Tour of Vuzelle
"From Pralognan-la-Vanoise, take the Bochor ski lift and follow the trail up to the Col de Leschaux, then follow the trail in the direction of ""Refuge du Grand Bec”. After the night at the shelter, take the trail that gœs down to the valley to the north, in the direction of ""Plan Fournier”. After 450 m of downhill ascents, at the first fork in the path, take the left path; follow the direction for “Mont Chevrier / Pralognan-la-Vanoise”. After 300 m of downhill ascents, at the intersection of the Touros wood, take the path that gœs south. After 250 m of a ""downhill flat"" path, take the path that gœs flat at this intersection. After about 300 m, cross the Vuzelle stream. 150 m after this stream, take the intersection in the clearing, the path on the left that gœs up (390 m) to the crest of Mount Chevrier. At the 1st intersection, take the lower trail. At the 2nd intersection, take the trail on the left and follow the direction of ""Pralognan-la-Vanoise”. At the next 2 intersections, follow the branch on the left. At the next intersection, take the trail on the right that gœs down. After the thalweg of the Combe des Pariettes, take the trail that gœs down the combe. After walking for about 600 m, take the paved road to Pralognan village centre."
- Departure : Departure station of the Bochor ski lift
- Arrival : Village church
- Towns crossed : PRALOGNAN-LA-VANOISE and PLANAY
Please note that the crossing of the trail between the Aiguille du Bochor and the Col de Leschaux is overhead and can be covered in late névés. This tour is best made late in the season, not before the end of July. Book your overnight stay at the refuge and your picnic for the 2nd day.
Access and parking
RD 915 to Pralognan la Vanoise
Village centre, Pralognan-la-Vanoise
10 points of interest
Leschaux"Ÿou are at the Col de Leschaux, overlooking the eponymous ravine on its south-facing slope. The term ""leschaux"" most likely comes from the pre-Roman ""calmis"" which translates as ""pastureland"", ""meadows"" or even ""alpine pasture""."
Alpine clubmossThe alpine clubmoss (Diaphastrum alpinum) is bound to the short, dry moors, on an area of bare ericaceous shrubland (heather). It is an artico-alpine species, which, as the adjective describes, is native to northern Europe. It found refuge at altitude in the Alps when global warming took place after the last ice age. It is a protected species in France. Other than autumn when its light green reproductive stems are visible, it is barely detectable to the layman’s eyes.
Rock ptarmiganThe rock ptarmigan is also an arctic-alpine species. It is beholden to the moraines, screes, and short grasslands at high altitude. It is part of the mountain galliformes such as the black grouse, the hazel grouse or the rock partridge dear to Marcel Pagnol. To adapt to the rigours of winter, it trades its summer grey plumage for an entirely white plumage, has claws covered entirely in feathers and, takes shelter in a snow igloo during intense cold periods.
Androsace alpinaThe Androsace alpina is a species protected at national level. It likes the fine screes and moraines on siliceous soil. Its altitudinal record is 3,350 m in Bessans. The data-gathering carried out by the Vanoise National Park’s rangers has made it possible to localise the species across all potential territories… and to index 50% of the known populations in France.
Alpage de la Vuzelle, yesterday and todayThe alpine mountain pasture of Vuzelle is one of 3 communal mountain pastures of Planay. Historically it welcomed a part of the hamlets’ dairy cows and the cheese was made on site in the summer. Currently, only one herd of heifers occupies the place in summer. A peculiarity of the mountain people is that some towns have mountain pastures over towns at higher altitude, thus the town of Planay has the mountain pastures of Ritort and Nants over that of Pralognan-la-Vanoise.
A helmet and vest are compulsoryŸou cross a forest boundary! It´s nothing to be alarmed about, it’s an area where the forest gradually colonises the rhododendron moors. This area at the upper limit of the forest is a vital habitat for the black grouse (Tetrao tetrix). Effectively, this concentrated area allows it, by turns, to nest (semi-woody cover), to raise the young (insects, berries and grasses), to feed in autumn (bilberries) or even in winter (tree buds) and to host its courtship displays. The gîte and the cover.
Lodgers, one after anotherIn the spruce trees before you, two birds use the same nest successively. Indeed, in the big spruces, the black woodpecker (Dryocopus martius) hollows out its nest, a box, directly in the trunk. After one breeding season, the woodpecker abandons its house. The Tengmalm´s owl follows it the year after, in order to lay its eggs and raise its offspring. So, if there are no old spruces, there are no black woodpeckers; no black woodpeckers and there are no Tengmalm´s owl!
Procession of titmiceDifferent environments cœxist along this route: spruce, alder, mixed forest with deciduous trees. Thus, the guild of tits presents a complete spectrum of species such as the great tit (the biggest), the coal tit, the European crested tit or the slender long-tailed tit. It often happens that during the winter, all these species gather together in large flocks (several dozen birds) to protect themselves better from their winged predators (Eurasian pygmy owl or Eurasian Sparrowhawk).
Ruisseau de la Vuzelle WaterfallThe Vuzelle waterfalls collect the waters of the watershed which gœs from Grand Bec up to the Pointe de Leschaux, via the Pointe du Creux Noir. Advice: in the mountains, do not rely on the freshness and purity of the water for drinking. In effect, the corpse of a wild or domestic ungulate in the watershed can lead to a bacteria proliferation which is invisible to the eye! This being said, the sight of a waterfall is always a moment of inner calmness.
Viewpoint from Mont ChevrierAs you descend the valley’s axis, you will see Mont Jovet (2,558 m in altitude), on its right before you, you recognised it, the Aiguille de la Vuzelle (2,573 m in altitude). To the back of the village of Pralognan-la-Vanoise, you can admire the Vanoise glaciers, the largest continental European ice cap covering nearly 1,960 ha, culminating at the Chasseforêt dome at 3586 m. Returning to the west, the Dents de la Portetta and the Crête du Mont Charvet bring you north to the Dent du Villard (hidden).