Col de Chavière
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Col de Chavière
SAINT-ANDRE

Col de Chavière

Architecture
Flora
Lake and glacier
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A gentle climb to the high mountain by an easy trail which leads to a breathtaking panoramic view and access to a pass scattered with névés.
Ÿou climb into the privacy of a small authentic valley. After the hamlet you cross a sparse forest before reaching the alpine pastures. Then you roam through a mineral landscape where you will be rewarded with a 360° view of the Vanoise glaciers.

22 points of interest
Pastoralism

Pasture land

The Vanoise is also an agricultural land. This pasture is currently used by sheep in the summer. These sheep are transhumant originating from the south of France. This pastoral vocation is old and the chalets are proof of it. Carrying on this activity is important for keeping the open spaces that are habitats for many species.
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Fauna

Wintering grounds of the chamois and ibex

Thanks to their southern exposure and their steep declivity, the slopes above the hamlet of Polset are replete with chamois and ibex during the winter months. The steep terrain and its predominantly southern exposure facilitate the clearance of snow and allow the ungulates to quickly find the grass that is vital to their winter survival.
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Fauna

The scarce swallowtail

Large, generally pale yellow with black stripes that cut through its wings, it is easy to spot even in full flight. It tends to hover in flight. A beautiful butterfly that can’t be missed, it loves warm, herbaceous and slightly bushy areas with rocky outcrops. The Polset valley has a wealth of assets to welcome this butterfly.
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Geology

The amphitheatre

First stop to observe the “stones”. Strata are visible, so we have a sedimentary rock. 300 million years ago a chain of mountains covered what was to become France. Eroded, it left space for a warm, shallow sea. At the bottom of this sea, the sediments were deposited and our rock began to form between -240 and -233 million years. In 7 million years a rock thickness of about 150 m was created. We can only see about 5 metres here. It is grey limestone. The uplift of the Alps 80 million years ago moved and carried this rock to where we walk today.
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Fauna

The eagle and festooning.

The cliffs above Polset have provided nesting for the golden eagle. If the eyries (nests) are poorly visible, the eagles can still be seen during the mating season when they put on magnificent displays. During these displays, the eagles fly through the skies tracing the curves of a parabola, soaring rapidly then diving. It is said that the eagles festoon. The period running from March to April is the best time to see this wonderful spectacle.
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Flora

The high-altitude forest

The mountain forests, which like the one occupying the Polset valley, consist almost entirely of coniferous trees. These trees are in fact more resistant to the cold. The selection of species is influenced by the air humidity; at around 1,800 m, you will find the spruce, which then gradually makes way for the fir, and then in turn gives way to the larch and cembro pine on the southern slopes. Of course, the boundaries are not clear and we usually find a mixture of these four species with a predominance of one depending on altitude or exposure.
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Architecture

Hamlet of Polset

The climate and local materials have brought about a special know-how in the construction of buildings, which are built on an East-West orientation, supported and well hung on the slope. The buildings take advantage of existing boulders and natural hollows to provide shelter from avalanches and the wind. In Polset, an interesting fact is that the builders combined both stone and wood. Beams embedded in the masonry form a chain that surround the building to strengthen its cohesion.
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Fauna

The ring ouzel

It is easy to identify because it assumes the plumage of the common blackbird. It is distinguished by its large white bib on the breast and clear edging on the feathers of the wings and the belly. This wild, fast-flying mountain thrush inhabits the edges of the larch, Scots pine, spruce and cembro pine forests between 1,000 to 2,500 metres in altitude. Ÿou will easily notice this bird at the tops of the trees where it loves to perch!
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Water

The Polset waterfalls

From the seasonal melting of the Chavière glacier, the water flows gently before gushing over the walls at a height of about 100 m. After a brief moment of respite where the stream winds through lush vegetation, it plunges again over a succession of falls which, although not as high, are equally as pretty. It is quite surprising to see the variations in colour and flow of these waterfalls that can be seen on the same the day.
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Water

The Source du Vin (source of wine)

This small spring, which obviously dœs not produce wine, was set up by the workers of the National Park to offer a welcome pit stop on this very sunny route. The origin of the name of this place is not really known, but the most sensible explanation would be to say that it is a place where one could drink wine without restraint!
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Fauna

The golden eagle

The golden eagle is one of Europe’s rare and protected species. Its large size, dark colouring and rectangular wings make it easy to identify. During the hottest times of the day, it takes to the skies and uses the rising currents to soar high. Thanks to its excellent field of vision, the golden eagle scans its surroundings in search of a marmot, a hare or another rodent. As a frequent visitor to this area, it tends to inhabit the cliffs surrounding the waterfalls.
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Flora

The great yellow gentian

Among the gentian species, the great yellow gentian is the most used: its roots have tonic, digestive and cleansing properties. Abandoned by cows for its bitterness, it was traditionally picked at the end of September. It should not be confused with the white hellebore (Veratrum album) which is similar in appearance before flowering but very toxic. Distinguishing between the two is easy: the leaves of the gentian are positioned in an opposing way while the veratrum album alternate in spirals. The gentian grows abundantly in the highland pastures.
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Pastoralism

The guard dog

The natural return of the wolf has wreaked havoc on pastoral practices. In order to protect their flocks, breeders have put in place protective measures: the presence of a shepherd to monitor the sheep as well as the establishment of enclosures. To complete this measure, Pyrenean Mountain Dogs (Patous), used secularly, have been reintroduced to the mountain pastures. The word patou designates the dog’s protective role and not its race. The dogs generally used are Pyrenean Mountain Dogs. The patou protects the herd against everything he considers a predator, one of which is the wolf.
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Pastoralism

