Ecrins trekking

Le col de la Coupa

5 h
Return trip
Return trip
8.9 km
Total Length
864 m
  • By walk
  • Fauna
  • Flora
  • History and architecture

This valley, which is a mountain pasture for a flock of sheep, leads to La Coupa mountain pass which is the passage between the Réallon valley and the Rouance valley that links up to Ancelle in the Champsaur area.

"The presence of griffon vultures makes this hike interesting during the summer. In the morning, around 9 o'clock, they leave the cliff to the right of the pass, gain altitude and separate. Throughout the day, they glide over the surrounding summits and ridges. The end of the day is a good time to watch them as they return to the 'dormitory'. The best idea is to plan a picnic for the evening and descend before nightfall.

Mireille Coulon, warden in the Embrunais area

From Les Gourniers car park, cross the bridge over the Réallon and take the paved road on the left. Follow this road for 1 km to the end of the tarmac at "Les Tomelles". Take the track to the right. At the next fork in the road, go right on the footpath that heads into the larch forest then reaches the Gorge stream. Cross it 3 times over roughly 500 m to reach the meadows of the south facing slope on the left bank. When you arrive at the terrace, go up the slope to the right. Go past the shepherd's hut. From there, the footpath is not clearly defined but the pass to the north-west certainly is. Head towards it by following the slope that straightens out regularly until you reach the meandering footpath that leads to the pass. The return trip is made by the same route.


From Savines-le-lac, take the D41 to Réallon. Then follow the D241 as far as the hamlet of Gourniers at the bottom of the valley.

Information desks

Information center "les Gourniers" (summer only)

Les Gourniers
05160 Réallon
Tel :

Les Gourniers
05160 Réallon

Website - Email - 04 92 44 30 36

Lat: 44.61608, Lng: 6.33363

Clic for map interaction

On the way...
Turk's cap lily

In the undergrowth at the beginning of the route, then in the meadows, it stands out with its long upright flowering stem. It is embellished by three to ten flowers that are a purple-pink and crimson and have long orange stamen.  Admire them without smelling, as they are as beautiful as they are smelly!

Lys martagon dans prairie fleurie
Walls and clapiers

On the left bank of the stream, the walls and the piles of cleared stones are a sign that there were once hayfields here. The cut hay was taken down to the village in cloth bags that were carried by donkeys or on sleds when it was not by the men themselves.

Murets et clapiers

At the end of June, the slopes on the right bank are covered in a carmine pink colour thanks to the flowers of this shrub. There are usually blueberries, green alder and other small willows nearby. Its stiff leaves are shiny on the upper side but rust-coloured underneath (which is where it gets its French name "ferrugineux" from). It was also nicknamed the Devil's rose because its leaves were said to attract lightning.

Rhododendron ferrugineux
Black grouse and management

Every year BTS students in "Nature protection and Management" assist in a clearing operation that frees a part of the slope of its alpenroses that spread too much. The reason is twofold: to gain back grazing land and to improve the habitat of the black grouse.

Parade de tétras lyre
 Ortolan bunting

It is present on the sunny slopes and sings ruefully from its perch on the top of a bush. This bird is barely larger than a sparrow. The male has a salmon-coloured chest and a grey-brown rump. Its green-grey head is embellished with a pale yellow moustache that starts at the beak and marks a comma shape down the neck. The female is not as colourful.

Bruant ortolan
Common rock thrush

Also called the rock blackbird, it likes the sun, perches on rocks and lets out a melodic tune as it flies. Although it is discreet when it is visible, its orange chest, blue head and white rump make it remarkable. It can be seen from May - the period when it builds a nest on the ground or in a gap in a rock - to the end of August.

Monticole de roche
Griffon vulture

A large scavenging bird of prey, that can have a wingspan of 2.50 m, has been present in the massif for about 10 years. Not long after the flocks have arrived on the pastures, the vultures settle in for the duration of the summer pasture. They spend the summer patrolling in search of corpses. In the evening, they return to their 'dormitory' at the top of the rock face to the right of the Coupa pass. Up to sixty have been counted.

Vautour fauve

Altitude profile

Altitude (m)

Min : 1471 m - Max : 2304 m

Distance (m)



The valley is a pasture where there are grazing sheep. Keep dogs on a lead, stay a good distance from the flock and near to the hut, respect the peace and quiet of the shepherd. Do not forget your binoculars to observe the vultures.