• 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 2022
  • Everyday (subject to availability) from 15 June to 16 September
  • From £760
  • From €875
  • (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
  • You’ll be staying in 4 different hotels. They are comfortable family-run  hotels with a mix of styles. Private rooms for 2, some with 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 with private rooms; taxi transfers on days 1, 4 and 5; detailed walking notes and walking maps, transport of luggage between hotels.
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 charges, 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 - Le Chazelet

Your alpine walking holiday starts by traversing the Emparis plateau at 2365m with its numerous alpine lakes. Discover this stunning balcony trail with terrific views of the high alpine summits of the Ecrins, notably the Meije. Afterwards you’ll descend to the village of Chazelet, built on a terrace on the valley side of the Meije Massif. 6hrs, +900m, -900m

Day 3: Le Chazelet - Villar d’Arene

You have the choice of 2 options:
Option 1 - An hours panoramic trail to reach the pretty village of La Grave where you can explore its narrow alleyways. Here you'll take the cable car to 3,200m at the foot of the Meije Glacier for amazing views of the northern Alps. If you wish (and have booked in La Grave) you can have a short tour onto the glacier itself with an Alpine guide. On the descent, stop at the Peyrou d’Amont station for a walk to the Refuge Chancel with wonderful panoramic views. Afterwards descend by cable car and follow the Tour of Dauphiné mountain walking trail and in 2hrs you’ll discover the pretty alpine village of Villar d’Arene. 5hrs, +250m, -450m.

Option 2 - Ascend the beautiful ridge Cote Rouge offering unique views of the Meige and the villages clinging to the valleys. You can extend the walk to take in the summit of Signal de la Grave at 2446m for wonderful views. Your descent to La Grave allows you to discover old terraces used for farming, now abandoned, and the pretty hamlet of Ventelon. After exploring the steep alleyways of La Grave, climb the Romanche gorge to reach Villar d’Arene. 5hrs 30, +850m, -950m

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.


DFDS Seaways






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