Southern French Alps

The Southern French Alps covers the area below Grenoble down to Provence and we have focused in on certain parts of this beautiful and undiscovered part of the Alps for our holidays!

The French department that encompasses the majority of this area is called the Hautes Alpes.

It includes the Ecrins National Park, the Serre Poncon lake and the little known Champsaur, Valgaudemar, Devoluy and Gapencais valleys.

It is a beautiful part of the French Alps, it's main claim to fame being the fantastic weather with 300 days of sunshine per year and access to one of the most dramatic nature reserves in the Alps - the Ecrins National Park.

Unlike many other parts of the Alps this area is still relatively undiscovered to foreign tourists and as such is still a very authentic French alpine destination.

Map of France showing the location of the Hautes Alpes Department

Champsaur is a beautiful open valley that gradually becomes steeper and narrower as you venture further into the mountains. It's home to a collection of stone villages and hamlets, whose traditions are still very much alive today uniting agriculture with local tourism. In the Alps, the last remaining example of 'bocage' - a criss cross of hedgerows marking field boundaries, can be found in Champsaur.

Adjacent to it is Valgaudemar, a deep 30 km long valley winding through the feet of the enormous 3000m plus rocky giants of the Ecrins. You'll see waterfalls and mountain torrents, towered over by sheer rock faces and high summits abundant with a variety of wildlife.

Opposite is the Devoluy valley, a dramatic limestone massif with caves and the Pic du Bure mountain which, thanks to it's clear, unpolluted skies, is home to one of two space observatory stations in the world.

The Hautes Alpes Department in Detail

Further south is the Serre Poncon Lake, the largest dammed lake in Western Europe and famed for it's beautiful turquoise blue waters and spectacular mountain backdrop.

The capital city of the Hautes Alpes is Gap, the sunniest city in France! It is a pretty provencal style city with a cathedral, lots of small lanes and boutiques, squares with cafes and a dramatic mountain backdrop including the world famous climbing cliff of Ceuse.

The area is rich in wildlife with golden eagles, griffin vultures, ibex, chamois, mouflon, wild boar, plenty of marmots, wolves and even lynx now colonising the area.

There are over 60 species of wild orchid, a huge variety of bulbs like wild daffodils, and tulips, high altitude plants like genepi, wild fruits; raspberries, strawberries and blueberries and a whole range of other plants, berries and fruits that we don't know all the names of!