Today’s Photo

Every weekday during winter, and occasionally the rest of the year

21 July 2021

When you’re skiing in Val d’Isère, on packed snow five feet deep, it is hard to imagine that there is a whole world of nature beneath your feet, just waiting for the summer.

By July there are wild flowers everywhere, with several species of gentian:

Val d'Isère 21 July 2021

including the giant yellow gentian:

Val d'Isère 21 July 2021

There are acres of rose bay willowherb:

Val d'Isère 21 July 2021

the very rare astragale de lienz spotted by mountain guide Chris Souillac:

Val d'Isère 21 July 2021

and false helleborines:

Val d'Isère 21 July 2021

There are marmots, who sleep for six months beneath our skis:

Val d'Isère 21 July 2021

and vipers, who survive the bitter winters for the same reason our water mains do: the thick duvet of snow means that the ground beneath never really freezes…

Val d'Isère 21 July 2021

Some animals here don’t hibernate, such as France’s largest population of ibex:

Val d'Isère 21 July 2021

the squirrels:

Val d'Isère 21 July 2021

or the snow voles:

Val d'Isère 21 July 2021

who spend the winter scurrying through little tunnels between the snow and the soil:

Val d'Isère 21 July 2021

trying to avoid the stoats:

Val d'Isère 21 July 2021

Even the trees are unrecognisable. The bare sticks of the winter larches are vivid green now:

Val d'Isère 21 July 2021

Val d’Isère is marvellous in the summer. But we still can’t wait for winter!

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