In the Ecrins National Park, pastoralism is much more than merely a component of the area, it is the driving force of an old, existing and well-preserved identity. Over the centuries, it has shaped the alpine pasture landscapes, while sustaining the economy and patterning the lifestyle of its inhabitants. These mountains will never cease to surprise and charm you.
Here, the summer is lived at the rhythm of the ringing bells: cows, goats and sheep grazing peacefully at the foot of the mountains. Alpine pastures cover over 40 % of the surface area of the National Park. These pastures are a key resource for farming and contribute to its biodiversity. There is not one, but rather many types of pasture. From the enclosed petit Champsaur to the immense rolling plateau of Emparis, the herds and flocks roam about in varied settings and at different altitudes: meadows, moors, larch forests, grasslands, in some places at 1200 meters and in other places at 2800 meters.
A warm and savoury culture
In the Ecrins National Park you’ll have a hard time uncovering anything that is neither picturesque nor typical. From generation to generation, the livestock farmers and the shepherds use their local know-how, a blend of experience and adaptation guided by authenticity. Authenticity which you will find in the warm welcome: in village restaurants, alpine pasture houses, in a variety of celebrations, but also in the local products. Here everything can be savoured!
Stop by at the Maison des Alpages in Besse-en-Oisans
It’s difficult to imagine a better setting for this village perched at 1450 meters with its Maison des Alpages Pastures. Through its exhibitions, screeings and entertaining displays, young and old can learn more about different aspects of pastoralism work today and in the pasttrades. Afterwards, you’ll head off in the direction of the alpine pastures of Quarlie or the Plateau d’Emparis, facing Meije and its glaciers.
Taste the symbol of Champsaur livestock farming: lamb
On the Champsaur heights, you might be surprised to see many sheep at over 2500 meters in altitude… Here the sheep are used to mountain dwelling and spend much of the year grazing outside on these alpine pastures thanks to altitudinal zoning. The lambs, raised in the great outdoors, in accordance with strict quality standards (organic farming or the Sisteron lamb label) provide the farmers with a unique quality of meat.. To taste it for yourself, go directly to the farm!
Participate in the Fête de la Chèvre goat festival in Valgaudemar
Representing a deeply rooted pastoral tradition in the commune of La Chapelle-en-Valgaudemar, the fête de la Chèvre goat festival is held every year on October 4th. This is an opportunity to celebrate the herds and flocks returning to the bottom of the valley and also the coming of winter. Before stopping in at one of the village restaurants to taste the famous goat stew, walk around the alleys of the farm fair and the craft market. A time of joy, sharing and hospitality is guaranteed.