Easily reached from Grenoble and Chambéry, Chartreuse Regional Nature Park is a 767-sq-km swath of forests and alpine meadows, punctuated by eerie limestone promontories. Roads through the park careen close to toothy cliffs and mountains that reach 2082m at their height.
Behind its outdoorsy present-day diversions – hiking trails, dozens of caves and a dinky ski centre – unfolds a mysterious history. This wilderness was dubbed the ‘desert’ by monks of the Carthusian Order, who settled here in 1084 and continue to pursue their silent, meditative routine in the Grande Chartreuse monastery. The monks still keep their secrets close…in particular the formula for the world-famous Chartreuse liqueurs.