Saussurea Alpine Botanical Garden
The Saussurea alpine botanical garden was opened in 1987 near the mid-point station of Mont Blanc, as a tourist attraction, but then gradually gained scientific interest, owing to the subsequent introduction of the Pavillon du Mont Fréty protected area, within Espace Mont Blanc. At 2,173 metres above sea level, the garden is the highest in Europe, and gets its name from the flower “Saussurea alpina”, the Alpine Saw-wort, named after the Geneva scientists Horace Bénédict de Saussure, who was one of the promoters of the first ascent of Mont Blanc in 1786.
Saussurea covers an area of 7,000 m2. and is divided into two sections:
- in the first, all species are cultivated in artificial rock gardens, divided according to geographical origin;
- in the second, the original alpine pasture was left, and in some sections the typical environments of mountain areas have been created with many spontaneous species.
Blossoming usually begins in July, and some years it is still possible to see flowered species, especially exotic ones, at the end of September. On the whole, the garden is host to around 800 species, many of which come from other gardens and universities in Europe and beyond.
The garden can be reached via Mont Blanc cable car (first station – Pavillon) or on foot, in about 2 hours walk, over a trail which leaves from La Palud, just above the departure point of the Mont Blanc cable cars, and goes first through the woods and then over meadows until it takes you to Pavillon (difference in height: 803 meters).