A week’s guided walking holiday in the French Alps. Six days of beautiful alpine scenery, wildlife and flowers, staying in mountain refuges… the perfect way to spend a week!
During this tour you will walk in the four valleys visible from Champsaur’s highest mountain, the Vieux Chaillol. Each of the valleys has it’s own unique characteristics; from the deep, steep and dramatic valley of Valgaudemar to the more open rural landscape of Champsaur. There is a huge variety of wildlife that live in these valleys including are two pairs of resident golden eagles, chamois, ibex, roe deer, wild boar, lots of marmots and even wolves who are starting to make a comeback. The flora is also spectacular, with 60 different species of orchid, wild orange lilies, wild daffodils, gentians and thousands of others 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.
Accommodation in the French Alps
You will be staying in a range of gites and high mountain refuges. The gites and refuges have dormitory style accommodation where you will be sharing with others. All the refuges have showers on this route but some of these are payable as extras.
Walking in the French Alps
The days are long so you will need a good level of walking fitness. However, the walking is at a steady pace with plenty of stops for wildlife spotting and taking in the views. 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 2271 metres but you will climb approximately 1150m in one day.
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.
French Alps walking holiday itinerary
Day 1 – Arrival and introduction. Your hosts will come and meet you to talk through the logistics of the trip and answer any questions you may have.
Day 2 – St Jaques to La Chappelle. A fantastic first day traversing the ‘himalayan’ Valgaudemar valley. The valley is 22km long with 3000m+ peaks towering above on both sides. A long but gentle walk to get your legs warmed up for the week! Walking Time: 6.5 hours Ascent: 250m Descent: 100m
Day 3 – La Chapelle to Vallonpierre. The first big climb. This is a spectaular walk with classic alpine scenery; glaciers and snow capped mountains as a backdrop to pretty meadows and fast flowing rivers. Walking time: 7.5 hours Ascent: 1150m Descent: 0m
Day 4 – Vallonpierre to Champoleon. 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. Walking Time: 7.5 hours Ascent: 554m Descent: 1534m
Day 5 – Champoleon – Refuge du Tourond. 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 atmosphere from the previous two days! If you want to stretch your legs for a bit longer, there are several walks you can do from the refuge.
Day 6 – Refuge du Tourond – Chaillol. 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. There is the option of taking in the peak of the Vieux Chaillol 3163m on this day. Walking time: 6 hours Ascent: 775m Descent: 1026m
Day 7 – Chaillol – Chauffayer. 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! Walking time: 7-8 hours Ascent: 1126m Descent: 1608m.
Day 8 – Return home.
Dates and Availability
Fixed dates: 28 Jun – 5 Jul 2014 – 8 days/7 nights – € 798.- per person
Private group bookings possible between June and September
It is possible to extend your stay with additional walking or activity days. Please contact the holiday provider, through the contact form below, for more information about this holiday.