All of the wildlife most commonly associated with the Alps are found in abundance in the Vanoise National Park. Chamois, marmots, ibex (also known as bouquetin) and eagles can all be spotted frequently in the mountains. Other smaller animals hopping around include hares, snow voles, pine martens, alpine newts, grass snakes, frogs, natter jacks, squirrels and foxes. Amongst the more rare species are golden eagles, bearded vultures, eagle owls, ptarmigans, black grouse and rock thrush. The unusual three-toed woodpecker (pictured) has only ever been sighted in the Savoie and Haute-Savoie regions of France.
The Vanoise National Park, the boundary of which is just beyond our chalets, is home to:
2000 ibex – a third of France’s ibex population.
120 different species of breeding birds
20 pairs of resident golden eagles
80% of France’s insect population
One of the highlights for many Summer visitors is spotting a chamois or a marmot. These are two of the most symbolic animals of the Alps. Since the development and nurturing of the vast park, created in 1963, as a protected area the chamois population has grown from 3000 to 12,000. The chamois is a shy creature and keeps an eye out for danger so despite their number they are hard to spot. They are most likely to be spotted at sunrise or at dusk as this is when they tend to graze for food. They live high up and are good rock hoppers. Marmots are like giant furry guinea pigs and communicate with each other with a high pitched cry.
Both the names, Marmot and Chamois, are used commonly throughout the Alps by bar, cafe and restaurant owners. There is even a chairlift and a piste called Marmotte!
One of the main projects of the park is species rehabilitation. The black grouse is another species that the park is trying hard to preserve as it is in danger of extinction. The park rangers monitor their habitats and record numbers. Their research into the wildlife of the park regularly leads to the exciting discovery of new species and provides a valuable service to the preservation of alpine fauna.
The isolated summits provide a perfect habitat for birds such as golden eagles. The golden eagle is the emblem of Val d’Isere village promoted by the tourist office. Val d’Isere actively supports and manages eco-friendly projects during the ski season to preserve its nature and build awareness.
Val d’Isere is a perfect base to do hill walking with lots of nature trails to follow to enjoy the views, fresh air, mountains and wildlife and of course a good picnic!
Penny, Le Chardon Mountain Lodges