Mont Guillaume above Embrun

Chapel St Guillaume

Mont Guillaume (2550 m) offers magnificent views over Embrun, Savines-le-Lac and the Serre-Ponçon Lake in the Durance River Valley.

In February 1897, a Swedish-born Lt Charles Eric Widman of the French Alpine Hunters climbed to the summit of Mont Guillaume from Embrun (1681 m vertical climb!) with skis on his shoulder. He skied back down in 1h 30. As a Swede, he was a strong advocate of implementing skiing instead of snowshoeing for the French military. The main trail to the summit carries his name.

On the summit, a new chapel was built on the ancient ruins in the 1990s. There’s an annual pilgrimage to the summit in July.

We used the Sentier Widman on our hike. The trail started from the spacious Parking de la Forêt (1587 m) which we reached from Embrun along a narrow but paved road initially named Route de Caléyère/D465.

Several itineraries start from the parking. The Widman Trail is clearly marked. We forked left, then immediately right along a path that ascended through a livestock pasture in the larch forest. The trail then continued either along dirt tracks or good paths, still in a verdant forest. Signposts showed the itinerary to Séyères and Mont Guillaume. A place named Pré-Clos was left on the right-hand side.

At Séyères (2056 m), about halfway to the summit, we walked past a chapel and a spring. We continued along the north-eastern flank of Mont Guillaume in an increasingly alpine environment. Wild rhododendrons were starting to blossom by the trail. Some parts of the trail were still covered with snow.

Once on the mountaintop, we first met the rebuilt chapel and a large cross facing it. The geographical summit was about 100 m to the west from the chapel.

Our hike coincided with the heat wave that hit France in late June.  The day was cloudless but very hazy.

Climb: 960 m

Duration: 5 h (active); ascent 2h45

Distance: 12 km round trip

Map: IGN 3438 ET Embrun   

Mont Guillaume hike track


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