A unique environment
Serre Chevalier is bathed in Mediterranean light, its azure blue hues soaking into the valley’s centuries-old larch forests.
Nestling between the Col du Lautaret and Briançon, at the foot of the peaks of the Ecrins National Park, spanning forests of Scots pine to expanses of glacier, from lowland wetlands to rocky mountaintops, the Briançon region has a huge variety of different ecological niches that are home to a diverse range of animal and plant life.
In this protected mountain environment visitors can also observe, without too much difficulty, the area’s extremely diverse wildlife.
Numerous species of bird and insect, such as the Apollo butterfly, live in the larch and Arolla pine forests, mountain meadows and grasslands together with the local marmots, stoats and voles.
A trip into the mountains should afford you a glimpse of the area’s chamois, while the crags and cliffs are nesting sites for golden eagles, eagle owls, peregrine falcons and red-billed choughs (all protected species).
Alpine ibex can be seen making their way over precipitous rocky slopes, while on rubble-strewn patches of scree you might well come across animals such as the Alpine ptarmigan whose plumage changes according to the seasons.
Several of the celebrated ’Grandes Randonnées’, or long-distance European footpaths, cross through, over and make their way around the Serre Chevalier valley. These include the Tour of the Haut Dauphiné and the famous Via Alpina. The Guisane valley is on the Route des Grandes Alpes, a road which starts at Lake Geneva and crosses 16 Alpine passes to finish 600km further south, in the town of Menton on the shores of the Mediterranean.
Serre Chevalier’s mountainous countryside is full of trees, bushes and flowers.
You don’t have to be a botanist to explore France’s Hautes-Alpes department with its extraordinarily rich biodiversity (over 2500 species).
Discover also the Alpine Garden on the Lautaret pass at 2100m.
You can learn the difference between the various poisonous and edible berries, to make the soups and pies from wild herbs that our ancestors used to cook all the time and which we now only find in health food shops. It is also fun to find out which plants can be used to die fabrics in beautiful shades of red or blue.
History has left Serre Chevalier with a rich heritage and it acts as a beacon for the cultural identity of the region. Among the visible signs of this identity are the guardian-like 15th century clock towers built in the Lombard Romanesque style that appear in virtually all of small villages in the valley.