Gourmet Walking Holiday in the French Alps

From $1,740 pp

  • Duration

    8 days
  • Departure Date

    Sep 7, 2024
  • Trip Style

    Small Group
  • Country

    France
  • Physical Rating

    Mildly Strenuous

Overview

Hike amongst the magnificent mountains of the Southern French Alps on this gourmet walking holiday and revel in local culinary delights.

This trail is the ultimate paradise for food-loving hikers keen to discover the dishes and flavors of the Alps!

Highlights

  • Experience diverse and breathtaking mountain trails
  • Explore some of Europe's most stunning Alpine landscapes
  • Indulge in a unique culinary adventure with carefully selected local chefs
  • Benefit from knowledgeable local guides and wildlife specialists
  • Enjoy a stress-free holiday - simply arrive and relish the experience
  • Contribute to responsible and sustainable tourism practices

THE HIKING:
This guided trekking adventure offers a diverse array of landscapes, ensuring a fresh and exciting experience each day. We've handpicked what we believe are the finest trails in the region.

You will discover the stunning Ecrins National Park and traverse the Champsaur Valley with its unique 'bocage' farming, which integrates environmental conservation practices. You'll also cross picturesque Alpine meadows and venture into the Valgaudemar Valley, often referred to as the 'miniature Himalayas'. This valley boasts high-altitude lakes, glaciers, and blooming meadows!

Along the way, anticipate encounters with wildlife like chamois, ibex, golden eagles, vultures, deer, wild boar, and even wolves, amidst a backdrop of alpine flowers, including rare orchids. Your expert local guide, who is also a wildlife specialist, will highlight the area's remarkable flora and fauna.

THE CULINARY EXPERIENCE:
For this exclusive gastronomic walking tour in the Alps, we have carefully selected two exceptional accommodations known for their culinary excellence.

The first is the Luxury Farmhouse Guesthouse, a stylishly modernized traditional stone farmhouse. Here, Chef Meg from Taiwan brings a creative flair to Alpine dishes, infusing them with an Asian twist.

The second accommodation, Val des Sources, is a quintessentially Alpine hotel nestled in the Valgaudemar valley. Here, you'll indulge in authentic French Alpine cuisine crafted by Chef Collette, whose expertise in traditional Alpine dishes is evident. Each meal is a journey through Alpine flavors, complemented by fine wines selected by her husband and wine expert, Claude.

For lunches, some days you will picnic in the mountains and on other days you have the option of eating in a local restaurant. Please note, lunch costs are not included and are at your own expense.

Departure Dates

  • Sep 7, 2024 - Sep 14, 2024

6 required for departure.

  • September 7th: 2 spots already booked!

Seasonal Notes

The ideal time for hiking in the Alps varies depending on what experience you're seeking.

  • May to June is a magical period when the melting snow gives way to raging rivers, and the landscape is reborn with vibrant spring flowers, fluttering butterflies, and fresh green leaves. This is also when marmots, adorable alpine mammals, begin to emerge.
  • July and August, which coincide with school holidays, come with weather that tends to be hot, though mornings are pleasantly cooler. These months are busier, as many tourists flock to the Alps for summer vacations.
  • September to October is perfect for those preferring a more tranquil experience. The trails are quieter, the autumn colors start to paint the landscape, and the cooler temperatures create ideal conditions for comfortable day-long hikes in the mountains.

Each season offers its unique charm, making the Alps a splendid destination throughout these months.

Itinerary

Day 1 Gap [France] (arrival day)

Your Alpine gourmet hiking adventure starts today!

We'll pick you up from the Gap train station at 5 PM and transport you to your initial accommodation, where a delightful evening meal awaits your arrival!

Please note that the itinerary below serves as a sample of the planned walks for your trip. However, it may vary based on local conditions. Rest assured, our guides are flexible, and, with a wide array of options available, you're guaranteed top-notch hiking experiences and breathtaking vistas.

Accommodation: Luxury Farmhouse Guesthouse

Meals: Dinner

Day 2 The Saut du Laire and Le Basset Plateau

Embark on a fascinating and stunning hike beginning in Prapic, a secluded village nestled in the Champsaur Valley, and the final inhabited location before the enclosing mountains. Prapic, often isolated in winter due to avalanches and severe weather, is home to only four families year-round. The village's charm is immediately evident with its closely knit Alpine homes, built to provide shelter from the wind. This place beautifully preserves ancient Alpine architecture, illustrating a traditional lifestyle where animals were housed on the ground floor, families lived above to benefit from the animals' warmth, and the loft was used for hay storage, doubling as insulation.

Your trek starts from this quaint hamlet, leading you to a scenic plateau that overlooks a swiftly flowing mountain stream and culminates at the breathtaking Saut du Laire waterfall. "Saut du Laire," translating to "The Jump of the Thief," has an intriguing story behind its name, which your guide will share during the hike.

This valley is renowned for its abundant marmots, whose whistles you'll hear as you ascend, and keep an eye out for chamois leisurely grazing or resting near the cliffs.

