Hiking (mountain trail, in places narrow and exposed)
Alpine route (equipped or very exposed section, snow field, blocks)
Mont-Dauphin (Guillestre) » Refuge de Furfande
Just after Mont-Dauphin, Via Alpina crosses the village of Eygliers and joins the GR® 541 heading to the Queyras regional nature park. After having passed the highest point at the Garnier pass, the trail descends again to the Furfande hut in the midst of the pastureland by the same name, also situated on the GR® 58 “Tour du Queyras” trail.
Leave Mont-Dauphin to the north on departmental road D137 and then follow the D 37 as far as the village of Eygliers. Cross the village, after which the D 371 leads to a crossing with the GR® 541, which arrives from the left from the hamlet of Coin. Continue on the D 371, on a ledge, to the hamlet of Gros, which is left behind on the right. Follow the road paved in stone to reach the so-called "Deuxième Batterie". Continue the climb and then take a path leading downhill to the bottom of the Valette ravine, cross the footbridge and climb back up on the opposite trail into the forest to reach the ruins of the Girards shepherds’ huts (1,670m). Continue towards the north west to reach the forest, leaving the right-hand trail behind. At the next fork in the road, turn left and then right and head uphill into the forest. Cross a barren hilltop and then veer to the right, pass a little spring, cross several little streams heading uphill before reaching the Garnier pass (2,279m). From the pass, descend northward and then along the axis of the little valley, passing a spring and crossing several small ravines, leaving the trail descending from the Saint Antoine pass on the left and the Valette lake. Veer to the right, pass a wayside shrine and then continue on the left-hand path, which climbs in a long bend to the left to the Furfande pass (2,500m), past which the GR® 58 runs. Descend towards the south to reach the Furfande hut (2,300m). (Marc Buisson, CDRP 05)
Natural and cultural heritage
The trail leaves the Durance valley and joins the Queyras regional park, which since 1977 has pooled the efforts of the 8 communities around the will to achieve environmentally friendly development. East of Montdauphin, Eygliers comes into sight, a summer hamlet for the valley dwellers. The church of St Antoine, an archetype of XVIth century Lombard-Romanesque style, adorns the heart of the village and with its many frescoes reminds everyone of the legend of the pilgrims of Santiago de Compostela: a young man is wrongly accused of theft by the maidservant of a hostel whose advances he has refused. He was hanged, to the great despair of his parents, who spent the rest of their journey praying. On their return, they found that their son had been brought back to life and avenged. An old Roman road links Font-d’Eyglier to the main town and allows us imagine the route taken by the Roman troops leaving to conquer Italy. The villages and communication posts at the time were established on mountain ridges in order to avoid water damage and to benefit from “strategic” panoramic vision. For instance, visible further below and cut in two by the waters of the Guil in the fossil moraine of the Durance glacier, the Guillestre plateau, formerly “of the thousand winds”, is occupied on the left bank by the homonymous village, and on the right bank by the fort of Mt Dauphin. There have been several attempts in the area to grow vineyards under the ownership of the inhabitants of Ceillac or Vars and irrigated using various tapped springs. But altitude put an end to such ambitions. Just after this comes the start of the sheer Guil gorges, over which the trail hangs for a while on the north side of the Roy house, thus named because of its strategic position and a recorded visit by Louis XII. The trail now pushes more boldly into the heart of the Sufra woods, a mix of larch and pine, to then cross the Garnier pass, an unusually broad, grassy pass marking the traditional border between Eygliers and Arvieux (from the Latin arvum = labour), and thus a source of recurring conflict over the ownership of this stretch of pastureland. A little below this, the chalets of Furfande perpetuate the agricultural tradition of the Queyras region (pasture festival on the 1st Sunday following 15th August). This is where the pastoral life of the Arvidants (inhabitants of Arvieux) was for a long time based on livestock farming (Tarentaise cows, of a uniform faun colour, and Abondance cows, mahogany with a white head), from production (breeding and haymaking) to processing and then sales. This exceptionally flowery meadowland is still a mountain pasture location in June. And the Arvieux cheese dairy is still famous for its Queyras specialities. The Furfande Hut, a former alpine farm chalet itself, is established at the foot of the pass by the same name, which serves as a donkey pass between the Guil valley and the Arvieux basin. The easily recognisable Ratier tooth rises up towards the East and the Croseras ridge offers protection from the winds above. (Sara Zeidler, Gilles Chappaz, Grande Traversée des Alpes)