Tour du Vieux Chaillol - Guided

Holiday Overview

A fantastic week's guided walking holiday in the Ecrins National Park following the Tour du Vieux Chaillol route. 6 days of stunning alpine scenery, wildlife and flowers, and mountain refuges... an adventure not to be missed!

The Tour de Vieux Chaillol is a classic long distance mountain walk in the Ecrins National Park in the French Alps. It takes in the four valleys visible from the Champsaur's highest mountain, the Vieux Chaillol. Each of the valleys have their own unique characteristics; from the deep, steep, dramatic, himalyan like valley of Valgaudemar to the more open rural landscape of Champsaur. It is one of our favourite walking holidays in the Southern French Alps

There is a huge variety of wildlife living in these valleys including golden eagles, rock partridge, black grouse, chamois, ibex, roe deer, wild boar, lots of marmots and wolves. For flower lovers, the area is famous for it's diversity of flora with 60 different species of orchid, wild orange lilies, wild daffodils, blue gentians and thousands of other alpine flowers that your guide will be able to name!

During this guided route the majority of the walking is normal mountain walking, with nothing too technical - have a look at the map. There are just a couple of steeper sections at the cols. You cross one high mountain pass of 2607 metres which takes you from the Valgaudemar valley into the Champoleon valley. This is done over two days staying in the refuge Vallonpierre at 1534 metres but you will climb approximately 1150m in one day.

The days are long so you will need a relatively good level of walking fitness. However, we walk at an easy pace and tend to have lots of stops for photos, wildlife spotting and generally enjoying the views moments. This is a real walking adventure holiday in France!

Your guide is a local accompagnateur en montagne (mountain leader) who knows the area really well and is very knowledgable about the animals and flowers you are likely to discover along the way. We choose our guides for their expertise and professionalism and also their passion and friendliness!

We also have a self guided Tour de Vieux Chaillol trip that you might be interested in.

Have a look at our walking kit list for advice on what to bring.


Itinerary Overview

This is a classic long distance walk in the French Alps in and around the beautiful Ecrins National Park.

The pace will be easy with lots of stops for photos, wildlife spotting and for taking in the spectacular views.  

You will follow the classic five day route with an additional easy day (day 4) which includes a gentle walk up to the refuge du rest those legs!

Your guide is a local accompagnateur en montagne (mountain leader) who knows the area really well and is very knowledgable about the animals and flowers you are likely to discover along the way.

Day 1 - Arrival

We'll come and meet you to say hello and introduce your guide for the week!

We'll be able to answer any questions you may have and talk through the logistics of the trip. 

Day 2 - St Jaques to La Chappelle

Walking Time: 6.5 hours   Ascent: 250m   Descent: 100m

A fantastic first day sampling the dramatic 'himalayan' Valgaudemar valley.

The valley is 22km long with 3000m+ peaks towering above on both sides. A long but gentle walk without too much ascent to get your legs warmed up for the week! You will pass the Oules du Diable, a spectacular canyon and visit the deserted village of Navette en route.

Day 3 - La Chapelle to Vallonpierre

Walking time: 7.5 hours    Ascent: 1150m   Descent: 0m

The first big climb of the week. This is a spectaular walk with classic alpine scenery; glaciers and snow capped mountains as a backdrop to pretty meadows and fast flowing rivers.

The Vallonpierre refuge is situated on a high mountain plateau with a little lake at the foot of the Sirac summit. Look out for chamois!

Day 4 - Vallonpierre to Champoleon

Walking Time: 7.5 hours   Ascent: 554m   Descent: 1534m

Small dormitory sleeping 4people. Sleeping bag liner recommended. - See more at:
Small dormitory sleeping 4people. Sleeping bag liner recommended. - See more at:

One of the high points of the walk as you cross the col de Vallonpierre taking you over in to the Champoleon valley. The descent the other side is quite steep and probably the most technical part of the route.

This is one of the wildest parts of the route so keep your binoculars at the ready for wildlife spotting.

Day 5 - Champoleon - Refuge du Tourond

Walking time: 2 hours    Ascent: 412m   Descent: 0m

Small dormitory sleeping 4people. Sleeping bag liner recommended. - See more at:
Small dormitory sleeping 4people. Sleeping bag liner recommended. - See more at:

After two big days, you will be ready for an easy one. This is a gentle walk up to the Refuge du Tourond up one of the side valleys from Champoleon.

Very pretty walk and popular with families - quite a different ambiance from the wild mountains you have come from!

The refuge is one of the best refuges in the area with good food and a warm welcome. It's the perfect place to spend your afternoon chilling. If you want to stretch your legs for a bit longer, there are several walks you can do form the refuge or you can even go for a dip in one of the streams or rivers.

Day 6 - Refuge du Tourond - Chaillol

Walking time: 6 hours    Ascent: 775m    Descent: 1026m

The second big climb up to the Col de Venasque takes you to another very different landscape. You will have views over Chaillol and the Champsaur valley with rolling (relatively speaking) hills and hedgerows.

This really is a spectacular variation from the classic tour and well worth it. You will pass the beautiful La Pisse waterfall and work your way up through woods and then open mountainside to the col.

The last section is steep in parts. There is the option of taking in the peak of the Vieux Chaillol 3163m on this day which would add another 4 hours onto the day and another 675m of ascent (you would have to be feeling very fit to do this!!)

Day 7 - Chaillol - Chauffayer

Walking time: 7-8 hours    Ascent: 1126m    Descent: 1608m

This is a wonderfully long last day traversing round the terraces overlooking the Champsaur valley and round back to the gite Les Paris at the mouth of the Valgaudemar valley.

Very different scenery with unusual rock formations, open views and the river Drac in the valley. Look out for rock partridges!

Day 8 - Return Home

This is the sad day when we say goodbye but we hope it will be more of an 'a bientot'!


Marion Gent - Walking Holiday

July 2012

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The nearest train station is Gap. Gap is on the SNCF train service which has links from Paris (overnight sleeper), Valence, Grenoble or Marseille.  

The nearest airports are Grenoble, Lyon and Marseille, both approximately 2.5hrs drive from us here in the Alps.

We can arrange local transfers from Gap train station to your accommodation for 50€ per transfer (up to 8 people per transfer).

Please ask us about getting here when you enquire - we have all the local knowledge to help you plan your journey!!

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