The hike begins at an altitude of 1568 meters, reaches a peak of 2059 meters, involves an ascent of 496 meters, and covers a distance of 10km.

During July and August, there's an option for a shorter hike followed by a meal at a renowned rustic auberge, celebrated for its traditional local lamb dishes. This dining experience offers a genuine taste of the Alps, featuring recipes passed down through generations of the region's inhabitants. After enjoying your meal, you'll have the opportunity for a leisurely walk to aid digestion before returning to the farmhouse.

In other months, you'll bring a mountain picnic instead!

Accommodation: Luxury Farmhouse Guesthouse

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 3 Col de Côte Longue

The Vieux Chaillol, standing as the highest peak in the Champsaur Valley, offers a magnificent hiking route up to the col, just before its summit.

Your journey begins in the charming ski village of Chaillol, from where you'll ascend through enchanting forests of mixed deciduous trees and larches. The path then opens onto the mountainside, leading up to the first mountain pass, Col de La Pisse.

Continuing on, you'll pass beneath the Pic du Tourond and follow the historic remnants of the Canal du Macros. This canal, a remarkable feat of engineering built in the late 1800s by Napoleon's forces, was designed to divert water from the then-existing Macros glacier (now a lake) to irrigate the Champsaur Valley. The impressive story of this construction is evident at the Col de Côte Longue, where you'll find the still-standing cabin used by the workers. This spot also serves as an ideal picnic location with its breathtaking panoramic views. The descent follows the same route back.

The hike starts at an altitude of 1702 meters, reaches a maximum of 2698 meters, involves an ascent of 996 meters, and spans a distance of 16km.

Accommodation: Luxury Farmhouse Guesthouse

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 4 Free Day

Enjoy a leisurely day at your own pace.

You can choose to unwind in your accommodation, embark on a self-guided walk, or explore some of the other exciting activities the area offers. Options include rock climbing, experiencing the thrill of a 'via ferrata' (a type of alpine climbing using fixed steel structures and cables), refreshing canyoning adventures, or soaring over the valley with paragliding, among others.

These activities are typically half-day experiences, allowing you ample time to relax and enjoy your accommodation's amenities afterward. We are happy to arrange any of these additional activities for you, either before your arrival or during your stay. Please be aware that these extra activities will incur additional costs.

Accommodation: Luxury Farmhouse Guesthouse

Day 5 Pic de Gleize (3.7 miles | 6 km | +437m)

Today marks your departure from the luxury farmhouse, so remember to pack all your belongings, including your suitcases and day sacks, for today's adventure.

Your destination is the striking Pic de Gleize mountain, a limestone ridge offering sweeping panoramic views across the Champsaur, Valgaudemar, Devoluy, and Gap Valleys. This summit acts as a splendid vantage point for transitioning from the Champsaur to your next stop, the Valgaudemar Valley. The hike begins with a gentle ascent through woods, leading to grassy pastures abundant in wildflowers and butterflies, particularly vibrant in spring and early summer. The trail ascends to a mountain pass, where you can choose to return the same way or continue to the summit, depending on time and the group's preference. The route to the summit is steep and exposed in places, and the descent follows a rocky ridge, requiring a good head for heights.

The walk promises to build your appetite for a special lunch, be it a picnic at the summit or a unique dining experience at a fromagerie restaurant (for additional cost).

If opting for the restaurant, you'll visit a local fromagerie for lunch, where almost every dish features cheese! It's an excellent introduction to the diverse cheeses of the Alps and their various culinary uses.

Post-lunch, enjoy a relaxing stroll before continuing to your next accommodation, the Val des Sources Hotel, where you'll experience a different aspect of mountain cuisine.

Accommodation: Val des Sources Hotel

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 6 Lac du Lauzon; Refuge du Pigeonnier (6.8 miles | 11 km | +795m)

Embark on a scenic hike from the Valgaudemar Valley to a high-altitude lake, offering stunning views of the glacier and quintessential Alpine landscapes. You have an option here to extend your trek to the "Refuge du Pigeonnier."

Your journey begins at the Gioberney Refuge, where you can admire the renowned Bride's Veil waterfall. The path leads you through a striking valley encased by towering mountains and glaciers. As you zigzag up the mountainside, you'll pass through rocky outcrops adorned with blueberry bushes, raspberries, and a variety of mountain flora. This route is also interspersed with breathtaking waterfalls and streams. Eventually, you'll arrive at a suspended valley where the serene Lac du Lauzon is nestled.

From this point, you have the option to ascend further to the Pigeonnier Refuge (open from June to September), where you can enjoy a refreshing drink and a snack (the berry tarts are a must-try!). This refuge offers a glimpse into the pragmatic yet charming world of high mountain refuge cuisine, known more for its practicality than its elegance. After this culinary pause, you can descend back down the valley, either retracing your steps or taking a circular route via the Gioberney side.

Accommodation: Val des Sources Hotel

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 7 Village of Navette and the Devil's Cauldron (7.5 miles | 12 km | +626m)

Embark on a captivating hike beginning in La Chapelle, the final inhabited village at the tail end of the Valgaudemar valley, leading up to the hamlet of Les Portes. Here, you'll be greeted by a breathtaking hanging valley adorned with meadows brimming with Alpine flowers and butterflies.

