Chartreuse Regional Natural Park, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France

The Chartreuse Regional Natural Park is a regional natural park located in France in the departments of Isère and Savoie in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region.

The park encompasses the Chartreuse massif, in the geographical area delimited by the cities of Chambéry (north), Voiron (west) and Grenoble (south).

Since the renewal of its charter in 2008, it covers an area of 76,700 hectares and has 60 member municipalities (41 in Isère, 19 in Savoie), totaling 46,300 inhabitants.

The park was created on May 6, 1995 and was revised in April 2008 (decree of April 16, 2008, published in the Official Journal on April 18, 2008), to renew it for eleven years by integrating eight new municipalities (Barraux, Saint-Nazaire-les-Eymes and Saint-Pancrasse in Isère; Apremont, Cognin, Montagnole, Myans and Vimines in Savoie).

The interministerial decree in the Official Journal of 23 october 2018 labels the Bois de Chartreuse with the Controlled Designation of Origin, thanks to the ten-year work of the Bois de Chartreuse Interprofessional Committee set up at the initiative of the Park. The species used to produce Chartreuse wood are silver fir (Abies alba) and common spruce (Picea abies). It is produced and processed on the territory of 134 municipalities of Isère and Savoie.

St Pierre de Chartreuse
Perched at an altitude of 900 m in the heart of the massif, it is the most famous village of Chartreuse. Small village of 1000 inhabitants, it is overlooked by emblematic peaks of the massif including Chamechaude (highest point of the massif, from its 2082 m altitude), Charmant Som and Grand Som. In winter, it has the particularity of becoming a village-resort thanks to the cable cars which, from the heart of the village, transport you to the slopes of the Cœur de Chartreuse ski area.

Largest ski resort in the Chartreuse massif, St Pierre is nonetheless a medium-sized resort. If it’s the vibe and innovation of the big resorts you’re looking for, this isn’t the place you should come. Here you will find a resort on a human scale, simple and friendly, with magnificent views of the surrounding peaks.

Push the door of the ski touring area to start in complete safety. Training on the basics of the activity, how to equip yourself, what are the safety principles, how to make a conversion (change of direction in ski touring),… Passionate professionals are at your disposal to help you climb summits and descend the most beautiful slopes.

Is it cold, snowflakes falling on the village? The perfect time to take a good bath… outside! Like the Scandinavian countries, try the outdoor Nordic baths at Oréade Balnéo. Heated to 38 ° over a wood fire, you won’t get cold. Benefits for the body (and the mind) guaranteed.

St Hugues is a hamlet of St Pierre de Chartreuse but it could well be a village in its own right with its church, restaurants and pretty houses. Moreover, its church houses an astonishing Museum of Contemporary Sacred Art. It is also a very small ski resort (Les Egaux) which has the originality of being managed by volunteers, and a Nordic site whose slopes are linked to those of the Col de Porte.

The Entremonts
Authentic and warm valley, nestled between the Col du Granier and the Col du Cucheron, and with exceptional landscapes. St Pierre d’Entremont is conviviality and its animation (it is here that you will find all the shops and services), Corbel for its “miniature village” side suspended from the cliff and Entremont le Vieux for its calm, its sincerity. and… its dairy cooperative (cheese lover, come over here). And you will find in these 3 villages the “Entremondant” spirit carried by the inhabitants: authenticity, simplicity, meeting, sharing and welcome.

The Plateau des Petites Roches
3 pretty villages on a plateau offering a panoramic view of the Belledonne range. Take a cliff on which you place a plateau with 3 villages (St Pancrasse, St Hilaire du Touvet and St Bernard du Touvet). Overlook the latter from a summit (the Dent de Crolles) that you extend with the Hauts de Chartreuse Nature Reserve and project an exceptional panorama across the Belledonne range, you will reach the Plateau des Petites Roches.

According to legend, it would be the famous giant Gargantua who formed the Plateau des Petites Roches by sitting on the mountain and taking the cliff as a file, during his crossing of the Alps.

