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| 6h30 | 19 km | 1275 m | 616 m
Taking the GR® 5 trail from Modane and then the GR® 57, the trail leaves the forest to open out onto the Mount Thabor massif. After the Vallée Etroite pass, the trail heads back down towards the “Granges de la Vallée Etroite”, a French enclave on Italian territory.
GR® 5 stretches left of Modane’s town hall, then it takes the road to Charmaix, it goes up towards the old village and follows the route of Notre-Dame-du-Charmaix’s pilgrimage (Our Lady of Charmaix) (oratory). Since Charmaix bridge is closed because of a landslide, it is necessary to follow the road up to Valfréjus station. Cross the station to reach Les Tavernes. Take the military road again to reach Les Herbiers hamlet (1664 metres). Further up, cross a bridge in front of a blockhaus, then take the military road to arrive at Lavoir’s huts. Keep walking straight on and climb up to La Losa’s water intake (2099 metres). Continue along the path on the Craveroz slopes and overtake the huts at Levette first, then those at Replanette, to reach the Vallée Etroite (Narrow Valley) peak (2434 metres) (20 minutes further, Mont-Thabor mountain hut). Walk down southwards crossing the last slopes of the peak’s poor meadows, then the western side of a rump on the right bank of Tavernette torrent. Cross a wide swampy plateau and enter a series of rocky rumps between Genéve (Geneva) brook and Grosse Somme brook to reach the Fonderie’s bridge (Foundry) (1897 metres). The GR® follows a cart road with a moderate gradient southwards, at a certain distance from Vallée Etroite (Narrow Valley) torrent. You’ll then arrive at the Vallée Etroite’s Granges and mountain huts (1765 metres).
On leaving Modane, you can see the “Maison Penchée” (leaning house) which, when you enter it, gives you a strange sensation of losing your balance. The upper part of the blockhouse has a surprising story of being literally blown off by an explosion and projected over 30 metres. Heading further up, you will discover the monumental entry to the Fréjus railway tunnel, which features a locomotive train from the start of the century and reminds us of the history of alpine passages and the major alpine openings, the first one (1857-1871) being the Fréjus tunnel. Forts Sapey and Replaton, “Séré de Rivères” type constructions, had been built on the opposite slope in the second half of the XIXth century to protect this entry. Via Alpina then reaches Valfréjus, where the chapel ND du Charmaix (dating back to around 1400) is situated, a medieval sanctuary clinging to the rock face and dedicated to the Black Virgin. This chapel, situated in a narrow gorge, brings French and Italian pilgrims together every year on the 1st Sunday of September. The trail then continues to the Mount Thabor massif, a site listed for its biological diversity, the wealth of its soil and its position at a climatic crossroads. After the pass, climb down towards the Vallée Etroite valley taking the Tour du Mont Thabor trail (GR® 57), a summit that reaches 3,178m and can be easily distinguished. From the other side of the little valley, between the pass and Lake Peyron, it is possible to see faults above the Ste Marguerite passage that bear witness to the upthrust activity of the central axis of the Alps. Numerous rhododendron bushes can be found in the Tavernette valley before the Fonderie bridge, after the passage near the pluviometer. After crossing the bridge, a detour is taken around the Vert lake, of particular interest for the landscape offered in this corner of preserved nature. Level with the barns in the Vallée Etroite, the “I Tre Alpini” hut presents the particularity of being managed by the CAI (Italian Alpine Club), even though it is in France.
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Last update : 2013-02-06