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Les Hautes-Alpes (05)

​The Queyras

The impregnable Citadel

Divided into four valleys to the diverse charms, Queyras is urn Citadel which reigned without sharing on an ocean of forests, pastures and snowy peaks. To Monviso, this piece of the Alps which gives a corner the hexagon and 3 outlines in the Italy, opposed the col de l'Izoard, mythical Everest of the riders of the Tour de France, who enjoy each year the motto of the country: "here the roosters Peck stars.

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Location and access

Surrounded on three sides by the Italian border, this park of 60,000 ha communicates with the rest of the country only through a route suspended on the side of cliffs
Gap by the RN94, take the D902 from Guillestre, "door" to enter the Queyras and follow the D947. Of Briançon and Grenoble, if you do not want to make the detour to Guillestre, one place to pass the col de l'Izoard.

Fauna and flora

Under his quiet dimples, the country stings. Here nothing grows very chubby, even if the look is a bit southern. In the forest of Marassan, lower the head to avoid the fielder of the tops, a squirrel who membrane stretched under his arms allows all jokes. In the larch forests where pine stone, the passage of the hiker is often greeted by the raucous cry of 'Nutcracker', a bird with white underparts speckled. On the upper floors, there are classic fauna of the mountains chamois, hares, Partridge snow, OWL Duke, ibex (in the Alps) and sheep (from Corsica) have been reintroduced by the Italians. The stars of the place are the Partridge (which is is rarefied in France), the black grouse which is the subject of a comprehensive scientific study here and the Golden Eagle. Grasslands are home to a mosaic of flowers (see the Pre-michel trail) and the edge of streams, a rare black salamander. Its origin dates back to the glacial periods it does lay not in water but keeps its eggs in her body until the birth of the "adult" tadpoles. This also explains that found uncomfortable, in larche and not only wet meadows.

Variety of landscapes in the Queyras

Land of emotions the Queyras is also that of all the alpine landscapes. Covered with larch forests, the mountain rises above grasslands dotted with colourful flowers Lakes, torrents and steep peaks as citadels of rock. A postcard setting which get dressed in white like all natures hibernating to regain their flamboyant as early as the spring.

To discover

A road, a single access to the Queyras. Then with a little breath and heart to belly, you can engage on the GR58 the GR5 or truant hiking trails.
•    The ecological path of the Pre-michel
With its snow and steep peaks Crown the King of the Queyras is undoubtedly Monviso (3 846 m). And it is at the foot of the lighthouse where the "nebbia" (a humid fog) often comes to hang his fleece coat that regional park has arranged the ecological trail of Pre-michel (1 h). As to summarize the soul of the Queyras, in a showcase of a few hectares to 1,900 m above sea level.
Access to the site by the D947 to Ristolas. Not far from the village, the hamlet of rock sort offers a parking area from which the trail. A quarter of an hour after departure, it is at the foot of the mountain and two routes available to the Walker:
•    a straight line in the prairies dotted with large boulders lining the torrent of the Guil
•    a right hand path that winds through the mountains. Prefer that one, a loop that enables a return by the first.
One enters at the bottom of the pre a forest of Aspen to go to the Summit in a corridor of birch and green Alder lying by the avalanches. It is called the Bush. This is the Kingdom of the Warbler, the Chough and the black grouse, a small cock of Heather that could well be the "Peacock" of the mountains along the way, delimited by two lookouts, we cross martagon lilies pink or purple, Thistles, Tue-Loup pitted (also that poisonous belles), cornflowers from mountains to the fine flowers or anemones Fleur de narcisse. Happiness, here, is indeed in the meadow.The trail of the Melezesdans the Queyras, happiness is in the meadows but he also smiles you at the corner of the wood. At this level there Saint-Véran is more interior villages. From there, at a place called Le Cros (opposite a cottage of the UCPA) starts a walk on the trail of the larches, by a road which joins the acute-white and the GR58 towards the Estronques pass. Quickly the GR branches off to the right; prefer the path of left marked in yellow and that winds through a fragrant geraniums, cembran pine and larch Woods, this bushy tree to soft green needles, element of decor of the valleys and villages who used it to build. Staying on the right side of the trail, you arrive until the huts of shepherds of the Brown and cutting his left hand through the Meadow, a cross which serves as a lookout over the Valley and Saint-Véran. The ascent to the Ridge provides access to the foot of the peak in lace by Cascavelier, at 2,400 m altitude.
•    The trail of the Astragalus
The Queen of the Queyras has a Golden Crown. With its flowers in the shape of pine cones pine, fern-like leaves and its long elegant stem, Astragalus is one of the oldest plants in the mountains. Its origin dates back to the eastern steppes and its implementation, at the time where the glaciers began their retreat to the heights, 10,000 years ago. There are several varieties of this flower and one place where you can see them all together: the trail of the Astragalus. It winds during 1 h 30 from the village of old town (near the BP petrol station) on the heights of Pierre Fiche, surrounded by meadows and undergrowth that the Queen shares with other "subjects" of the Alps: Violets, Blueberry, orchis but also squirrels, black tits or Blackbirds of rock.

