Dates & Prices
Dates: 30th June – 7th July 2023
Price: £1,495 Places available
Single Room Supplement: £175
Deposit: £150 per person
Price Includes: Accommodation, all meals, ground transport, services of guides, holiday report
Not Included: International travel, travel insurance, drinks & other personal items
Conservation Donation: Butterfly Conservation & Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland (BSBI)
Leader(s): Alice Hunter & Richard Lewington
Group Size & Travel: Minimum 4 & maximum 12 guests + 1-2 leaders.
Grade: Generally easy walking at a very gentle pace
- Summer butterfly & flower tour in the wonderful surroundings of the Vercors in southern France
- 2 centre tour, leisurely exploring the area
- Led by first class team of Alice Hunter & renowned natural history illustrator and lepidopterist Richard Lewington
- Wonderful array of butterflies to discover, including Apollo, Clouded Apollo, Almond-eyed Ringlet, Scarce Copper, Poplar Admiral, Lesser Marbled Fritillary, Mountain Alcon Blue, Glandon Blue, Reverdin’s Blue, Pearly Heath, Woodland Brown & many more!
- Flora is equally lovely and we’ll spend time enjoying it alongside the butterflies & other wildlife
- Tour supports Butterfly Conservation
Join us in the Vercors for a new and exciting tour for butterflies, flowers and more!
Richard Lewington has been a full-time freelance illustrator, specialising mainly in insects and other invertebrates. Richard’s exquisite and amazingly detailed work is highly acclaimed.
The chances are that if you have field guides in your home you have a wealth of Richard’s artwork on your shelf! It graces the pages of many publications featuring butterflies, moths, dragonflies, bumblebees and more! His attention to detail and skilful study of the subjects he illustrates transfer into the field and he delights in sharing his enthusiasm and knowledge of wildlife with others.
Join us in the Vercors for a new and exciting tour for butterflies, flowers and more !
We are delighted to be returning to the Vercors in summer 2023.
The Vercors Massif is a predominantly limestone mountain range in South Eastern France famed for its rugged plateaus and vertiginous upper slopes. Its mountains and gorges straddle the départements of Isère and Drôme in the Prealps and the area is protected as a National Park.
We will delight in showing you the best the region has to offer for summer flora and fauna, focusing largely on butterflies and flowers but also observing birds, reptiles, other invertebrates and any other wildlife of interest that may be discovered.
Upon arrival in Lyon, we will take an Eastern route away from the city onto increasingly scenic routes towards our first base in the village of Chichilliane/Richardière in the shadow of the iconic Mont Aiguille.
Our first full day will be spent exploring our immediate surroundings, taking in local meadows and woodland where we will look for orchids, wintergreens and other wildflowers. Butterflies such as Pearly Heath and Large Skipper may also be seen along with some more familiar species and birds such as Common and Black Redstarts, Crested Tit and Serin. We will also keep an eye out for larger mammals such as Hare and Roe Deer at these slightly lower altitudes.
While in the area, we’ll be taking a walk through some woodland where Lily of the Valley, Lady’s Slipper and Birds Nest Orchid abound. In the meadows that stud our route, we could find Chequered Skipper, Scarce Copper and Bright Eyed Ringlet among other butterflies. We may catch a glimpse of Chamois on the slopes above us and the valley below us can provide excellent views of Alpine and Common Swifts hawking for insects.
Another day we will drive an impressive route through the mountains to a spot where we have easier walking access to the high plateau and alpine meadows. The flowers up here include St Bruno’s Lily, Alpine Aster and Saxifrages among others and provide a different habitat where Alpine Marmots call and there’s a possibility of finding Apline Ibex grazing. Golden Eagle, Rock Bunting, Citril Finch and Chough may be seen here along with Crossbill and Bonelli’s Warbler in the trees as we climb. Butterflies here include Clouded Apollo, Queen of Spain Fritillary, Duke of Burgundy, Mazarine and Small Blues, Grizzled, Dingy and Mallow Skippers plus many more. They can gather here in some numbers, mud-puddling on the path we walk.
For the second half of our trip, we move to the small town of La Chapelle en Vercors. From here we will once again explore our immediate surroundings as well as visiting several Cols and another high plateau areas offering a variety of meadows full of Thyme and blue Rampions. We will enjoy mountain vistas complete with Apollo and Almond Eyed Ringlet as well as many other butterflies and equally beautiful Ascalaphids, sometimes known as Owlflies.
In some of the lower meadows, we may find Adonis Blue and Spotted Fritillary among Lizard Orchids and Peach-leaved Bellflower. Elsewhere, flowering Yellow Foxgloves, both small and large, glow in the shade of pine forests and Griffon Vultures may be seen circling high above.
Book your places soon, on what is sure to be a very popular tour!
Day 1: Arrival in Lyon and transfer to Chichilliane/Richardière
The journey from the airport to our destination is a couple of hours drive and, depending on out time of arrival in Lyon, we may be able to break it with some brief roadside stops on our way to our first base for the trip. There may also be time for a short walk before dinner once we are settled in to our hotel.
