Most walking trips in the Southern French Alps are advertised in the Spring and Summer when the majority of people take their holidays. However, walking in the Autumn has to be one of the best times of year to visit this beautiful part of the world with its dramatic mountains, alpine pastures and raging rivers. Here are 3 good reasons why:
The weather is often sunny with deep blue skies and a magical clear luminosity a photographers dream. The mornings are cool and crisp, creating the perfect conditions for a steep walk up hill with no risk of over-heating.
The sun gradually warms up the air throughout the day, perfectly timed for your arrival at the col or summit where you can sit and bask in the warm rays, eating your lunch and admiring the views.
Mushroom picking is a national pass-time in France and on a sunny morning, the day after a rainfall in Autumn, mushroom pickers are everywhere. The local markets are full of wild mushrooms of all colours, shapes and sizes, out on display with the subtle, earthy odour scenting the air.
Add a purpose to your Autumn walk and go mushroaming!
There are hundreds of varieties; lactaires sanguins and lactaires delicieux, trompette de la mort, chanterelle, pied de mouton, pied bleu, cep and girolle and it is worth taking a local expert with you to make sure you pick the right ones. Pharmacies in France are trained to recognize mushrooms so if you are unsure of your pick, you can take them there to get verified before you cook up your wild mushroom risotto.
The forests and woodlands of the Southern Alps are famous for their diversity with a wide range of deciduous species alongside the conifers and other evergreens usually associated with the Alps.
Amongst them and dominating a number of mountains, is the larch tree, a rather unique deciduous conifer that loses its pine-needles every year. It turns a magnificent bright yellow colour in Autumn with the changes happening at low altitudes and gradually working their way upwards creating a wave effect up the mountain. Dotted inbetween are rich reds, burnt oranges and deep greens showing off the diversity and variety of species.
Sally Guillaume is Director at Undiscovered Alps.
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