Des Ecrins

The jewel in the Alps

People of the Ecrins mountains have no accent but a voice that rises in the treble, as to follow the curves of the mountain or imitate the cry of an Eagle that draws its arabesques in the sky. Wild and beautiful, majestic and exuberant, the Ecrins leave no ice even if they are covered.

Location and access

First Park national french (270 000 ha) des Ecrins pose their snowy peaks in 61 communes distributed to a third party on the Isère Department and two-thirds on the Hautes-Alpes. It is located in the heart of the triangle Gap-Grenoble-Briançon and bounded by the valleys of the Romanche, the Guisanne, the Durance and Drac.
Grenoble to Gap by the driving of Grenoble at Bourg-d'Oisans by the D526, then to Briançon via the col de Lautaret by the RN91. AIX in Sisteron by the A51, then Gap to Briançon (via Embrun) by the No. 94.


At the crossroads of climatic influences Park (whose altitude varies between 800 and 4 102 m) offers all the contrasts of the alpine landscapes. Forests of hardwood and pins des landes and alpine pastures and lakes that turn into glaciers at the foot of the peaks (over 3 000 13). All declined on the same mode, Valley in the Valley, radiating each around prestigious summits such as the Meije (3,983 m) dans le Briançonnais, cold wing (3 953 m) in Vallouise DU Vieux Chaillol (3,163 m) on the fringe of the Champsaur Valley.
The rock at the foot of which is studying many torrents is the major and natural decor element. But she she also plays with contrasts, between the limestones and Shales of the southern flanks and crystalline granite of North who argue the same landscape of landes rhododendrons and junipers.
To enter the paradise of lights, you have to push the doors of most obscure forests composed of FIR on the northern slopes, downy oak, Scots pine, and beech in the South

Fauna and flora

Austere Almighty by location, the Ecrins Park has collected plants and animals. In this single massive there are one-third of the French flora — 1750 species that form one of the most fabulous gardens of the country including the stars (in the undergrowth as the flashes in the rockery) remain the Cypripedium Calceolus (the orchid of the mountains), the gentian orange lilies and glacier Buttercup. And as in any country which has a soul, the Ecrins resulted in endemic flora which exists nowhere else as Richer cabbage or sainfoin of Boutigny growing cluster in inaccessible scree
The other flower of the mountains constelle the sky of his multicolored robes: more than 150 species of butterflies frolic in the prairies, including the great Apollo at the majestic wings or the rare Isabelle, beautiful at night that can still surprise in Vallouise, on the edge of the Pré de Madame Carle.
Garden of Eden, the massif is also a life-size Noah's Ark. With 110 species of breeding birds (grouse, black grouse, partridges, Finch, boreal owl, raptors) and all the classic fauna regions of altitude (marmot, ermine, buff). Two animals fighting here over the star and share the Kingdom the royal Eagle (37 couples) reigns over the air and the IBEX reintroduced in 1989 on the steep peaks.

