La Fare-en-Champsaur is a French commune located in the department of Hautes-Alpes in area Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. It is located in the western part of Champsaur, on the left bank of the Drac, opposite Saint-Bonnet-en-Champsaur, leaning against the mountain of Mouttet, the advanced buttress of the Dévoluy massif. Its geographical position gives it, like the whole of Champsaur, a particular climate: pleasant in summer, but subject to the cold of the “wind” in winter.
The town stretches from the Drac river (at an altitude of 950 meters downstream from the Saint-Bonnet bridge) to the summits of Coste Folle (altitude 2079 m).
Tradition reports that the hamlet of Baraques, and its name, originate from medieval times, when the fairs of Saint-Bonnet attracted such a crowd that those who could not be accommodated in the village built barracks on the other next to the bridge over the Drac. These barracks would have been perpetuated, and would have created a real village, bearing this name.
In addition, the Occitan word barraco, which means “post house”, gave their name to a number of hamlets where there were post houses on high traffic roads: the Baraques de Saint-Jean-Roure in Ardèche, the Barraques de Pouzol in Puy-de-Dôme, Baraqueville in Aveyron, etc. The Baraques de la Fare are also located on an important traffic axis: on the road from Grenoble to Gap, at the foot of the Bayard pass, near Saint-Bonnet, capital of the Champsaur and stronghold of François de Bonne de Lesdiguières, steward of Dauphiné, the place was essential for a post house (a building is still present a kilometer further south, in Brutinel). It was not therefore necessarily bad houses, in the current sense of the word barracks, but a place where we found food and shelter, which has continued until today.
On his return from Elba, the March 6, 1815, Napoleon there received a warm welcome, just before rallying to his cause, to Laffrey, the soldiers sent to meet.
In the xx th century, the hamlet grew and gradually welcomed businesses; the town hall moved there, and it is now the name of the town (“La Fare-en-Champsaur”) which appears on the road signs at the entrance to Les Baraques. The old village of La Fare, isolated on the slopes and not very active, has become a hamlet of its new capital.
The Champsaur Valgaudemar valleys are located in the Southern Alps, in the Hautes-Alpes department (05). 100 km south of Grenoble and 200 km north of Marseille, it is a region with generous sunshine and abundant snowfall that awaits you.
The Napoleon Route
As a whole, the route stretches between the Northern and Southern Alps for 314 km from Grenoble to Cannes. At one stroke it serves Champsaur Valgaudemar from Gap via Col Bayard and its plateau once flattened by glaciers to St Firrmin at the gates of Valgaudemar and the Pays de Corps.
By taking the road, it is a real piece of French history that you tread, the way of reconquest of France by Napoleon Bonaparte from March 2 to 7, 1815 at the end of his exile on the island of Elba. The famous emperor and his many supporters chose the Hautes-Alpes to join Grenoble and retake the north of the country.
The Valgaudemar valley
The Valgaudemar valley, in the heart of the Ecrins National Park is an ideal theater for observing the tumultuous flow of its waters. When the snow melts, the waterfalls roar in the valley and give the air of Iceland to this end of the world.
If the Valgaudemar boils down to its powerful peaks that stormed the sky, it is also ribbed by torrents that flow obediently from the glaciers. But the hard skin of the valley, made of gneiss and granite, makes the water unable to dig at will to reach the course of the Séveraisse. All that remains is the water fall, like so many spectacular tears, which content us with his helplessness. You will therefore not be surprised to be surrounded by waterfalls as you sink into the valley. The Combefroide waterfall first of all ogles you near the Chapelle-en-Valgaudemar, then comes that of Casset and finally the unmissable Voile de la Mariée, further upstream, the final bouquet of a permanent parade at the allure unreal.
Sometimes water is so persuasive and inventive that it cuts new shapes in rebellious rock. In the funnel of the Navette valley, downstream from the Buchardet waterfall, the torrent forms giant pots, the “devil’s oulles”. It would be very imprudent to venture outside the adorable path which borders its banks from the hamlet of Portes and which allows a privileged observation of this eternal struggle.
The old village of St Bonnet
The village has the power to make you stay… Every Monday and Thursday is the time of the market, smells that roam and local flavors that satisfy the palate. Agricultural fairs inherited from patronal festivals and other meetings embellish spring and autumn, famous showcases of a high-quality terroir.
And then St Bonnet is also the satisfaction that overwhelms you when you walk through its picturesque alleys. The reputation of the village is based on its prestigious historical heritage dating from the time of its prosperity, especially in the 16th century. The architecture will enchant you: the Place Grenette and its covered market, the Place aux Herbes and its tounes, the narrow streets, the old doors in solid walnut. Elegance transpires from each cut stone, square, wall, lane, from each pebble of the Drac which welcomes your steps as silent witnesses to the determination of men. And to discover while having fun, think about the treasure hunt for a perfect moment with the family.
The channel takes its source in the valley of Malcros, the “bad hollow”, where a glacier remains, the melting of which ensures an abundant quantity of water. An architectural feat, the canal crosses several passes and steep slopes that require covered, vaulted portions on the upstream part. When the work of Man mixes with Nature, we obtain the Malcros Canal, the fruit of a fierce desire for a life in autonomy in the middle of the mountains.