At an altitude of 1,000 m, the plateau is a haven of peace that will satisfy all nature lovers: an emblematic and internationally known place for free flight (paragliding, hang-gliding, etc.), in particular thanks to the Coupe Icare which delights the eyes and hearts of spectators for over 45 years, the 3rd weekend of September. The plateau will also delight all lovers of outdoor activities, summer and winter: hiking, climbing, caving, via-ferrata, cycling, downhill, hiking or Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, sledding…

Unmissable on the plateau (and in the valley since it connects the 2!), The St Hilaire du Touvet funicular. Over 1.5 km and 800m of vertical drop, its slope can reach an incline of 83% and makes it one of the steepest in Europe. It was built by transport materials and workers during the construction of the Petites Roches sanatorium (which is no longer in operation today) and then the patients of the establishment. It is now used as a tourist attraction and will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2O23.

The Sappey and the Porte pass
The mountain less than 20 minutes from Grenoble, at the foot of the highest point of Chartreuse. Only 15 minutes from Grenoble, the Sappey en Chartreuse is a small, quiet and very pretty village. With its church adorned with magnificent stained glass windows by the artist Arcabas, it delights young and old with many activities in summer and winter. Many people from Grenoble have also come to settle there to take advantage of the quality of life offered.

After the village of Sappey, towards St Pierre de Chartreuse, is the Col de Porte, in the town of Sarcenas (village with many typical hamlets that we invite you to visit, you can enjoy the incredible view). A must-see in the Chartreuse massif, summer and winter. This is the starting point for hikes to the highest and most beautiful summits of Chartreuse.

The Guiers Valley
A valley crossed by the beautiful Guiers river and offering an exceptional view of the Chartreuse peaks. Between the Col de la Placette and the Col du Couz, stretches the Guiers valley also called the Chartreuse Valley. An ideal base camp because it is located close to everything: the gateway towns to the massif (Grenoble, Chambéry, Voiron), lakes (Aiguebelette and Paladru) and the Chartreuse peaks.

The Carthusian in 2017 repatriated the production of the famous liqueur to the heart of the valley, to Aiguenoire. South of the distillery, the small town of St Laurent du Pont. A very lively and warm town with many traders. If you pass by there, climb up to the chapel which gives a nice point of view on the valley. Its Thursday morning market and the walk of the bread ovens are also unmissable.

To the north of the distillery, the communes of Echelles and Entre-Deux-Guiers which have the particularity of being adjacent while located in neighboring departments. Here again, it is the Guiers river which marks the border, as in St Pierre d’Entremont. A dip in the natural swimming pool (the water is filtered by the plants) located in the heart of the villages.

The vineyards of Savoie
On the slopes of Mont Granier, the AOC Vins de Savoie vineyards. Chartreuse especially is known for its famous liqueur, other intoxicating drinks (to be tasted in moderation) are also produced here. These are the wines of Savoie. La Chartreuse brings together 3 of the 4 AOC wines from Savoie: Vins de Savoie, AOC Roussette de Savoie and Crémants de Savoie.

The vineyards of these 3 AOCs flourish on the Chartreuse hillsides, in the towns of St Baldoph, Apremont, Myans and Les Marches, and Chapareillan. Going to meet our winegrowers means sharing and exchanging, and of course tasting. It is to discover this know-how through a profession, a terroir. It means tasting a fresh and light wine like Jacquere, a light pearling wine with floral aromas like Apremont.

Cultivate yourself without moderation by visiting Corinne and Daniel’s educational farm. Enter the heart of the largest Savoyard wine sector, recognized by the Vignobles et Découvertes label. Tasting of the most famous AOC wines, visit of the farm, stay in a rural lodging.

The Winegrower Museum, member of the Route des Savoir-Faire and Cultural Sites of Chartreuse. A cellar-museum located in the heart of the vineyards in which you will discover an impressive collection of tools and utensils of the vine (since the XVIth century). A little further, still on the same theme, visit the Regional Museum of Vine and Wine in Montmélian (8 km).

