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.