Lac Blanc from Refuge de Péclet-Polset
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Lac Blanc from Refuge de Péclet-Polset
PRALOGNAN-LA-VANOISE

Lac Blanc from Refuge de Péclet-Polset

Fauna
Lake and glacier
Viewpoint
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A one-day walking trail along the Chavière valley

"

As I climb up the Chavière valley, I am quickly immersed in a meadow-pasture landscape where I appreciate the beauty of the flora and enjoy observing families of marmots, lying silently in the grass. At the Refuge de Péclet-Polset, I find myself in a traditional alpine setting where the rock reigns supreme, the result of a ""carambolesque"" arrangement. The end of the walk is marked by the blue-green setting of Lac Blanc, an atmosphere of contemplation and meditation. The view from the lake takes my breath away with the Col du Soufre facing me, the points of the Observatory and the Râteau (rake) on the other side. If you are lucky, like me on this day, the ibex may make an appearance. Don’t be surprised to see some of them with colourful tags on their ears and collars around their necks, they are being studied and monitored!”

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20 points of interest
Fauna

A shy impersonator

Near the streams lives a discreet bird, the Marsh warbler. Its fawn brown plumage on top and yellowish beige on the underside, combined with its habit of hopping beneath the foliage, make this bird difficult to spot. On the other hand, it can be easily detected thanks to its song (a medley of other birds). It is only found in Vanoise in the summer because it is an insectivorous and migratory bird, which feeds mainly on Diptera (flies) and some spiders.
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Fauna

The dunnock!

The dunnock can be found in dense vegetation. It has a brown striped back, with a blueish-grey cap on the head. In the early morning, the male perches ostensibly on the tree branches where he will begin his warble. Otherwise, this bird will stay under the cover of vegetation. In summer, it feeds on berries, seeds and insects caught on the ground. Its eggs are turquoise in colour, in a nest which is often very camouflaged.
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Pastoralism

A community ahead of its time

Montaimont has served as a communal alpine pasture since 1921, and includes several buildings: two dwellings for summer grazing, a hut for National Park rangers, once a sérac cellar (fresh cheese made from the whey by-product of Beaufort cheese, particularly nice with jam), and several halls (stables) one of which houses pigs. This communal asset is managed by 36 shareholders who are residents of Pralognan. Cows, goats and pigs take advantage of this 537 hectare area. At present, only about ten cows graze there.
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Fauna

Leks

During the breeding season, black grouse males parade their black plumage, enhanced by their red wattles and lyre-shaped tail feathers. The males try to impress and attract the hens on a patch of territory known as a “lek”. The hens observe nearby, perched or on the ground. The song is a succession of stanzas composed of cooing and then hissing. It is heard here from the end of April to the end of May.
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Fauna

Above, on and under water

"The dipper is a small brown and black bird with a white breast which lives year-round along the river banks such as the Doron de Chavière. It feeds on insect larvae, molluscs or fish eggs which it catches by diving under water. This little bird has the particularity of diving, swimming and even walking on the river bed! It is a very lively bird, which actively defends ""its"" stretch of the river."
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Fauna

It is a people-friendly bird.

This bird, commonly found in Vanoise, has a black plumage, a grey head, and red tail and belly. A lively yet timid bird, it often shakes its tail twitchily. In the spring, the black redstart sings continually from the top of a roof or fence post. His song together with his posture and tail swing clearly indicate to the other males: “Private property, do not enter!”. Its song, punctuated by drier clicking sounds, is easily recognisable.
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Small heritage

Slow-cooked in a very hot oven

"Next to the Refuge du Roc de la Pêche, we can see the remains of a lime kiln. To obtain the final product, the ""slaked lime"", it is necessary to ""cook"" the limestone at more than 1,000 °C. This results in calcium oxide, also called ""quicklime"" to which water is added. This material is used as mortar for construction or for rendering buildings. In the mountain pastures, buildings are generally made of dry stone (without mortar) or bonded with the earth."
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Fauna

On the clods

The northern wheatear can be found in Vanoise in the summer but as an insectivore spends its summer in Africa. They inhabit meadows where they can find low walls or rock piles. The male’s breeding plumage is highly contrasting: a black mask on the head, an inverted “T” on the tail, white breast and dark wings. The female is similar, although less dramatic in appearance. It sings from its favourite perches, on rocks, the stems of yellow gentian or alpine docks.
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Flora

Drink in moderation or not at all!

Ÿellow gentian. The slopes of La Motte are adorned with yellow gentians (Gentiana lutea). This plant, neglected by cows for its bitterness, was traditionally picked at the end of September for its digestive properties. It takes 80 kg of roots, which are distilled, to obtain one litre of alcohol at 55-60° alcohol. Not to be confused with white hellebore (Veratrum album) which is highly toxic. The hellebore has alternating leaves, while the opposing leaves of the yellow gentian form a “cup-shape which you can drink from”.
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Pastoralism

Lo tsa pentu

"Chapendu means sloping meadow, ""lo tsa pentu"". The cheese cellar was restored in 2014 and is used for ageing goat cheeses produced on the mountain pasture by Sylvain Chevassu. This pasture, long abandoned by the grazing cows, is naturally uncultivated, particularly by the alder. The cows would neglect the more woody plants, while the goats love it!"
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Fauna

The common rock thrush

On the steep, dry and rocky slopes lives the common rock thrush. This insectivorous bird and consumer of small lizards spends the winter in the southern Sahara. The inimitable male has a rusty red breast and tail, a brown back and grey, almost bluish head. The female and the juveniles have a brownish plumage with dark bands. Its melodious song is composed of short phrases with flute-like connecting notes.
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Pastoralism

The Alpage de Ritort

I recommend a detour to the Alpage de Ritort for a visit and cheese tasting. Every year, from the beginning of June to the end of September, a family of farmers and its workers settle in the Alpage de Ritort. The farmer produces, with much work and care, 4 to 5 Beaufort cheeses per day, according to an ancestral recipe. Milking is done twice a day. From the 1st milking in the morning, he returns to the dairy and starts making his cheese: curdling, draining, mixing, cooking… the recipe is the result of traditional know-how perpetuated by the alpine farmer. This first production in the morning allows him to produce two Beaufort cheeses and, with the remaining whey, to also start in the production of sérac, a fresh cheese much like the Corsican brocciu or Italian ricotta, delicious with a salad! This mountain pasture is located in the PDO area of Beaufort d’Alpage.
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Architecture

Ritort

The main building of the Alpage de Ritort has two adjoining parts with two different roofs. There is no lauze here. Traditionally it was the ancelles (split wood tiles) that were used, some lauze was then used underneath to prevent the wind from ripping them off. In Ritort, the lower part of the building, used as a cheese dairy, has a tin roof that was restored in 1997, which is identical to the pre-existing roof. As for the adjoining dwelling, it has a traditional mixed ancelle-lauze roof.
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Architecture

The arbé

An “arbé” is a hut with a removable roof on a stone foundation. Used only in summer and reassembled, it forms itinerant camps, making it easy to follow the dairy cows. At each “tramée” (change of arbé), the herders moved their cooking pots and utensils, boards and canvasses for the roof. Later, metal sheets and tarpaulin would replace the boards and canvasses. These shelters, which emerged in the Middle Ages, are prevalent in the Chavière valley.
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Fauna

Like its song

The water pipit is a sparrow typical of the alpine meadows. With a rather discreet plumage, a clear brow and two white stripes on the wings, it is especially recognisable for its song delivered while in flight. It flies in a series of flights singing on the descent and breaking on the ascent. The song is a succession of “pipits”, hence its name. As a partial migrant, it spends the winter at a lower altitude, near the wetlands and ponds. It feeds on seeds and invertebrates.
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Geology

Like a tarte tatin

The Refuge de Péclet-Polset is located on a rocky concretion. This is a glacial rock bar. During the formation of the Alps and the strong stresses of the tectonic plates, the succession of the geological layers was completely reversed: the oldest geological strata are found above the most recent strata, unlike a normal sequence of formation.
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Fauna

The mountain “sparrow”

The white-winged snowfinch lives at high-altitude all year round in the alpine meadows and grasslands. This cousin of the house sparrow is highly distinctive because it is the largest of the small birds present in winter at these altitudes. At the end of August, the white-winged snowfinches gather together in groups. Not particularly shy, they mingle with man around the high-altitude restaurants in winter and also the chalets and refuges where they nest.
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Geology

A pebble?

Close to Lac Blanc, you can see vermiculated limestones dating from Triassic (- 252 million years to - 201 million years). These rocks of a rather yellowish appearance are covered with bluish marks. These are the fossil traces of marine worm burrows.
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Lake

I have setbacks, but I keep myself together

Lac Blanc was formed by the melting waters of the Gébroulaz glacier. It is interesting to note that in the eighteenth century, in the midst of the Little Ice Age, Lac Blanc did not yet exist and the Gebroulaz glacier had a larger surface. The water leaves the lake by a “leak” close to the banks. The water system becomes temporarily subterranean in the limestone rock, then reappears further downstream by a resurgence.
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Fauna

Cousin to the crow

From the alpine elevation, among the groups of alpine choughs, the red-billed chough is heard by its hoarse, rather rolled cry. This acrobatic ace, from the corvid family, smaller than the carrion crow is distinguished by its black plumage and its red beak and feet. It nests in cliffs and feeds on seeds, berries and terrestrial invertebrates. It is a social bird that lives with a partner or in small groups.
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Description

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Park at the Pont de la Pêche car park. At the level of the National Park’s information panels take the vehicle track on the left in the direction of “Montaimont”. After the hamlet of Montaimont, cross the Doron de Chavière to reach the Refuge du Roc de la Pêche, then follow ""Refuge de Péclet-Polset"" by the vehicle track leading to the refuge. Go around the refuge on the right and continue along the path to Lac Blanc.
To return, take the path in the opposite direction.
"
Departure : Pont de la Pêche car park, Pralognan-la-Vanoise
Arrival : Pont de la Pêche car park, Pralognan-la-Vanoise
Towns crossed : PRALOGNAN-LA-VANOISE

Altimetric profile


Recommandations

Please note that mountain biking is only permitted up to the Refuge de Péclet-Polset and only on the vehicle track. The trail after the refuge is inaccessible to horses (bare rock passage and micro cliff). The route passes through the heart of the National Park and, as such, you must leave your dog at home or with someone you trust.

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 de la Vanoise - Avenue Chasseforêt<br>73710 Pralognan-la-Vanoise,

hotesse.pralognan@vanoise-parcnational.fr

04 79 08 71 49


Find out more

Transport

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Rail connection to Moûtiers. Information: www.voyages-sncf.com
Then transport by coach to Pralognan-village. Information:www.transavoie.com
In July-August, a shuttle bus runs between Pralognan centre and the Pont de la Pêche car park.
Information: www.pralognan.com
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Access and parking

RD 915 to Pralognan-la-Vanoise. Pass the Olympic flame at the entrance to the village, then follow the municipal road on the right just before the municipal swimming pool, until the Pont de la Pêche car park (approximately 5 km)

Parking :

Pont de la Pêche car park, Pralognan-la-Vanoise

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