We’re off for a hiking adventure among the rocky landscapes and gigantic glaciers of Écrins National Park. A genuine feast for the eyes, our 4-day trek in the Southern Alps, starting out from Col du Lautaret, promises a magical plunge into high mountain scenery, traditions and history.
Alpe du Villar d’Arène pastures
Glacier d’Arsine lakes
Hameau du Casset
Chemin du Roy
From Col du Lautaret to L'Alpe du Villar-d'Arène
The must-do departure point for hiking tours in the Hautes-Alpes, Col du Lautaret opens the way to a 6 km trail set under high peaks, dominated by the gigantic silhouette of La Meije. The signposted trail crosses a few streams before reaching the first view point – Belvédère de L’Homme – boasting magnificent vistas over the Écrins mountain range. In the distance, the old farming terraces and flocks grazing above the villages of La Grave and Villar d’Arène still stand witness to the area’s ancient pastoral traditions. When you’ve had your fill of the view, it’s time to tackle Les Crevasses: a steep and stunning shale path. After a 2-hour walk you’ll reach your refuge for the night set in mountain pastures with views over the summit of Les Agneaux.
From L'Alpe du Villar-d'Arène to Le Casset
A new day begins as you leave the refuge and head up into Vallon du Rif de la Planche, stepping over bubbling brooks on the way. From Col d’Arsine, at an altitude of 2,348 metres, you can tackle the return trip to the lake featuring a surprising geological curiosity: the vast moraine of Glacier d’Arsine, formed by rock debris dragged along by the glacier. Two large lakes at the foot of a rocky amphitheatre mark the end of the outward journey – the homeward trail crosses pastures and wood cabins with the valley down below, and winds its way through alpine meadows and forests where majestic larches reign. Your second day ends in the little hamlet of Le Casset, lined with pastures and vegetable plots that welcome visitors with a deliciously colourful and sweet-scented embrace.
From Le Casset to Le Lauzet via Chemin du Roy
If the weather’s hot, it’s best to get an early start on the stunning 18 km overhanging trail set facing the Écrins mountain range. The climb begins in a pine wood and heads along La Guisane river tumbling down from Col du Lautaret. Cross the verdant forest and relish the peace and quiet of Vallon de la Moulette, before reaching Chemin du Roy and the “balcony trail”… At the summit, at over 3,000 metres, the peaks of Montagne des Agneaux and Dômes du Monêtier soon give way to the breathtaking backdrop of the Barre des Écrins, perched at a head-spinning 4,102 metres! Wind your way along the path lined with the chalky slopes of Massif des Cerces – a favourite climbing spot for the people of Briançon – before tackling the descent to the Buvette de l’Alpe du Lauzet, where you can raise a welcome glass to your gravity-defying adventure…
From Le Lauzet to Col du Lautaret
Your 4-day hiking adventure in Écrins National Park winds up gently as you leave Le Lauzet. The last 7 km are an opportunity to really take your time and immerse yourself in the spirit of the old chapels and hamlets tucked away in the four corners of the pastures. Pause for a moment to imagine the life of the men and women who sought refuge here during their travels, cradled by the bubbling waters of the Guisane river. Last but not least, the ancient hospice of La Madeleine and its chapel herald the end of your tour and return to Col du Lautaret, where your fabulous odyssey began.