The Poet’s tomb
Here, the houses in Prapic with their oversized barns and a bit further away the fields snatched from the mountains are witnesses to the hardships of life. Is it the will to live that has shaped exceptional characters and picturesque personalities? Here is an example at the end of this path...
Dedicated to Saint-Anne, Prapic Church dates back to the 1860s. It was built following the request of the inhabitants for a place of worship, who were faced with the hazards of winter and the distance from the parish church in Orcières. On the stained glass choir window, you can admire the portrait of Prapicois: Jean Sarrazin (1833-1914), nicknamed the «the poet of the olives", a different poet from that in the tomb ... Can you find it?
Surrounded by vegetable gardens, piles of stones and mown terraces the village nestles on the banks of the Drac and gives the best land over to agriculture. The typical house is most often perpendicular to the slope, based on an architecture created from materials collected locally and showing great intelligence in its elaboration. From course plasterwork to the delicacy of walnut wooden doors, shale roofing with gables made from plaited alder, this is the architectural vocabulary that punctuates your visit.
Running water came to Prapic in 1924. The first pipes were made from metre long sections, hollowed out trunks of larch. Their fitments probably did not enable all the water collected from the six village fountains to be transported!
In Blaisil valley, near to Prapic, the last bear in the region was slaughtered in 1895. This species had disappeared progressively between the 19th and the middle of the 20th century. In the French Alps, its disappearance is due to its classification as a harmful animal by the legislator in 1844. However, the reduction of its territory due to human activity also contributed to its disappearance. Its reintroduction in the Pyrenees is a controversial subject.
In the memory of the inhabitants, the votive festival for Saint-Anne has been celebrated for generations in Prapic Chapel. Previously it was celebrated in the old chapel situated at the top of the valley, but in 1870, it burnt down. Every Sunday following the 26th July, the faithful pay tribute to Saint Anne, mother of the Virgin Mary. However votive festivals are traditionally organized in order to answer a wish or to give thanks for a miracle.
In a poor country, ingenuity is increased. How do you close the gable of the barns while letting the air in to finish drying the hay without having to spend too much money? There are several examples here of the techniques used.
Prapic, at the foot of the Charnière plateau, is the most famous of the 23 hamlets of Orcières commune. You just have to look upwards to appreciate the richness and the quality of the architecture of the dwellings. The large Champsaurines houses have kept all their character here when the corrugated metal has not replaced the Prapic slate.
The fodder distributed to the livestock during the winter is a precious commodity. To increase their supplies, the mountain dwellers use everything they have. In Autumn, before the leaves fall, the breeders cut branches from trees (ash and maples) and make bundles of wood. These will be treats for sheep and goats! This explains why the trees here have big heads... They are known as « tadpole » trees.
Yellow billed Chough
A whirl of black birds moves noisily along the edge of the mountain wall before landing on a heath covered with juniper bushes. Dozens of them in a joyful rumpus, the Yellow billed Choughs feed on the berries left in winter. Real acrobats, they are capable of breathtaking aerial demonstrations. This ease of flight enables them to travel daily from places of high altitude spending the night there in holes in the rocks, to the bottoms of the valleys where they often find food near to the villages. This small member of the Corvidae species is protected and is on the regional red list because its natural habitat is very localized.
The Dung Fly is a difficult name to bear for such a pretty insect with a golden body! You can often see it on a fresh cow pat or a pile of manure, busy hunting or reproducing on the warm matter. With 240 million years of evolution, it is an expert in "aerobatics". It has 360° vision and it can locate an odour from a distance of several kilometers.
Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly
Precocious, the Small Tortoiseshell is the first butterfly to visit the flowers that have only just come out through the snow. Its caterpillars feed uniquely on nettles where you can see them gathered together with two yellow stripes on their backs. The butterfly has bright orange wings on top, incrusted with ebony and edged with blue lunules ringed with black.
Blaisil torrent is the addition of two torrents one from Pisses lake and the other at Estaris. These two lakes situated at an altitude of 2500 m are accessible to walkers who set off early. But the effort is worth it: they present a remarkable setting and history!
Ancient Gravel Pit
Just forty years ago, the bottom of the valley was a sterile gravel pit, completely bare, where the torrent reigned supreme. Little by little, it became colonized and today the stones have given way to a forest. From time to time an avalanche makes sure that it kept is clear.
Tombeau du poète
The poet’s tomb is a monumental block of stone which became detached from the overhanging cliff. It is a good example of the rock known as "Champsaur Sandstone", one of the youngest rocks in the Alps "only" thirty million years old. The original story of the poet (Joseph Reymond, 1848-1918) is displayed at the foot of the tomb: a personality and a story to discover!
Jujal waterfall arrives in the eponymous lake. Between the lake and the waterfall, the water travels via the Rif Tors which is a succession of sublime meanders, cut in to the peat and edged with arctic vegetation.
From the shady car park, go to Prapic on the 200 m of road closed to traffic. Cross the village square in front of the tourist information sign post, go up the paved road and turn left following the arrows. The path leaves Prapic between the agricultural buildings and follows through the fields. Continue going up by following the Blaisil torrent until the crossroads where the Pisses Lake path and the Poet’s Tomb path separate. Go up to the right in order to arrive, 150 m further along, at the foot of a large rock in the form of a sarcophagus at the foot of which notice boards tell the history of the site. Return using the same itinerary in the opposite direction.
In stormy weather, avoid the tomb: risk of falling stones.
House of Champsaur
, 05260 Pont-du-Fossé
04 92 55 95 44
Information and documentation, temporary exhibitions. Sale of products and works of the Park. In the same space, home office Tourist High Champsaur. Free admission. All animations of the Park are free unless otherwise stated.
Think of car sharing !
Access and parking
From Orcières village, drive 4, 5 km on the CD474 in the direction of Prapic.
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