Water has always been a major issue for Champsaur Valgaudemar under the influence of the hot and dry Mediterranean climate in summer. Living mainly from the land, the inhabitants managed in 1873 to begin construction of the Malcros canal at a time of overpopulation of the countryside in order to overcome the climate, the inhospitality of the torrents, and to ward off food shortages and famines.
It is rare to hike in the mountains to admire a human work there, but the Malcros canal is clearly one of these wonders to explore for itself. If you are eager to discover the source, then go to the Cabane des Parisiens and from there reach the cast iron lake of Malcros.
Champoléon and the Tourond refuge
The Champoléon valley is a natural incursion into the heart of the Ecrins, shaped by an old glacier where the Drac Blanc now flows. Several hamlets rest on its flat bottom and enjoy its good exposure in the tranquility of a life dedicated to the present. A corner of the Haut Champsaur away from the crowds, go back to the sources of Drac Blanc in a preserved and wild nature.
Champoléon is also a pastoral land. The profession of shepherd is presented and told at the Maison du berger in the form of exhibitions, films, documentations to (re) discover this profession, remarkable resistance to the busy world. Autumn is an opportunity to celebrate the profession with the tardon fair.
The Bocage du Champsaur
The Champsaur: glacial valley crossed by the Drac has landscapes marked by its agricultural past. This valley is the beginning of the alpine furrow which separates the Prealps from the “internal” Alps. It is these various geographical, climatic and geological factors which give the valley its agricultural and tourist assets. The Champsaur bocage is one of the highest in Europe. Located between 800 and 1350 m above sea level, it is a striking element in the landscapes of the valley.
The bocage is a fairly common landscape in France before the war but which has preserved here, at an altitude of more than a thousand meters, a great diversity. A network of mainly beech hedges, crops, meadows and woods which is very favorable to a multitude of birds. Biodiversity is very rich there. This bocage landscape developed during the 18th century and extends between 800 and 1350 m above sea level. It appeared initially to meet the needs of wood and fodder in the valley which were in dire need of it. This network of hedges, crossed by many irrigation canals, is suitable for walks. Whether on horseback, on foot or by bike, take the time to explore these landscapes in the shade of deciduous trees and to the sound of runoff: a real pleasure.
The Gioberney and the cascade of the veil of the bride
At the end of the Valgaudemar, in “this little Himalayas”, a high mountain circus nestles, to the delight of hikers. It is the departure to reach the high summits of Cirac or Rouies without forgetting the famous lake of Lauzon.
The Voile de la Mariée waterfall and the giant imprint of the glaciers of the vanished valley. Enter the wonderful country of the preserved mountain. Made of sweat and wonder, it awaits you, ready to explore its slightest hiking trails. Rest on the balconies of the circus at the edge of the lakes, like the Lauzon from which the Voile de la Mariée flows, or at the Pigeonnier refuge, around a drink, binoculars within reach to always surprised by the fauna.
Saint Philippe cross
The Croix Saint Philippe will surprise you with its very wide panorama, its archaeological site within easy reach and the charm of the Faudon valley. The ridge not only divides two valleys, it separates two eras just as well. To the north, you walk along the facilities of the Ancelle ski area and its water reservoir, while to the south you fall abruptly into Antiquity through the ruins of the village of Faudon: excavations have brought to light objects there. dating back several centuries BC.
At the foot of the summit, the village betrays its presence with the remains of a tower and a few basements of stone huts. It is believed that the village, prior to Gap, bordered a Roman road linking Chorges and the Champsaur. The lake of Faudon below, nestled at the bottom of the valley. Finally, for the more discerning, the site contains nummulite fossils in the form of stone discs, a Jurassic marine animal!
The Col du Noyer
The Col du Noyer, 1664 meters, is one of the most beautiful in the Hautes-Alpes. This historical place of exchange between Dévoluy and Champsaur Valgaudemar is lived more than it is crossed. Its formidable champaurin slope deploys its 700 meters of vertical drop from the bottom of the valley by an aerial slope until it seems to split the formidable wall of the mountain of Faraud. The king of the Champsaur Valgaudemar road passes. By car or by bike, the highest of the Champaurins passes within easy reach…
Such a rampart (15 km long) arouses great interest among cyclists. Moreover, the Tour de France and the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré have recently been tempted… The pass can also be envisaged by a loop of 88 km via the lake of Sautet and the Dévoluy, or by a steep climb from several points of the Champsaur for a one-off challenge or to try your hand at the prodigy of electric bikes.
Prapic, a preserved end of the world full of charm. Nestled at the bottom of the Drac Noir valley, at the gates of the Ecrins National Park, at an altitude of 1556 m, this typical village of Champsaur, with its traditional houses and its cobbled streets, is known for the many hikes accessible to all such as the Charnière plateau, the Saut du Laïre or the poet’s tomb. Preserved places where you will effortlessly see the marmots along the trails in search of food after a long winter.
