The Vanoise massif (mountain range) is one of my favourite mountain areas.? The main area of the Vanoise is protected from the tentacles of the alpine ski industry by being a national park with strict regulations halting so-called ?development?.
With the heatwave still in full swing it was great to head into the mountains and lower temperatures.? The Tour of the Vanoise stays high for most of its journey, rarely dropping below 2000m except for the start and end of the trek.
The first day, having reached the Col de la Vanoise and the Refuge Felix Faure, we took a walk ?off-the-beaten-track? in search of wildlife.? We weren’t disappointed spotting several chamois. One, having moved a short distance, settled down to observe us from the top of a large boulder ? watching you, watching me.? Chamois are such elegant creatures in their preferred environment of rocky terrain high in the mountains.? Along the way we also came across the emblematic flower of the Alps; the edelweiss.
The next day we stopped to picnic by the Lacs des Lozieres; beautiful mountain lakes nestling at the foot of the Mont Pelve and the glaciers of the Vanoise.? The temptation to take a dip was too strong and astonishingly, even at 2400m, the water was warm enough to enjoy a few minutes in its cool embrace!? Further on below the Dome de Chasseforet we came across several female ibex with their young, called? ?cabri?, close by.? One of the females posed, perched on a rocky ledge beneath an overhang.? As we moved on she decided to come down, nonchalantly skipping across steep rock ledges to regain the ground.
A subsequent day a huge shadow cast on the ground drew our attention to a bearded vulture soaring effortlessly in the afternoon thermals.? It was joined by a juvenile vulture with its darker colouring.? Magnificent birds.
Mountain refuges come in all shapes and sizes.? One of my favourite spots is the Refuge de l’Aiguille Doran just below the valley of the Orgere.? We passed the time before dinner playing boules on the ?court? overlooking the Maurienne valley.? Fabienne’s cooking was, as usual, superb and we were treated to a lovely homemade soup followed by pork fillet in a creamy sauce.? For a mountain refuge with character, La Dent Parrachee, perched on a knoll above the twin lakes above Aussois is well worth a visit.? The Dent Parrachee is managed by Franck who presides over the refuge like a master of ceremonies.?? The new refuges at the Col de la Vanoise and the Refuge de l’Arpont gave me mixed feelings.? The ?soul? of the old refuges appeared to be missing; perhaps I’m too sentimental.? The new refuges are however very functional and clearly much easier to manage for the guardians.