Tour of Tête Noire and Lac de la Partie
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Tour of Tête Noire and Lac de la Partie
VILLARODIN-BOURGET

Tour of Tête Noire and Lac de la Partie

Fauna
Flora
Pastoralism
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Route that gœs through two preserved valleys and provides access to a crystal-clear lake. Easy route showcasing the landscapes of the surrounding high mountains.
It is with some regret that we leave the captivating and serene Orgère valley, but you will be even more amazed by its splendour as you climb up the valley. Ÿou will quickly find yourself immersed in the surrounding summits, the view of the Chavière glaciers and the discovery of Lac de la Partie, nestled at the foot of the Aiguille Doran. Dazzled by the different perspectives, you will slowly descend to the hamlet of Polset, before taking advantage of a shady path that gently leads you back to Orgère.

25 points of interest
Viewpoint

L'Estiva

"Situated just above the forest boundary, the ruins of ""L´Estiva"", testament of former pastoral activity, offer a breathtaking view of the whole valley of Maurienne and the valley of l’Orgère."
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Pastoralism

Sheep on the summer pastures

During the summer grazing period you will be able to see the sheep on the alpine pastures. This ancient pastoralism, evident in the stone ruins still standing in Estiva, still continues today. These flocks of sheep, reared by farmers in the valley, gradually climb from the village of Villarodin-Bourget by following the evolution of the growing grass.
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Pastoralism

The ovine breed Thônes and Marthod

After a sharp decline, local breeding began to recover at the end of the 20th century, thanks in particular to the Thônes and Marthod breed. This breed, with its curly wool, well-developed horns in both sexes and the black outlined eyes and ears, is easy to recognise. This sheep is remarkably adapted to the alpine pastures of southern Savoy. Although its origins are ancient, it dœs not seem to have spread from its original pre-alpine birthplace. Its hardiness, its excellent fertility and its good milking aptitude undoubtedly explain this renewed interest.
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Fauna

The wheatear

A small sparrow characteristic of the alpine grasslands, the northern wheatear is easy to recognise by its white rump and its tail with an inverted black T. The rest of the male’s plumage is grey, white and ochre, while the female is uniform beige. Often perched on a rock, it alerts its presence with a “wit wit” or “chac chac”. This is a migratory bird that only inhabits the Vanoise during the summer months before crossing the Sahara to spend the winter in Equatorial Africa.
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Know-how

The calade made with the Lycée Professionnel des Métiers de la Montagne.

This portion of the trail, whose work was completed in 2013, is the fruit of a valuable collaboration between the Park workers and the “Lycée professionnel des métiers de la montagne” (vocational school of mountain trades) of Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne. For three years, the pupils of this school, supervised by the workers, used the ancestral techniques of the calade to refurbish a portion of the trail that the particularly unstable terrain was damaging each year.
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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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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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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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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

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 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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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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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

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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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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Flora

The high-altitude forest

The mountain forests, which like the ones occupying the Polset and Orgère valley, essentially consist 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 or the other depending on altitude or exposure.
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Refuge

Refuge de l’Orgère

Acquired 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.
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Description

"From Orgère car park, go down the road to the refuge and take the trail on your right signposted by the Park. Climb through a wooded combe to reach the ruins of Estiva. Continue north via a gentler terraced path. Arrive at a recently restored calade and follow this gently sloping paved trail. Arrive once again at a quieter relief, cross an area of scree before reaching a crossroads. On your right, below is Lac de la Partie. To go back down, reach this crossing and follow the signs for ""Hameau de Polset"". Once at the hamlet, cross it following a track, then before the track makes a first turn, take the route for Refuge de l’Orgère. Enter the forest before crossing a road and continue to follow the sign marked ""l´Orgére"" for the return."
Departure : Orgère car park, Villarodin-Bourget
Arrival : Orgère car park, Villarodin-Bourget
Towns crossed : VILLARODIN-BOURGET, MODANE

Altimetric profile


Recommandations

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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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
No public transport between Modane and Orgère car park.
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. After a 30 minute drive, pass the Refuge on your right to access the car park.

Parking :

Orgère car park, Villarodin-Bourget

Accessibility

Two disabled parking spaces, Refuge-Porte de l´Orgère certified “Accessible Tourism” for the 4 types of disability.
Emergency number :
114

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