• At a glance
  • Locality & Walks
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At a Glance

Your Holiday at a Glance

Independent Walking Holidays
  • Les Ecrins: Panoramic Alpine Trail

Dates for 2023
  • Everyday (subject to availability) from 11 June to 16 September
  • From £880
  • From €980
  • (single supplement: please contact us)
  • challenging walking in the Mercantour France
  • 5 nights, 5 days self-guided walking moving between guest houses. 2 nights at Villar d'Arene
  • Superb panoramic views of the dramatic and glacier-clad Ecrins mountains
  • A wonderful traverse which goes around the northern edge of the Ecrins
  • High altitude lakes and alpine meadows
  • Chance to take a cable car up to 3,200m at the base of the Meije Glacier, plus chance to walk on the glacier with high alpine guide (not included in holiday price)
  • Traditional alpine hamlets
Accommodation and Meals
  • A mixture of hotels, gites and one refuge. They are comfortable family-run  hotels and gites with a mix of styles. Private rooms for 2, except at mountain hut, some with private bathrooms, some shared. You’ll be served wholesome local cuisine. All meals are included in your holiday price.

What's included
  • 5 night’s half board accommodation in hotels and gites with private rooms and one refuge; taxi transfers on days 1, 4 and 5; detailed walking notes and walking maps, transport of luggage between accommodation except on night 2 when you'll need to carry overnight provisions.
What's not included
  • Travel to La Grave at start of walking holiday and from Le Monetier at end of holiday; drinks with evening meals, lunches, cable car fees, travel insurance, anything else not listed above

Ecrins & Walks

Starting at Besse en Oisans, your spectacular traverse will follow one of the best sections of the Tour of the Ecrins. The Ecrins have a number of amazing alpine summits which plunge dramatically into the Romanche Valley. You’ll discover stunning panoramic views of glacier-clad mountains such as the Meije and the Barre des Ecrins at over 4000m in altitude. Your trail takes you past high alpine lakes, through stunning valleys and along beautiful balcony paths.

Benefiting from a relatively clement climate compared to the northern Alps, the Ecrins offer the walker a unique walking experience. The Oisans or Ecrins massif is situated at the heart of the French Alps between the Vanoise to the north east and the Mercantour to the south east. This position at the junction with a Mediterranean climate will be evident as you head east and then south during your 5 day walking trail moving from lush alpine meadows to striking barren mountains. You’ll also have the chance to take a cable car to the foot of the Meije Glacier at 3,200m and for the more intrepid to take a short walk on the glacier itself with a high mountain guide.

Walking Profile

5 days self-guided walking holiday which traverses the north of the Ecrins, staying in 4 different locations. Walking per day amounts to an average of 5 - 6hrs walking (not including lunch stop) and 800m of ascent and descent. Maximum altitude gain in one day is 900m. The walks take place on good paths, although they are mountainous and sometimes rocky in nature. You should have a reasonable level of fitness and be comfortable with walking on mountainous terrain. You should also be sure-footed on mountain paths and have a good head for heights.

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Day 1: Arrival

Pick up at La Grave and taxi transfer to your accommodation in Besse en Oisans

Day 2: Besse en Oisans - Refuge du Pic du Mas de la Grave

Crossing the Emparis plateau (2365m): This first day is exceptional. The crossing of the plateau is one of the most beautiful balconies of the Oisans, offering breathtaking views of the Meije. With its small lakes your photos will look like real postcards! An old off-the-beaten track trail, missing from the maps, will allow you to reach the refuge.
Easy version: We can arrange this stage with for example a night on the Emparis plateau. The next day you can reach La Grave or Villar d'Arène without climbing to the Signal de La Grave.
+ 1085 m, - 750 m Time: 6 h 30 of walking

Day 3: Refuge du Pic du mas de le Grave - Crête de Côte Rouge (2 256 m) - La Grave - Villar-d’Arène (1 650 m)

The ascent of the beautiful Côte Rouge ridge offers unique views of the Meije massif and the Romanche valley while overlooking the small villages clinging to the slopes. As an option, you can continue towards the Signal de La Grave at 2,446m. The descent crosses old formerly cultivated terraces now abandoned and allows you to discover the beautiful hamlet of Ventelon (1 760 m) before reaching La Grave "capital" of mountaineering in the Oisans massif. Take the time to stroll through its sloping streets before joining the GR which will lead you through the Romanche gorge to the village of Villar-d'Arène.
Easy version: If you have chosen to spend the night in the refuge on the plateau, you can go directly to La Grave and/or Villar d'Arène without passing through the Signal de La Grave.
+ 730 m, - 830 m, + 200 m Time: 7 hours walking
Additional walking with option of the Signal (2 445m) : +/- 350 m - 1h00

