Queyras: Sommet Bucher

Sommet Bucher view southeast
Sommet Bucher view southeast

Situated between Château-Queyras and Molines-en-Queyras, the mountain top of Sommet Bucher (2254 m) is surrounded by forests and pasture areas. A road near the summit was built already in 1892 when it was considered an important military observation point. Due to easy access, it has become a popular hiking area in the Queyras Regional Nature Park.


We used the village of la Chalp of St-Véran (1768 m) as our starting point. La Chalp is located by the D5 road, some three km from St-Véran.


Sommet Bucher seen from east
Sommet Bucher seen from east
La Chalp St-Véran
La Chalp St-Véran
Steep trail above la Chalp
Steep trail above la Chalp
Easy part of GRP trail from la Chalp
Easy part of GRP trail from la Chalp
GRP trail near Chapelle St-Simon
GRP trail near Chapelle St-Simon

We ascended along the GRP* trail (yellow-red) named GRP Tour de la Dent de la Ratier, heading northwest. In the beginning, the incline was steep. We reached about 2200 m where the trail levelled off. We passed pasture areas with livestock, Lac des Clots and the Chapel St-Simon. After a short descent we came to Col des Prés de Fromage (2146 m), and a crossroads of several trails.


We left the GRP trail and headed straight north to the summit of Bucher along a yellow-marked trail. There were many parallel paths in the woods. There was a stone hut on the summit with orientation tables on both sides. Some treetops prevented a full 360° panorama, but the views were nevertheless excellent.


Pasture area near Chapelle St-Simon
Pasture area near Chapelle St-Simon
Chapelle St-Simon
Chapelle St-Simon
View to west Col des Prés de Fromage
View west Col des Prés de Fromage
Sommet Bucher
Sommet Bucher
Moline en Queyras
Moline en Queyras

We used another trail for the short descent back to Col de Prés Fromage, then forked left (Molines par la Seiche) and descended in the forest via Clot Henri (a clearing with a renovated shepherd’s hut), reaching soon a wide gravel track. At la Seiche, there was a short but steep rocky stretch. We came to l’Aguie Agnelle stream, crossed a wooden bridge then forked right towards la Chalp. The trail first followed the stream, then ran next to the D5 for a few hundred meters, and before la Chalp continued in a meadow.

It turned out to be a great loop hike in beautiful mid-altitude surroundings. The return itinerary straight down to the valley then upstream back to la Chalp might be considered less interesting by some but enabled a loop hike. The other option is to hike back along the same trail.


Distance: 13 km 


Climb: 660 m


Duration: 5 h


Map: 3637 OT Mont Viso St-Véran.Aguilles; PNR du Queyras


*) Grande Randonnée de Pays, a regional trail, often a loop and shorter than a GR trail.


Sommet Bucher hike trail
Sommet Bucher hike trail



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Winter salad à la Salo

Winter salad à la Salo


This recipe is inspired by a first course we had in a restaurant in Salo, Finland one snowy winter evening. The combination of roasted winter squash cubes, rocket salad leaves, and crumbled feta cheese was very tasty.

With some good wholegrain bread, you can serve the salad for a light and anti-oxidant rich lunch. A smaller portion makes a nice first course.

2 servings for lunch

2 handfuls of winter squash cubes

1 small onion, sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

Olive oil

3 handfuls of rocket salad leaves

A handful of crumbled feta

2 tbsp. olive oil vinaigrette


Preheat the oven to 210°C, roast.


Place 2 tbsp. olive oil in a plastic bag. Add the winter squash cubes, onion slices, and minced garlic. Shake well and pour into an oven- proof dish in one layer. Roast for 25- 30 minutes until the vegetables are soft and have got some colour. Set aside.


Divide the salad on the plates. Add the roasted vegetables and top with crumbled feta. Sprinkle with olive oil vinaigrette.



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Saint-Véran: Col des Estronques

 

View southeast from Col des Estronques
View southeast from Col des Estronques


The 130 km* long GR58 (Tour de Queyras) long distance hiking trail connects St-Véran (2040 m) and Ceillac (1640 m) in the Queyras Regional Nature Park.

The trail runs via the Col des Estronques Mountain pass (2651 m). Some years ago, we had to turn around just before the col when a fierce thunderstorm hit the area.

Crossing Torrent de Curlet
Crossing Torrent de Curlet
GR58 after Torrent de Curlet
GR58 after Torrent de Curlet
GR58 Bois du Moulin in background
GR58 Bois du Moulin in background

This time good weather was forecasted for the whole day, and we first descended along the GR58 from St-Véran to Pont du Moulin (1849 m), and crossed the l’Aguie Blanche torrent.


The continuous ascent started after the wooden bridge. We first followed a wide track, then a good path, and crossed the Torrent de Curlet. The incline became steeper. GR trails are very well marked (white-red) and this itinerary did not make an exception. We crossed another stream, and ascended a while in the woods before reaching beautiful Alpine meadow above the tree line. Our goal, Col des Estronques, was in sight. Some rocky stretches remained, nothing difficult or exposed. Apart from the rather short Alpine meadow, the trail was steep. 



