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where to see marmots in the heart of the Alps ?

“Where can we see marmots?”, a classic question in the Haute Maurienne Vanoise Tourist Offices in summer. Answer: everywhere! In Valfréjus, La Norma, Aussois, Val Cenis, Bessans and Bonneval sur Arc, marmots, these 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!

The groundhog, you may hear it long before you see it! She will have spotted you from afar and as you approach she will probably scurry off to hide in her burrow. But if you are patient and quiet, it will come out soon enough and you can admire it quietly.

With a clear 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. For the record, the marmot is one of the few animals that do not drink water. However, it does need to hydrate. To do this, it is simply satisfied with the dew by eating plants.

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“There’s a good chance she’ll never be alone”

Marmots live in families. You will sometimes see pups, they usually stay with their parents until they are 3 years old. Baby marmots called “marmottons” are, like all babies, adorable with their little muzzles, playing and rolling in the greasy grass.
You want to know everything

about marmots?

To go and meet the marmots and learn more about this emblematic animal of our mountains,
take advantage all summer of the many outings and hikes offered by our guides and mountain professionals.

Did you know?

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

Counsel

The marmot is a wild animal and even though you can get very close to them around the high altitude huts, you should definitely not feed them.
Chips and other treats are not good for them and are reserved for humans!
Don’t worry about it, the marmot indeed finds everything it needs in its natural environment.
Top 5 of

marmot spots

Marmots are very present throughout the Haute Maurienne Vanoise. Some sites are however particularly favorable and easy to access to observe them. Top 5 “marmot spots” to see them easily enough between May and September.

Col du Mont Cenis

In the spring, along the D1006 from Col du Mont-Cenis to the foot of the dam of the same name. Be careful when driving along the road that runs alongside the dam: in spring, after long periods of hibernation, marmots may wander onto the road. Then in the summer you’ll see them in the mountain pastures around the fort de Ronce and the col du Petit Mont-Cenis.

Fond d’Aussois

At Aussois, in the alpages of La Fournache and the Fond d’Aussois. Depart from the parking lot of the Aussois dams towards the refuge de Plan Sec then La Fournache, refuge de la Dent Parrachée and return trail via the pont de la Séteria and the lakes of Plan d’Amont and Plan d’Aval. You can also take the Grand Jeu trail directly from the village to reach the alpine pastures and quickly observe the marmots.

Vallon de l’Orgère

The Vallon de l’Orgère, also known by some as “the valley of the marmots,” is a place of beauty where you can easily approach the marmots that swarm in the flowery meadows around the chalets. The parking lot of the refuge de l’Orgère is easily accessible by road from the traffic circle of Le Freney and Saint-Andre. The walk in the valley is accessible to strollers (wheels “cross”) and 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 worth noting: the Polset valley, just before the Orgère valley when coming from Saint-André, is also inhabited by marmots. Less known, it allows a beautiful walk to the end of the valley where magnificent waterfalls roar.

Vallonbrun

Between Val Cenis and Bessans, the Vallonbrun area 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 elevation gain), a pleasant trail leads to the refuge de Vallonbrun. 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).

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

Bessans and Bonneval sur Arc

At the bottom of the valley on Bessans and Bonneval sur Arc, you’ll see them standing upright on a rock watching you, whether you’re on the trails of Avérole, of l’Ecot, the Carro or the Evettes or even cycling up the col de l’Iseran.