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A week‑end

in the Champsaur Valgaudemar valley

On the edge of the Ecrins National Park, this territory which almost looks like the Himalayas with its steep slopes, its glaciers and its peaks, is a raw gem in a green setting. Promise there’s something for everyone in their new occupation, authentic or athletic, nature or food!

CircuitDuration2 days
Visited places
Saint-Bonnet-en-Champsaur
Ancelle
Orcières
The varied green landscapes of the Champsaur

A wide valley of hedgerows crossed by the river Drac, the Champsaur valley, between Grenoble and Gap, offers profitable rural landscapes. Located in the Ecrins National Park, it’s dominated to the north by the last peak in the range: the pyramid of Le Vieux Chaillol, which culminates at 3,163 metres. In summertime, it’s perfect for hikes up to the high peaks along with the pleasure of tasting the delicious Champsaur specialities. And when you’re there, there are two absolute musts: the Château fort de Saint-Firmin at the beginning of the Valgaudemar and the hamlet of Prapic, nestled at the bottom of the Drac Noir valley in the middle of pastures filled with cattle and sheep.

 

Day 1Combine effort and greed on an electric mountain bike

Set off in the open air in Saint-Bonnet-en-Champsaur on an electric mountain bike on a 454 km loop you can ride in a day, that’s your programme. A good way of meeting the many producers in the  Champsaur valley. In this fertile valley, you’ll be surrounded by farms, herds grazing and people working in the wheat fields. Over 700 farmers work the land in the valley, carrying on the gestures of their ancestors. You can disover local specialities on your way through the region, and enjoy tourtons, oreilles d’âne and ravioles du Champsaur. Lunch is a special moment at the weekend at the restaurant Les Autanes in Ancelle, not far from Saint-Bonnet-en-Champsaur. In a refined, authentic setting, in an 18th-century former stable, you’ll eat inspiring food with signature dishes from one season to the next. For the night, at the Chambre d’hôtes La Combe Fleurie, Laura and Julien have rooms or apartments with their own jacuzzi. Recharge your batteries in the garden between the orchard and the vegetable garden for a relaxing break in peace and quiet and a view of the mountains.

Jour 2See the marmots in Prapic

As a warm up, walk to Saut du Laïre, a mythical hike in the Haut-Champsaur which starts in Prapic. This family hike lasts about 3 hours and you’ll cover 8 km to the famous “Saut du Laïre” waterfall after crossing the plateau de Charnière. In addition to the magnificent landscapes in the valley, it’s also a good opportunity to get a sure view of marmots, or at any rate, hear them whistling. When you get back, Meg and Jean will welcome you to a former farmhouse in Chabottes to luxuriate in the silky sheet of the Chambre d’hôtes La Grange des Ecrins, labelled an “Ecogite” by the Gîtes de France. You’ll be able to serenely make the most of the lush, green setting and the breathtaking view. Added bonus: a heated pool in summer and a jacuzzi to relax with the option of a massage for those who would love to be pampered. Feeling starved? Head for l’Auberge de La Jabiore in Orcières, with its regional specialities made with the produce from the farm’s garden. The dishes with lamb bred on the spot – grilled cutlets, oven-roast leg of lamb, boned shoulder of lamb stuffed with olives or braised lamb shank with honey and thyme – will fill you up and leave you voiceless.

 

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