As you venture further into the valley, prepare to be awed by spectacular cascades and waterfalls. This hike also offers a journey through history, uncovering the abandoned village of Navette. Once a bustling farming community in the early 1900s, life here was challenging at high altitudes. After suffering from devastating floods in 1914, the 1918 flu pandemic, and the loss of men during World War I, the remaining families, on 14 January 1929, petitioned the state to purchase their land as part of a large-scale national reforestation project. This marked the end of the community, with the last inhabitant leaving in 1937. Today, the remnants of the village and its restored chapel stand as poignant reminders of this past. Notably, the children who survived this deserted village were still living in La Chapelle until quite recently.

The descent offers its own dramatic scenery as you pass by the Devil's Cauldron, a tumultuous canyon filled with waterfalls, showcasing nature's formidable strength.


Accommodation: Val des Sources Hotel

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 8 Gap (departure day)

We will take you back to Gap train station at 10 AM so please make sure you book your transport to coincide with this time.

Meals: Breakfast

Customization

This is a Small-Group itinerary (min. 6 guests, max. 16 guests) with a few fixed departure dates throughout the year.

Contact us if you want to customize this itinerary, privatize this trip and choose your own departure date, or have any questions about this trip.

We can also help you plan your journey to and from Gap, if needed.

Inclusions & Exclusions

  • 7 nights' accommodation in hand-chosen hotels and guest houses famous for their delicious cuisine

  • 6 Breakfasts with a glass of house wine, 6 Dinners

  • 5 days of guided walking with a fully qualified and local professional

  • Transport by minibus to and from your walks and activities

  • Return transfers from Gap train station to your accommodation

  • An App for your smartphone with all the details you need for your holiday from A to Z

  • A tree planted on your behalf to help with your carbon offsetting

  • Your journey to Gap

  • Any additional activities on your free day

  • Additional drinks or specific wine choices

  • Restaurant or picnic lunches (depending on day and wishes)

  • Tips for the guide

Pricing

Prices exclude flights to/from the destination.

Prices are for double room occupancy unless indicated otherwise.

  • Deposit per person

    25% of the trip price

  • Group of 2 Travelers - price per person

    $1,740 pp

  • Single Supplement

    $375 pp

Sustainability

We are Travelife Certified and we plant a tree with our partner, Mossy Earth, for all our travelers as part of their rewilding program in Europe.

We operate a paperless office and all our communication with you and all your trip details will be given to you digitally via a smartphone app.

If you are traveling from Europe, we offer a 3% discount if you travel here by train rather than plane. To claim this please ask at booking. It is not accumulable with other discounts and the train journey needs to be international, eg Eurostar to France and then onward on local French TGV or trains.

Environmental Initiatives

We have purposefully chosen a two-base stay rather than changing accommodations each night on this trip to avoid unnecessary washing and cleaning of rooms after just one night and avoid excessive baggage transfers, both of which are known sustainability issues in tourism.
Your fully qualified hiking guides are also vetted for their passion for the area and local knowledge of plants, wildlife, and sustainability measures for protecting fragile mountain flora and fauna. They will share this knowledge with you and ensure you are respecting local guidelines, like not picking flowers in the national park.

Economic Initiatives

We use local independent suppliers and accommodations for all elements of this trip to ensure your money is plowed straight back into the local economy.

Your fully qualified hiking guide is also local to the area, rather than a helicoptered-in gap year student or other non-local person. We pay them a fair rate ensuring there is no exploitation and making sure your money is going back into the local economy also.

Sociocultural Initiatives

Our choice of accommodations is important as we have handpicked these boutique accommodations as they are locally owned and both culturally important in the area offering an insight into local Alpine food and culture for you and ensuring your money is plowed straight back into the local economy.

Health & Safety

Be sure you have traveler's insurance.
It's recommended to be in good physical condition to do this trip.

FAQs

What does the physical rating of "Mildly Strenuous" mean?

This trip is an excellent fit for anyone who enjoys regular hiking, has a passion for great food, and adores mountain scenery. To fully enjoy this adventure, you should have a good level of walking fitness. While you don't need to be super fit, being comfortable with spending a full day out in the mountains (including breaks for photography and appreciating the views) and experiencing walking uphill is important. If you're uncertain about whether this trip suits your fitness level, please don't hesitate to inquire. We're here to help ensure it's the right match for you.

What are the accommodations like?

The farmhouse is a traditional stone farmhouse of the region which has been renovated in the style of the region, keeping its Alpine character with additional modern comforts.

The owners are local and they operate a minimal plastic packaging philosophy for their purchases and picnics.

They prioritize local produce for cooking.

The Val de Sources is an original Alpine hotel that has been in the family of the owners for generations. The owners are passionate about Alpine food and local culture and will spend time sharing this with guests. They have their own trout pond to ensure organic, healthily reared fresh fish for the restaurant.

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Departure Dates

  • Sep 7, 2024 - Sep 14, 2024

6 required for departure.

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