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| 9h05 | 21 km | 1255 m | 1237 m
Leaving Vallouise, Via Alpina passes close to the hamlet of Vigneaux before climbing along the GR® 50 “Tour du Haut Dauphiné” to the Pousterle pass. It crosses the Fournel valley and its old silver mines and climbs again to the Lauzes pass, from where you can see the Durance valley. Finally, it reaches the village of Freissinières, the stage destination at the heart of the valley by the same name.
Leave Vallouise along departmental road D 504, cross the Gérendoine bridge and continue on the D 4 in the direction of the National Park house. The right-hand trail leads to the Gyronde stream, alongside which the trail runs on the right bank. Pass an old mine to arrive a little further on at a bridge. Continue on the same bank along the trail that will become a road before joining the D 4 and a bridge, where the GR® 50 passes. Continue for a few metres and then climb to the right, following the "via novo" taken by the GR® 50 to arrive at a forest track. Follow it for 150m and then take the path on the left, which cuts across a bend in the track higher up before coming to another one. These few short cuts will lead you to the Pousterle pass (1,763m). Continue on the forest road before starting the long meandering descent and after the fifth hairpin bend, leave the road behind along a path which likewise takes a winding downhill course to reach the bottom of the little Fournel valley, at the foot of Champ Didier. Stay on the left bank to follow the little road and cross the bridge over the Fournel (1,326m) to arrive at a crossroads. Leave the road that leads to Argentière, take the track to the right, pass the bridge over the Crouzet stream and a little later take the winding uphill climb to the right. Cut across a forest track at the Lauzes shepherd huts. Pursue the climb, first in hairpin bends and then in a long ascending stretch through the forest before joining the track leading to the Lauzes pass (1,837m). Cross the pass, leave a ridge trail to the right to descend along a trail that opens out onto the pastureland road from the Anon pass. A good mule track, cutting across the long hairpin bends on this road, leads past several hamlets before arriving at the Freissinières church (1,200m).
On leaving Vallouise, walk past the front of the Ecrins National Park House, which offers a nature discovery trail allowing hikers to understand the various types of terrain (thicket, redd, pool, etc.) and the animals and plants who live there. Turn off towards Champ Clément, and you will be able to observe the hemp retting tanks, waterholes called “naïs” marking the spot of an activity that made it possible to manufacture ropes and fabric. Hemp combing was even a speciality of the men of Vallouise. The name “Vigneaux” stems from the winegrowing activity that was established in the Xth century from the Embrunais area to St Martin de Queyrières, at 1,200 metres in altitude. It continued until the XIXth century, when phylloxera and the arrival of the train to Briançon, which allowed for an easier supply of wine from Provence, put an end to this custom. The Pousterle pass (which means “door”) can be considered as a little paradise set apart from the rest of the world thanks to its floral wealth and the exceptional panoramic view of the Vallouise valley, the Pelvoux massif and the little Fournel valley, through which the trail later descends. This valley, crossed by the trail, is of exceptional floral value: 900 species are counted there, representing 1/5th of the flora in France. The yew tree, a naturally rare species, grows on the south-facing slope, while the fir tree, not a common sight in this region, grows on the north side. The main feature, however, is the largest meadow of blue thistles in Europe, situated in the Deslioures biological reserve at the heart of the Ecrins National Park. In the reserve, this plant, nicknamed “Queen of the Alps”, draws our attention to the fragility of the environment and its necessary conservation. In addition to this, further down the valley in the direction of Argentière-la-Bessée, historical heritage likewise plays a significant role: old argentiferous galenite mines (which gave their name to the village) that were in operation in the Middle Ages and also more recently bear witness to the market town’s mining activity. The traces of an old XIXth century mining village (Le Suquet) can also be found alongside the vestiges of much older excavation systems (Xth century). Today, the abandoned shafts shelter a threatened species of bat during its hibernation period: the greater horseshoe bat. The climb to the Séa hillocks once again allows you to admire the splendid panoramic views and, at the Lauzes pass, the lake by the same name. After descending again onto the grassy slopes, you will arrive in the long (20km) Freissinières valley, whose name stems from freisse nière, which means “black ash” in patois. The Vaudois people, who wished to apply the gospel to the letter without the pomp of the church, were persecuted by the archbishop of Embrun, as was the case in Vallouise. Today, the proof of this lies in the Vaudois cave and cemetery.
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Last update : 2013-02-06