Owing to its depth (68 m), its surface area (37,2ha) and its volume of water (6, 8 million m3): the Lauvitel is a lake that holds many records. It is adjacent to the Lauvitel nature reserve, which is closed to the public. Created in 1955 for "a reinforced protection of the fauna and the flora for scientific purposes", it is the first place of this kind to have been created in a French National Park.
Dedicated to Saint Louis and to Saint Claude, Danchère Chapel displays its agreeable proportions to visitors. The stones forming the arc of a circle above the entrance and the window do not only have aesthetic value. They are rightly called "a relieving structure" because they help to redistribute the weight of the facade on both sides of the openings. In the recess hidden behind wire netting is a ceramic statue of Saint Louis created in the Tarn region.
With its paved lanes, its fountains and its stone wash-house, the Danchère offers an ideal starting point for going to Lauvitel which attracts 30 000 visitors every year. It is one of the numerous hamlets that make up the commune of Vénosc.
The Lauvitel path is often used especially during the summer. To limit the occurrence of erosion linked to the impact of human use but also to water flowing from melting ice or rain water it is covered with traditional paving, maintained thanks to annual restoration.
The marmots are some of the permanent inhabitants of the grassland at the alpine level. . The view is very open, the herbaceous food is abundant and the soil sufficiently soft for them to be able to dig their burrows which are necessary for their survival. Although this animal is wild animal, it can become accustomed to the presence of humans and some marmots have started the bad habit of begging for pieces of biscuit from hikers, crisps and apples. Please do not feed them ! These foods, which are unsuitable to their needs, damage their health and survival. Would you think of eating grass in order to survive?
Lauvitel Lake is the biggest (around 25-35 ha) and the deepest (40-65 m) in the Ecrins National Park. A rocky landslide around 4000 years ago, added to an existing glacial moraine to form a natural dam capable of retaining such a volume of water. The waters of the lake are cold and well oxygenated. They suit several species of fish including the Arctic Char or the Brown Trout which were introduced for anglers. Today the Lake Lauvitel is the subject of numerous scientific studies: physical parameters, sediment, phyto et zooplankton are collected and analyzed.
Around 4000 years ago, a rocky landslide added to an existing glacial moraine to form a natural dam capable of retaining this large volume of water. The seasonal variation of the level of the lake of 20 to 25 m is due to the permeability of the materials making the dam. In fact the lake does not have a spillway and the water infiltrates the boulders of the dam. It offers a beautiful view of the lake which infact inspired the painters at l'Abbé Guétal.
Chalets at altitude
On the Lauvitel dam are ancient prairie chalets as well as chalets that were built between the two World Wars to welcome hunters and anglers. Formally a private property, this valley was rented out to the ‘Bourgeoisie Dauphinoise’ for hunting. Angling, on the other hand, is still practised: it is managed by the Lauvitel Society for private angling. One of the chalets is still used to today to house agents from the Ecrins National Park and scientists from the nature reserve.
Cross the Danchère and continue along a good track to the crossroads near to the Lauvitel stream (Ecrins National Park noticeboard). Go up the paved path on the left, on the right bank of the stream. The track is bordered by dry stone walls which separate them from the cultivated fields. Cross the Selles stream near to the catchment area then follow the bends through the deciduous trees and the spruce trees. Cross numerous springs which are really resurgences from the lake. After having crossed a clearing with beautiful prairies, come out on to a lower shelf which leads to the edge of the Lauvitel (1530 m). For the return treck, follow the lake towards the cabins. At the fork, take the path to the right which goes down to the Danchère on the left bank of the stream. For the return journey along the lake towards the huts. At the fork, take the right path to reach halfway through the trailhead on the right bank of the creek. Down to Danchère, through the hamlet in reverse to reach the parking.
The Southern part of the lake and the bottom of the valley are classed as nature reserves: space prohibited to the public and dedicated to research. Attention, the Lauvitel valley is subject to avalanche risk.
Oisans Park house
Rue Gambetta, 38520 Le Bourg d'Oisans
04 76 80 00 51
Video presentation of the natural resources of the Oisans mountain and its crafts. Information, documentation about the Park, projections, reading space for children. Accessible to people with reduced mobility. Free admission. All animations of the Park are free unless otherwise stated.
Bus stop at Ougiers, on the La Bérarde - Bourg d'Oisans line (05voyageurs.com).
Access and parking
From Bourg-d'Oisans, take the D1091 to Le Clapier hamlet and take the D530 then the D214c on the right.
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