The Ecrins National Natural Park

The Ecrins National Natural Park is made up of seven large valleys that go through the Ecrins massif: Briançonnais, Vallouise, Embrunais, Champsaur, Valgaudemar, Valdonnais and Oisans. These landscapes have been shaped for several centuries by men and nature. Flowered expanses, high mountain pastures and hay meadows are part of the landscapes.

The territory

La Vallouise is known for its small hidden valleys. Dormillouse is located near the impressive waterfalls of the Freissinières valley, this typical hamlet of the Ecrins Natural Park is still inhabited. It has a religious past and a rich cultural heritage. In the middle of the small wooden and stone houses still stands a temple built in 1758. Discover the bread oven, the house of Félix Neff and the water mill of this small village.

The Champsaur is a wooded countryside, where men have been able to develop in harmony with nature. In the valleys, ewes and cows share their meadows with hares and wild ibexes.

The valley of Valgaudemar is a privileged place to observe the flora and fauna of the Ecrins Natural Park. Several species have made their home there thanks to the diversity of environments. With a little patience, one can see chamois, alpine newts and black grouse, a bird species typical of the Alps. There is also a very nice flora in these landscapes: orange lilies, Potentilla delphinensis, silver geranium and rhododendron.

The Valbonnais covers half of the forest in the Ecrins National Natural Park. The beech, fir, spruce and alder forests are real assets in the fight against soil erosion and protect the natural heritage of this area.

Tourist sites, emblematic monuments

In the Vallon du Fournel, adventurers can visit an old mining site that exploited silver-lead during medieval times. These ores were used to produce the local currency. Walk along the valley, to contemplate the blue thistle, a rare and protected species.

Nicknamed the “little Nice of the Alps”, Embrun enjoys a particularly mild and sunny climate. In the old town, yachtsmen are immersed in a Provencal atmosphere with houses with ochre facades, squares decorated with fountains, narrow passages and sundials. The Notre-Dame-du-Réal cathedral is one of the most important French religious buildings in the Alps. After passing through the door guarded by two statues representing lions, visitors can admire the great organ, which is a real treasure.

The activities

In the Briançon area, a floristic discovery trail in the National Alpine Garden allows you to learn more about the vegetation that has developed in the valley. In the Embrunais sector, a special trail that crosses the Réallon valley helps you understand the landscapes.

60 itineraries have been created in the Champsaur valley so that walkers can set off to discover the fauna and flora that are very present. They can admire several waterfalls, the daisy fields of Vieux Chaillol, rocky summits, dry stone houses, blue lakes, chamois and many pollinating insects.

There are many hiking trails in the Écrins Natural Park. To get close to the glaciers of the Briançonnais valley, hikers can take several trails including the Crevasses trail, which allows you to climb more gently up the slope. To observe the local fauna, there is nothing better than a stroll to the Cerces. The ibex population is thriving on the steep slopes of the massif.

Housed in the heart of the Hautes-Alpes, Puy-Saint-Vincent is a winter sports resort appreciated for its quality snow cover and beautiful sunshine. It owes its nickname “the protected from the wind” to the high peaks that border it. Numerous facilities allow the practice of various snow sports: boardercross, snowpark, secure ski touring itinerary, 35 kilometers of Nordic ski slopes, etc. More than a ski resort, Puy-Saint-Vincent is also a village with a beautiful religious heritage. Walking through the narrow streets, the visitor will see several chapels and churches.

The Oisans and its high mountain scenery are the land of pioneers and mountaineers. The Ecrins massif has many famous peaks: the Meije, the Ecrins, the Bans, the Dibona, etc. The commune of Saint Christophe is the starting point for races of different levels, allowing beginners and the more experienced to practice mountaineering safely.

Practical informations

There are several information centers throughout the Écrins National Natural Park. Some of them are only open during summer.​