7 reasons to love the Chartreuse

France is full of these special places, where time seems to stand still and where you enter into perfect harmony with nature. The Chartreuse massif, with its green landscapes in summer and snow-covered in winter, is inevitably one of them. It is there, in the heart of Isère and to a lesser extent in Savoie, that you can take advantage of the forest, rock faces, waterfalls, lakes and rivers to conquer the great outdoors and enjoy numerous outdoor activities, but also underground! Nor should we forget the heritage elements to observe, the local gastronomy to savour and all those moments of meeting with the local actors and inhabitants, always delighted to reveal the secrets of the territory. And the Chartreuse is one of those places that you want to explore in every corner

Strolling in the heart of an exceptional regional nature park

This is the great strength of the Chartreuse, that of coming into contact with a striking and beautiful nature. Since 1995, the Chartreuse massif has been a regional nature park with exceptional areas such as the Hauts de Chartreuse nature reserve. You can hike there up to 2,000 metres in altitude between forests, mountain pastures and rock faces. In this preserved place, typical of medium mountains, you will discover a flora of great beauty, and in particular more than a third of the French orchid flora. Not to mention rare animal species such as the little owl. The sensitive natural area of the Marais des Sagnes, the sensitive natural area of the Herretang peat bogs, there are countless areas of incredible ecological richness, where plants live in harmony with animals. Moreover, several free supervised outings are offered to better understand the particularities of the territory, its fauna, its flora and the reasons that led to the labeling of various places (Forest of exception, Wild River). Of course, this raw nature is also conducive to many outdoor activities and on sunny days, hiking, mountain biking, climbing, accrobranche or canyoning, offer fun and sporty moments to families and groups of friends

The Chartreuse, land of silence and renewal

The Chartreuse massif, with its wide open spaces as far as the eye can see, is an ideal territory for people seeking to recharge their batteries and escape the hustle and bustle of the city and everyday life. To do this, they can go to the Col de Porte and its wooded area labelled "Forêt d'exception". Elsewhere, forest baths allow you to let go and take advantage of the energy of the trees to connect with nature, regenerate and get inspired. At another point, you alternate between nature and heritage by setting off on a long, silent walk to the superb Grande Chartreuse monastery. This contemplative hike in a silent area, the Chartreuse Desert, allows you to follow in the footsteps of Saint Bruno, founder of the Carthusian order. And then, when you say relaxation and silence, you also say moments in the spaces dedicated to well-being. The Plateau des Petites Roches wellness area and the Oréade Balnéo in Saint-Pierre-de-Chartreuse are places where you can enjoy facilities such as Nordic baths with a view of nature, steam rooms and saunas

The delicious Chartreuse, moments around gastronomy

A moment in the Chartreuse Massif must also include gastronomic moments. Because here, many products can be tasted between two hikes and activities in contact with nature. At the Plantimay farm, you can stock up on eggs, Chartreuse meat, dairy products, beekeeping products and cheeses, to try out the best of the local producers. Raw milk cheeses are excellent in the area, so you should not miss a visit to the Ici en Chartreuse dairy cooperative to learn the secrets of making Savoy, Montagne and Chartreux tommes and taste all these treasures. You can also take advantage of your visit to taste the unavoidable Chartreuse liqueur, which has been made from 130 plants for a very long time! It can be enjoyed as an aperitif or digestive, but also in products such as cheese or chocolate. And then, La Chartreuse is also the vineyards AOC Savoie wines, on the slopes of Mount Granier, Savoy side. A bike ride in the heart of the vineyards is an opportunity to stop at the winemakers and taste the best vintages, including the Chardonnay of the Domaine du Château de la Violette, awarded best Chardonnay in the world in 2020

The cultural Chartreuse

As we have seen, a silent walk between the forests and the Grande Chartreuse monastery is a time for relaxation. Once on the site, you should not miss the museum dedicated to the monument. Because if the monastery is not visited, a stroll in the museum is an opportunity to better understand the lifestyle of the monks who still live there and the secrets around their order. Many other museums and historical sites await visitors, with the Porte Traine mill, remains of a medieval ironworks, the Charles Emmanuel II monument on the site of the Grottes de Saint-Christophe, the Saint-Eynard fort with its breathtaking view of the Belledonne massif or the Musée de l'Ours des Cavernes for a trip back to the time of prehistory with fun workshops. Moreover, there is something for all ages and all tastes in the Chartreuse massif, and children will also enjoy a game of escape at the Touvet castle and a funicular ride at Saint-Hilaire, which reveals a breathtaking panorama of the Belledonne range, Mont Blanc and Mont Aiguille

A thousand ways to hike in nature

Hiking is a key activity in the Chartreuse massif. And it has many surprises in store for those who wish to vary the pleasures. You can please the whole family by going for a walk with donkeys around the Petites Roches plateau, but also explore the Hauts de Chartreuse nature reserve to observe all sorts of animals in their natural environment: ibex, chamois, marmots and birds. For music lovers, you can opt for the Rando Piano where, accompanied by a musician, you hike for two hours to reach a clearing or a meadow, before settling down at dusk to listen to a lovely piano concert, in the middle of nature! The mountains are also great for photography, so a stay in the Chartreuse massif can include a course or a hike around this practice that has many followers, and where you can immortalize some of the most beautiful views of the area. And if the Chartreuse is sublime on the surface, it is also sublime underground. The Dent de Crolles, the Curé cave or the Galerie du Solitaire allow you to observe sublime geological formations, during sessions supervised by passionate professionals

The Chartreuse with its feet in the water

In summer, a hike along the water is perfect to refresh yourself while enjoying a bucolic setting. There is a choice in the Chartreuse massif, with notably the loop of the Cozon path. You then follow the eponymous river to reach the two villages of the Entremonts valley. The potholes and small waterfalls are superb. And since we mention waterfalls, how could we not go to the foot of the Pisserotte waterfall, which offers a bit of freshness from its 68 m high after a nice walk. Another option is to go for a walk around the Alloix waterfalls. Watery atmosphere and nature in its raw state guaranteed! There are also the unavoidable lakes where you can sit on a towel, take a swim and enjoy water activities. The offer is dense with the lakes of Bourget, Carouge, Paladru and Aiguebelette, with their mysterious and fascinating islands. The Rivièr'Alp ecological bathing area is located in a beautiful setting and offers no less than 6,000m2 of beaches, 3 natural bathing areas, a natural playground, fishing areas and areas for playing petanque

The Chartreuse, a land of meetings and sharing

La Chartreuse also means taking the time to meet the various players in the area. For example, by visiting local shops and craftsmen. You can schedule a visit to the Atelier Peter Pan de Bois in Entremont-le-Vieux to discover the manufacture of decorative and everyday objects or fill up on good chocolates at the Sandrine Chappaz chocolate factory in Saint-Laurent-du-Pont. Let's also mention the Petits Jardiniers-cultures de plantes médicinales farm in Saint-Pierre-de-Chartreuse, a place where you can learn more about the making of syrups, herbal teas and cosmetics, but also stock up on good plant-based products. Along the villages of the Chartreuse massif, you can also stop at small producers and restaurants to savour the good local flavours: at the Ferme de l'Aune for meat and dairy products, at the Moulin Neuf farm for cheeses, at the Marmotte Masquée brewery to drink a good beer, and at the Philippe and Sylvain Ravier cellar to taste good wines. In terms of accommodation, you will appreciate the offer that favours meetings and exchanges. Inns, campsites, unusual or ecological accommodation such as a granary, small hotel with a family atmosphere, everyone will find the best way to meet their requirements and spend a rejuvenating holiday.

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