Among the four massifs in Alps of Isère, Vercors – also known as ‘The Fortress’ - may be the one with the most natural treasures to offer.
The regional natural park
Vertiginous roads opening onto the most immense nature reserve in metropolitan France, the High Plateaus in the Vercors massif are a breath of fresh air.
The Regional Natural Park stands between the Isère valley, to the north, and the Diois, to the south. Its high white cliffs are interspersed with roads and passages of varying degrees of ruggedness. Created in 1970, it covers 205,806 hectares. The altitude varies between 180 and 2 453 m. 90 % of the surface of the mountain range is made of thick slabs of white limestone. Erosion has produced spectacular landscapes: gorges, slender peaks known as “needles”, and vertical rocky cliff faces.
A natural paradise
This exceptional environment is home to unique fauna and flora, which it is the park’s mission to conserve. More than 80 protected plant species have been listed, for example the Lady’s Slipper, the Bear’s Ear Primrose or the Wild Tulip. 135 species of nesting birds have also been identified, such as the black grouse, the emblem of the park, and 65 species of mammal. The Vercors in one of the few mountain ranges where the six large wild ungulates of France are found: chamois, red deer, roe deer, mouflon (mountain sheep), wild boar and ibex. If you are lucky, you might also spy a golden eagle when you look up, a peregrine falcon or a vulture…
A major economic player
The Vercors Park is an extraordinary natural environment, but also a living land and great place to live and work. It covers 85 communes and has 53,000 residents. One of the park’s aims is to maintain an active economy, whilst developing harmony between people and the environment. So it promotes agricultural practices which respect the environment, and supports the sale of local products. It was one of the main influences in obtaining the AOC label for Bleu du Vercors-Sassenage (blue cheese).
Vercors, a natural sporty destination
A holiday area much appreciated by people from Isére, Vercors and its resorts provide an extremely wide range of activities all year round : nordic skiing, mountain biking, golfing, hiking and of course downhill skiing. You are bound to find a suitable spot for whatever you choose to do. Providing access to more than 500 km of runs, it is the place to be for any nordic ski enthusiast and nature lovers who prefer slow activities.
Every year its main resort, Autrans, hosts La Foulée Blanche, a major rendez-vous of nordic skiing.