From la Chapelle to Clot by the GR 54
Taking this footpath is somewhat like going back in time 100 years, when walking was not a leisure activity, but a necessity to get from one village to another. Today it is a peaceful route punctuated with numerous things to discover: natural prairies, irrigation canals, traditional dwellings, shepherds' huts, roman bridges, walled paths...not to mention the waterfalls, cracks, coombs, birds of prey or small sparrows.
9 points of interest
Hayfields surround the village of La Chapelle. Unfortunately, such natural hayfields, and their flowers and insects, are more and more frequently replaced by temporary hayfields, in other words, certain years they are sowed. These prairies are still watered by the irrigation canals that are well maintained by the users with the help of the National Park. You will see the floodway of the Grande Levée canal not far from the stream as it nears the Sèveraisse. The canals are of great importance for preserving wetland flora, such as alternate-leaved golden saxifrage or yellow star-of-Bethlehem, both of which are protected species.
Waterfalls and view points over the valleyAlong the itinerary, you will see the Combefroide and Casset waterfalls that are situated on the south facing slopes of the valley. The route also gives a good view to the east and the west of the Sèveraisse valley from the hamlet of Casset. Downstream, from the hamlet of Rif du Sap, a good example of a U-shaped valley is proof of shaping by the quaternary glaciers.
An itinerary packed with historyThe Casset bridge is the oldest remaining bridge over the Sèveraisse that has not been washed away by floods. On the right bank of this magnificent "Roman" structure, the hamlet of Casset gets its name from the "casse" (large steep scree deposits at the foot of slopes) that surround it. This village, like that of Le Bourg, was partly covered by a landslide. As for Le Rif du Sap, an avalanche swept away the houses from the top of the hamlet in 1944. The hamlet of Le Clot, was flooded in 1928, and was totally abandoned in 1934 when a fire destroyed most of the dwellings.
Toponymy in the Valgaudemar areaValgaudemar! The sound of this name resonates in our ears. Some claim that it is in reference to the valley of Mary "Gaude Marie" or "Rejoice Mary!" It is more reasonable to think that it is in reference to Gaudemar, the last king of the Burgundians (524) a Germanic tribe that invaded this area in 406...Vallis Gaudemarii can be read in texts as early as 1284. Poetic licence, legends and imagination are often red herrings when it comes to researching the origins of names.
Traditional dwellingsA few typical, old Valgaudemar houses can be seen in the hamlets of Casse, Le Bourg and Le Rif du Sap. A few thatched roofs, vaulted entrances to dwellings ("tounes"), and stone paving, are some fine examples of architecture that are worth saving. Cheaper and requiring less maintenance, sheet metal gradually replaced the thatch on the rooftops.
Between La Chapelle and Le Clot, it is not rare to see the golden eagle flying over the sunlit slopes. In the summer, this majestic bird of prey with its dark plumage (some have lovely white rosettes on the underside of their wings) mingles with the short-toed eagle, which is smaller and lighter-coloured, and the griffon vulture, which is larger, with a short tail and often flies in groups. There is nothing surprising about this as the south facing slopes provides thermal lift that enables them to fly high and far.
"Toune"This is an architectural feature of the Champsaur-Valgaudemar area and is the barrel-vaulted porch on the main facade of the house. It sheltered the entrance to the dwelling and stable and was sometimes used to stock items, such as wood, to keep it dry. The "toune" was often painted white to reflect the sunlight. They inhabitants would sit in them to do embroidery or darning, etc.
- Vernacular heritage
Walled pathsOn certain stretches of the route, you will walk between two stone walls. Such "via clause" were built to stop the domestic animals, on their way up to the pastures, from walking on or eating the grass in the prairies that was intended for them in the winter. The most remarkable "via clause" is on the way out of the hamlet of Le Clot. It has been restored by the Ecrins National Park.
Clot Xavier Blanc mountain refugeWhat a strange idea to build this mountain refuge below the road leading to Gioberney, at an altitude of "only" 1397 m. In fact, it was already there more than a century ago, long before the road was built. This simple, sturdy building belonged to the Valgodemar Mining Company that operated in the area extracting copper and lead. When the business closed, the Club Alpin Français bought the building and named it after Xavier Blanc, in recognition of one of the founder members of the CAF, senator of the Hautes Alpes.
Opposite the Tourist Information Centre in La Chapelle, the GR54 footpath starts between the bar and the souvenir shop and heads up the valley to Le Clot. Follow the footpath that more or less follows the left bank of the Sèveraisse stream up to the hamlet of Bourg. Here, a footbridge at the bottom of Bourg enables you to cross to the right bank. The footpath continues to climb a little before reaching the hamlet of Rif du Sap. The route is then very peaceful up to old hamlet of Le Clot, via the Xavier Blanc mountain refuge where it is possible to quench your thirst. This footpath is also the return route but it is possible to catch the shuttle for the return journey.
- Departure : La Chapelle-en-Valgaudemar
- Towns crossed : La Chapelle-en-Valgaudemar
- Impacted practices:
- Aerial, , Vertical
- Sensitivity periods:
- Parc National des Écrins
Please do not walk in the pastures used as fodder for the sheep and remember to close all gates so that they do not run free.
In mountain pastures, protection dogs are there to protect the herds from predators (wolves, etc.).
When I hike I adapt my behavior by going around the herd and pausing for the dog to identify me.
Find out more about the actions to adopt with the article "Protection dogs: a context and actions to adopt".
Tell us about your meeting by answering this survey.
Valgaudemar Park house
Ancien Asile Saint-Paul, 05800 La Chapelle-en-Valgaudemar
04 92 55 25 19
Information, documentation and a reception area with permanent and temporary exhibitions. La Maison du Parc is labeled "Tourism and Disability". Free admission. All animations of the Park are free unless otherwise stated.
Bus stop at St Firmin on the Gap-Grenoble route. From there, shuttle service possible. Be sure to reserve 36 hours in advance at 05voyageurs.com or by calling 04 92 502 505.
Access and parking
After Les Richards bridge, on the N85, turn right onto the D985a. La Chappelle is approximately 18 km from here.
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