Saint-Véran and Pic de Ch.Renard
Saint-Véran and Pic du Ch.Renard
Alpine meadow before Col des Estronques
Alpine meadow before Col des Estronques
GR58 near Col des Estronques
GR58 near col des Estronques
Col des Estronques
Col des Estronques

The day remained clear with just some cumulus clouds, and we could admire the mountain range south of Ceillac as well as the 3000+m peaks in the north, such as Grand Glaiza and Bric Froid.


A trail went up to Tête de Jacquette (2757 m), the nearest mountain top east of the col. 


We took the same trail back to St-Véran. Depending on where you stay, the ascent from Pont du Moulin is 150-200 m.


Climb: ~950 m (ascent back to St-Véran included)


Distance: 11 km

Duration: about 5 h active

Map: 3637 OT Mont Viso St-Véran. Aiguilles PNR du Queyras



Col des Estronques hike trail
Col des Estronques hike trail



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Roasted chicken breasts coated with Dijon mustard and breadcrumbs

Roasted chicken breasts coated with Dijon mustard and breadcrumbs


The following recipe makes a quick and tasty dinner when you need the food fast on the plates after a long day in the mountains or elsewhere…Serve it with black or parboiled brown rice and some simple roasted vegetables like courgette wedges or tomato halves.

2 servings

2 chicken breasts

2 tbsp. breadcrumbs

2 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese

Freshly ground black pepper

A generous amount, about 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard

Olive oil


Preheat the oven to 200° C, roast.


Combine the breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, and black pepper. Spread the mixture on a plate.


Spread the mustard on both sides of chicken breasts, then coat them with the breadcrumb mixture. Transfer the chicken breasts in an oiled oven- proof dish and sprinkle some olive oil on them. Roast for 25 minutes together with the vegetables.


Meanwhile cook the rice. Divide the chicken, vegetables, and rice on the plates and decorate with some fresh herbs.

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Monêtier les Bains: Pas de l'Ane and Serre Chevalier

 

Pas de l'Ane Monetier
                            Pas de l'Ane above Monetier

In summer, some of the chairlifts in the Serre Chevalier area open, serving walkers, sightseers and mountain bikers.

Taking an advantage of them is a very good idea if thunderstorms are forecasted in the afternoon or if you simply prefer to do a shorter hike. But thanks to the vast network of trails, you can perfectly well start at over 2000 m elev. and still find long and strenuous itineraries if you wish.

Here’s what we did on the last two days of our stay:

Day 1: Pas de l’Ane (2494 m)

From Monétier les Bains (1500 m), we took the Bachas chair lift up to 2174 m. In winter, it is the westernmost part of the big Serre Chevalier ski resort. The GR54 runs past le Bachas. 

We followed the GR54 to the south, ascending a bit. It was basically a wide track. After about one km, we forked right, first following another gravel track, then a path. The scenery was surprisingly wild and the incline became steep before the col. The mountain pass too was narrow and steep. The nearest glaciers were less than 3 km away in the west.

We descended back to the Bachas chairlift, first along the same trail, then took a shortcut along some unofficial trails and meadows.

Bachas chairlift Monêtier
Bachas chairlift Monêtier
Le Bachas view north
Le Bachas view north
Towards Pas de l'Ane
Towards Pas de l'Ane
Towards Pas de l'Ane
Pas de l'Ane in sight
Landscape west of Pas de l'Ane
Landscape west of Pas de l'Ane
Monetier Pas de l'Ane hike track
Monetier Pas de l'Ane hike track

Distance: 4 km 

Climb: 340 m

Duration: 2h


Day 2: Serre Chevalier



The long chairlift named Casse du Boeuf runs from the village of Villeneuve (1400 m) to about 2300 m. We paid 10,10€ p.p. for the ride (same as Bachas). We were in the middle of paths, tracks, ski lifts and of course mountain bike trails. The mountain peak of Serre Chevalier was still a bit above us in the south. We followed a trail which circled under its southern flank to Col de Serre Chevalier (2383 m), then forked left and climbed to the fairly crowded summit, where we could again admire the glaciers in the west and Mount Chaberton on the Italian border, still with fresh snow after the previous night’s storm.


We descended to the restaurant near our chair lift for lunch, then used the long and beautiful forest trail via Clot de l’Aravet and Goudissard (well signposted) back to Villeneuve.


View west from Serre Chevalier
View west from Serre Chevalier
Glacier near Serre Chevalier
Glacier near Serre Chevalier
Mount Chaberton viewed from Serre Chevalier
Mount Chaberton viewed from Serre Chevalier


Serre Chevalier Villeneuve hike



Distance: 11,6 km

Climb: 270 m

Descent: 1130 m

Duration: 4h 45 


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