At the end of the Montjoie Valley, in the southwest area of the Mont-Blanc, is the nature reserve of Les Contamines-Montjoie. The reserve itself constitutes a rare gem due to its extreme ecological diversity so close to the village of Les Contamines.
Stretching from the entrance to the village at 1100 metres altitude to the northern needle of Tré la Tête at 3892 metres, this nature reserve is the highest in France, boasting the highest elevation (2800 m) and every aspect of alpine nature.
The diverse wildlife here leads a discreet existence. The lower part of the reserve shelters the usual forest fauna: deer, roe-deer, badgers, foxes and also nocturnal species such as the pygmy owl or boreal owl.
Above the belt of spruce trees are hidden bogs, streams, meadows, lakes and wildlife common to the Alps such as: marmots, ibex, chamois and ptarmigan. Wetlands complete the faunal diversity, a zone popular amongst a number of species of butterflies, dragonflies and amphibians. The reserve rises even further beyond to furnaces where rock and ice dominate on the majestic Tré la Tête glacier.
Protected yet fragile…
This protected area, located above Les Contamines, offers peace, tranquility and a preserved natural environment. Take the time to contemplate and experience its multiple facets: lakes, alpine meadows, cliffs and glaciers. Experience the unique beauty of its landscape and take care of the surroundings. Natural habitats are fragile and wildlife is sensitive to disturbance. Please help us by paying attention to the rules and regulations.
Glacial relic, the Ptarmigan is present in the Nature Reserve, above 1800 m. Gifted with remarkable mimicry, it blends perfectly with its environment. Adapted to life in high mountain regions, its feathered legs provide good thermal insulation. This vulnerable species is the subject of a national research programme led partially in the reserve.
At 1400 m altitude, in the heart of the alpine forest, extend the Rosière bogs. Of glacial origin, these sphagnum bogs, set on a crystalline base are interspersed with rocks. Colored islets in lush forest, these ecological treasures dot the mountain landscape of the reserve. Fragile, they also harbor notable species such as round-leaved Drosera.
Tré la Tête Glacier
Climbing from 3 300 metres altitude and 7 kms long, Tré la Tête is the third glacier of Mont Blanc. Measured from the early twentieth century onwards, its decline is registered each year and has accelerated during the twenty-first century. The water from the glacier is channeled through an underground tunnel that runs through part of the reserve to feed lake Girotte in the Savoie region, where it is then used to generate electricity.
The “Col du Bonhomme” mountain pass
Important area of exchange between the valleys, the Col du Bonhomme mountain pass has served both peddlers and smugglers! It remains today one of the legendary mountain passes renowned for hiking in the Alps. Crossed by the GR5 and the Tour du Mont Blanc, it connects the Savoie and Haute-Savoie regions. This is one of the most frequented mountain routes in a protected alpine area.