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Vercors in Summer

Tour Code: FRA23

An 8-day holiday in search of birds, plants, mammals and butterflies in the Vercors massif, a spectacular area in the heart of France's Dauphiné region on the doorstep of the Alps.

8 days from £1495(inc flights) Land Only Price: £1375 SRS: £160


Heading south from Lyon in south-eastern France, an awe-inspiring massif of jagged limestone looms into view. Framed perfectly by the resplendent snow-capped Alps in the distance, and the deep Isere Valley in the foreground, the Vercors Regional Nature Park is an area of exceptional beauty.  It cries out for exploration, and that's exactly what we do on this varied 8-day wildlife holiday, making full use of the region's trails and back-roads as we search for the birds, plants, mammals and butterflies which inhabit the limestone gorges, high summits, and extensive mixed forests and flower-filled meadows of the Vercors.

  • Wonderful wildlife amidst truly magnificent scenery
  • Friendly, family-run hotel providing a friendly & comfortable base for our stay
  • Stunning alpine plants including Saxifrages, Stonecrops, Campanulas & many more
  • Eagles & Vultures soaring, Warblers singing, & many species of butterfly to enjoy
  • A chance to see the mysterious Ghost Orchid & the elusive European Beaver

Food

All included in the price.

Accommodation

A delightful family-run hotel; all rooms have private facilties.

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Fly Lyon; transfer to Lans en Vercors

Day 2/7 Natural History excursions in the Vercors

Day 8 Fly London

Heading south from Lyon in south-eastern France, an awe-inspiring massif of jagged limestone looms into view. Framed perfectly by the resplendent snow-capped Alps in the distance, and the deep Isère Valley in the foreground, the Vercors Regional Nature Park is an area of exceptional beauty. Incorporating France’s largest nature reserve — the splendid Hauts Plateaux — this is one of the oldest ‘Nature Parks’ in France and a most interesting region for the visiting naturalist. We will explore its thousands of hectares of unspoiled countryside on this holiday, focusing on the rich and varied fauna and flora of the massif’s deep limestone gorges, high summits (dominated by the Grand Veymont at 2,341 metres) and vast expanses of forest. From our base in La Chapelle, a delightful village in the heart of the massif, we are within easy striking distance of the many rich habitats which, after centuries of glacial and then fluvial erosion, form a harmonious limestone landscape of damp, flower-filled meadows alternating with majestic vertical cliffs and high wooded plateaux.

One of the highlights of our week will be a day spent in the Hauts Plateaux nature reserve in the company of a local guide. This wild area, in many respects unique in Europe, consists of a patchwork of meadows, moorlands, forests and high mountain ridges, shaped by savage winters and centuries of forestry and grazing. A small, pioneering population of Wolves, presumed to have recently recolonised this part of France from the Italian Alps, hides in the vast Silver Fir (EM>Abies alba/EM>) and Mountain Pine EM>(Pinus uncinata/EM>) forest, their presence betrayed only by tracks left in the extensive winter snows. Griffon Vulture, Golden Eagle, Peregrine, Black Grouse, Ring Ouzel, Firecrest, Crossbill, Citril Finch and perhaps even a Tengmalm’s Owl or Black Woodpecker are amongst the avian possibilities here, whilst the alpine flora is at its dazzling best at this time of year.

The pretty winter ski station of Font d’Urle provides an unusual backdrop to beautiful alpine meadows carpeted with wild pansies, gentians, wild tulips and snowbells. The path to Pont d’Urle leads us through an unspoiled alpine habitat with stunning views south across the Forêt de Quint. We must keep our eyes open here for Chough, Alpine Chough, Golden Eagle, Rock Thrush, Water Pipit and Alpine Marmot. The numerous limestone cliffs in the Vercors attract resident Wallcreepers, and one or two of our picnic spots make ideal points from which to scan for this sought-after species. On the drier, sunnier southern slopes, Rock Sparrows breed, while Short-toed Eagles glide and hover overhead hunting for snakes. Orphean and Subalpine Warblers and the attractive Ortolan Bunting, too, will also be amongst our targets during this part of our holiday.

The Vercors is one of the very few regions in western Europe harbouring six species of wild ungulates — Ibex, Chamois, Red Deer, Roe Deer, Mouflon and Wild Boar all occuring here. Whilst these animals invariably remain elusive in the wooded areas, they may sometimes be seen on the higher, rocky slopes. Smaller carnivores such as Fox, Badger and Pine Marten are well represented, while Mountain Hare, a relict from the Ice Age, is confined to the high mountain ridges. We will look for some of these smaller mammals in the freshly cut hay meadows at dusk.

It is perhaps the stunning flora, however, with several rare orchids present in an overall list of 64 species, for which the Vercors massif is best known. The spectacular Lady’s Slipper Orchid is relatively common in the fir and beech forests, and we will look for the endemic EM>Ophrys bertolonii ssp. drumana/EM> in the drier Mediterranean climate of the Gervannes. EM>Orchis spitzelii/EM>, Toothed Orchid (EM>Orchis tridentata/EM>) and, on our later tour, Ghost Orchid (EM>Epipogium aphyllum/EM>) will all provide excitement during our walks and picnic lunches, throughout what promises to be a varied and enjoyable week in this, one of the most beautiful regions of France.

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DeparturesAvailableCost

Wed 11th July 2018 - Wed 18th July 2018

YES

£1495

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Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are limited. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £1375 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Visiting: France

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Andy Tucker
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01962 733051

Tour Focus

Wild flowers