Berger tending his flock of sheep and goats in the Vallée de la Séveraisette

The valley of the Drac Blanc

Cold snap here in the Écrins rather than the Indian summer which we had hoped for. We’re staying again ay Boustigue, just off the Route Napoléon at Corps. Fine dawns on the Grande Tête de l’Obiou (2790 m.) over the mist in the valley of the river Drac. We followed the Drac upstream to its sources, the glaciers of the Écrins. The name Drac means “dragon”, so-called because of its devastating flash floods. The valleys of the two principal tributaries are quite different in character, the White Drac runs down a valley of crystalline rock whereas the Black Drac has a deep valley eroded in to sedimentary rock.

Orcières - ski town

Notre Dame de la Salette

La grande tête de l'Obiou

The head of the valley of the Black Drac is the ski resort of Orcières 1850, looking weird without visual frisson of either snow or blue skies. You could say it looks a bit “Thunderbirds” or other science fiction. My photo is intended to be about the exploitation of the mountains by the ski industry. This is neither the snow season nor the summer so the blockhouse accommodation looks particularly out of place on the natural mountain.
The next valley over - la vallée de la Séveraissette - is much less developed, almost abandoned. Just forestry, hiking and horse-riding. The berger we saw looked very much the last of his sort in the area as he tended his flock of sheep and goats.
Notre-Dame de la Salette (1769 m.) is a pilgrimage centre at the site of a reported apparition of Mary, today the church was surrounde d by swirling mist and clouds, adding to the mystic atmosphere of the site, despite the numerous coaches, cars and camping vans.