Self-guided walking holiday in the ‘pre-Alps’ – the Alp foothills. 7 nights, 6 hiking days. Magnificent scenery in a little-visited part of France.
The Chartreuse, known to us as a green liqueur made by Carthusian monks, is in fact a massif to the east of Lyon close to the Jura, an area known as the ‘pre-Alps’. An unspoilt region of mountains (up to 7000 feet), forest and meadows, it is remarkably little known outside France. Magnificent views across the valleys and of the famous monastery of La Grande Chartreuse, clear air, interesting flora and fauna, comfortable accommodation (all with private bathrooms) and good food, this region, with its warm days and cool nights, is the perfect summer walk.
It starts with the discovery of the Monastery of the Grand Chartreuse, a true emblem of this massif, then the ascent of Chamechaude, the highest point of the walk. You then walk through wonderful pastures on the Charmant Som before finishing with a fantastic walk in the natural reserve of the Hauts de Chartreuse.
£695.00 per person (based on two people sharing) . Supplement £40 per person from 7th July to 15 August inclusive.
Single room supplement and extra nights on request.
15 May to 31 October
Day 1: Arrival St Pierre-d’Entremont
Arrive in this small picturesque village and settle into your accommodation. You will be briefed on the route and given maps and route notes and entrance voucher for the museum.
Day 2: The first walk will be dedicated to the discovery of St Même Cirque. The river Guiers Vif springs up and down from the mountain right in the middle of the cirque. The river divides St Pierre d’Entremont into two villages – one located in Isère, the other in Savoie. This is actually the former border separating France from the Savoie in the past century. Our spectacular route runs along the river and via splendid waterfalls. Overnight St Pierre d’Entremont. 420m up, 420m down.
Distance: 12 kms/7.5 miles. / Walking time: 4h30
Day 3: Transfer to La Ruchère (alt. 1130m). A short walk leads to the Col de La Ruchère (alt. 1407m) from where you will step into the “Silent zone”of La Grande Chartreuse Monastery, as you look down on it nestling in isolation in the valley below. Then you will go down towards the Chapels of Notre Dame de Casalibus and Saint Bruno, erected on the initial location of the monastery. The route follows the western slope of the Grand Som and is a beautiful viewpoint over the Monastery. Arrive at La Correrie Museum which traces back the history and austere life of the Carthusian Monks, who have been living there for more than nine centuries. Then, reach the Guiers Mort valley and end the day’shike in St Pierre de Chartreuse. Overnight at a lovely chambre d’hotes; Val Ombre. 600m/860m.
Distance: 13 kms/8 miles. / Walking time: 5 hours
Day 4: The walk starts from the St Hugues Church (alt. 880m). This unique contemporary sacred art collection was created by the artist ARCABAS. The church was entirely decorated with his works, ranging from paintings, stained-glass windows, sculptures, and even the candelabra and altar. The route then goes through some of St Pierre de Chartreuse’s hamlets and into the forest up to the Chalets del’Emeindras (alt. 1427m.) at the foot of Chamechaude, the highest point of the Chartreuse. From there, walk down to the village of Sappey en Chartreuse where you will stay in a superb Chambre d’Hôtes 3 Epis (3 ears of corn amenities), classified Panda Gîte (of particular interest to fauna and flora enthusiasts). 660m/560m.
Distance: 14 kms/8.75 miles / Walking time: 5 hours
Day 5: The day’s walk is dedicated to Chamechaude (alt. 2082m), the highest point of the range. From this panoramic viewpoint, learn how to identify the summits and valleys of the Chartreuse stretching under your eyes. Moreover, you are nearly certain to see the very familiar yellow-beaked ‘chocards’ (Alpine Chough) at the top. The climb is long, but you do not have to complete it as from the Source du Bachasson (alt. 1630m.), you can go down whenever you wish to the 2-star Hotel du Col de Porte. 610m or 1100m (to summit)/300m or 790m (from summit).
Distance: 5 kms/3 miles, 11 kms/7 miles (via summit) / Walking time: 3 hours (5h30 via summit)
Day 6: Walk through the forest then along a wooded ridge to the Charmant Som grazing lands (alt. 1670m.). Herds of beautiful Tarine cows with their alpine bells make it a peaceful, quiet place. The way down is in contrast as you will walk down via limestone rocks, the so called Dalles du Charmant Som. This route offers you a superb vista of the St Pierre de Chartreuse valley, where the day’s walk ends. St Pierre de Chartreuse ranks amongst the French communes with the largest area of forest. Overnight in the 3-star Hotel you already know at St. Pierre de Chartreuse. 650m/1090m.
Distance: 18 kms/11.25 miles / Walking time: 6h
Day 7: To start this ‘no-summit’ day, walk out of the St Pierre de Chartreuse basin towards the Entremonts valley. After a climb through the forest, a superb route overlooking the Guiers Mort small valley leads to the Col de la Saulce (alt. 1481m.). Then just go down gently to the hamlets of the Entremonts valley. The hiking tour comes to an end back at the 2-star Hotel de St Pierre d’Entremont, where your luggage has been transferred. Overnight. 740m/970m.
Distance: 15 kms/9.4 miles / Hiking time: 5h30mn
Day 8: Departure Extra nights available on request.
Getting to St Pierre d’Entremont: The nearest train station is Chambery. From there take a bus to St Pierre – approx. 1 hour. Bus does not run on a Sunday so you need to take a taxi.