Xeric environments of Grand Brison - Cly

A territory of historical, scenic and natural richness. Due to its hot and arid climate, it is the ideal habitat for several plant species of steppe and/or Mediterranean origin which are rarely found in the Alps, such as the Trisetum cavanillesii, the Hephedra helvetica and the Thymus vulagaris or Common Thyme, an aromatic species rich in essential oils used in medicine, perfumery, dMany are the species of birds which find food and shelter in this area: the Harrier Eagle, the Hawk, the small Shrike and the Eagle Owl.
As you walk along the marked trail, you cross through White Oak woods, “roches moutonnées” and a thick Scots Pine forest with an undergrowth of Uva ursina (Bearberry), until you reach a beautiful panoramic site which opens onto the central valley. Below Grand Brison, the Castle of Cly rises on a promontory surrounded by substantial masonry walls, a classical example of Valle d’Aosta castles of primitive type, which once belonged to the Challand family, Cly branch, then to the Savoys and finally to the Roncas barons. Current restoration works make the castle inaccessible to the public, yet it remains a destination of main historical and scenic interest.


  • Hiking

    All itineraries are described in the TRAILS section.

Discover the site

Spring, autumn and winter are ideal seasons to visit this site; the weather is mild due to its excellent exposure and low altitude, and the site is not subject to avalanches. Summer however can be a little too hot. A true paradise for botany lovers, the site is of modest dimensions and must therefore be visited with the help of a nature-hiking guide, offering an opportunity to discover all the site’s treasures, even the most hidden ones. It is compulsory to follow the marked trails rigourously, so as to avoid damage to the existing flora. For mountain bikers, it is forbidden to cross the site within its two areas, and it is compulsory to leave your bikes at the entrance of the trail and continue on foot.

Behavioural conduct rules

We remind you that you can contribute to the preservation of these sites by following these simple rules:

visit the site on foot, avoid using motorized vehicles; mountain bikes and horseback riding are permitted only in specific authorized areas (external to the site): please respect hikers;

please stay within the marked trails, as trampling can ruin the fragile grass and undergrowth areas;

please observe wild animals from a distance, do not capture them, do not disturb them nor feed them, and do not photograph occupied nests;

keep your dog on a leash and on the marked trails;

do not pick minerals or flowers;

do not make fires;

please bring your garbage , where you will find many recyclable waste-collection points.

How to get there

By car

The site is divided into two separate areas, Grand Brison and Cly, both set within the municipality of Saint-Denis.

The site can be reached by taking the regional road which links Chambave to Saint-Denis, and then continuing towards Grand Brison where it is possible to leave your car in the hamlet’s small parking area, starting point for your visit. Few buslines reach this site. For school groups and/or large groups which require transportation in large buses, it is recommended to stop and let off passengers in close proximity of the junction towards Grand Brison, and return in the same location to pick them up at the end of their visit.

To reach the site, driving from Chambave, turn where the road-sign indicates the Castle of Cly, where an ample parking area is available. Few buslines reach this site.

Accessibility codification of sites

VIVA has chosen to supply everyone – youngsters, adults, the elderly and the disabled – with all the sites’ information so as to allow the visitor to choose a destination in an autonomous way.
An “Accessibility Codification”has thus been defined.

Xeric environments of Grand Brison - Cly

Information to reach the site 0
Accessibility from main roads 2
Parking for the disabled 3
Accessible restrooms 0
Information panels 3
Slopes (max 8%) 0
Trail width (min 90cm) 1
Road surface 0
Resting areas approx every 10 m 0
Safety and protection of trails 0
Periodic maintenance 1

0 corresponds to ABSENCE of the indicated parameter;
3 corresponds to the PRESENCE of the indicated parameter, in optimal condition;
1 – 2 are INTERMEDIATE VALUES: in general, they indicate the presence of the parameter which must however be improved (1 = sufficient, 2 = close to optimal)


More paths :

VIVA suggests:

Average path

Grand Brison-Cly

  • Elevation gain : 391 m
  • Travel time: 2h 30 m
  • Signposting: 1

What to see:


Easy trails: routes that present no major technical difficulties or too challenging slopes. They can be covered in full or in small sections, allowing in both cases to come into contact with unspoilt nature, discovering its pace and balance …

Medium difficult trails: routes that can be covered in a day, varying considerably in terms of height differences and technical difficulty; the benefit is in being able to reach wildlife destinations of great impact.

Long trails: excursions lasting several days which provide for stopover places and catering along the route.

cartina Xeric environments of Grand Brison - Cly

SIC SIC IT1205090

Municipality: Saint-Denis

Surface: 97 ha

Altitude: 600 ÷ 1.150 m s.l.m.

Responsible forest station:


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