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Stage 9: Nantua > Chambéry

Halfway through, this stage crosses the Natura 2000 site of the Savoyard forecountry (FR8212003) and the Savoyard forecountry network of wetlands, grasslands, moors and cliffs (FR8201770).

These sites neighbour the Chartreuse Regional Natural Park and are located a few kilometres from Lake Bourget and the Chautagne Marsh, areas protected by the Ramsar Convention of 1991.

The Savoyard fore country sites straddle two biogeographic zones: Alpine and continental zones, which gives them a rich biodiversity. It is first and foremost illustrated by its diversity of habitats, such as wetlands (open water, wet meadows, reed beds), dry grasslands, juniper moors, sloping forests and limestone cliffs, some fifteen remarkable environments.

Lake Aiguebelette, France's third natural lake, is an essential part of this landscape.

These different areas are home to significant biodiversity, in particular to protected animal species. Wetlands in the Savoyard fore country are home to species of fish and bats of Community interest, such as the unsightly European brook lamprey, the common sculpin, the greater mouse-eared bat and the lesser horseshoe bat. 

As for the Savoyard fore country’s special protection zone, it has a diverse avifauna consisting of waterfowls (kingfisher), diurnal birds of prey (the peregrine falcon, royal eagle, short-toed snake eagle) and nocturnal birds (Eurasian eagle owl), and forest or field birds (the black woodpecker, wood lark, red-backed shrike).
All these species deserve special attention in view of the interest they represent as components of European biodiversity that are rare, to a certain extent. In addition to the threats posed by human practices (recreational activities, modification of agricultural practices), these species are threatened by the disappearance of reed beds and marsh areas. 

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A unique protection zone

At the foot of the "legendary" Dent du Chat, there are two small lakes of glacial origin: the lakes of Chevelu and their marshes. This set of natural environments of about 200 ha, assembled in a remarkable mosaic, shelters a large number of rare species. The sheer wealth of this space saw it included in the 1990 Biotope Protection Order and integrated into the Savoyard fore country Natura 2000 site. 

There are also several plant species that are protected in France that are found among the remarkable species in this area, such as the Anacamptis palustris orchid, the bog twayblade orchid, the common hedgehyssop and the English sundew.

As regards fauna, many species of birds, reptiles, amphibians, butterflies and dragonflies complete this list, which attests to the ecological and social success of long-term management.

The inhabitants are attached to this green space, to these two bodies of water which, whatever the season, beautifully reflect the surrounding landscape, its vineyards, meadows and the centuries-old houses! At the edge of the south lake, only a campsite with its small beach allows tourists to visit in the summer, with the rest of the year being reserved for walkers, fishermen and other nature lovers.