Champsaur Valley

The Drac runs through the Champsaur valley that offers bucolic landscapes between fields, hedged farmland and forests. The wooded slopes of the surrounding mountains are home to family resorts where skiing can be practiced in winter and many outdoor activities can be enjoyed in summer. Discover Champsaur, a nature destination at the gateway to the Écrins National Natural Park in the Hautes-Alpes department.

The villages of Champsaur

The wide Champsaur valley is home to agricultural villages.

Saint-Bonnet-en-Champsaur is the “capital” of the Champsaur. Its architecture testifies to its former prosperity, dating back to the XVIth century. You will admire the Place Grenette and its covered market hall, the Place aux Herbes, the narrow streets lined with houses, the old solid walnut doors… This small town is very lively and hosts one of the main markets of the region, where you can taste the local producers’ specialties.

You can also stay in a village of character at the bottom of the valley or simply stroll among the houses and chalets, discovering the local heritage: Pont-du-Fossé, Saint-Julien-en-Champsaur, Chabottes, Les Costes, Saint-Jean Saint-Nicolas…


There are many marked trails in the heart of the Champsaur valley that walking enthusiasts will enjoy. You can have a few-hour walk on the banks of the Drac or go hiking for several days to discover the high valleys and summits. You can hike to the different mountain lakes, which are tourist attractions.

Lake Barbeyroux is accessible to all, with an easy 4,6-kilometer round trip walk. The lakes of Orcières (Lac des Estaris, Lac Profond, Lac Jumeaux, Lac des Sirènes…) can be discovered by following a 10-kilometer route with a limited height difference (165 meters). La Croix Saint-Philippe, near the village of Ancelle, offers a magnificent view of the Champsaur, the Dévoluy and the Gap country. This is a great opportunity to take magnificent pictures. The itinerary passes by archeological remains dating back from centuries BC and overlooks the lake of Faudon. From Chaillol, you can get to the Malcros canal that once supplied water to the crops. Go there for a great family walk.

Seasoned hikers will take the GR ® de Pays, which offers a five-day Tour du Vieux Chaillol. You can spend the night in a refuge or a halt. The trail offers a wide variety of landscapes: fir and larch forests, meadows, alpine lawns, rocky chaos and snowy areas…

Summer activities

A large choice of outdoor activities can be practiced in the Champsaur. Cyclists can enjoy the winding roads of the Écrins National Natural Park. Mountain biking is as popular as road biking and can be practiced downhill by taking the ski lifts to reach the top of the tracks. The cliffs of the massif include climbing routes and a via ferrata in Ancelle.

It is possible to go horseback riding, paragliding or discover archery and many other activities. Ponds, lakes and torrents attract mountain fishing enthusiasts.

20 minutes away from Gap, between Saint-Bonnet and Chabottes, there is a lake where you can go for a supervised swim and enjoy the different activities. You can also go swimming at the leisure center, at the Orcières aquatic and relaxation complex, at the Saint-Firmin outdoor pool or at the Saint-Bonnet-de-Champsaur aquatic center.

The Gap Bayard Golf offers a magnificent 18-hole course in the heart of coniferous forests, with a view of the Vieux-Chaillol and the most beautiful peaks of Champsaur. It is located at the level of the Col Bayard.

Winter activities

The Champsaur is a paradise for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing enthusiasts. They can choose between easy, flat routes or take more challenging and physical routes.

The wild and grandiose Champoléon valley is particularly suitable for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. The Valgaudemar valley, more plunging, attracts ski touring enthusiasts.

Champsaur and Valgaudemar also have more than 50 ice cascades accessible to amateurs or experienced climbers. Beginners can learn about Chauffarel with a guide, and experienced sportsmen and women can climb the Voile de la Mariée (Bride’s Veil).

The Champsaur all year round

Activities are offered all year round for thrill seekers or for those who want to relax.

In Orcières-Merlette, the Tyrolean Roll Air Cable, one of the largest in Europe, offers you a 1,800 meters adventure for an unforgettable experience.

In Orcières-Merlette, more relaxing activities also await you. The leisure and relaxation complex houses a covered aquatic center with pools and slides, a spa, a hammam, a bowling alley, a beauty salon…

Practical information

From Aix-en-Provence, the Champsaur is easily accessible by taking the A51 freeway and the N85 national road toward Gap and then Grenoble.

From Grenoble, you will enter the Champsaur from the north by taking the national road N85 which partly follows the Drac valley.

Are you looking for bed and breakfast, hotels, campsites  or vacation rentals? Do you wish to contact the guide offices or discover new ideas for activities? You can contact the Champsaur Valgaudemar Tourist Office to plan your stay.

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