The Vanoise National Park was the first French national park, initially created in 1963 to protect the Alpine ibex from extinction, and is known as “the great garden of France”. Situated between the high Maurienne and Tarentaise valleys, it includes high mountain areas, rising to more than 3000m and topped with glaciers as well as beautiful valleys and wide, easily accessible passes.
With a great variety of rock types (calcareous, gypsum, sandstone, quartzite, shale, mica schist, gneiss…), very complex geology, great range in altitudes and varied climate, the result is a remarkable wealth of geology, flora and fauna.
It offers fabulous opportunities for wildlife and bird spotting, including the largest French colony of Alpine ibex (around 1,600 individuals) along with around 4,000 chamois. You may be lucky enough to see marmots playing amongst the rocks, mountain hares, various vole species, including snow voles as well as foxes, badgers, martens and even ermine. For birdspotters there are 125 different species to find including 20 pairs of golden eagles, rock ptarmigans, black grouse, rock partridges, eagle owls, Tengmalm's owls, black woodpeckers, rock thrushes, wallcreepers, crossbills, rock sparrows, spotted nutcrackers. There are currently reintroduction programmes for bearded vultures.
NATURAL & Cultural wealth
The Vanoise is dotted as it with beautiful ancient villages and has a rich culture including old chapels situated in the high pastures and the “Road of salt and cheese” between Pralognan-la-Vanoise and Termignon. However, this is no dead museum environment and it also supports a lively farming population mainly focused on producing the very delicious Beaufort cheese.
It actively encourages visitors with a network of almost 500 km of marked paths
and “discovery trails”, some of which are
accessible to those with motor disabilities. The Park also offers hikes adapted to the motor and visually impaired. The scenery is quite simply stunning, from the huge sweep of the glaciers and wide bare rocky valleys at their base to forested slopes, dry grassland and high purple moorland. Explore. Enjoy.