Merlet is a nature reserve made up of alpine pasture set at 1500 m altitude perched above Les Houches village.
This animal park is situated in a beautiful spot position opposite the Mont-Blanc massif and is a "perle" in Chamonix valley due to its preserved heritage.
It was created in 1968 by Philippe Cachat, and it still run and managed by the familly.
There is 21 ha of pasture land, rocky outcrops and pine forest. It shelters 8 wild animal species that roaming freely.
King of the Alps! Impressive with its horns up to 1 meter long, with 80kg, the ibex is an animal of extraordinary agility in the rocks despite its nonchalant attitude. It has no fear of man, which caused him a near extermination ...it is now protected.
The "étagne" (name given to the female ibex) has horns 15 to 20 cm long. With a strong character, she can not be dominated by the males! She gives birth to her first cub at age 4, which is very late. The young, even though very smart, grows up slowly.
The only wild antelope of Europe, 35 kg, the chamois is perfectly suited to the mountain: it can climb 1000m of altitude in 15 minutes, whereas it would take about 3 hours for humans! Its hooves open when it runs, allowing it to move easily in deep snow: it is the principle of snowshoes !
Males and females have small black horns with a shape of a hook.
The cubs are born in May.
Males are adorned with thick and heavy horns forming a complete circle in adulthood; 40% of females have small horns of 15 cm, the others don't have any.
Native of Corsica, the mouflon is adapted to the medium mountain. Particularly gregarious and fearful, it is nevertheless very prolific and resistant. Females can breed in their first year !
The marmot hibernates from October to April, no less than 6 months / year; moreover during the summer it sleeps at night and never misses its daily nap! it loses about 3 kg but recovers rapidly in the summer by eating greedily.
The marmots live in families in an area of one hectare with many burrows. The main burrow is equipped with bedroom(s), toilets and several entries.
Suspicious and often difficult to approach, luckily the marmot is greedy.
The fallow deer
The fallow deer, from Central Europe, are rare in wilderness but common in captivity.
The roe deer
Small cervid widespread in France, the roe deer is an animal of the plains, it doesn't stand the harsh conditions of the mountain.
The sika deer
Sika deer and fallow deer are the same build and dress alike: brown / red speckled with white dots. To differentiate them, observe the antlers: those of fallow deer are palmated with a multitude of tips, those of Sika deer are less branched; legs are white in the fallow deer and brown / black in the Sika.
The Sika deer is original from Asia.
It live in family during all the year.
In winter sika deer get a dark and brun coat, while his pile are red and tan whis lots of white points.
Domestic animal native of South America, the llama is adapted to harsh weather conditions thanks to its thick coat of wool.
It is used in Europe for hiking, trimming and clearing.
Opening and prices
• In May, June and September: every day except Monday, from 10am to 6pm (exceptional opening Whit Monday)
The tour lasts 2 hours: an easy route accessible to strollers about 1 hour and a tougher road to discover the wildest corners
During the winter, great moment og hapiness
Group of 5 to 8 people, accompagnied by a mountain guide to get the chance to see the wings of Merlet. You will appriciate peace, snowy land and approach animals in the best conditions.
From December 19th 2015 to mid-March 2016, on reservation, from Monday to Friday. The park of Merlet propose: snowshoes hiking of an easy level (2 hours of walking)
Please feel free to have a look at the website in french as we have lots of photos, vidéos and others pictures posted there.
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