Lacs des Millefonts
The geology of the Mercantour
The site of Col de Veillos is marvellous for a geological reading of the landscape.
The rocks of the col form this singular relief, known as “ruiniform”. They are rauhwackes, of sedimentary origin. On the road to the Millefonts carparks, you may already have spotted the beautiful limestone piton of Baus de la Frema.
Opposite Col de Veillos, the ridge at the north, between the cols of Ferrière and Barn, is made up of crystalline metamorphic rocks: migmatite, with a mixture of light and dark colours.
And from Col de Barn, enjoy the view across Argentera and its famous granite.
On this immense Alpine pasture of Millefonts, the flocks settle in for the summer. According to the season, we can see many sheep here (destined for meat) as well as goats.The big dogs whose job it is to defend the flocks against any attacks from predators (stray dogs, wolves...), are Pyrenean Mountain Dogs. If they approach you, stay calm and do not move. After they have looked at you for a while, they will quickly head back off to protect the flocks. These dogs are of great help to the shepherds.
Marmots (marmotta marmotta)
Between screes and Alpine pastures, you can see – and more easily hear – marmots, delightful rodents which are typical of the mountain environment.
When you hear one emit its high call, look to the sky: it is perhaps the marmot’s worst enemy, the golden eagle, soaring above…Genuine hibernators, marmots spend half the year sleeping tin their burrows. They can weigh up to 6kg before winter, making them walk somewhat heavily even if they retain their natural agility.
The life and death of mountain lakes
The landscape of the grassland and the Millefonts lakes is the direct result of the geographical model put in place by the last glacial period. The glaciers created deep hollows in places and in other created natural dams called. The two phenomena naturally created mountain lakes. However, sediment and organic plant matter tend to fill the lakes in, leaving just a wet and marshy area: the peat bog.These environments are very rich in plant life but also highly fragile. An excellent example can be see downstream of the small Millefonts lake.
From the carpark at Millefonts, go up path GR52 (red and white markers) which initially leads to the Col de Veillos, from where you can see the entirety of the valley.
Go past a path which heads off to the left.
After a steep climb, you will see a shepherd’s hut on the right. The itinerary continues towards the bottom of the valley, following the western slopes of Mont Pépoiri, amid the Alpine meadows.
Below, you will see the first lake, which is oddly called «Lac petit» despite being the biggest of the five Millefonts lakes.
The path then crosses an area of rocky scree and Alpine pastures. The climb then continues unhindered via a stony path which successively overlooks Lac Rond, Lac Long and Lac of the Millefonts lakes, finally arriving at the Col du Barn (2 452m).
A view over the delightful Barn valley and the Argentera chain, the highest peak of these mountains (3297m).
At the Col du Barn, the green hexagons, which can be seen on the rocks all along the crest, denote the boundary of Mercantour National Park. They are not markers for a hiking itinerary!
Follow the same route for the return journey.
Access and parking
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