National Parks of France # 5: Vanoise National Park

In the heart of Savoy, between the high valleys of Maurienne and Tarentaise, the Vanoise National Park is a natural high-mountain theater. Rich in lakes, glaciers and peaks over 3 meters above sea level, this park is an exceptional destination.

Ein 1963, the first French National Park was born on the Vanoise massif. A great recognition for this wild and preserved natural setting. Together with its Italian neighbor, it constitutes the Parco Nazionale Gran Paradiso, one of the largest protected areas in Western Europe. Vanoise National Park is a true paradise for the flora and fauna that it shelters. It is also suitable for all nature and mountain enthusiasts, who walk its trails every year.

Iconic passes, peaks and glaciers

The 400 kilometers of marked trails in the Vanoise National Park are an invitation to discover sites well known to mountain lovers. The Big Break which rises to 3855 meters above sea level, the Dent Parrachée, or the Aiguille du Péclet are summits popular with hikers. The Grande Motte glaciers, Vanoise or Gébroulaz, just like the Plan Séry, Mont Coua or Arpont lakes offer holidaymakers unforgettable panoramas. And what about the many passes of this vertiginous site, including the most famous of them. The highest road mountain pass of all the Alps, the Iseran pass, is a high place of the Tour de France.

Flora of Vanoise National Park


At the origins of the creation of the Park, the objective was to preserve the ibex, then endangered. It was a success for the preservation of this species, as for that of all the species present on the massif. Today, over more than 500 km2, the Vanoise park offers its visitors breathtaking landscapes, sheltering abundant biodiversity. The forests, alpine pastures, lakes and alpine glaciers of the massif are the territory of many emblematic species. The common frog, the marmot, the ibex, the chamois, the rock ptarmigan and the black grouse are real local stars. They nevertheless coexist with many species of herbivores, rodents, carnivores and birds.

Breeding on the Vanoise massif

Botanists can marvel at the sight of 1 mountain plant species. Aquatic meadows, saxicolous vegetation, meadows and lawns, but also hems, floating meadows or even heathlands and high peat bogs bear witness to a preserved ecosystem.

Sport in the Vanoise massif

The resorts of Courchevel, Ménuires, Tignes, Val d'Isère and even Val-Thorens have made the reputation of this French kingdom of alpine skiing. Today, the park attracts a number of sportsmen in search of wild spaces and mountain recreation. Over the decades, hiking and mountaineering have also greatly developed. with respect for sustainable development. The vocation of the park is also to boost tourism linked to the discovery of nature, while preserving the natural sites, the authenticity of the culture of these mountains and local development. A fragile balance between economic development and site protection, which the local authorities and the inhabitants of the park are looking for.

Family discovery in the Vanoise National Park

A thousand-year-old history

By crisscrossing the hiking trails of Vanoise National Park, seasoned visitors can contemplate the many traces left by men over the centuries. Rock art reveals the presence of shepherds for nearly 4 years. The important body of rock engravings of the Great Black Rock is the most remarkable set of the massif. These engravings dating from the Neolithic and the Middle Ages represent animals, armed men, and even knights in arms. An incredible testimony of a distant past, which mingles with the vestiges of a more contemporary era. The many sheepfolds and villages of abandoned shepherds, are discovered at altitude and attest to the difficult daily life of the shepherds of yesteryear.

Preservation of built heritage

Since 2018, the park has collaborated with an independent architect who supports the owners in their restoration projects. The objective of this partnership is to preserve and respect the architecture of the built heritage of the Vanoise National Park. “School projects” are regularly organized. The owners and local artisans are thus trained in traditional techniques with specialists.

Traditional sheepfold in the heart of the Alps

Visit the Vanoise Park

In summer, hiking is in the spotlight in the Vanoise National Park. But climbing, horseback riding, kayaking and even via ferrata are also popular with tourists. The more athletic can also embark on a magnificent trek. The tour of the Vanoise is a loop that takes the GR-5 and the GR-55. It requires a week of effort. Ibex, marmots, and impressive glaciers can be discovered throughout this extraordinary hike. And in winter, it is rather skiing that is king. Fans of downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, cross-country skiing, but also snowboarding are delighted on the slopes of the park's stations. Vanoise National Park can be seen in any season. Do not wait any longer to prepare your stay.