21 Nov Aside from nightlife, what about the wildlife?
Ever wondered why Val d’Isere comes with a ‘Gotham City’esque logo, that wouldn’t look out of place on the Batmobile?
That logo is actually the symbol of the golden eagle, that majestic species enough to send Bill Oddie into raptures or perhaps raptors, that happen to be native to Val d’Isere. It’s a fact that most skiers in Espace Killy are blissfully unaware of as they chase down 300 kms worth of pistes.
And while skiers and snowboarders are pretty pleased with themselves if their ‘Ski Tracks’ app shows 50 mph, the golden eagle can reach speeds of up to 199mph in one single dive! Meanwhile ‘he’ clearly likes to keep an eye on the tourists – his haunt being a spot on the cliffs immediately behind the tourist office.
The wintery alpine landscape is as much a home to wildlife as it is to the human species seeking adrenalin kicks.
Val d’Isere like Tignes, Les Arcs, La Plagne and Les Trois Vallees, in fact borders the Vanoise National Park, France’s first national park between the Tarentaise and Maurienne valleys in the French Alps, which was founded in 1963.
The park has its own emblem or logo, which hints at other wildlife you can hope to see on your skiing holiday, the Alpine ibex or bouquetin, the goat with the huge curved horns, that look decidedly heavy to wear on a daily basis!
There’s also the much smaller Chamois – both live above the tree line and love steep, rocky terrain. They’re more adept than the average skier off piste, that’s for sure. See what happens when this group of chamois are hit by an avalanche.
It’s not unusual to see an Ibex or chamois but you’re not going to see one ambling by a piste. It’s one of the treats of ski touring out from Le Fornet for example or cross country exploring the mountains beyond the carefully groomed, man made tracks.
Spring brings out the surprisingly larger than you expect marmot, which few people know are classed as large squirrels! When the snow begins to thaw, marmots emerge from their up to nine month hibernation (that’s a lot of sleep) and are often visible from the Lavachet lift from Tignes back into Val d’Isere. I’m afraid we have never seen a marmot under ‘Marmottes’ lift though.
But neither have we seen a wolf, lynx or Eurasian badger and they are also common place in this neck of the alpine mountains together with the mountain hare, ermine and weasel. It’s surely worthy of a David Attenborough voice over. In fact – why not enjoy a little Planet Earth coverage of the Alps narrated by the quintessential wildlife expert himself.
At the very least, be sure to factor in a bit of golden eagle spotting on your next Val d’Isere trip.