Across the Follatères nature reserve to Fully
A hike across the dry, sunny slopes of Les Follatères, a nature reserve of international importance: “a taste of the Mediterranean in the heart of the Alps”. Glorious views of the Rhône valley.
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The nature reserve of Les Follatères offers a glimpse of a distant world: the sound of cicadas and the plants typical of hot, dry zones suggest the Mediterranean rather than the high Alps. The reserve occupies the steep mountain slope where the Rhône abruptly turns 90 degrees to the right on its journey to Lake Geneva. As a result, the area is influenced by the climate of the lake region as well as that of the high Alps. The geology is exceptionally rich, too, at this crossroads of major valleys: the calcareous rocks and flysch of the Pre-Alps meet the harder crystalline granites and gneiss of the central Alps here. These conditions make for an exceptional biological diversity across the reserve, which extends for about 5 sq. km from the valley floor (about 450 m above sea level) up to subalpine level (about 1,800 m). Large tracts of the landscape are completely pristine – saved from human activity because of its prohibitive steepness. The character of the walk changes greatly with the seasons. Early in the year, the slopes are covered in flowers; stars include the Spring Meadow Saffron, which blossoms in large numbers from February. Spring brings the songbirds, including the elusive nightingale. In summer, the slopes turn to gold, flooded in the song of the cicadas. Autumn sees a symphony of colour, under the ballet of migrating birds of prey. The trail crosses a mixture of habitats: from forest of pine and oak to rocky grassland and dry meadows, all home to different wildlife. Highlights Nature reserve of national importance, attracting scientists from all over the world Dry, sunny slopes home to 200 plant species of southern or oriental origin