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| 6h10 | 19.2 km | 949 m | 1250 m
The trail leaves Monêtier-les-Bains on the GR® 54 “Tour de l’Oisans et des Ecrins” with its highest point at the Eychauda pass at the foot of the Dôme de Monêtier glaciers. Bordering the Ecrins national park, it then heads down to the Chambran chalets before crossing the community of Pelvoux to reach the village of Vallouise, the stage destination and doorway to the Ecrins national park.
Leave Monêtier-les-Bains in a south-westerly direction, cross the Guisane valley to reach the signposts for the GR® 54 trail and follow the little road leading to a car park. Veer to the left and after 200m, climb to the right through the wooded meadows to reach the Charvet chapel. Continue to the right to reach a hilltop, walk over it and cross the larch wood below the Lauzières ridge to come out at the Selle stream at the “Tronchet” area. The climb, at first steep and then somewhat gentler, runs alongside the stream before leaving the forest near the starting point of the two ski lifts and a high-altitude restaurant. Walk along paths and slopes to the Eychauda pass (2,425m). Cross the pass and descend towards the south east, ignoring the trails to the Cucumelle, Fréjus and Pisse passes on the left. Leave a rocky escarpment and then the Sastrière stream to the right. Cross three ravines before reaching the trail descending from the Pisse pass and a little lower the ruins of the Riou-la-Selle chalet (1,749m). Walk along the wide pastureland road to the Chambran chalets (1,719m). Then continue on the left bank of the stream, following the road and then, veering slightly to the left (1,689m), leave it behind on a path heading to the right which rejoins the road further down at a turn, before an intersection (1,550m). At the next turn, take the path that joins departmental road D 421 lower down, follow this road, cutting across two hairpin bends and arriving at the Sarret. Continue along the D 994E to reach the centre of Vallouise (1,166m).
On leaving Monêtier, the trail rises up along the side of the slopes of the Serre-Chevalier ski slopes, against the backdrop of the Montagne des Agneaux (3,664m), which prefigures the Ecrins summits. Leaving the ski lifts behind and following the Tour de l’Oisans (GR® 54) route, the trail climbs up to the Eychauda pass (2,425m) dominated by the white, triangular summit of the Cucumelle (2,698m) and the Rocher de l’Yvret (2,830m). The pass is the formerly highly frequented passageway between the Guisane and Vallouise valleys. The descent through the Vallouise valley is a pleasant one along the grassy, undulating slopes of the sedimentary Roche Gauthier ridge, with the contrasting sharp relief of the crystalline Clouzis massif on the other side of the Chambran valley. Close to the typical hamlet of Chambran (old, restored mountain chalets), the land is still used for pasture, although the cows have been replaced by sheep. The arrival at the community of Pelvoux calls to mind the imposing presence of the peak by the same name (3,943m) nearby. The old hamlets there (Le Poët, Le Sarret, Le Fangeas, St Antoine, Les Claux) are all characteristic of the Vallouise valley: traditional vaulted houses, a chapel, community oven, fountains and sundials. If you leave in the direction of Ailefroide, it is also possible to reach the Pré-de-Mme Carle meadow, a popular starting point for the highest mountaineering races in the Ecrins area with guides from the valley. Vallouise valley — the name of which derives from “Vallis Loysia” in honour of Louis XI, who in the XVth century tried to limit the persecution by the Catholic church of the Vaudois people (considered to be heretics) inhabiting the valley, which was then called “Valpute” (“bad valley”) — therefore boasts a remarkable historical heritage thanks to its architecture, sundials, etc.; but it is also home to an interesting population of the rare Isabelle de France butterfly. Vallouise village itself was built within the vast glacial valley scattered with erratic blocks bearing witness to this past activity, at the confluence of the Gyr and the Onde rivers, which join to form the Gyronde.
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Last update : 2013-02-06