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  • Flora of the French Alps: 25 Alpine Flowers to See in the Vanoise

Last Updated: 27 May 2024


The Alps are home to an impressive floral pool with more than 1,200 different varieties of plants found in the Vanoise massif only. One of the most colourful images you may have of the French Alps in summer is of high pastures thick with Alpine flowers. Here is a selection of the flora of the French Alps we photographed during one of our walks in the Vanoise National Park.


Explore the Vanoise Massif in the French Alps

The Vanoise National Park is a true gem nestled in the heart of the French Alps.

It’s a place where nature thrives in its most pristine form.

Imagine towering peaks that touch the sky, lush green valleys that stretch for miles, and sparkling blue lakes that reflect the beauty around them.


The wildlife in the Vanoise

Alpine marmot, Vallon de Foran © French Moments
Alpine marmot © French Moments

This park is a haven for wildlife, home to a rich variety of animals.

You might spot an agile chamois leaping across rocky slopes, a timid marmot on the lookout, or a majestic ibex standing proudly on a mountain ledge.

But it’s not just the wildlife that makes Vanoise special.


The flora of the Alps in Vanoise

Spring in Granier © French Moments
Spring in Granier © French Moments

The park is renowned for its stunning array of flowers.

From spring to summer, the meadows come alive with vibrant colours.

You’ll find a multitude of rare and beautiful blooms, each with its own unique charm.

It’s a paradise for botanists and flower enthusiasts alike.


Hiking in the Vanoise

Granier in the spring © French Moments
On a walk next to our chalet © French Moments

For those who love hiking, Vanoise offers an extensive network of trails.

Whether you’re a seasoned trekker or just looking for a leisurely walk, there’s a path for you.

The trails take you through diverse landscapes, from dense forests to alpine pastures.

Each step brings a new vista, a new wonder to behold.


A heavenly place for photographers

Sunset in the Alps © French Moments
Sunset in the Alps © French Moments

Photographers will find endless inspiration here.

The changing light, the dramatic scenery, and the abundant wildlife offer countless opportunities for stunning shots.

Capture the delicate petals of the Alpine pasqueflower or the serene beauty of a mountain lake at dawn.

Whether you’re a nature lover, an avid hiker, or simply seeking a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, I’m sure you’ll enjoy exploring the Vanoise National Park just as we did.


The Flora of the French Alps

The Alps are renowned for their breathtaking landscapes, but among the soaring peaks and serene valleys lies an equally enchanting world of flora.

Nestled in the heart of this majestic mountain range is Vanoise National Park, a haven for nature enthusiasts and botanists alike.

This park, with its diverse habitats and pristine environments, hosts a remarkable array of alpine flowers that thrive in its unique climate.


The unique climate and flora of the Vanoise Massif

Protected from Atlantic weather disturbances by the western massifs (Prealps, Belledonne range, Grand Arc, Lauzière), the Vanoise is an internal massif that remains relatively dry.

It enjoys plenty of sunshine and, in winter, especially in its eastern part, benefits from the Siberian anticyclone that brings stable, dry, and cold air.

In the southern part of the Northern Alps, the climate takes on a Mediterranean character, particularly in Maurienne, where many Mediterranean plants flourish.

Along the Italian border, the massif experiences the foehn, a distinctive southeast wind.

This wind brings precipitation to the Italian slopes and then crosses passes such as the Galise (Val d’Isère) and Mont-Cenis, descending into the French side where it dries out and warms up significantly.

This results in accelerated snowmelt and an early start to the vegetation season.


25 most beautiful Flowers of the Alps!

In this blog post, we’ll take you on a visual journey through the Vanoise National Park to explore 25 of the most beautiful and intriguing flowers found in the Alps. From the delicate petals of the Alpine pasqueflower to the iconic Edelweiss, each flower tells a story of resilience and beauty.

You will find the names of the flora of the French Alps in English, French and Latin.

All these photos were taken in the surroundings of Pralognan-la-Vanoise.


Alpine pasqueflower

Anémone des Alpes – Pulsatilla alpina

Alpine Pasqueflower Flowers of the Alps copyright French Moments
Alpine Pasqueflower (fruiting plant) © French Moments
Flora of the French Alps - Alpine pasqueflower © French Moments
Alpine pasqueflower © French Moments

The Alpine pasqueflower is a delicate beauty found in high-altitude meadows. Its pale, lavender petals and bright yellow stamens create a striking contrast. This flower blooms early in the season, often peeking through the last remnants of snow.


Mountain avens

Dryade à huit pétale – thé des Alpes – Dryas octopetala

Flora of the French Alps - Mountain avens © French Moments
Mountain avens © French Moments

Mountain avens are hardy, ground-hugging plants with bright white petals and a sunny yellow centre. They thrive in rocky, alpine environments and are a common sight in the Vanoise. Their simple, star-shaped blooms add a touch of elegance to the rugged landscape.