To discover

The Park is spread 40 shelters, some of which are accessible by car, such as that of the wing-cold in Pelvoux or la Bérarde to Saint-Christophe. But it's obviously on foot that you will make the most beautiful discoveries in the Massif area open to the public but still retains a wilderness to Lauvitel on the western fringe of the Oisans.
The Park is home to the southernmost glaciers of the alpine chain which stretch their coat on nearly 10,000 ha.
•    The Lakes of the Lauzon
Sentinel of the Valguaudemar Valley at the gates of the Park, the Vieux Chaillol stretches its ridges 3163 meters above sea level. Can make the turn in 32 hours with a stopover in a shelter but can also explore its flanks through 11 itineraries related to the 54 GR or GR (marked in red and yellow) country. In this hike of the four valleys, the Lakes of Lauzon presents the major interest to obtain in in half a day which will leave you a good margin to stroll on paths and enjoy a magnificent landscape. Departure is from the parking lot of the hut Gioberney, terminus of the small road coming from Saint-Firmin (via Gap). It is in the geographical centre of the Park, but takes due north with the Rouies for horizon glacier. At the first intersection, turn right into a scree slope at the top of which was a panoramic view of the deep gorge of the torrent of Muande Bellone. The trail meanders in a meadow before a new intersection that will lead you to the Lakes by the left. A lake with the modest size makes that more homage to the peaks of the Sirac upholstered glaciers that began in the clear waters. The silhouette of the chamois appears sometimes.
The descent, which crosses a Heath soft and fragrant, take back you to the torrent and the cascade of the "Bridal Veil", whose waters have the appearance of a continuous rain of thousands of grains of rice that you lay on the forecourt of a church. The descent overlooking the Valley of the Severaisse by a wood of larches to the point of departure, is that most grandiose. Turning to you, you will no longer see these jewels of the Lauzon. As in a dream.
•    The path of the Tuff
The Lignarre Valley is the most underrated of Oisans and cause and effect, the wildest. Lost at the bottom of the Park, it is covered with forest (its latin referent) and declines in a small setting all the jewels contained therein. Wide open belvederes (can see Mont-Blanc), nipples limestone, elegant pyramids of gneiss (as the Armet Grand),... ten signposted routes (map IGN No. 3335 East) allow to conquer the mountain passes ("La tête de Louis XVI") or lakes, on the edge of which grow clover of the Alps (Pink) and the willow, the smallest tree in the world. In this myriad of paths offering multiple pleasures, take one of the "Tuffiere", a forest track which is accessed by road from the col d'ornon after passing the Oulles bridge. This fragrant undergrowth, which exudes aromas of blueberries and raspberries in season, leads to of pretty waterfalls dying 50 m further down in the Combe de Courberey. The pleasure of the eyes has equal here than the sociological discovery: the "tuff" is a porous, light, yellow stone stone angle and framing of doors. All bergeries bear.
To reach the Lignarre Valley coming N91 Grenoble-Briançon, take the D526 in the direction of La Mure.
•    The Oisans suddenly look
The Valley lost Freissinières offers one of the most beautiful panoramas on the Ecrins, via the signposted circuit "Two collars" (4 to 5 hours of walking). To get there, leave his car at the entrance to the hamlet of the Roberts and head to foot to the Aujards to retrieve the GR541. A former Mule rises to an alpine Chalet, then along a pine forest up to the neck of the slate that offers beautiful views of the Durance and the Queyras. To reach the col of Anon, dive in the very ornate vallon de Fourmel. The trail is lost to the output of a larch forest on the road to the col of Anon. At the Summit, there's suddenly look Glacier white, le Pelvoux with its uppermost glacier violets and cold wings. If you forgot your camera, go back down to pick it up.
To get there, from the RN 94 Gap-Briançon, take the D38 out of Roche de Rame, on the left, in the direction of Briançon.
•    The head crowned in the Alps
It is the heraldic emblem of the Switzerland and several ski resorts logo. It is also the soul of the mountain, his head crowned with two horns proudly lifted skyward and which can reach some males of 80 cm long. On the brink of extinction in the last century, he was saved from the clutches of the hunters by strict regulations. The powder of its horns offered it seems medicinal properties. The Ibex reappeared in France in the 1940s and now has 2,000 individuals including a still fragile colony in the Ecrins. But you can see it start a jig or play the Horn in a period of rut at the top of the cliffs. You can also see it defy the vacuum by moving its 100 kg in the scree slopes with grace and lightness of a dancer. Little agile on the snow, the rock is his Kingdom, there where to grow herbs, buds and roots.