The cattle rests

"Called ""cattle rests"", these grounds where the herds are stationed are greatly enriched with nitrates by the animal excrement. Often located near a shepherd´s hut, they have a dense, exuberant and sparsely varied vegetation, composed mainly of alpine docks. This nitrophilous plant (which likes nitrate) is also called ""monk’s rhubarb""."
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Pastoralism

Transhumance

In summer, this part of the valley is occupied by a herd of more than 1,000 merino sheep. Unlike the herds that inhabit the valley of Orgère and Estiva, this herd spends the winter on the pastures of Crau in the Bouches-du-Rhône and it is only from June that it returns to the Alps and gradually climbs from the hamlet of Polset to graze on the alpine pastures.
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Fauna

The black redstart

Another bird that bears his name well! Generally dark, apart from the red tail feathers and the edge of the white wings in the male, it is easily recognisable. Its song is also quite simple and recalls the sound of crinkling paper. It likes old buildings where it can make its nest. The hamlet of Polset offers it shelter and cover during the summer months.
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Fauna

The marmot

Belonging to the squirrel family, marmots occupy the mountain pastures in small family groups. Ÿou can observe them eating as, having become accustomed to passing hikers, they are not timid. Ÿou can hear their shrill screams echoing in the mountain as they alert their fellow-mates to the presence of any predators. Marmots are born in June in the shelter of their family burrow. It’s only in July that you will be able to see them.
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Geology

Dissolving funnels

Gypsum, or hydrated calcium sulphate, is a highly soluble rock that dissolves easily under rainfall or snowmelt. When gypsum dissolves, it reveals funnels where the snow lingers, which further accentuates the dissolved rock and enlarges the funnels. Several of these whitish lunar craters are visible around the trail that leaves Lac de la Partie.
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Flora

Genépis

The term genépi is a generic name that refers to plant species of the genus “artemisia” to which the grand wormwood also belongs and which is used as a constituent in absinthe. In Vanoise there are 3 species of genépi: the black genépi, glacier genépi and yellow genépi. A plant beholden to the moraines and screes, the genépi is best known for the liqueur that is made from its flowers. The genépi is quite common around the mountain pass. We must remind you however that the picking of plants is prohibited in the heart of Vanoise National Park.
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Pass

The Col de Chavière

The mountain pass, whose etymology, “bald” accurately describes the mineral environment that reigns there. A passageway between the Tarentaise and the Maurienne, the pass offers a view over the Chavière glaciers and the Dôme de Polset. To the north, on the horizon, you can see Mont-Blanc, while to the south stands the Écrins mountain range.
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Fauna

The alpine ibex in summer

In summer, the ibex climb to a high altitude to seek out the cool. Grouped by sex, the males spend most of the day resting in the shade of a rock and are only active in the evening or in the morning, when they enjoy feeding in the cool air. Ÿou can see these ibex around the pass. The females, known as “étagnes”, devote their time to raising their young on cliffs often interspersed with grassy ledges.
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Lake

Lac de la Partie

Small shallow lake with glints of green at altitude, the Lac de la Partie undoubtedly originates in the rocky mounds which dominate to the south. This old rockslide has blocked the stream that flows in the base of the valley and still feeds the lake.
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Description

"From the car park, follow the road, cross the bridge straddling the Polset stream, then take the track on the left. Cross the hamlet of Polset. At the end of the hamlet, leave the track to take a path on your right signposted by the National Park: Lac de la Partie, Col de Chavière. Gradually climb through a forest. Arrive at the Source du Vin. Continue along the trail that winds through the alpine pastures, passing in front of a shepherd’s chalet. Merge onto a crossing of the trail, take the left still following the sign for ""Col de Chavière"". Ÿou can make a detour by the Lac de la Partie located below the trail to the east. Continue climbing through the cargneule terrain then through a long scree, sometimes covered with late névés. Ÿou have arrived. Turn back to retrace your steps to reach the departure point."
Departure : Polset car park in Modane
Arrival : Polset car park in Modane
Towns crossed : SAINT-ANDRE, MODANE

Altimetric profile


Recommandations

Presence of a late névé at the edges of the pass. Bypass it and avoid undertaking it when the snow is still very hard.
Is in the midst of the park
The national park is an unrestricted natural area but subjected to regulations which must be known by all visitors.

Information desks

Maison Cantonale<br>9 Place Sommeiller<br>73500 Modane,

http://www.cchautemaurienne.com/

info@cchmv.fr

04 79 05 26 67


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43 route des Barrages<br>73500 Aussois,

http://www.aussois.com

info@aussois.com

04 79 20 30 80


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Maison cantonale - Place sommeiller<br>73500 Modane,

04 79 05 57 94


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Transport

"
Rail connection to Modane. Information: www.voyages-sncf.com
Suggested hitchhiking organised in the Haute-Maurienne valley. Information: www.rezopouce.fr
"

Access and parking

From the exit of the A43 motorway, take the direction of Modane. At the Freney roundabout, take the RD 106 towards the Refuge de l´Orgère which is signposted. Cross the village of Saint-André, the hamlet of Col and park in the car park located below the hamlet of Polset.

Parking :

Polset car park in Modane

Accessibility

One disabled car park space available.
Emergency number :
114

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