Col de la Bailletta from le Fornet
Col de la Bailletta from le Fornet
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This path, which is well worth the hike, lets you visit the National Nature Reserve of Baillettaz. With a little luck and a keen sense of observation, the hiker will have the opportunity to approach (but not disturb) the king of the mountains, My Lord, the Alpine Ibex!
From the Fornet cable car departure station, go back down the RD 902 for about 150 m. Take the only tarmac road that climbs steeply to the right. After passing the “tourne” (embankment followed by a ditch) follow the trail that gœs to the right. At each intersection, take the left junction until the Col de la Bailletta. The path has a flat-uphill profile after the crossing through the hamlet (about 1 km), the slope is accentuated between the entrance into the nature reserve (Rouvines stream) and the first plateau of Couart below (850 m). The trail winds up to the 2nd plateau of Couart above. Then cross a scree up to the Col de la Bailletta: follow the cairns in case of late snowfall. For a picnic, don’t hesitate to go down to the Bailletta lake as the pass is often windy...
- Departure : Car park, hamlet of Fornet
- Arrival : Car park, hamlet of Fornet
- Towns crossed : VAL D'ISERE and TIGNES
Remember to bring sufficient water for the day as no water sources are available. Take a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen as it is extremely sunny in the summer months. If you want to get a better look at the large wildlife, the best times would be either early in the morning or late in the evening. Visitors to the nature reserve are kindly asked to respect the regulations.
Vanoise Information Desk - Val d'Isère
Immeuble le Thovex Office de tourisme), 73150 Val-d'Isère
04 79 06 06 60
Access and parking
Val d´Isère, continue on the RD 902 towards the Col de l´Iseran, then park in the hamlet of Fornet.
Hamlet of le Fornet
10 points of interest
The tourneThe historic Fornet is located on the left bank of the Isère which keeps it protected from avalanches and rock falls. The extension of the Fornet on the right bank, where you stand, was only allowed with the construction of this tourne (mound + ditch) against avalanches and rock falls. Also notice the absence of walls that face its slopes. In the eighteenth century, the Fornet d´Aval, between the Laisinant and the current Fornet, was completely destroyed by an avalanche. The ruins remain visible.
The wintering area for ibex and chamoisThe south facing slopes which loom above are a wintering area of primary importance for the chamois and ibex. In winter 2015 there were approximately 120 ibex and 150 chamois. Two survival strategies exist: the ibex holds on to its fat reserves, remains inactive and has additional feeds (it loses up to 30% of its weight in winter!), while the chamois has a metabolism that requires meals almost daily, hence its presence in the avalanche paths where snow clearing occurs naturally.
Primula pedemontanaThe Primula pedemontana is recognisable in the spring by its beautiful pink flowers and edged leaves and small red glands, which distinguish it from its cousin, the Primula hirsuta. It is a species that lives on siliceous rocks, like quartzite (white-green rock) overhead. It is a protected species at the national level and, as such, cannot be picked. In the nature reserve, all vegetation is protected. Ÿou can touch it with your eyes and nose!
The history of the Baillettaz Natural ReserveThe Baillettaz National Nature Reserve was created in 2000, following the complete decommissioning of the Col de l´Iseran Nature Reserve (created in 1963), in order to reclassify the valley´s ski area. It covers an area of approximately 495 ha. Its natural heritage consists mainly of flora, large fauna (chamois and ibex), as well as birds of prey (golden eagle, bearded vulture and common kestrel).
Livestock and the wolfThe return of the wolf and the lynx cause problems for livestock, particularly sheep. As a consequence, dogs and patous have been introduced into the flocks in order to protect them. If they approach and start barking, stay calm, don’t shout out or make any sudden movements. After observing you for a moment, they will leave you to continue on your way. If a puppy or a young wolf approaches you, do not pet it. “Belle and Sébastien” is make believe!
Agricultural practicesŸou arrive at the level of the 1st plateau called “Couart dessous”. The dry-stone walled park was once used to pen the flock for the night. Until the end of the 1990s, there was a communal flock of sheep, containing around 800 animals owned by several Val d´Isère farmers. With the change of pastoral practices, this flock was replaced by a private herd from Aiton, part of which is still owned by Christophe Mattis, who resides in Fornet.
The flora of the reserveThe majority of the reserve’s natural habitats are either attached to alpine grasslands or to rocks and screes, as well as some rare wetlands. The heritage species, often protected, include the carex bicolor on the wetlands, the saxifraga diapensioides on the limestone cliffs, Saxifraga muscoides on the screes and damp calcschist cliffs. Kœlerie of Mont-Cenis (Kœleria cenisia) is a fine example of the flora that grows on the reserve’s dry, scorched limestone grasslands.
The ibexIn addition to the wintering areas, the natural reserve encompasses calving and rearing areas for the “étagnes” (female ibex). From mid-June to the beginning of August, the étagnes give birth, in isolation and often in vires (inaccessible rocky terraces). After 2 to 3 days, the étagne joins the family group she usually lives with (sisters, cousins, aunts and grandmothers). In turn, they can then move away from the group, leaving their kid under the group’s collective supervision. An ibex nursery!
The ecological continuity of protected natural areasWith the Grande Sassière Nature Reserve behind it, the Baillettaz Nature Reserve, together with the Vanoise National Park and the Italian Gran Paradiso, forms the largest protected area in Europe. In terms of environmental preservation, the proximity of these protected areas ensures the ecological continuity between different mountain massifs, which has resulted in the return of the alpine Ibex by natural recolonisation from the Gran Paradiso.
The Vaudois passageThe mountain pass before you is that of Iseran. The road was opened in 1937. Prior to this road, only a mule track existed. The passage of man can be traced to the Roman era, with coins and a statuette found in Val d´Isère. Some crossings have even left their mark on history. In 1689, the Vaudois (an austere Christian minority who took refuge in Switzerland) wanted to return to their asylum grounds (4 Italian valleys, adjoining the Queyras) and passed with weapons and baggage. No one intervened despite the orders given!