. The slightly drier, warmer climate here should see a selection of different species recorded such as Baton Blue Pseudophilotes baton, Ilex Hairstreak Satyrium ilicis, Dusky Heath Coenonympha dorus, Chequered Blue Scolitantides orion, and possibly Southern Comma Polygonia egea.

Even at this relatively early period in summer, we would expect more than 100 species to be observed, proving just how rich and diverse this area of the Alps is. The higher altitude butterflies will largely have yet to emerge, so this tour is easy on the feet, with no steep climbing or scree slopes. Instead, just relax and enjoy the green landscape and its butterfly bonanza on reasonably level terrain, with temperatures not as oppressive as they can be here in July and August.

Tour Leaders

In the past decade David has devoted his life to butterflies - sharing them with guests, but also working proactively on the committee of the European Butterfly Group, and (until recently) as an identification consultant on the UK Butterflies website.

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Paul’s been passionate about nature and the environment all his life. In his early teenage years, this began with birdlife, learning most UK bird songs, helping him to identify the last ever breeding Turtle Doves in his home county, Cheshire.

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Emmanuelle is a keen naturalist and former ranger for the National Trust, with a particular interest in butterflies and birds, and wildlife photography in general. She also plays a mean game of petanque!

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Tour Location


Tour Itinerary

  • DAY 1

Meet at Nice airport* and transfer to Bagni di Vinadio.

We will stop en route along Col de la Lombarde to stretch our legs and see our first montane butterflies.

  • DAY 2

Vanet Cavallo & Runvel, riverside track by Bagni di Vinadio.

Targets: Scarce Fritillary Euphydryas maturna, Large Blue Phengaris arion, Scarce Copper Lycaena virgaureae, Nickerl’s Fritillary Melitaea aurelia, Clouded Apollo Parnassius mnemosyne, Purple-edged Copper Lycaena hippothoe, Northern Wall Brown Lasiommata petropolitana, Apollo Parnassius apollo, and Poplar Admiral Limenitis populi.

  • DAY 3

Torrente, San Maurizio and Val d’Arma.

Targets: Scarce Fritillary Euphydryas maturna, Purple-shot Copper Lycaena alciphron, Alcon Blue Phengaris alcon, Berger’s Clouded Yellow Colias alfacariensis, Mazarine Blue Cyaniris semiargus, Provençal Fritillary Melitaea deione, Turquoise Blue Polyommatus dorylas, and Marbled Skipper Carcharodus lavatherae.

  • DAY 4

Terme di Valdieri upper and lower valleys.

Targets: Mountain Green-veined White Pieris bryoniae, Titania’s Fritillary Boloria titania, Piedmont Ringlet Erebia meolans, Geranium Argus Eumedonia eumedon, Apollo Parnassius apollo, Green-underside Blue Glaucopsyche alexis, Sooty Copper Lycaena tityrus, Safflower Skipper Pyrgus carthami, and Escher’s Blue Polyommatus escheri.

  • DAY 5

Entracque meadow path, San Lorenzo quarry, Roaschia.

Targets: Reverdin’s Blue Plebejus argyrognomon, Southern White Admiral Limenitis reducta, Sloe Hairstreak Satyrium acacia, High Brown Fritillary Fabriciana adippe, Lesser Spotted Fritillary Melitaea trivia, Southern Swallowtail Papilio alexanor, amd Alcon Blue Phengaris alcon

  • DAY 6

Transit Day. Col de la Lombarde, Rimplas forest track.

Targets: Mountain Clouded Yellow Colias phicomone, Apollo Parnassius apollo, Mountain Ringlet Erebia epiphron, Large Blue Phengaris arion, Baton Blue Pseudophilotes baton, Blue-spot Hairstreak Satyrium spini, Southern Comma Polygonia egea, Dusky Heath Coenonympha dorus, and Great Banded Grayling Brintesia circe.

  • DAY 7

St Dalmas le Selvage, La Colmiane.

Targets: Camberwell Beauty Nymphalis antiopa, Marbled Fritillary Brenthis daphne, Scarce Copper Lycaena virgaureae, Mountain Alcon Blue Phengaris rebeli, Cleopatra Gonepteryx cleopatra, and Amanda’s Blue Polyommatus amandus.

  • DAY 8

Return to Nice airport.

As with all of our tours, we want our guests to enjoy the very best views of the very best wildlife and, as such, we think it’s important to retain a little flexibility in the holiday itinerary. This means that we may choose to swap days around to take into account local weather conditions, or the timing of the flight or flowering season we find upon arrival at our holiday destination. Rest assured, we will ensure you visit all the best sites, and we have your best interests and comfort at heart!

*We’ll meet at the airport as this is a convenient travel hub for many. However, we appreciate that some guests may have chosen to come overland via rail to Nice. The main railway station in town is Saint Augustin, and there is a frequent tram service linking the city centre with the airport.

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