Day 2: Exploration of the local area
Our first full day in the Vercors will be taken to enjoy some of the immediate area around our base. We will take a morning walk through the village of Chichilliane and out into the countryside beyond where we hope to find a variety of orchids flowering. We will be treated to spectacular views of the iconic Mont Aiguille while we wander and may see flowers such as Wintergreens, Bellflowers and Cow-wheats plus a variety of arable plants that are now scarce in Britain along with many more. The butterfly life here is diverse with opportunities to see such species as Pearly Heath, Black-Veined White and Scarce Swallowtail as well as more familiar species like Ringlet and Brown Argus. The woodland here supports a good array of bird life too and we hope to see Bonelli’s Warbler and Crested Tit among others, keeping our eyes open for glimpses of Red Squirrels too, while the meadows boast Yellowhammers, Skylarks and Redstarts.
In the afternoon we will visit a local Col to explore further. There is some damp meadow here and we may find some specialist plants such as Broad Leaved Marsh Orchid and Cotton Grasses as we walk alongside. They also often play host to damselflies and Mistle Thrushes can often be seen in the nearby trees. The drier meadows are full of Scabiouses and Yellow Rattle plus a vast array of other plants and provided the weather is good they tend to support a good number of butterflies including Scarce Copper, Adonis Blue and others as well as a lot of day flying burnet moths with a few rarer species thrown in such as Zygaena romeo.
Day 3: A woodland walk
The main part of our day today will be a walk up a track that passes a variety of meadows and on into mixed woodland. We will take our lunches with us to make the most of the day but the walking is reasonably easy and can be taken at our own pace to allow for photography and exploration of the glades we pass through. Depending on the season we may find Coralroot and Lady’s Slipper Orchids still flowering beneath the trees higher up but there are plenty of other flowers to see regardless including Herb Paris, Birds Nest Orchid and Tozzia. Butterflies are numerous too with Chequered Skippers, Bright Eyed Ringlet, Heath and False Heath Fritillaries possible as well as many more. There are often Firecrests and Marsh Tits joining the more familiar woodland species here so we will listen and look for them while keeping an eye on the valley below as we climb where it is possible to get excellent views of both Common and Alpine Swifts hawking for insects.
Depending on time and weather we may take a second stop for the day a short way further along the road where a spectacular view of the Vercors Massif stretches before us. There are often Apollo butterflies here too providing an extra treat.
Day 4: Visit a high plateau
Following a similar format to the previous day we will have a day exploring a high plateau today. The vehicle will take most of the strain but there is a short uphill walk to reach the plateau itself. This again can be taken at leisure – there is no rush to get to the top and plenty to see along the way including flowers like Whorled Solomon’s Seal and Round Leaved Saxifrage plus butterflies such as Dingy Skipper and Queen of Spain Fritillary. The plateau itself will offer a possibility of seeing Alpine Marmot, Alpine Ibex, Chamois and larger birds such as Golden Eagle and Griffon Vultures. There are some interesting smaller birds up here too such as Citril Finch, and we may see Tree Pipit or Crossbill as we break the treeline. The flowers up here are spectacular as well with many low-growing, typically Alpine species such as Mountain Avens, Saxifrages, Gentians, Alpine Aster, Wild Tulip and a variety of Orchids. The butterflies don’t disappoint either with Clouded Apollo, Duke of Burgundy, Mazarine Blue, Grizzled Skipper, Mallow Skipper, Clouded Yellow and Berger’s Clouded Yellow plus Southern Comma all possible amongst others.
Day 5: Transfer to La Chapelle en Vercors
Today we transfer to our second base in the picturesque village of La Chapelle en Vercors. We will make several stops on our way to make the most of our time and take in as much as possible while we are here. The impressive Col de Rousset will be on our route and a brief stop here should yield a few butterflies alongside the extraordinary view.
Day 6 & 7: Explore the local area
Our time in La Chapelle en Vercors will be spent exploring several of the nearby Cols and some lovely flowery meadows, each of which has a slightly different array of butterflies and plants to enjoy. Among them, we hope to find Lizard Orchids, Round Headed Orchids, Large and Small Yellow Foxgloves, Spiked Rampions and a variety of other lovely plants. We should also see Ascalaphids or Owlflies as well as numerous butterflies including Adonis Blue, Spotted Fritillary, Black Veined White, Queen of Spain Fritillary, Almond-eyed Ringlet, Scarce Copper, Poplar Admiral, Lesser Marbled Fritillary, Mountain Alcon Blue, Glandon Blue, Reverdin’s Blue, Pearly Heath, Woodland Brown, Heath Fritillary, Apollo, Silver-Washed Fritillary, Swallowtail and Marbled White plus many more.
Day 8: Transfer to Lyon for departure
Depending on the timing of our flight home, we may be able to take a last walk in the morning before we set off for the airport, or make a short stop on our way.
New tour, testimonals will follow later
The 2022 report will be published soon