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| 7h25 | 22.1 km | 782 m | 911 m
This stage leaves Freissinières and follows the GR® 50, passing several mountain hamlets. It then crosses the Fonds du Sap wood to descend close to the village of Réotier and its petrifying fountain and reach the wide Durance valley. Just after the confluence of the Guil and Durance rivers, it arrives at the fortified town of Mont-Dauphin, the stage destination.
Leave Freissinières on departmental road D 238 heading towards the bottom of the valley. Cross the bridge over the Biaysse stream and take the forest track on the left that heads along the right bank of the stream, moves away from it and rejoins it again at the entry to Pallon (1,127m). Stay on the right bank, follow the D 38 for 300m, and then turn left onto a rural path that leads to a fork in the road. Continue straight ahead to climb to the Chambon, cross the hamlet by following the D 38 and, at the cross, take the road to the right that leads to Champcella (1,230m). At the exit from the village near the Croix la Chapelle chapel, walk uphill on the right-hand road and follow it until reaching the first crossroads after the hamlet of Ponteil. Take a ridge trail on the left heading to the south east and reach to the forest road in the Preyts area. Follow it for 250m and then take the path heading uphill into the wood on the right, pass Villard, cross the St Thomas stream and walk downhill to reach the hamlet of Mikéou. Leave the GR® 50 to descend along the little road and, below the power line, continue by taking the path to the left to arrive at the Réotier cemetery (1,164m). Then veer to the north before descending in hairpin bends to reach a road at Cros and then the D 38. Cross the D 38 and take a path opposite, which leads to the railway. Turn left along a little road leading to the car park at the edge of the D 37. Take the D 7 to the right for 800m and at the crossroads turn onto the right-hand path that leads to the right bank of the Guil. Pass under national road N 94 to reach a little road. Follow it to the left and then climb to the right on the D 137t to reach the gates to the Mont-Dauphin citadel (1,041m) and then its centre. (The tourist office organises guided visits of the citadel).
On leaving Freissinières valley, it is possible to observe the old glacial rock bar that sealed the valley at Pallon, before contemplating the current fall of the Gourfouran chasm. Closer to the village of Le Chambon, it is also possible to see the traces (low stone walls) of the old Roman road (Via Domitia) that linked Sisteron to the Montgenèvre pass using this route. Champcella (“hidden field”) was given its name because its crops formed a cereal granary sheltered from the pillagers for the inhabitants of the Durance valley. Today, protected from overly intensive farming, certain adventitious harvest species that are becoming ever rarer can be found here: cornflowers, pheasant’s-eye, or common quail. The climb back uphill takes you along the Bouchet ridge, with the majestic Tête de Vautisse (3,156m) rising up above it. Next, the trail borders the sides of the right bank of the River Durance. A little before Réotier, it reaches a level with the very majestic and unusual petrifying fountain, an astonishing monument of limestone concretions forming gnamma holes and listed as a natural monument. The fortified town of Mont-Dauphin, which can be distinguished from the other side of the valley during the descent to the Durance, was designed by Vauban in 1692 to be the “ideal town”, combining military neighbourhoods with civil life. It was initially created to protect the Haut Dauphiné region from the territorial aspirations of the Duke of Savoie, who had just destroyed Guillestre, Embrun and Gap. Work stopped a century later, however, and it was never to be completed for lack of money. Now, it is possible to visit its ramparts dominating the elbow of the Durance, and also the powder magazine or the arsenal. Today, the smallest community of the Hautes-Alpes (within the enclosure of the fortifications) also offers craft treasures: pottery, sundials, silk painting and leather engraving. The Guil canyon with its petrifying fountain completes the hot springs of Plan-de-Phazy, as the “Titan’s Hand” of the village of Eygliers completes the capricious influences of water on the rock. Which perhaps explains why the Rue des Masques, situated on the other side of the canyon, is imbued with legends… Furthermore, the vineyards of the Guillestrois area are the highest in France (at around 1,200m in altitude), but they are private, non-commercial holdings, and thus retain an authentic, original style.
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Last update : 2013-02-06