21st and 22nd June: Our last two days of the trip have been based in the Chartreuse Regional Park, close to Grenoble. We had a jam packed 48 hours – a day of hiking and visiting popular visitor spots and a day visiting local tourism businesses.
And we did some actual work (!) We all left our mark on the mountain of Charmant Som where we painted some bright yellow waymarkers (11cm x 2cm precisely!)
The impacts of climate change and related changing weather conditions were mentioned by everyone we met and the urgency of offering a range of activities wider than the ski-ing offer was key.
The ‘special qualities’ of the Park hit us in the face at every turn – the huge range of species and habitats was very obvious and the Park is home to an important Natura 2000 site.
With easy access to Grenoble the popularity of the Chartreuse was plain to see – on weekdays in June it was the busiest Park that we’ve seen and managing visitor numbers is a big issue.
The Park does all it can to support the offer of a wide range of visitor activities, is very open to promoting new visitor opportunities and supportive of local businesses.
The Alpine flowers were amazing even at very high altitudes and the variety was, again impressive – we wished we’d had a botanist in our back pocket!
Local timber is an important product and has been classified as having a high quality for construction – just one example of the importance of adding value to a wide range of local produce. (The park is 60% forested).
We were all intrigued by the Chartreuse monastery and it’s worldwide reputation, which attracts huge numbers of visitors and produces a globally renowned potent liquor.
Work discussion issues
Richard loves his path management! and noted that the popular route up Charmant Som would have been much more heavily managed to take into account the heavy footfall. But with only one seasonal ranger working on rights of way this would have been difficult to achieve.
The importance of local parish involvement in looking after their own rights of way. Across all the Parks we visited the partnership between the Park and the local community was key to getting things done. Much more than we’re used to.
This was the only Park we visited where overcrowding on the roads was a massive issue and the Park were working hard to look for solutions, including the trialling of a road closure on a busy weekend in September this year.
The Parks current priorities are focused on supporting the offer for families and children and making the work of the Park more visible. We all had a go on the rubber ring down hill water slide -and wondered if this would have been seen as appropriate in our own Parks. (It was great fun by the way!)
User issues and conflict were again a common theme and reminded us of home! The relationship between paragliders and landowners was mentioned as well as tensions between hunters and walkers (this year wild boar shooting will start on 1st July – just as the busiest time of year for visitors gets underway).
Our host Catherine was a total star – thanks so much for your hard work and great company Catherine, you were brilliant! And Mario – we hope to see you in the next Winter Olympics!