The Devil’s Oils
Under the stone deck of a Gallo-Roman bridge: the Oulles du Diable (“Les Oulles” in Latin means “the pots”). These impressive gorges were patiently carved out by the power of the waters of the Navette torrent. This thousand-year-old work is located in the hamlet of Portes, a few bends from La Chapelle-en-Valgaudemar. Guaranteed atmosphere… Water is an inestimable wealth, an essential who gives landscapes liveliness and freshness and offers people its vital energy.
Flavors and terroir
Holidays away from home, the opportunity to taste a cuisine in a different way. The specialties of our soil are to make the skin of the lower abdomen tender: tourtons, ravioli and donkey ears, cheese and dairy products, pies, cold meats and meat, jams, sea buckthorn, craft beers, Génépi… The list is not not exhaustive and most of these products are found in shops, markets, our producers and restaurateurs… Behind our famous top trio of local specialties “Tourtons, ravioli, donkey ears”, you will find a great diversity of products. More than 40 producers make you discover their work.
Walks and hikes
Walking is a good idea that Contemplate the Champsaur and Valgaudemar valleys in the distance. Natural activity par excellence, walking is the way to discover our mountains where there is so much to see. The changes in vegetation with altitude, the variation in light from one slope to another, the traces of a fauna whose omnipresence we can guess, the improbable transparency of the lakes of altitude… More than 300 km of hiking trails with 33 marked routes under the peaks of Valgaudemar and 60 marked routes in the Champsaur valley, as well as many marked trails in the Ecrins National Park.
With the many paths designed for all levels, here mountain hiking is the “activity” that appeals to a greater number of people: families, couples, loners, adventurers, etc. Several dozen day hikes await you, back and forth as well as in a loop, not to mention the multi-day tours in the heart of our territory.
Among the possible objectives of walks, the altitude lakes hold the top of the paving stones! Lakes of Orcières, Lac du Lauzon, Lakes of Pétarel, of Crupillouse… whether they are easily accessible or reserved for good walkers, these high-altitude oases are essential stops.
The Champsaur Valgaudemar is marked by the establishment of one of the 10 French national parks, the Ecrins National Park.
Cycling and mountain biking
In Champsaur Valgaudemar, all the pleasures of a mountain bike hike or the climb of a large pass are within reach. It is one of the most popular activities in our valleys. Steep high-altitude paths or nonchalantly Provençal tracks, the Champsaur Valgaudemar occupies a special place in the hearts of mountain bikers. Mountain biking can be practiced there as a family or as an expert, and between mountain and bocage, the easy routes and sports routes generously crisscross the territory.
The two valleys are labeled “FFC MTB Site”, this label guarantees mountain bikers carefully marked routes, maintained trails and routes suitable for all levels. Our FFC MTB Site offers more than 750 kilometers of marked trails and no less than 38 circuits of different levels and8 downhill routes.
Ltineraries and Trail
Walking far and for a long time does not necessarily require leaving our valleys. On the contrary, our two flagship tours, the ‘ Tour du Vieux Chaillol ‘ and the ‘ Refuges du Valgaudemar ‘ will allow you to explore the other Champsaur Valgaudemar, that of sweat, unexpected encounters with wildlife, surprising pleasure that one feels to go about away from civilization… For 5 to 7 days according to your form, face the unevenness around the Ecrins in the tranquility of a preserved environment. This will be the opportunity to discover the singularity of our refuges, among the warmest and most convivial in the Alps. The bivouac will remain the best way to meet the starry sky of Champsaur Valgaudemar, away from the light pollution of the nearest towns.
With its two feet in the Ecrins massif, the Champsaur Valgaudemar inevitably offers various ideas for roaming around the glaciers. For the more contemplative, explore the Balcons des Ecrins (GR50) as you wish, on foot, on horseback,… discover this territory over several days through family walks or a little more vigorous roaming. The Champsaur Valgaudemar invites you to travel the mythical GR54 for a demanding and exotic route from refuge to refuge on the edge of the glaciers and in the shade of the most beautiful peaks of the Southern Alps. And here again, you will have the choice of the mode of transport: on foot, with donkeys, on horseback… the joy of wandering has no limit here!
The National Park of Ecrins
Carpets of colorful flowers, emblematic animals, summits traced in charcoal… the Ecrins National Park is a place where man and nature come together. We know the golden eagle, the equilibrist chamois, the nonchalant ibex, the facetious marmot, we approach them here life size. We also discover a whole little-known people: no less than 850 species of butterflies, 230 birds but also 56 dragonflies, amphibians and fish.
Lys martagon, Sabot de Vénus, Edelweiss or Larches… more than 2,500 plant species, 220 of which are rare and endangered, brighten up lawns, forests and rock gardens. If the Park’s eyes are on nature, it is just as concerned about man, his work and his habitat. He notably carried out work on the champaurin bocage and many small and large buildings owe their survival to his actions. It participates, for example, in the maintenance of stone walls, which surround the paths to channel the animals, and thus help to keep alive the heritage of the ancients.