The Grésivaudan valley
A valley overflowing with a thousand treasures between Chartreuse and Belledonne, Grenoble and Chambéry. An ancient glacial valley nestled between the Chartreuse massif and that of Belledonne. Today it follows the course of the Isère halfway between Grenoble and Chambéry.

History is very present since there are a number of strongholds and castles nestled in the foothills of the Chartreuse massif, in particular: Château du Touvet, Fort Barraux, Château Bayard, Château du Cheylas, Tour d’Arces, Château Servien … Louis XII had nicknamed it “the most beautiful garden in France” and Stendhal did not “ in truth conceive that such a country had remained unknown”. As for the Chevalier Bayard, the knight without fear and without reproach, it is here that he was born, in Pontcharra, in the castle that bears his name.

The valley of 100 castles is also known for its many waterfalls. These ribbons of freshness turn to ice when winter is here, but when fine weather arrives; they release their waters and their beauty. Nestled at the bottom of the Chartreuse and Belledonne valleys, these waterfalls have many surprises.

The presence of water with its many waterfalls, its scattered lakes and lakes and the “Isère” river which runs through it from end to end. Its strategic position (between the Petites Roches and Belledonne resorts in winter / between activities and nature hikes in Chartreuse and Belledonne in summer / between Grenoble and Chambéry.

For all those who like to look up and contemplate, it is from the A41 motorway, which crosses the Grésivaudan right through from Grenoble to Chambéry, that we have the best view of the valley. Placed in the center of the plain, cleared on all sides, it allows the traveler to understand all the essential aspects (Belledonne range, Chartreuse cliffs, Touvet castle, St Hilaire du Touvet funicular).

The Voironnais
Known for its lake (Paladru), its cellars (of the famous Chartreuse liqueur), and many other treasures. With Lac de Paladru to the north and its plains backing onto the Isère river to the south, the Pays Voironnais extends its green hills to the foot of the foothills of the Chartreuse Alpine massif.

Its charming city center Voiron, is known for its church readily nicknamed “cathedral” by the people of the Voiron. and the Caves de Chartreuse. Like a fish in water or with your feet on the ground, lakeside or rolling hills, take relaxing breaks or beautiful walks or mountain bike rides, to be discovered during a seminar or to savor…

With its turquoise and emerald waters, Lac de Paladru is a summer swimming paradise. 25 ° in the water, numerous beaches, nautical and recreational activities, this lake is irresistible and one of the most beautiful in the region. The view by taking a tree-lined and easily accessible path, punctuated by sensory stations, which leads to a magnificent belvedere on the edge of the cliff. Panoramic view of the Isère valley, the Vercors, the Alps and the Chartreuse.

Cultural heritage
Saint-Hilaire-du-Touvet funicular and the Icare laboratory, a museum space on the aerial world.
Gardens and castle of Touvet
Fort Barraux, Barraux
Fort Saint-Eynard, Le Sappey-en-Chartreuse
Sardinian Way, Saint-Christophe La Grotte
Charles Emmanuel II monument, Saint-Christophe La Grotte
Remains of Entremont castle, Saint-Pierre-d’Entremont (Savoie)
Château du Gouvernement, also called Château de Saint-Pierre or Château-Neuf d’Entremont, also known as Montbel, Saint-Pierre-d’Entremont (Isère)
Roman bridge over the Guiers Vif, Saint-Christophe La Grotte

Industrial heritage
Chartreuse cellars
Former Fourvoirie distillery, Saint-Laurent-du-Pont
Tourne paper mill, Les Marches

