Gourmet Alpine Walking Holiday


Holiday Overview

A guided walking holiday in the Southern French Alps staying in hotels and guest houses famous for their delicious food!

After a day out in the fresh alpine air, walking in the mountains admiring stunning views of the French Alps, there is nothing better than sitting down to a delicious dinner of freshly prepared local delicacies.

We have handpicked our favourite two accommodations for foodies in the Southern French Alps as your accommodation bases for this gourmet walking holiday. You can stay for the whole week in either one or split your trip up and experience both!

The walking opportunities in this area are second to none with a huge choice of walks for all levels and with a variety of landscapes including some classic walks like the Tour du Vieux Chaillol. Choose from easy walks and moderate treks through the rolling alpine foothills overlooking Provence to the south and with views of the high mountain glaciers to the north or challenge yourself with a hike into the heart of the high mountains of the Ecrins National Park, all in close proximity to your two accommodation bases.

Expect to see chamois, ibex, golden eagles, vultures, deer, wild boar and maybe even a wolf as well as thousands of beautiful alpine flowers including some rare orchids.

Your local guide will tailor your walking itinerary to suit your group so that you can make the most of the area and walk at your pace and your level before going back to your accommodation to enjoy an evening of good food and wine.

For our guided day walks most of our walks are circular routes so you get to see as much of the scenery as possible.

This is a video of one of our favourite walks up to the Pic du Gleize with views over the Devoluy and Champsaur valleys.


You also have three activity points to use on your free day with this holiday where you can take advantage of the multitude of other great activities available in the region. Wether you want to fly high over the Alps paragliding, plunge into cool alpine pools canyoning or stretch your walking legs with a bit of rock climbing, the choice is yours. You can even choose to use your points for a night in a refuge for an overnight walking adventure.

One of the bases is the Grange des Ecrins, a traditional stone farmhouse, completely renovated in a chic and modern style whilst retaining its original character. It is situated in the heart of the Champsaur valley on the edge of the Ecrins National Park which is famous for its fabulous walking opportunities.

The other base is the Val des Sources which is a very traditional alpine hotel situated deep in the Valgaudemar valley. 

In contrast to the Champsaur valley the Valgaudemar valley is known locally as the little Himalayas. It is a 22km long valley with 3000m+ mountains towering above you on each side. The walking here is magnificent with high altitude lakes, glaciers and flowery alpine meadows to discover.

Itinerary

Overview

Your itinerary will be completely personalised to suit your group. When you book, we will discuss your walking experience with you and talk about what you want to get out of the holiday walking wise. Our guides will then choose a range of day walks that suit your group which can be adapted all the way through your week.

We have set out an example itinerary with some of our favourite walks below to give you an idea of what sort of walking opportunities are available, but there really are a huge amount of possibilities to choose from. You could do this holiday 5 times over and never walk on the same footpath twice!

Whether you like a bit of scrambling and ridge walking, prefer long traverses through woodlands and alpine pastures or want to walk with a view of a glacier, there is something for all tastes!

Day 1 - Le Barry

This is a beautiful circular ridge walk in the Champsaur valley that not many people know about! It involves some moderate scrambling over the ridge but if you don’t like scrambling, there is a walking path that traverses under the ridge.

You start by walking up through beautiful mixed woods up to the Col du Condrié where you can see the ridge in front of you. From the ridge you have spectacular views of the remote Molines valley and the high mountains of the Ecrins on one side and the open fields and hedgerows of the Champsaur valley on the other. 

A little surprise awaits you at the end of the ridge where you will discover a secret hanging valley full of alpine meadow flowers before you head down towards the woods on the other side of the mountain and back to your starting point.

Starting altitude: 1372 metres
Maximum altitude: 2271 metres
Ascent: 899 metres
Total duration: 5 to 6 hours

Day 2 - The Saut du Laire

This is a spectacular and interesting walk starting in the remote village of Prapic, the last village of the Champsaur valley before it is closed off by the mountains. Prapic is still habited all year round by four families and you can see the old alpine style houses and farms still very much in use as you walk through.

