Magazine Les 3 Vallées

The treasures of the Vanoise national Park

 

535 km2 criss-crossed by 400 kilometres of marked trails, the Vanoise National Park extends all the way to the 3 Vallées area, a stretch of land filled with remarkable wildlife and plantlife, comprising stunning landscapes dotted with pastoral architecture. A wealth of untouched treasures.

 

The Gébroulaz towers

Between Alpine pastures and snow-capped mountains, the rocky glaciers of the Vanoise are the highest in the French Alps with some verging on 4,000 metres! Among them, the Gébroulaz towers over Les Allues valley where it’s subject to close examination by the National Observatory of the Effects of Climate Change (ONERC). A spectacular, little-known giant among many others.

Plants

According to the “Flora Gallica” report published by the French Botanical Society (Biotope Editions), one third of French plantlife grows in the Vanoise National Park! A total of 1,700 species including glacier sedge and Arctic bulrush, as well as protected Edelweiss, Alpine heath and even the precious Linnaea borealis…In 2019, the park introduced the first botanical trail in La Bailletaz reserve to help us identify these plants. Fingers crossed that others will soon follow!

The Alpine landscape

Often created from depressions hollowed out by glaciers, the Alpine landscape is interspersed with emerald-coloured high-altitude lakes. Setting off from Courchevel, head towards the Merlet lakes and the mountain refuge of the same name, which is open all year round. From Pralognan-la-Vanoise, don’t miss the Lac des Vaches and the stone footpath going across it.
A wondrous sight!

Nature reserves

One of the four nature reserves that make up the Vanoise National Park, the Plan de Tuéda in Les Allues valley just celebrated its 30th birthday. Its 1,112 hectares, ranging between altitudes of 1,700 and 3,000 metres are a refuge for 400 animal species and 545 plant species, including the rare Alpine club moss. To uncover its secrets, just step inside the Maison de la Réserve,
a treasure trove of nature-themed information and fun.

Stealthy hikers are well used to the undeniable thrill of admiring ibexes and chamois goats from afar, the joy of seeing deer and stag among the Swiss pine, a mountain hare part the heath, a marmot standing tall on the Alpine pastures, or even the mating dance of a black grouse…Look to the skies and marvel at a golden eagle or bearded vulture in flight, both species subject to an agreement between the Vanoise National Park and Les 3 Vallées’ ski lift operating companies, aiming to protect the birds while the ski areas are in use.

 

Subject to an inventory drawn up between 2010 and 2013, the Vanoise National Park constructions boast excellent design. Its understated and ingenious “architect-free architecture” could today serve as a model for bioclimatic construction…Stone slate and wood shingled roofs, limestone and dry stone walls… mountain dwellings, sometimes grouped together into little hamlets, unveil themselves as you pass along the trails, most of which no longer serve their agricultural purpose. A thankfully preserved pastoral heritage.

 

Photos credits:

Sylvain AYMOZ / Méribel Tourisme
Fabien Dal Vecchio

 
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