But in terms of the horned beasts, even if it has less long, made chamois the freelancing in the ibex. There are more than 13,000 to live in the national park and its peripheral area. Banned hunting in a central area, their numbers have increased tenfold in twenty years. See is easy as it travels in herds, hear 'Frost' also but watch it less: thanks to highly developed senses it can raise 1 000 m in ten minutes if it is disturbed.
•    The Val of Escreins reserve
Like all rude countries, Queyras likes the legends it is said even the evening at the vigil. Of the are-Sancte, the highest of the peaks of the regional park, back to time immemorial where pursuing one of his white goats, a Shepherdess discovered a Crystal source gushing from a broken cut in an arc "like a Cannonball" in the mountains. The miraculous spring was named make-Sainte and gave its name to the massif. The Shepherdess was the small hamlet of Escreins. And it is Escreins that the Town Hall of Vars created in 1965 a 3,000 ha nature reserve. Asleep under her white coat in winter, Val of Escreins wakes up in the spring in the soft color of its meadows dotted with Astragalus, Cistus and multi-colored flowers.
•    The Chenaillet botanical reserve
Installed South of Montgenèvre, to the Lake floor and the top of the col Vert, the Chenaillet massif is characterized by a succession of "pillow lavas" geologists shall designate the tangles of rocks having the plump look and smooth soft cushions. If it displays a clear geological interest, the Chenaillet presents especially flora rich, dense and almost endemic, highly adapted to the environment: 326 species, not to mention lichens, were identified and three of them are on the red list of threatened flora of France. Among the rarest, could observe the (color sky) snow gentian, a primrose Broadleaf, the Western that can haul its clusters of blue flowers up to 1 m from the ground, a yellow genepi, the Geum rampant and its golden buttons dotting the scree... But the emblem of the corner is Arnica montana, a yellow-orange flower that blooms lawns and which gave its name to an effective association for the study and protection of the natural environment.
•    The white glacier of les Ecrins
Jewel of the Ecrins, white glacier clings to the flanks of the two cathedrals of the massif: Pelvoux (3,946 m) and the Écrins (4,102 m), at the bottom of the Valley of the Vallouise. La balade, two hours long, is for who wants to flirt with the high mountain, as it is what makes the charm and the specificity of the place. Pré de Madame Carle, the trail crosses two streams, rises in a small forest of larches, leads into clumps of willow and green Alder, crosses the torrent of the black glacier, chimney on urge moraine (provide good shoes) and descends in a flowered Heath. It is there that one feels the breath of the mountain for the first time, a current of cold air which announces that the glacier is not far away. The path then moutonne on smooth and mellow rocks which the glacier has given birth. One very quickly perceives his lofty forehead under which is unleashed a torrent. The trail circumvents the obstacle and rises to the refuge of the white glacier built in 1945. At this altitude (2,500 m), the panorama is magnificent.
•    Valley of the declines: the ocean of flowers
Stuck between Montgenèvre and the Italy, 1,800 m above sea level, the village club du soleil has probably the most beautiful natural botanical garden of the Hautes-Alpes: an ocean of flowers with multiple fragrances, in which Walker is invited to navigate the hands in pockets and without leaving the trail, indicated at the beginning of the village and marked regularly then.
•    The Lautaret Alpine Garden
At 2,100 m above sea level, it is one of the the highest botanical gardens of Europe. On a little more than 2 ha, facing the snow of the massif of the Meije, thousands of native and exotic species collected since 1899, date of its creation. Small trails slaloming between numerous rockeries, each with a specific theme.There are thus the most characteristic regional species of the Alps, from the Pyrenees, medicinal plants and especially a beautiful collection of flowers from around the world, from the Caucasus, the Himalaya, Arctic regions, North America or Siberia.
•    Allos Lake
With an area of 50 ha, it is the largest natural lake of Europe at this altitude, 2 500 m. nestled in a circus of serrated peaks, its azure color seems unreal. A trail was laid out and panels explain it the different stages of its geological formation. The Lake is located a few kilometres south of Barcelonnette by the D909.

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