This well traced track leads to the hamlet of Salce which was inhabited until 1958. Next, it is steeper crossing a dry beech forest in order to reach an old hayfield at the Touret mountain pass which dominates the Tourot canyons.
As a result of its length sometimes reaching 2 meters and its shiny livery, punctuated on the top with white, uniformly coloured olive yellow underneath, the Aesculapian snake is one of the most beautiful reptiles in our land.. Agile, it is voluble and able to climb trees in order to pilfer nests. Refractory in low temperatures, the Aesculapin snake sinks early into a long period of lethargy in the middle of Autumn only waking again in the Spring.
Sunny and shaded slopes of the mountain
There is a marked contrast between the two slopes of the mountain: one is cool and humid populated by dark green resinous trees: the coldest slop is oriented North-East ; the other is warm and dry and colonized by tender green leaved : it is oriented towards the East.The first explanation for this difference is astronomical : the sunlight, (more skimming) less strong on the shaded slope, provides less energy and heat. But it is also true, that as a general rule, the maturation of the forests started longer ago on the shadier slopes, which were ignored by subsistence farmers in favour of the sunnier slopes. By looking upwind you can see imposing 2 000 m high rocky faces: it is the massif de l'Armet.
Emblematic animal of the Alps, le chamois or « rock goat » has short black, curled horns Like the ibex it is easier to see it through binoculars. The goats and esterlons (one year old males) like to be part of a big herd; however, the billy goats stay rather isolated only joining the females during the mating season. In the winter the chamois stay very quiet in order to preserve their reserve of fat.
It was named in French because of the form of its corolla. Its flowers attract a great number of insects which are capable of exploring the length of its spur thanks to their long tongue. Unfortunately for the butterflies there is no pollen hiding there! Nevertheless, during their visit , the insect detaches pollinia which stick to their bodies and which are then transported to other plants. Its pollination is insured like this without its winged visitors having received the slightest reward. The Fragrant Orchid is a deceitful species.
Thanks to low sunny shelves, the hamlet de la Salce, whose name originates from the word source, was built at a time of great demographic pressure, between the 18th and the 19th centuries. There is still a lovely farm building here and a restored dwelling (this is a private property please do not trespass). Recently, the roof of the house has been covered with slate stones. Traditionally, alpine construction depended what could be found to build with: building materials were simply those available at the time of construction.. This is why in order to preserve the cultural heritage the Ecrins National Park recommends using local materials when carrying out building work and restoration.
The ascent is accompanied by the rustling of dried leaves. Disturbed while it was warming itself in the sun, a little lizard runs away for shelter. With variable colouring that ranges between brown and grey, with more or less pronounced marbling on the flanks the wall lizard is easily distinguishable from its Catalan and viviparous cousins thanks to a black mark on the flanks just above the insertion of the front legs.
Taking the paths in the middle of May and June, you will discover many different species of orchid : white hellaborine, the early purple orchid, the Man orchid, the Fly orchid, the Burnt-tip orchid, the Lady orchid, the Violet Limodore, the Fragrant orchid, the Military orchid. The orchids form a group of plants that contain 30000 species known in the world. They owe their name to the resemblance of their two underground tubers to the male anatomy (in Greek orkhis, testicle).
Along the path, a snake of around 40 cm long wriggles gently. The head which is not distinguishable from the neck makes it look like a sausage By looking closer you can see moving eyelids which are characteristic of the lizar. Inoffensive, the slow worm is often confused with the viper, although it has no black markings on its back. It has shiny scales usually grey or brown with shades of yellow and red. The female has large dark longitudinal stripes.. In the mountains, the slow worm can live exceptionally at an altitude of 2000 m.
Sub-natural Pine Forest
The Northern slope of the Touret shelters a sub-natural pine forest, which has been dormant for several generations because of the steepness of the terrain. The white fir tree needs very little light in order to grow and is happy in the shadows. . In strong competition with its neighbours, it is able to wait several decades for mankind or nature to decide to offer it a place in the sun. This makes it difficult to determine its age just by looking at it.
What a strange name for something so graceful! However, this orchid is a bit of a fighter..Its flowers hang like little pink puppets each wearing a lilac coloured helmet. When mature millions of seeds escape from the capsule.. It is indispensable that they enter into contact with one particular species of symbiotic mushroom necessary for the growth of the embryon and development of the future plant.. It is not surprizing that this orchid is rarely seen alone. In the prairies, their long stalks give a military air to their surroundings.
Animal of the borders, it is at the edge of the woods, in the clearing at dawn and dusk that the deer lets itself be seen, especially in winter when the animals group together in small herds. In the shadow, their mirror, that white heart shaped mark under the tail for the female and the form of a ben for the male sometimes gives them away. Delicate, agile and rapid, the deer is very discreet but leaves prints of its frail hooves in the snow or the mud la boue right up at the alpine level. It is also remarkable by its strong « voice » a powerful bark when it is disturbed. At the beginning of its life, the fawn is covered with white marks which camouflage it. This « bambi » often stays lying on the grass. If you discover one, do not touch it: it has not been abandoned.
Short toed snake eagle
Spring has hardly arrived when strident cries as loud as the church bell can be heard You must lift up your head to admire these big birds flying together alternating between diving and hovering in the sky like two silver kites playing with the wind.. Their clear stocky sillouette, and their darker head enable you to identify the short toed snake eagle.. It feeds mainly on reptiless (lizards and snakes) which it catches by the head, which it can then regurgitate in order to feed its chicks.
Glacial cross cliffs
A glacial cross cliff is the constriction of the valley due to the terrain which has not been able to be eroded, either by the glacier, or by water at the bottom or the sides of the valley.. Here two cross cliffs are visible: upwind, at Daurens, and downwind at la Barrière which developed to a drop of 500 m.
Belvedere and the Touret Summit
In the valley below the Touret summit (1572 m) the belvedere will be your reward for this hike with a remarkable view of the Malsanne vallley and its surroundings. Below, a vast agriculatural plain extends where there are the 18 hamlets making up the commune Périer. The heights are punctuated by Colombier, Coiro and Obiou summits.
In the village of Périer, pass in front of the old Alpinistes hotel and go right into rue de la Scierie left of the wash house.. Over the sawmill cross Tourot bridge and go up a few bends onto a limestone slope.. Pass two ruins, the elevated path above the Tourot canyons, come out near to Salce farm. At a fork situated at the summit of the prairies, take the itinerary to the left.. Near to the mountain pass, the old hayfields are now pastures for chamois goats and deer. On the ridge, take a path to the left penetrating the little fir tree wood to reach the Roche du Touret, a magnificent belvedere over the valley and the Grand Armet mountain range to the West. Return using the same itinerary.
Maison du Parc du Valbonnais
Place du Docteur Eyraud, 38740 Entraigues
04 76 30 20 61
Reception, information, temporary exhibition room, reading room and video-projection on demand. Shop: products and works of the Park. Free admission. All animations of the Park are free unless otherwise stated.
Coach stop : Le Périer
Access and parking
From Valbonnais take the D526, cross Entraigues and continue to Périer village.
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