It takes you up on to a pretty plateau overlooking a fast flowing mountain stream before culminating at the dramatic Saut du Laire waterfall. The Saut du Laire means 'The Jump of the thief' and your guide will tell you the story that gave the waterfall this rather unusual name.

This valley is famous for its many marmots who will whistle at you as you walk up the valley, but watch out also for chamois who will be grazing and relaxing around the cliffs.

Starting altitude: 1513 metres
Maximum altitude: 2055 metres
Ascent: 542 metres
Total duration: 3 to 4 hours

Day 3 - Summit of the Vieux Chaillol

The Vieux Chaillol is Champsaur Valley’s highest mountain. This is a superb but challenging walk. You will need to be fit and it is only worth doing in good weather conditions. The ascent itself takes about 5 hours and the last section of the walk involves some easy scrambling. It is possible to stop at either of the cols on the way up if you don't want to go all the way to the top!

Starting off in the pretty ski village of Chaillol you work your way up through beautiful mixed deciduous and larch forests and then traverse across open mountainside up to the first col. 

From there you pass under the Pic du Tourond and follow the ancient ruins of the Canal du Macros which was built by Napoleon's men in the late 1800ds to divert water from the then Macros glacier (the glacier is now just a lake) to irrigate the Champsaur valley. You arrive at the second col where the cabin for the workers of this amazing engineering feat still stands. From there you have rocky mountainside to negotiate with some easy scrambling before you reach the summit. You come down the same way.

Starting altitude: 1600 metres
Maximum altitude: 3163 metres
Ascent: 1563 metres
Total duration: 9 hours

Day 4 - Free Day

This is a day to try out some of the other activities available in the area. You can go rock climbing, test your head for heights on a via ferrata, cool off canyoning or fly high over the valley paragliding and more. The choice is yours. Most of these activities are half day activities so you can spend the rest of your time relaxing and enjoying the facilities at your accommodation.

Day 5 - Lac du Lauzon

This is a beautiful walk from the Valgaudemar valley up to a high altitude lake with views of the glacier and classic alpine surroundings with the possibility to continue up to the “Refuge du Pigeonnier”.

You start at the Gioberney refuge where you can see the famous Bride's Veil waterfall. From there you walk up a dramatic valley and then zig zag up the mountain side between rocky outcrops with blueberry bushes, raspberries and other mountain flowers and fruits interspersed with dramatic waterfalls and streams until you reach a hanging valley where the lake is situated. 

From here you can continue on up to the Pigeonnier refuge for a drink and a snack (the blueberry tart is well worth saving a space for!), before heading down the valley either the way you came or via the Gioberney side making a circuit of it!

Starting altitude: 1642 metres  
Maximum altitude: 2423 metres,
Ascent: 781 metres
Total duration: 5 to 6 hours

Day 6 - Lacs de Pétarel

The Lacs de Pétarel are a set of magnificent high altitude lakes accessible via a number of different routes so it is possible to do a circular route taking in different valleys and points of interest or a more direct there and back route.

With dramatic mountain views across the Ecrins and the abundance of alpine flowers and butterflies on this high alpine plateau wit it's cristal clear lakes, this is a must do walk for any walking holiday to the Southern French Alps.

Your guide will help you choose the best route for your group so you can make the most of it!

Starting altitude: 1270 metres
Maximum altitude: 2112 metres
Ascent: 998 metres
Total duration: 5-6 hours

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Directions

The nearest airports are Marseille, Lyon or Grenoble and the nearest TGV stations are Grenoble and Aix-en-Provence. The local train station is Gap. 

We can arrange a transfer from any of these and can help you plan your journey here so that it is the most time efficient and best value for money possible!

Once you are here, your guide will be driving you to the starts of walks and any activities you choose for your free day so you don't need a car whilst you are here.


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