Hiking (mountain trail, in places narrow and exposed)
Alpine route (equipped or very exposed section, snow field, blocks)
Refuge de Furfande » Ceillac
This stage leaving from the Furfande hut passes entirely along the “Tour du Queyras” trail at the heart of the Queyras regional nature park. After an abrupt descent to the Guil valley, which it crosses at the Bramousse bridge, it crosses larch woods and pastureland to reach the Bramousse pass before heading down to Ceillac, the stage destination.
From the Furfande hut, the GR® 58 starts off on a downhill course in a south-easterly direction to reach a little pass. Next, head down along a rocky and sometimes steep path in hairpin bends below the Croseras crest. Leave the path coming from the Furfande chalets to the right and then on the left the Queyron chalets to arrive above the hamlet of Chatelard after a major bend towards the east. Continue along a stone-paved path and cross the Choulières stream to reach the hamlet of Escoyères (1,532m). Keep heading downhill along the little road and cross the hamlet of Esponces. You will reach departmental road D 902, which must be followed downhill for 350m (be careful) before crossing the bridge over the Guil to the left. Climb up through the forest on the right-hand trail to reach a little road on arriving at the hamlet of Bramousse (1,410m). At the top of the hamlet, just after the chapel, turn to the west to reach a path and climb up from the hollow created by the Bramousse stream on the left bank on the outskirts of the forest. Cross to the other bank and, alternating between the trail and several short cuts, walk to the Bramousse chalets and then head up to the pastureland, once again on the left-hand bank. At the entry to the forest, continue to border the stream, ignoring the traces of forestry activity on either side, and climb to a meadow and then after a few bends a pasture zone scattered with larch trees, thus reacing the Bramousse pass (2,251m). Descend to the south on the side of a large hollow crossed by a ski lift. At the bottom of the lift, you will reach the highest station of the Cheynet cable car and then take a trail to the west leading into the forest. The descent in hairpin bends then veers to the south to reach the Sainte-Cécile church after having passed the hamlet of Queyras. Follow the road to the east to reach the village of Ceillac (1,639m). (Marc Buisson, CDRP 05)
Natural and cultural heritage
Thanks to the GR® 58, this stage joins the North and South sides of the Guil and crosses several muandos, summer habitats for the period between Easter and Christmas, typical of the Queyras region. Under the crest of Croseras, the trail leaves the high-altitude pastures and heads to the Lauze pass, named after the local black slate, a primary material used in the traditional rooftops in high mountain areas (together with larch shingles used for the walls). Between the tumbling streams, which are a direct source of water for the Guil, and the coniferous forests, the Escoyères hamlets gleam in the sun, whose brilliance and constant presence in this area is a well-known fact. An old Roman road, sign of the Queyras occupation, explains the construction of these high-altitude villages. Before becoming the summer chalets of the Guillestrois people, they were used as strategic lookout posts. One chapel follows another, like a materialisation of saving faith against natural and human hostilities: Ste Madeleine is built in Roman stone covered by the inscriptions so characteristic of the people of the “Quadriates” (the Queyras region). After crossing the Guil, a stream which has wrecked havoc with its many floods (e.g. in 1957 and 2001) but which is also a “playground” for countless sport enthusiasts (rafting, kayaking, hydrospeed), the trail heads up to the main town of Bramousse, which demonstrates the typical spatial organisation of the Alps. It is not far from the valley with a simple but nevertheless important religious heritage (chapels and wayside shrines), and further up, the summer chalets with their chapel are joined to the rest by a ski slope. Further down, the village of Ceillac appears where the Mélézet and Cristillan valleys meet. The splendid church of Ste Cécile welcomes the trail to the muando of Clapière villages, with its Lombard-Romanesque steeple. This XIXth century historical monument, listed since 1972, is an example of the architecture specific to this mountain market town. A tour of the village reveals the particularity of the Ceillac habitat, where the L-shaped houses have numerous facades covered in sundials to keep the time. Several mills and bread or charcoal ovens are signs of the human activities practiced alongside pastoralism. One farm has even been classified as an historical monument: the Maison Chabrand dating back to the XVIIth century. These pages of history, from Roman times until today, can be felt in the life of Ceillac. The local patois was only replaced by French in 1931, and the traditional costume with the women’s linen cap decorated by a ruche, an embroidered bandeau folded on the forehead, only stopped being worn recently. On the other hand, the quadrille of Ceillac and the piqua (“polka piqué” folk dance), typical of the village, are brought back to life from time to time for patronal feasts. And the crousetons,manuis - hand-made pasta – and Ceillac blue (cow’s cheese) are still enjoyed as savoury dishes. This stage of the Sundials route thus marries the heritage of past generations with daily life, tourism and traditional agriculture. (Sara Zeidler, Gilles Chappaz, Grande Traversée des Alpes)