Hiking (mountain trail, in places narrow and exposed)
Alpine route (equipped or very exposed section, snow field, blocks)
Ceillac » Maljasset
From Ceillac, the Via Alpina joins the GR® 5 to reach first the Miroir lake and then the vast Ste Anne lake at the foot of the Font-Sancte peaks. The trail then climbs to the Girardin pass, bordering the Queyras regional nature park. The descent along the Ubaye mountainside on more mineral terrain leads, after leaving the GR® 5, to the traditional hamlet of Maljasset, the stage destination.
Leave Ceillac along the GR® 5, which passes in front of the town hall, crosses the Mélezet and borders it before climbing up along departmental road D 60 and then the road on the right to the car park of the ski station. Cross the Basset and head uphill in hairpin bends to reach the Pisse stream. Continue to climb, crossing the stream and heading uphill to arrive at the Lac Miroir (Mirror Lake). Walk around it on the east side to reach a little pass (2,214m). The trail on the right, first descending and then crossways, takes you to a junction of ski slopes. Climb up the slope on the left for a few metres before heading up to the right to continue along a new track that more or less borders a ski lift as far as the little Sainte-Anne pass (2,408m). After crossing it, take the trail on the right at the turn in the ski slope to reach the chapel of Sainte Anne overlooking the lake (2,415m). Keep climbing in a south-easterly direction on a winding, rocky trail, the prolongation of which is an uphill walk over grass-covered slopes. The trail then climbs in hairpin bends over loose stones to the Girardin pass, which is the westernmost passage (2,700m) and which delimits the department of the Hautes-Alpes from that of the Alpes de Haute-Provence. (Marc Buisson, CDRP 05) Leave the Girardin pass on the GR® 5 - GR® 500. Start off on a winding downward course towards the south-east and then continue, following the course of the Séchoirs stream. A shepherd’s hut can be seen to the right at about 2,465m in altitude. Keep heading downhill over a ridge on the left bank of the stream. At around 2,368m in altitude, leave the GR® 5 and take the path on the left (GR® 500), which descends directly to Maljasset over slaty and sometimes steep terrain. Be careful! Some parts of the trail deteriorates easily. The trail crosses meadowland before arriving in Maljasset. (Hubert Tassel, CDRP 04)
Natural and cultural heritage
Between Queyras and Ubaye, people have been using the trail for a long time, as Ceillac and the hamlet of Maljasset are linked by a common faith and shared work. On leaving Ceillac, the GR® 5 long-distance hiking trail climbs back up the Mélézet valley to the heart of a forest of larch trees from which the area, the stream and the campsite draw their name. Wayside shrines, secluded places of prayer for passers-by, line the route. The trail gains in altitude and circumvents the Pisse waterfall, a majestic cascade falling from 280m. Walk alongside its stream outlet and you will see the Miroir lake, in which the Font Sancte peak with its rocky glaciers (ice coated in metres of scree) is mirrored. Pass below a ski-lift of the resort village of Ceillac, inaugurated in February 1969, and the trail arrives at the lake of Ste Anne, patroness of sailors. Two children are said to have ventured out on it on a raft and, stuck in the middle, their panic-stricken parents called out to the saint for help. The breeze then brought them back safely and a chapel was erected right in the middle of this mountain cirque in honour of Ste Anne. It was destroyed in 1918 by an avalanche and then rebuilt in 1920. This saint, said to control rainfall, is also called upon when drought ravages the harvest. A pilgrimage organised each year (26th July) in this aim brings together the people of Ceillac from the Queyras area, and of Maurin from the Ubaye area. In the past, they exchanged seed and rye on these occasions to vary production. Today, they exchange stories and various dishes (blue cheese from Ceillac and doughnuts from Maurin). The Girardin pass marks the exit from the regional park and the entrance into the Ubaye valley. It is a strategic lookout point: towards the East at the foot of the Tête de Girardin summit, the Favière optical station was erected in 1901 to transmit Morse-coded light messages. It then became an astronomical site, and then a precarious refuge for hikers. The panoramic view offered by this pass explains the choice of location: the Haute-Ubaye valley, attached once and for all to the kingdom of Provence in 1713 by the European treaty of Utrecht, spreads out to the East and the Queyras valley to the West. Towards Maljasset, which means “bad shelter” in patois owing to the risks of avalanches and flooding, the trail straightens out on a stony north-facing slope. The place is called “Les Bachasses”, by the name of the fountains carved in larch, the preferred material for numerous wells or watering holes for sheep. The three hamlets of this little valley by the name of “Maurin” (maure = black, dark) are situated along the Ubaye, an 80km-long stream joining the Franco-Italian Longet pass to the lake of Serre-Ponçon: “La Barge” further downhill with its typical architecture in stone and slate (unlike in the Queyras, where larch and cembran pine predominate), Maljasset, a mixture of secondary residences and hostels, and Combe-Breymond further up. There are a great many chapels and mission crosses, testifying to the hostility of the environment, which only faith and mysticism make it possible to overcome. (Sara Zeidler, Gilles Chappaz, Grande Traversée des Alpes)