Yellow bell-flower

Campanule en thyrse – Campanula thyrsoides

Flora of the French Alps - Yellow bell-flower © French Moments
Yellow bell-flower © French Moments

The yellow bell-flower, with its vibrant, trumpet-shaped blossoms, brings a splash of colour to alpine meadows. These cheerful flowers nod gently in the breeze, their bright hue standing out against the greenery.


Alpine aster

Aster des Alpes – Aster alpinus

Flora of the French Alps - Alpine aster © French Moments
Alpine aster © French Moments

The Alpine aster is a delightful flower with daisy-like blooms in shades of purple and blue. Its bright yellow centre attracts numerous pollinators, making it a lively addition to the alpine flora. The aster’s hardy nature allows it to thrive in the harshest conditions.


Snow gentian

Gentiane des neiges – Gentiana nivalis

Flora of the French Alps - Snow gentian © French Moments
Snow gentian © French Moments

Snow gentians are petite, deep blue flowers that flourish in the cool, moist environments of the Alps. Their vibrant colour contrasts beautifully with the surrounding greenery and snow. These flowers are a symbol of the alpine summer.



Rhododendron ferrugineux or Rose des Alpes – Rhododendron ferrugineum

Flora of the French Alps - Alpenrose © French Moments
Alpenrose © French Moments

Alpenrose is a stunning shrub with clusters of pink or red flowers. It grows abundantly in the alpine and subalpine zones, creating carpets of colour on mountain slopes. The glossy green leaves and bright blooms make it a favourite among hikers.


Alpine snow-bell

Soldanelle des Alpes – Soldanella alpina

Alpine snow-bell © French Moments
Alpine snow-bell © French Moments

The Alpine snow-bell is a small, bell-shaped flower that blooms in early spring. Its delicate white petals often emerge through the melting snow, heralding the arrival of warmer days. This flower’s modest beauty is a welcome sight in the high mountains.


Moss campion

Silène sans pédoncule – Silene exscapa

Moss campion © French Moments
Moss campion © French Moments

Moss campion forms dense, cushion-like mats adorned with tiny, pink or purple flowers. This hardy plant is often found clinging to rocky outcrops and scree slopes. Its ability to thrive in such harsh environments makes it a fascinating study in resilience.


Spring gentian

Gentiane printanière – Gentiana verna

Spring gentian © French Moments
Spring gentian © French Moments

Spring gentians are small, intensely blue flowers that bloom in early spring. Their vivid colour and star-shaped petals make them stand out against the alpine grasses. These flowers are often found in limestone areas, adding splashes of blue to the landscape.


Yellow thistle

Cirse épineux – Cirsium spinosissimum

Yellow thistle © French Moments
Yellow thistle © French Moments

Yellow thistles are robust plants with spiny leaves and bright yellow flowers. Despite their prickly appearance, they add a touch of sunshine to the alpine meadows. These thistles are a vital part of the mountain ecosystem, providing food for various insects.


Oneflower fleabane

Vergerette à une fleur – Erigeron uniflorus

Oneflower fleabane © French Moments
Oneflower fleabane © French Moments

The oneflower fleabane is a charming daisy-like flower with a single bloom per stem. Its white petals and yellow centre brighten up the alpine meadows. This resilient flower can often be seen growing in clusters, adding a delicate beauty to the rocky terrain.



Étoile d’argent – Leontopodium alpinum

Edelweiss © French Moments
Edelweiss © French Moments

Edelweiss is perhaps the most iconic alpine flower, known for its woolly, star-shaped white blooms. It grows in rugged, rocky areas, often at high altitudes. This rare and protected flower is a symbol of the Alps and holds a special place in alpine folklore.


Linaria alpina

Linaire des Alpes (or Muflier des Alpes or Gueule-de-lion des Alpes)

Linaria alpina © French Moments
Linaria alpina © French Moments

Linaria alpina, or alpine toadflax, features vibrant purple and orange flowers. This striking colour combination makes it easy to spot among the rocks and gravel where it grows. The small, clustered blooms add a touch of brightness to the alpine landscape.


Stemless gentian

Gentiane de Koch or Gentiane acaule – Gentiana acaulis

Stemless gentian © French Moments
Stemless gentian © French Moments
Stemless gentian © French Moments
Stemless gentian © French Moments

Stemless gentians are striking blue flowers that grow close to the ground. Their large, trumpet-shaped blooms are a deep, rich blue, making them a standout in alpine meadows. These flowers are particularly noted for their intense colour.