Possible extra day: La Grave village and the Glaciers de la Meije
In order to make the most of this exceptional site, on request, you can spend an extra night in La Grave.
Whilst you are visiting La Grave you will be tempted to take the world famous cable car. If you book an extra night you can experience the delights of high altitude views at more than 3,200m. From the summit you can see the Alps from the Belledonne massif to the Thabor, via the Aravis and Mont Blanc. The cable car ride does not need to be booked in advance allowing for flexibility.

- From the Glacier de la Meije (3 200 m) to Villar-d'Arène (1 650 m)
After reaching the foot of the glacier, you go to the intermediate station to finish the descent on foot. From the station, you reach the Chancel hut and then descend to Villard d'Arène.
- Walk on the Meije glacier
A unique experience! At 3200m, at the top of the cable car, roped up with a high mountain guide, come and discover the secrets of the Meije glacier.
Duration of the walk: 1 h 30 from the terminal station - Technical equipment provided
Reservations can be made at the La Grave Guide Bureau or at the ticket office of the Glaciers de la Meije cable car. The walks take place on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays

Day 4: Alfroide - Lac du Goléon - Villar d’Arene

After a taxi transfer to the hamlet of Valfroide (1850m), you’ll climb to the Goléon cirque via the typical alpine hamlets of Pramailler and Plot. Afterwards your mountain walking trail climbs more steeply to a plateau where the panorama of the aiguilles d’Arves and the Meige is superb. Return to Villar d’Arene via Valfroide and the alpine meadows of Envers. 6hrs, +900m, -1050m

Day 5: Villar d’Arene - Le Monetier

A taxi will transfer you to Pont d’Arsine (4km) where you’ll climb the Arsine Valley at the entrance to the Ecrins National Park to reach a pass at over 2300m with superb views of the Agneaux mountains. You can extend the walk to reach the lake and the foot of the glacier (2455m). A long, easy descent brings you to Le Monetier. 6hrs, +820m, -1000m.

Day 6: Tour from Le Monetier

Discover one of the most beautiful panoramic trails in the French Alps with great views of the Ecrins mountains. A great morning’s walk which also takes in historic hamlets and chapels. 3hrs 30, +/-400m. Walking holiday finishes after walk. Option of extra night at Le Monetier.



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Accommodation & Meals

You’ll be staying in 4 different hotels or auberges. They are comfortable family-run hotels with a mix of styles. Private rooms for 2, most with bathroom. You’ll be served wholesome local cuisine. All meals are included in your holiday price.


Name Type Details Rating  
Gite Melezes, Villar d’Arene gite This is a large historic stone property in the village of Villar d’Arene. Meals are taken in a large vaulted room downstairs.  A warm welcome and a mountain atmosphere.    
Travel Options

Travel Options

Meeting point at La Grave at the start of the holiday. Transfer between La Grave and your accommodation in Besse en Oisans is included in the holiday price.

End of holiday, take bus from Monetier to Grenoble or Briancon for onward train journey or to La Grave to collect car.

By Train

Eurostar and the TGV provide a relaxing journey from London to Lyon Part Dieu via Lille or Paris or direct on the early train. From Lyon you'll need to take local train services to Grenoble or Briancon. Grenoble is much more practical and takes far less time, but at certain periods the onward bus journeys are less practical. Buses from Grenoble or Briancon to La Grave with service LER35. For more information on the bus see https://www.info-ler.fr/ Trains to Briancon go via Grenoble or via Valence and Gap. Also possible to take the Paris Turin train and get off at Oulx in Italy. Shuttle bus service from Oulx to Briancon.


By Air and rail

Flights from the UK to Lyon St Exupery, then bus (Satobus) or tram to Lyon Part Dieu. Train then as detailed above.

Possibility to fly into other airports such as Marseille and then take the train from Marseille St Charles.

Please contact us for assistance in organising your travel arrangements

By Car

It is possible to drive and leave your car at La Grave. Once in France, the journey from Calais to the La Grave takes about 9 hours (excluding long breaks). Tolls amount to about 50 euros each way. Channel crossings are provided by the following companies. Parking in one of the car parks close to the cable car. End of holiday, take bus LER35 from Monetier to La Grave to collect car.


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