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9 points of interest

  • Flora

    White alder forest

    The forest is mainly made up of white alder trees. Their name comes from the fact that the underside of their leaves is covered with a whitish and silvery down. The alder forests grow alongside mountain streams, and to develop need land that is regularly subject to flooding. Due to damming and the removal of materials from the river beds, the white alder is now rare in Europe. The white alder forest in the Col d'Ornon is listed as a site of national interest and is part of the Nature 2000 network. It is the biggest in France, covering some 250 hectares. It can be seen along the Malsanne, the Merdaret and the Lignarre.

  • Flora

    The Col d’Ornon hay meadows

    Agricultural specialists consider that a meadow is natural when it has neither been manured nor ploughed for ten years. These meadows are very rich in flower species, and consequently they are the home of a whole host of pollinating insects, including bees, of course.

  • Vernacular heritage

    The Col d’Ornon ski resort

    The small ski resort of Col d'Ornon has two separate districts.
    First, the Plan du Col (lower down) with its magnificent green slope. Here the resort’s first button lift was opened in 1965, in the early days of popular skiing holidays!
    The Bois Barbet button lift (above), was opened in 1973. With a 450 m descent and an average slope at 36%, this button lift is a real technical feat. Although it no longer really meets the requirements of modern-day comfort, it continues its life as a tricky button lift running to the exceptional red and black slopes.
    In winter, the resort hires four extra employees and works with a network of volunteers, who mobilise in support of the resort, making it a real centre of activity for locals and tourists.

  • Fauna

    Griffon vulture

    In summer, the griffon vultures leave their nesting areas, attracted by the many sheep grazing in the Alpine pastures. They soar up above the mountain crests. Expert scavengers, they have a fundamental role in the food chain, quickly eliminating corpses and so limiting the risk of disease spreading. This task as nature's undertakers has long made them an object of horror and fear for mankind. They are in decline in the Alps, but once again present in the Massif des Ecrins, following programmes to reintroduce them since 1980 in Les Causses and more recently in the Prealps.

  • Flora


    In a carpet of violet flowers, but sometimes yellow, white or multi-coloured, the Alpine pansy brings colour to the grass. It is also known as the mountain violet. Its spur, which can be seen on the back of the flower, is long, and only insects with long sucking pumps, such as butterflies, can gather pollen from them. Violets and pansies are members of the same family. To tell them apart, you need to look at the two side petals: they are turned downwards in violets, and upwards in pansies. Pansies are optimistic violets!
  • Flora

    European larch

    With a rich range of colours varying with the seasons, the fine and soft needles of the larch turn from light green in spring to emerald green in summer and gold in autumn. In winter, they fall, and the majestic larch seems to be dried out. Only the small round cones persist, which birds take to pieces to peck at the seeds. The flowers blooms at the same time as the first supple needles in spring: the female flowers have small raspberry-coloured cones and the male flowers are pale yellow catkins.
  • Flora

    Yellow bellflower

    This campanula is easy to recognise, with its tufts of highly compact yellow flowers. It is one of the few Alpine biannual plants. The seeds scattered in autumn produce large, slender leaves the first year, growing in a rosette shape. The flower only blooms the second year, when it ensures its posterity, then dies. The plant can be found on Alpine grassland (from altitudes of 1,000 to 2,600 m) and on rocky ground and soil that is rich in limestone. Standing on a thick, hollow stalk with a great many leaves, it is 10 to 40 cm tall.

  • Fauna

    Common pipistrelle

    Brown in colour with relatively short ears, the common pipistrelle and the kuhl's pipistrelle are rivals for the title of Europe's smallest bat. The common pipistrelle can be found in a wide range of ecological environments, even above an altitude of 2,000 m. In late 19th century France, school books celebrated the virtues of the bat. They are insectivores, eating a quarter or a third of their weight each day in mosquitoes and other insects. They emit ultrasounds that cannot be heard by the human ear. This technique helps them to find their way in the dark and capture their prey. They are often to be seen around lampposts, hunting insects that are attracted to the light.

  • Architecture


    Perched at an altitude à 1640 m, this is the highest village in Isère, and the second highest in France. 40 people live here today (but just six permanent residents), while there were almost 300 inhabitants 150 years ago. The fairly gentle slopes and favourable orientation gave rise to pastoral farming, despite the high altitude. The farmers used to work at the Ornon slate works, the women worked at home for glove-makers in Grenoble. Access to the valleys has always been difficult, and in 1960 a cable car was used to take cattle down into the Bourg d’Oisans plain. Today, people live in and visit Villard-Reymond for the quality of its environment.

Altimetric profile

Information desks

Maison du Parc du Valbonnais

Place du Docteur Eyraud, 38740 Entraigues 76 30 20 61

Reception, information, temporary exhibition room, reading room and video-projection on demand. Shop: products and works of the Park. Free admission. All animations of the Park are free unless otherwise stated.

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Parc national des Ecrins

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