Religious heritage
Monastery of the Grande Chartreuse, Saint-Pierre-de-Chartreuse
Monastery of the Dominicans Notre Dame de Chalais, Voreppe
Commandery of Saint John of Jerusalem, Les Échelles
Corbel Church
Church of Sappey-en-Chartreuse
Saint Bruno Church, Voiron
Saint Michel Chapel, Saint-Bernard-du-Touvet
Chapel of Our Lady of the castle, Saint-Laurent-du-Pont
Chapel of Notre Dame du château, Miribel-les-Échelles
Saint Roch Chapel, Miribel-les-Échelles
Chapel of the Madeleine, Saint-Pierre-de-Genebroz
Grotto of Lourdes, Saint-Joseph-de-Rivière

Museums
Museum of contemporary sacred art, Saint-Hugues-de-Chartreuse
Museum of the Grande Chartreuse, Saint-Pierre-de-Chartreuse
Museum of the cave bear in the Chartreuse, Entremont-le-Vieux
Mainssieux Museum, Voiron
Water workshop, Cognin

Nearby lakes
The Chartreuse also has exceptional lakes nearby: Lac d’Aiguebelette, Lac de Paladru, or less than 1 hour away, Lac du Bourget (Aix les Bains).

The lake of Aiguebelette
Nestled at the foot of the Chartreuse and the Epine mountain, Lac d’Aiguebelette is the smallest of the 4 lakes in Savoie Mont Blanc. It is also the most preserved and the most secret. 3rd natural lake in France, its magnificent “emerald green” color gave it its name since “Aiguebelette” means “beautiful little waters”. Very popular with swimmers, the lake is also very popular with fishermen and rowers since it has a remarkable ecosystem and natural areas that guarantee water quality and ecological diversity. Thermal engine boats are also prohibited there. Small authentic towns nestle around the lake and each offers a different view.

7 beaches are arranged around Lake Aiguebelette. Families, we recommend the beaches of St Alban or Pré Argent with their inflatable structures and other water games, Bon Vent beach, it will guarantee you a well shaded lawn. Without forgetting the beach of La Crique located in the immediate vicinity of the motorway exit, or that of Lépin le Lac with many games and its snack bar.

The Lac d’Aiguebelette is known worldwide for the practice of rowing. Its club is renowned and many national and international competitions take place there, including the world championship in 2015. The rowing base is located on the beach road between those of Pré-argent and Sougey, by car. Many other nautical activities are offered such as: stand-up paddle boarding, boat trips, canoeing…

If nautical activities are essential on Lac d’Aiguebelette, many other more “land” or “aerial” activities are offered around the lake. How about flying over Lac d’Aiguebelette in a paraglider or microlight, seeing the lake from above after a hike or via ferrata, taking the children to tree climbing, etc. Beautiful memories in perspective.

Lake Paladru
Nicknamed the “blue lake” by its residents, Lac de Paladru looks like the Caribbean. This is undoubtedly due to the color of its water which shades from turquoise to emerald. But the lake is not only a paradise for swimming, it is also a paradise for cycling and water activities.

Sand, small pebbles, grass, more or less shaded, deep water or not, the 4 supervised beaches of Lac de Paladru give you the choice: Charavines, Le Pin, Montferrat and Paladru. In summer, you will swim in 25 ° C water. The color of the water is due to the chalk lake which covers its funds. Chalk, which is also beneficial for the skin.

The many walking and hiking routes, of all levels, will offer you magnificent panoramas of the lake! Closer to the water, take the green way and discover beautiful preserved natural spaces. 7 km long one way (therefore 14 km round trip) it connects Paladru to Charavines, by taking the Chemin des marais, a sensitive natural area dotted with 4 stations to discover the remarkable flora and fauna of the site. Then it takes you to the Véronnière relaxation area, an ideal green setting for a family break around benches and children’s games. Finally descending south to the beautiful Bois d’Amour area, from which you overlook the lake in a partly wooded area, the path takes you to Charavines beach.

You bathed IN the lake, you rode AROUND the lake, now cruise ON the lake! at your disposal, all kinds of boats: canoe, stand-up paddle, rowing, catamaran, dinghy, pedal boats… alone or accompanied, ideal for enjoying the lake… And you can even try a lake dive! As a result, a mysterious immersion in the underwater world…

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