The Alpe de Villar d'Arêne
At the heart of the Alpe valley, the mountain pastures continue the story of pastoralism in the present as they did in the past. The refuge gives hikers a taste of the high mountains and provides the opportunity of spending a night with the family in the refuge.
Romanche valley, Charles Bertier
The marmots’ "bosse"
The alpine marmot is naturally present on grass at altitude. Here, it occupies a singular place which we call the marmots’ "bosse». This hibernating rodent is only visible between April and October. The marmot lives in a family and respects a hierarchy. Games, grooming, fighting and biting ensure the dominance of a couple as well as the cohesion of the group. Each animal participates in the delimitation of the territory by rubbing its cheeks on rocks and also by urinating and defecating there. When there is danger, the marmot emits a high and powerful whistle in order to warn the others.
Mountaineers have always particularly liked the Alpe valley. It has long been a place for a base camp, for several big classic climbs in the Massif des Ecrins. It is over the ice cap that the famous roped party Coolidge-Almer succeeded in making the first ascension into the mountain of the Agneaux. Le 17 July 1873 following this they carried out the first crossing of the Casse Déserte mountain pass and the ascent of the Pointe Brevoort at the Grande Ruine.
Hidden at the foot of a rhododendron bush, caught between the scree and the edge of the, is a rare species, it is as bright as it is rare. Do not rub against the Columbine, or it will lose its petals. The leaflets are split with deep incisions, in a double layer to form simple leaves, lifting up young milky buds at the end of the stalk and magnificent widely spread out flowers, azur fragments lost in the vegetation. Columbine flowers are the only ones that possess five spurs, five petals at their extremities in a cornet, protected by five sepals in the form of a lance.
From the car park at Gravière, follow the bottom of the valley on the right bank on an excellent path that crosses the Pas d'Anna Falque. The fork that divides the way between the Alpe and Adèle Planchard is well marked. Take the track that goes up to the left, cross the path of crevasses near to the weather station... A little later leave the GR 54 and fork to the right and continue straight ahead until the Alpe refuge at Villar-d'Arêne. Go round the refuge to the right and go down to the crossroads which overhangs the Romanche. Turn right in order to go back down to the Plan de l'Alpe and pass several streams until the path originally used at the beginning. Pick up the path slightly to the left which crosses the Pas d'Anna Falque in order to come back to the car park.
In mountain pastures, protection dogs are there to protect the herds from predators (wolves, etc.).
When I hike I adapt my behavior by going around the herd and pausing for the dog to identify me.
Find out more about the actions to adopt with the article "Protection dogs: a context and actions to adopt".
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Maison du Parc du Briançonnais
Place Médecin-Général Blanchard, 05100 Briançon
04 92 21 08 49
Located at the foot of the medieval town fortified by Vauban, declared World Heritage by UNESCO in 2008, the Maison du Parc Briançon is a welcoming place of information exchange. Three floors of exhibition to discover : the natural and cultural heritage, the museum of the history of skiing in Briançon. Documentation, maps, guidebooks, books and products of the Park. Guided tours for groups by reservation. Free admission.
Access and parking
From La Grave, take the D1091 in the direction of Villar d'Arêne. Go left on to the D207. At the crossroads, turn right towards Le Palun. Cross the Arsine bridge and park in the car park situated on the right.
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