France: Haute Maurienne
Like Valais in Switzerland the Haute Maurienne is an Alpine region between two climates. The weather of northwestern Europe is blocked by the Col de l'Iseran, the second highest pass of the Alps. A southern feeling reaches in from Italy over the much lower Col de Mont Cénis. For centuries Italy's cultural influence seeped in as well, as seen in the high artistic quality of the frescoes in the valley's churches. Even more important is the natural heritage of the Haute Maurienne, since the northern slopes and mountains are part of the Vanoise, a high altitude national park, known for its hiking trails among mountain lakes and glaciers.