From Chabournéou to Vallonpierre on the Minister's footpath
"From Le Crépon, the Sirac catches the eye. It is there like an insurmountable barrier that the sun hopelessly tries to straddle. This summit draws us to it. Before heading to brush up against it by walking at its feet, you will be absorbed by the large variety of flora, and carried along by the song of birds from up there. North, South, East, West. This accessible walk covers all directions to ensure delight with every step. "
Régis Jordana, warden in the Valgaudemar area
The Minister's footpath
Variety of the natural environment
The Chabourneou refuge
Alpine grey willow
The Vallonpierre refuge
The species had almost completely disappeared from the French Alpine regions, and they survived thanks to our Italian neighbours, the kings of Savoy. Until the mid-15th century, they were still to be seen, but they were not wary of mankind and were hunted for their meat. Superstitious medical practice at the period also hastened their decline: their horns were ground into powder and used as a remedy for impotence, while the cross-shaped bone over their hearts was thought to ward off sudden death.
Successfully reintroduced into the Vanoise area in 1960, they were also brought back into the Champoléon valley over 20 years ago.
A high-pitched whistle sounds in the mountain pastures it is the cry of the marmot on guard, warning its companions of the arrival of imminent danger from the sky. Any inattentive creature failing to take note should beware a golden eagle will carry them away in its talons to feed its young.
Native to the Alpine grassland, colonies of marmots live with their young until their third year. Gnawing and digging are their favourite pastimes, along with rolling down the slopes. And not forgetting an afternoon nap on a nice, warm rock and their long hibernation between October and March.
High altitude birds
From the car park, take the footpath that goes down the Gioberney stream and cross the bridge. From there, follow the signs for "Refuge du Chabournéou". It is situated at an altitude of 1998 m, and takes about two hours to walk to. Behind the building, you will find the start of the footpath leading to the Vallonpierre refuge (1-hour walk). The now rocky path leads across the foot of the Sirac mountain, amidst silky alpine grey willows. After a short steep stretch, where you will need to be careful, you will reach a grassy plateau "Le Pré" on which you will find the Vallonpierre refuge at an altitude of 2271 m. Once you have made the most of the place, the return trip will take about an hour 45 minutes. To do so, go back slightly to join up with the GR54 trail. After going round the bends of the glacial cross-cliff on the way down, you will get to the "Pré de Surette" and its hut where a footbridge will take you across the Séveraisse stream. Cross another footbridge over the Pis stream. 300 m from here, you will reach the Minister's footpath that leads back to the car park directly.
The last 15 metres or so before reaching the plateau where the Vallonpierre is situated are somewhat high but this is the only difficulty on the walk. NB. It is also possible to do the return walk by continuing along the GR54 up to the old hamlet of Clot and its pastoral hut. You will then need to climb back 80 m up the glacial cross-cliff to easily reach the car park.
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".
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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.
Shuttle possible from St Firmin (reservation 36 hours in advance through Voyageurs 05) Connection with buses coming from Gap or Grenoble.
Access and parking
26 km from Saint Firmin, take the D58 and the D958a as far as La Chapelle en Valgaudemar. Then follow the D480a until you reach the Crépon car park, 800 m before the Gioberney refuge.
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