Vallon de l'Orgère
The valley of Orgère is a natural setting hanging over the Maurienne Valley where a wild and ancient forest shares the space with meadows maintained by several generations of farmers. Here, both wild and domesticated nature live in perfect harmony under the ominous but benevolent vigilance of the Aiguille Doran.
Park in the Orgère car park located after the refuge at the end of the road. Then take the old EDF track, located at the bottom of the car park. Follow the discovery trail marked by landmarks and equipped with visual, audible and tactile interpretation stations. Pass a concrete bridge that straddles the Povaret stream to reach the foot of the Aiguille Doran. Here the section of the trail labelled “Promenade de confort” ends. For people with reduced mobility and pushchair users, return to the car park by the outward route. For hikers wishing to complete the loop, follow a path to a wooden footbridge to cross the Masse stream. Continue along a winding path until you reach a crossing which is also the summit of this hike. At this crossing, turn right following the markers for the discovery trail. After walking through the rhododendrons, enter the heart of the forest, while continuing to descend gradually, exit the forest to reach a second crossing, located near the chalets. Take a right on an off-road track, arrive at a stone bridge crossing the Povaret stream. Continue on, then cross a group of buildings, including a chapel on your left. Follow the markers for the discovery trail and climb through a softwood forest by a winding path. Come out on to a road, climbing back up to reach the car park.
- Departure : Orgère car park, Villarodin-Bourget
- Arrival : Orgère car park, Villarodin-Bourget
- Towns crossed : VILLARODIN-BOURGET
As the trail largely borders the heart of the park, you are strongly advised to keep any dogs accompanying you on a leash. This also prevents any interactions with animals in the mountain pastures.
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. After a 30 minute drive, pass the Refuge on your right to access the car park.
Accessible path of about 1.4 km for people with reduced mobility and motor disabilities, certified
”Promenade confort” (comfort trail), with two disabled parking spaces. The trail is punctuated by
stations consisting of tactile features, models and sound stations. The National Park’s Refuge-Porte de l´Orgère has been certified “Accessible Tourism” for the 4 disability types since 2014.
10 points of interest
Refuge de l’OrgèreAcquired in 1969 by the Vanoise National Park, former residence of EDF workers, the Refuge de l’Orgère is one of the 4 “refuges-portes” (gateway shelters) of Vanoise National Park.
Chapel of “Notre-dame-des-Neiges”During the summer, it was difficult to get down to the village for church services. Chapels were therefore built on the mountain pastures. The lauze roofing and architecture of the building show us how local materials were once used, with the sparing use of wood. In order to avoid mountain hazards such as rock falls and avalanches, the religious buildings such as oratories or crosses figure prominently on the mountain.
The black woodpecker and the boreal owl"Although timid, the largest of the European peckers rarely gœs unnoticed because of its ""kraaak kraaak kraaak"" cries in flight often followed by a powerful ""zhreee"" when it lands. Black and the size of a crow, the male has a red cap covering the whole skull which is limited to the neck in the female. Seeking out old trees to dig its nest, its role is decisive for the boreal owl. This boreal forest owl cannot dig its own home in the wood, so it must use the old homes made by the black woodpecker."
The spotted nutcrackerKnown as the ghost of the forest, it is often its raucous cry that will call you, before you see it, flying through the branches. If you are a bird watcher, you may have already noticed near the outskirts of the trail the many cembro pine cones which it took care to dissect with its powerful beak to extract the seeds. They have a large number of reserves which they hide in multiple places throughout the forest and which they can find with absolute precision thanks to a highly developed localisation technique. The forgotten seeds will germinate and help in the reproduction of the cembro pine.
LichensA lichen is the fruit of a symbiosis between an algae and a fungus: the fungus protects the algae, giving it water and mineral salts and the algae produces sugars and other products, which it shares with the fungus. An excellent indicator of air quality, capable of withstanding extreme living conditions, there are a great many species in the Orgère forest, including wolf lichen, which grows almost exclusively on the larch tree. With a bright sulphur-yellow colour, it is the only toxic lichen in France. Legend has it that it takes its name from its alleged use as a poison against the wolf.
The Orgère forestComprised of a mixture of cembro pines and European larches, the Orgère forest has derived its richness from the absence of logging since 1943. As a result, it has ecological characteristics that bring it closer to primary forests with many centuries-old trees and a large proportion of dead wood.
The ferruginous rhododendronOften called the “rose of the Alps”, the rhododendron blooms with striking pink flowers in June. Its secret? It prepares next year’s flower buds at the end of the summer. These buds, protected from the cold and frost by the snow, can withstand the rigours of winter and thus flower very early. The ferruginous quality dœsn’t come from the colour of the flowers but from the rusty colour of the underside of its leaves.
The chalets"When most of the flat areas, more suitable for building chalets, were occupied, it was necessary to build on the slope, in areas more exposed to avalanches. Some chalets therefore had to be built with a specific architecture in order to resist avalanches: semi-buried, oriented in the direction of the slope and protected by a protective promontory called a ""tourne""."
The black grouseInhabiting the upper limits of the alpine forest and the fields of bilberries and rhododendron, the black grouse is also known as the black cock. Very discreet, thanks to its brown homochromatic plumage, the female is very difficult to spot. With its black plumage and its lyre-shaped tail after which it is named, the male is much less so. Especially in the spring, at daybreak when the cocks engage in spectacular courtship displays alternating between combat and intimidation when they coo and hiss powerfully.
The red deerAs a result of hunting and logging, the deer had all but disappeared from the Savoy forests. Reintroduced between 1958 and 1973, it has adapted remarkably well to the mountain environment to form a fine population. In autumn the mating season gives rise to spectacular fighting between males, but it is the raucous and powerful cries of the deer that bring the valley to life. Taking advantage of the peacefulness of the place, the animals bellow practically all day long.