Abstract : The mixed phase of type II superconductors is characterised by the existence of vortices of supercurrent that each enclose a magnetic flux quantum. Whereas the vortices order themselves in a lattice for most fields and temperatures in the mixed phase of conventional superconductors, the phase diagram for the high critical temperature superconductors is much more complex. We present here a thermodynamic study of the system of vortices for YBa$_2$Cu$_3$O$_(7-x)$, mainly based on specific heat experiments, but also on magnetisation measurements. To carry out the experimental work a modulated temperature calorimeter was developed, allowing us to achieve a very good resolution over a wide range of magnetic field. Our results confirm the existence of a first order thermodynamic transition in the mixed phase. We also present an original way to test the presence of a possible hysteresis associated with this transition by exploiting the oscillatory principle of our technique. The question of the existence of a low temperature high field vortex phase is dicussed. Above a characteristic field B$_(cr)$, which can reach very high values depending on the sample (up to 26 T), we find the latent heat associated with the first order transition disappears and the transition becomes continuous. By performing both magnetisation and specific heat experiments we show that B$_(cr)$ is related to pinning of the vortices. The existence of a third thermodynamically stable vortex phase at high field, different from the two phases at low field separated by the first order transition, does not seem to be compatible with our data.