Nature Highlights on the Tour du Mont Blanc: Aiguilles Rouges Nature Reserve

Aiguille Rouge

One of my most favourite moments on the Tour du Mont Blanc is the hike through the Aiguilles Rouges nature reserve. The route runs straight through the high alpine above the tree line and is one of the most beautiful trails in the French Alps. It doesn’t only feature the most awe-inspiring views of Mont Blanc and its glaciers, but the nature reserve is also home to incredibly rich mountain flora and fauna. Close encounters with alpine ibex are very common. But that’s not all…it’s the pristine alpine lakes which are dotted along the trail that make this hike a truly unforgettable nature experience.

22 lakes with unique aquatic ecosystems

The Aiguilles Rouges nature reserve has twenty-two lakes of which Lac Blanc is undoubtably the most famous. The Tour du Mont Blanc also takes you past the Lacs des Chéserys where the impressive views on the snowy peaks of the Mont Blanc massif are my absolute favorite. The alpine lakes in combination with these jaw dropping panoramas are exceptionally photogenic, but what most hikers don’t realize while absorbing the incredible views, is that each one of the 22 lakes in the Aiguilles Rouges has its own unique aquatic ecosystem.

From microscopic organisms to Eurasian water shrews

The highest lake in the nature reserve is Lac Noir superior (2535 meter) which is covered by ice for the most part of the year. In this alpine lake you’ll need a microscope to look for life like diatoms and phytoplankton. However, in the lowest lake it’s theming with life. The small Lac de Jorattets (1445 meter) is situated on the Col de Montets and is home to animals such as Eurasian water shrews (Neomys fodiens), common frogs (Rana temporaria) and toads (Bufo bufo). It’s a world of difference between the two lakes! And then there are all the lakes in between. On the trail of the Tour du Mont Blanc you’ll pass for example Lac du Golliet with an incredible amount of dragonflies and damselflies. While in the Lacs de Chéserys you might see some alpine newt larvae swimming around. As said, every lake in the nature reserve has its own unique aquatic ecosystem

Ibex in Aiguilles Rouge
An Ibex posing for a photo in the Aiguilles Rouge Nature Reserve. Photo by: Estelle Blesbois,

Take it all in!

Although it’s not very likely you’ll have time to visit each one of the 22 mountain lakes in the Aiguilles Rouges, discovering one or two of these pristine gems on your trek is a guaranteed highlight for any nature lover! Nothing beats sitting on the water’s edge while absorbing the stunning views and discovering the unique aquatic ecosystems of any of these lakes. And who knows, you might be lucky enough to share this special moment with a grazing alpine ibex!  

Read more nature highlights on the Tour du Mont Blanc

If you’d like to read a bit more about life in the lakes of the Aiguilles Rouges nature reserve please read my previous blogs on Lacs des Chéserys and Lac du Golliet, lakes you’ll pass while hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc:

Simone van Velzen

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