Oxeye daisy

Marguerite – Leucanthemum vulgare

Marguerite © French Moments
Oxeye Daisy © French Moments

The oxeye daisy is a familiar and cheerful sight in alpine meadows. Its large, white petals surround a bright yellow centre. This hardy flower thrives in a variety of conditions, adding a splash of classic beauty to the mountainous regions.



Trolle d’Europe – Trollius europaeus

Globe-flower © French Moments
Globe-flower © French Moments

Globe-flowers are bright yellow, spherical blooms that appear in late spring. Their round shape and vibrant colour make them easy to spot in the alpine meadows. These flowers prefer moist, boggy areas, often growing near streams and wetlands.


Meadow rue

Pigamon à feuilles d’ancolie – Thalictrum aquilegiifolium

Meadow rue © French Moments
Meadow rue © French Moments

Meadow rue is a tall, elegant plant with delicate, feathery flowers. The blooms can be white, pink, or purple and add a soft, airy touch to the alpine flora. This plant thrives in damp, shady areas and is often found near streams and forest edges.


Great Yellow Gentian

Gentiane jaune – Gentiana lutea

Great Yellow Gentian © French Moments
Great Yellow Gentian © French Moments

The great yellow gentian is a towering plant with clusters of yellow flowers. It can grow up to two metres tall, making it one of the most imposing plants in the alpine meadows. The roots of this plant have been used traditionally for medicinal purposes.


Perennial Cornflower

Centaurée des montagnes – Centaurea montana

Perennial Cornflower © French Moments
Perennial Cornflower © French Moments

Perennial cornflowers are hardy plants with striking blue blooms. Their fringed petals and vibrant colour make them a standout in any meadow. These flowers are loved by pollinators and add a touch of wild beauty to the alpine flora.


Mountain houseleek

Joubarbe des montagnes – Sempervivum montanum

Mountain houseleek © French Moments
Mountain houseleek © French Moments

Mountain houseleek is a succulent plant with rosettes of thick, fleshy leaves. In summer, it produces tall stalks topped with star-shaped pink flowers. This plant is exceptionally resilient, often found growing in rocky crevices and harsh conditions.


Burnt Orchid

Orchis Brulé – Orchis ustulata

Burnt Orchid © French Moments
Burnt Orchid © French Moments

The burnt orchid is a unique and rare flower with dark red and white blooms. Its distinctive appearance and small, clustered flowers make it a fascinating find for botanists. This orchid grows in sunny meadows and limestone soils.


Heath Spotted-orchid

Orchis tacheté – Dactylorhiza maculata

Heath Spotted-orchid © French Moments
Heath Spotted-orchid © French Moments

Heath spotted-orchids are elegant flowers with pale pink and purple blooms. The delicate, spotted petals are a beautiful sight in the alpine meadows. These orchids prefer damp, grassy areas and are a favourite among orchid enthusiasts.


Vanilla orchid

Nigritelle noire or orchis vanillé – Nigritella nigra

Vanilla orchid © French Moments
Vanilla orchid, one of the most beautiful flora of the French Alps © French Moments

The vanilla orchid, with its creamy white flowers, is a delicate beauty in the alpine regions. These flowers have a subtle, sweet fragrance reminiscent of vanilla. They thrive in well-drained, sunny spots and add a touch of elegance to the mountain flora.


Marsh Marigold

Populage des marais (Souci d’eau) – Caltha palustris

Flora of the French Alps - Marsh Marigold © French Moments
Marsh Marigold © French Moments

The Marsh Marigold is a vibrant perennial found in wet, marshy areas of the Alps. It features striking yellow flowers that bloom in early spring, creating a bright contrast against the lush green foliage. The heart-shaped leaves and cheerful blooms make it a delightful sight in the alpine meadows and along stream banks. This hardy plant thrives in moist environments and adds a splash of colour to its natural habitat.


Alpine Hawkweed

Piloselle – Hieracium alpinum

Piloselle - Flora of the French Alps © French Moments
Piloselle © French Moments

The Alpine Hawkweed is a charming perennial found in the mountainous regions of the Alps. It features pale yellow flowers that resemble those of a dandelion, adding a splash of soft colour to the alpine meadows. The plant has a rosette of basal leaves that are covered in fine, soft hairs, giving them a slightly fuzzy appearance. Sturdy and resilient, Alpine Hawkweed thrives in the rocky, well-drained soils of high altitudes. It blooms from late spring to early summer, attracting various pollinators with its delicate, daisy-like flowers. This hardy plant is a delightful addition to the diverse flora of the alpine landscape, standing out for its subtle beauty and robust nature.


More info about the Vanoise!


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Explore the Vanoise National Park © French Moments

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About the author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. He has a background teaching French, Economics and Current Affairs, and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations, and a degree of Economics and Management. Pierre is the author of Discovery Courses and books about France.

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