Ascent to the Font Turbat refuge via the Petit Vallon
By walk
Ascent to the Font Turbat refuge via the Petit Vallon

Ascent to the Font Turbat refuge via the Petit Vallon

Embed this item to access it offline

An original and untamed trail to or from the Font Turbat refuge.

All around you, the post-glacier landscape is unveiled with very little earth, no trees and smooth, seeping glacier rocks. The only vegetation is made up of moss, lichens and a few woody plants: you are walking through the tundra.

Abdelbaki Benyoub - Valbonnais forest keeper

18 points of interest

The Désert-en-Valjouffrey

No sand or barren lands, the name of Desert comes from the word "essarter" which means to clear the land of forest in order to produce a clearing. Forest clearing was necessary for the implementation and the development of agriculture in the mountains... Nowadays, the Desert is one of the only hamlets at altitude which is inhabited all year round in spite of the harsh mountain climate.

read more

Hay Fields

The hayfields where the grass is mown have been improved over the generations by the extraction of stones which have then been stacked in piles which are known locally as “clapiers”. These piles of stones mark the boundaries between the crops and the flocks. 

read more

Common Chiffchaff

A bird that you hear but do not see, the Common Chiffchaff nicknamed the "écu counter”. Its song, which is very easy to identify, evokes the sound of gold coins falling one by one in to the cash register as they are counted. Green-brown and greyish on top, its feathers are off white underneath, beige on the chest with a barely visible pale brow.

read more
Geology and geography

Glacial valley

The high valley of Bonne, or Font Turbat, is a typical glacial valley in the form of a trough with morainic bars marking the stages of the retreat of the glacier. The lower shelves or glacial shoulders are suspended above the trough 500 to 600 m in size of which the steep sides dominate the layers of scree and the alluvial fans (mass of debris transported by the water It finishes upstream by a vast cirque at the imposing foot of the rocky wall of theOlan (3 564 m), hemmed in at its foot by the Maye black glacier. At the time of the last glaciation  of Würm, 10 000  years ago , the two glaciers of Font Turbat and Maye joined together and fed into a powerful glacial tongue in the Bonne valley. It formed the valley in to the shape of a basin by scraping and polishing rocky walls in the granite. The lowest moraines, masses of rocky debris transported by the glaciers are situated around Châtellerat cabin.

read more

Cob web House Leek

Thick leaves organized in tight rosettes shoot up towards the sky twists of white hairs  which are quite similar to  the traps woven by certain spiders. Not less competitive than the rhododendrons, The Cobweb House Leek is adapted to resist drought. The main rosette and the smaller shoots well grouped together; make a real water reserve which is then marvelously stocked by the fleshy leaves... It also develops many kinds of hairs that collect the dew.

read more


Nicknamed the rose of the devil, the rhododendron ferrugineum has the capacity of placing itself between the rocks and boulders where the soil is rare. It keeps its stiff leaves which are dark green and shiny and rust coloured underneath right through the winter. It gets its name from this rust colour. Every year, between the end of July and the beginning of August its branches are crowned with bouquets of flowers coloured rose and purple.

read more


A big white butterfly with black and red markings is not shy; the Apollo is easy to see between the middle of June until the end of July... It lays its eggs on the White Stonecrop, a perennial plant with white flowers living on scree and gravel... The male Apollo is born before the female and waits patiently to procreate. It is to be noted that it benefits from national protection; its transport and destruction are forbidden.

read more

White-throated Dipper

Easier to observe than the Common Chiffchaff, the White-throated Dipper lives beside rivers and mountain torrents... A little red and grey bird, with a short tail, it has a fine beak, a white mark on the chin and on the chest. This astonishing sparrow has the particularity of being able to walk under the water against the current in search of food. It flattens itself down and grips on to the bottom with its claws, opens its eyes, which are protected from the flow by a fine membrane and spots worms, larvae, little crustaceans and fish.

read more

Cascade de la Pisse

With its origin in the high crystalline ground, the torrent bounces down waterfalls and cascades until it meets the Pisse at a height of 40 m.

read more

Mountain Hare

There are many Mountain Hares or Blue Hares that observe you; the opposite is rarely true... Brown in summer, white in winter, the Mountain Hare is present across the Alps. Like the European Hare from which it differs being smaller, with a white tail and shorter ears,  It leaves Y shaped tracks in the snow due to the way it moves in little jumps  (it brings its back  legs  in front of the front legs.). However, it is often its tracks and its little dry, round droppings that indicate its passage. Its large fluffy feet are like snowshoes enabling it to stay on the surface of the snow even when it is powdery.

read more

Eurasian Siskin

Feeding principally on the seeds of the Alder, the Birch and conifers, the Eurasian Siskin only nests in conifer forests in the mountains of the Northern Alps during the reproduction period... The male, more colourful than the female, can be recognized from its bright green-yellow feathers its black forehead and its little white bib under the beak. It is in winter, that you can observe them, sometimes in big groups, descended from the mountains in search of food... 

