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Raid du Mercantour, Train du neige

snowThe Mercantour National park is a scenic area of France, in the Alps, right up against the border with Italy. Actually it only became part of France in 1947. Anyway, from January to March there is a special combined train and bus ticket, the 'train du neige' to take people from Nice in sunny Cote d'Azur up to St. Delmas du Tende and then by coach on twisty narrow roads to Castorino in the snowwy mountains. Good photo opportunities, a nice ride through the mountains. And snow, which we don't get in Nice. When we got there, it turned out that there was a mountain bike (VTT) race on. In the snow. And also paragliding. And a dog sled. All at once.

Yes, all of these activities were taking place at the same time and the same location. It could have been chaos and sometimes was, but all with a relaxed good humour and tolerance that I found refreshing. Photos link to larger ones.


Here the paraglider is starting to descend while some bikers are on the flat, close-to-the-village part of the course before it heads uphill into the trees.

near miss

The paraglider crashes lands, just missing one of the bikers.


Biker risks a look back at what nearly hit him. You can clearly see the "WTF" thought bubble in this photo.

dog sled arrives

Just to keep things surreal, a dog sled also drives across the bike race.

More from this trip later...

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Definitely either a Dadaist or a Discordian organized that event! Completely fascinating and odd.

Beautiful pictures - I love the bright arc of the sail against the winter background.
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Until I read the caption I thought that you had drawn an orangy-red line on a b&w photo to indicate something--the contrast is neat!

Definitely the bike-rider looking back at the glider has extreme body language; the only thing more expressive would be a sled dog whizzing on it in the next. I have heard that fan harness is much more difficult than in-line harness to control--were all the sleds like that?
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There was just the one sled. I have some photos of the huskies which are ready to upload to flickr when I get a bit more time.
That last shot I could have done with a zoom lens; I had a fast 40mm prime on the camera and there was no time to change lenses so its a bit distant.
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