Where to see marmots in the heart of the Alps?

"Where can you see marmots?", a classic question asked in the Tourist Offices of Haute Maurienne Vanoise in summer. Answer: everywhere! In Valfréjus, La Norma, Aussois, Val Cenis, Bessans and Bonneval sur Arc, marmots, those charming little animals that some people sometimes mistakenly confuse with beavers, populate our mountain pastures between 800m and 3000m altitude.

You'll hear it whistle before you see it!

Marmots are very common throughout Haute Maurienne Vanoise. However, there are a number of particularly favorable and easily accessible sites for observing them. Top 5 "marmot spots" for easy viewing between May and September.

You may hear the marmot before you see it! He will have spotted you from afar and at your approach he will probably run off to hide in his burrow. But if you are patient and quiet, she will come out very quickly and you can admire her quietly.

With an unobstructed view to watch for predators, her "home" is a burrow that she has dug and where she takes refuge in case of danger after having warned everyone with her distinctive whistle. Most of the time she stays outside to feed on roots, leaves and flower stems and also to bask on a rock in the sun.

 

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All about marmots

"Marmot hike" with a guide

Do you want to know everything about marmots? To meet marmots and learn more about this emblematic animal of our mountains, take advantage of the many outings and hikes offered by our guides and mountain professionals.

Accompanied outings

Did you know that?

The marmot is the second largest rodent in France after the beaver. It lives between 15 and 18 years and the female gives birth to between 2 and 4 marmottons in one litter each year.

The marmot is also one of the few animals that does not drink water. However, it does need to hydrate itself. For that, it is simply satisfied with the dew by eating the plants.

Do not feed them!

The marmot is a wild animal, and even if you can get very close to it around mountain refuges, you must never feed it. Chips and other treats are not good for them and are reserved for humans!
But don't worry, marmots find everything they need in their natural environment.
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Top 5 marmot spots

At the Mont-Cenis! In spring, along the D1006, from the Mont-Cenis pass to the foot of the dam of the same name. Be careful when driving on the road along the dam: in spring, after a long hibernation period, marmots may wander on the road. Then in summer you will see them in the mountain pastures around the fort of Ronce and the pass of Petit Mont-Cenis.

To easily observe marmots in Val Cenis, you can also reach Bellecombe, in the heart of the Vanoise National Park (access by car). The area is well frequented in summer but marmots are often right there, watching you pass along the road. With the high altitude lakes, the Dent Parrachée and the Grande Casse in the background, the area is simply magical!

In Aussois, in the alpine pastures of La Fournache and Fond d'Aussois. Departure from the parking of the dams of Aussois in direction of the refuge of Plan Sec then La Fournache. You can make a very nice loop by continuing in the direction of the Séteria bridge and then going back down by the opposite bank of the Plan d'Aval lake. You can also take the Grand Jeu chairlift directly from the village to reach the mountain pastures and observe the marmots.

The Orgère valley, also called by some "the valley of the marmots", is a place of beauty where you can easily approach the marmots which swarm in the flowery meadows around the chalets. The parking lot of the refuge of Orgère is easily accessible by the road from the traffic circle of Freney and Saint-André. The walk in the valley is accessible to strollers (cross-country wheels) and to people with reduced mobility. Explanatory panels and interactive terminals will tell you more about the marmots but also about the history and the ecosystem of this postcard-like valley. Also to be noted: the Polset valley, just before the Orgère valley coming from Saint-André, is also inhabited by marmots. Less known, it allows a beautiful walk until the end of this secret valley where magnificent waterfalls roar.

Between Val Cenis and Bessans, the Vallonbrun sector is also very favorable to marmots. From the hamlet of la Madeleine (in summer, it is even possible to drive to the Grattais parking lot to avoid a bit of a climb), a pleasant path leads to the Vallonbrun refuge. In the mountain pastures before the refuge, you will be whistled almost all the way up... In the off-season, you may also see chamois. From the refuge, you can also climb to the Pierre aux Pieds, a superb slab engraved by man in the Iron Age (between 700 and 200 BC).

At the bottom of the valley in Bessans and Bonneval sur Arc, you will also see marmots standing on a stone watching you, whether you are on the trails ofAvérole, Ecot, Carro or Evettes or even climbing the Iseran pass by bike.