Vanoise Wildlife, French alps
The Vanoise is the third massif of the French Alps after the Mont Blanc and Ecrins massifs and lies roughly between the two. It contains a large number of high alpine peaks including the Grande Casse (3885m), Mont Pourri (3779m), Dent Parrachée (3697m) and Grande Motte (3653m). There are mountains of all shapes and forms shaped by the interaction of glaciers with the geology of the area. The largest glacial plateau in Western Alps is found in the centre of the Vanoise National Park.
The Vanoise National Park was created on 6 July 1963 - the first French national park. It has a common border with the Italian Gran Paradiso National Park. Twinned since 1972, together they cover 1250km2 and constitute the largest protected site in Western Europe. Below you'll find more information about the wildlife in the Park, which is the location for independent trekking and guided walking holidays.
The Flora varies according to altitude in the Park. Above the villages at between 1500m and 2000m in the sub-alpine level you’ll find heathland which includes rhododendrons, blueberries, junipers and other shrubs, such as green alders. These heathlands stretch down to coniferous forests where larches, Arolla and mountain pines thrive. Spruces remain confined to lower altitudes. Between 2000m and 3000m in the alpine zone the snow that falls in the winter lingers on through part of the summer in the shape of névés at the bottom of snowy combs. This zone is made up of rock where only lichens and a few sparse plants are able to subsist. Vast alpine meadows with many flowers in the summer also occupy this zone. Among the nationally protected species in the Vanoise National Park, there are about ten androsace species, the Alpine aquilegia, different sedges (including the Two-Coloured Sedge), Alpine Bells, Queen of the Alps, various mountain primroses (the Piemont Primrose) and saxifrages. The Vanoise National Park is also the last French stronghold of the twinflower.
The Vanoise National Park has a rich and varied fauna. It has the largest population of Alpine ibex in France with 2000 individuals, a third of the total French population. Walking early in the morning or late afternoon is the best time to see them. This population is on the increase. There are even more chamois - about 5500. Among the smaller mammals, there are the rodents, such as the Alpine hare, with its white winter coat, the marmot, living in alpine meadows, several voles, including the snow vole, and the yellow-necked fieldmouse. Among the birds, there are golden eagles, (20 pairs), the ptarmigan, the black grouse, rock partridges, eagle owls, Tengmalm's owls, black woodpeckers, three-toed woodpeckers (in France, present only in Savoie and Haute-Savoie), the rock thrush, pied flycatchers, wall creepers, crossbills, rock sparrows and nutcrackers. There is a total of 120 bird species breeding in the Vanoise Park. The bearded vulture is increasingly present in this beautiful part of the French Alps.
General information about the Vanoise National Park in Alps, France