read more

Ring Ouzel

The Ring Ouzel is easy to identify: it endorses the black feathering of the blackbird, but is distinguished from it by the big white bib on the chest, the light borders of its wings and abdomen. Insects, grasshoppers, worms and  berries make up its menu. This shy mountain blackbird, that flies fast, lives at the edge of forests of larch, Scots pines, Spruce and Swiss Pines pins at an altitude of between 1 000 to  2 500 m. Present in the mountainous massifs it nests in the lower branches or in the hollow trunk of a tree, a crack in the rock or building. Essentially a migrator, the Ring Ouzel hibernates in Spain or in Northern Africa. It comes back to the Alps from the month of March.

read more

Red Fox

The Fox was originally called the goupil in French and this animal was the central character of the hugely famous “novel” written in the 12th century about a goupil called "Renart" (later “Renard”), who was, a clever knight tricking and making fun of the clergy and the powerful who were unable to  deal with the people. Renart made fun of them and was sometimes cruel.  He was so popular that his name became that of the animal species he portrayed. Another literary reference to this animal is by Jean de la Fontaine whose character « Maître Renard » features in twenty of his fables...

read more

Châtellerat Cabin

In 1908, Châtellerat pastoral cabin was hastily built by the community of Valjouffrey. Destroyed several times in avalanches, is still sheltered numerous mountaineers. It was rebuilt in 1921 in a less exposed place and already ideas about a « real » refuge were growing.

read more

Font Turbat Refuge

During the summer of 1923, the guide Célestin Bernard took charge of the construction of the refuge at Font Turbat. Several great mountaineering names are associated with it like Guery, Ripert, Frendo, Fourastier, Boell, who came to explore the mountains at Valjouffrey. In 1934, Devies and Gervasutti traced a historic itinerary in the North-West face of the Pic de l'Olan. 22 years later, the direct Couzy-Desmaison (ED) was opened to the left of the previous one, surmounting the steepest part of the face. The construction of the refuge As it stands now dates from 1962. It was extended and renovated in 1996-1997.

read more

Common Pipistrelle

Brown with relatively short ears, the Common Pipistrelle and the Soprano Pipistrelle fight over the title of the smallest bat in Europe... The Common Pipistrelle can be seen in very diverse environments even above an altitude of 2 000 m  At the time of  Jules Ferry, school books boasted about the merits of bats .In fact, insectivores, they consume every day a quarter to a third of their own body weight in mosquitoes and other insects.. They emit ultra-sounds which are inaudible to the human ear but detectable thanks to a captor. This technique enables them to orient themselves when moving about at night to capture their prey. They can often be seen around street lighting hunting the insects that have been attracted by the light. 

read more

Savi Pipistrelle Bat

With a small size, and a contrasted coat, an off white abdomen and a golden brown back, Savi’s Pipistrelle can be recognized by the black membranes, it’s rather pointed muzzle and at the end of its tail from which several vertebrae are visible by the uropatagium, a skin membrane situated between the two hind legs... With a calm nature, this bat is a rock species mainly from the South, but it can also reach the high mountains at an altitude of more than 3 000 m.

read more

Pic de l'Olan

It was on the 29th June 1877 that Coolidge, with Christian Almer father and son, carried out the first ascent of the pic de l'Olan. On the 5th August 1980, Arthur Cust with Pierre Gaspard and Roderon opened the Northern ridge. At that time the bivouac was still obligatory at the bottom of the Bonne valley.

read more


From the car park at the entrance of Le Désert-en-Valjouffrey, cross the village, heading east. Cut across the GR 54, by crossing the stream of La Laisse. Follow the wide path along the meadow and alongside the right bank of La Bonne, leading to the edge of the Ecrins National Park (information panel). After the Pisse waterfall, continue along the rising path, still following the bottom of the valley through fairly low-lying vegetation that is typical of rocky ground. 15 minutes from the Chatellerat cabin, turn left at an intersection with a sign to "Le Petit Vallon". The route begins with a series of short hairpin bends through the alder trees, and crosses several small streams running down from Le Vallonet. Higher up, at the ruins of Le Petit Vallon, you will see an Alpine pasture, which explains the existence of this disused cabin. Continue towards Col des Lauvets, where the pasture is replaced by scree. From the Col, you look down on the Font Turbat valley and can see the Pisse waterfall and a wide-open view over the Olan: this is a perfect place for lunch or a snack.
You then begin the 30-minute descent towards the Font Turbat refuge, passing in front of the old refuge, which is the only one accessible in winter.
Departure : Le Désert en Valjoufrey
Arrival : Font Turbat refuge
Towns crossed : Valjouffrey

Altimetric profile


Herd protection dogs

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.

Information desks

Maison du Parc du Valbonnais

Place du Docteur Eyraud, 38740 Entraigues

04 76 30 20 61

Reception, information, temporary exhibition room, reading room and video-projection on demand. Shop: products and works of the Park. Free admission. All animations of the Park are free unless otherwise stated.

Find out more

Access and parking

From Entraigues take the D117 to Le Désert-en-Valjouffrey

Parking :

Car park at the entrance to the village of Le Désert-en-Valjouffrey

More information


Parc national des Ecrins

Report a problem or an error

If you have found an error on this page or if you have noticed any problems during your hike, please report them to us here: