In the Pays des Écrins, the National Park represents diversity.
Indeed, there is amazing variety here: what a difference between the Mediterranean south-facing slopes of Les Vignettes and the Barre des Écrins, the spectacular blue thistle and the discreet androsace, the brown long-eared bat and the golden eagle, the frozen waterfalls of the Fournel’s north-facing slopes, the mild south-facing slopes of Freissinières and the distance of the high summits.
The National Park in the Pays des Écrins in summer
It was such diversity that initially led to the creation of the Écrins National Park in 1973.
The goal was to protect and showcase it.
In these areas, there are many possibilities for hikers, photographers or those who just want to observe. Make the most of it … in careful respect of the exceptional environment.
The National Park in the Pays des Écrins in winter
Although in winter the heart of the park is often only accessible to experienced mountaineers, it is always there, ‘in the background’: a feast for the eyes!
In this pristine landscape, the silence is even more significant than during the other seasons. It is incredibly valuable, and it is important should be preserved just like the unspoilt, track-free spaces.
The overall area, is home to exceptional fauna such as golden eagle, chamois, eagle-owl and black grouse, for whom winter, unlike for skiers, is not the best season!
At the end of the summer, some animals leave (swallows), and others hibernate (marmots). But many have to endure the cold, wind and lack of food.
Their fur or feathers change, they burrow (black grouse) or hide. They all need to save as much energy as possible to survive the winter.
For example, the black grouse only eats (a poor diet) two hours per day to avoid moving.
So, be careful! Follow Samivel’s advice:
‘Birds, marmots, stoats, chamois, ibex and all the little furry and feathered creatures now need your friendship to survive. Leave the shy animals in peace. Don’t bother them. That way, your children will enjoy the spring to come.
Vallouise Maison du Parc, a summary of the Pays des Écrins area
The Maison du Parc is an information centre and a meeting place where you can learn more thanks to several exhibitions and activities. It is a first approach to the Park, an educational centre with lots to discover.
The Maison du Parc national des Écrins for the Vallouise sector is an exceptional building and is representative of an architectural period of the 20th century. The glass and reinforced concrete building was inaugurated in 1977 and is unique in the Hautes-Alpes.
The renovation was inaugurated in 2014 and respects a building that is an emblem of its time, while moving towards new, more modern standards and requirements in terms of receiving the public and exemplary energy performance.
Visitors to the Maison du Parc can visit a permanent exhibition to learn more about the territory and its history. The exhibition is entertaining and interactive and engages the senses using photographs, drawings, videos, bell sounds, ‘odorama’, tactile models, optical theatre… Different media to help understand all that makes up the territory.
It takes you on a journey to the heart of the Pays des Écrins, from the Durance Valley to the highest summits of the massif. It covers the main environments: the hot, dry areas along the Durance, the forests, meadows and glaciers. Each stop provides more information on geology, fauna, flora, human activities and the work of the National Park.
A ‘timeline’, illustrated with archaeological objects, photos and engravings helps to put the physical, climatological and biological changes and human presence in perspective.
Finally, the facilities are completed by an audiovisual room where projections and conferences can be organised and a reading area where everyone, children and adults, can refer to the publications provided by the Park, or take part in a game.
The exhibition is aimed at children, but it will appeal to all ages! It is also accessible to people with disabilities. The visit continues outside, along the discovery trail, which follows a circuit between the village of Vallouise and the Maison du Parc.
Many activities are organised (children’s workshops, projections, conferences, etc.). They are listed in the Park and the Tourist Office activities programme.
Contact and information
website : http://www.ecrins-parcnational.fr/
Maison du Parc Facebook page : http://www.ecrins-parcnational.fr/8924/maison-du-parc/maison-du-parc-de-la-vallouise
Park activity programme : http://www.ecrins-parcnational.fr/programme-animation
Photo credits : Écrins National Park