Go for a wellness cure with this wonderful two-day hike proposed by Sophie: the magnificent view from the top of the Grand Area is a perfect retreat!
When passing through the Serre Chevalier valley, if the weather is clear, you absolutely must climb the Grand Area to take in this exceptional panorama of the surrounding Alpine massifs. An accessible experience to do alone or with your partner or family.
650 m D+
High point: Grand Area Belvedere (2,869 m)
Best time of year for this trek
From May to October
1. Ascent from the Bergerie car park
2. Winding up to the Petit Area ridge
3. Grand Area Belvedere
4. Return with eyes full of stars
5. Descent to the Buffere pass
6. Trail and return to the car park
My old car had a bit of trouble climbing the 15 kilometres separating us from Serre Chevalier... which allowed me to observe very quietly but enthusiastically the ever more beautiful view as I went back and forth on the winding road. It's late when we park at the Bergerie de Saint Joseph car park in the direction of the Col du Granon but the long days of early July allow us to consider pitching our tent at the highest point of the loop.
The path is well signposted and climbs gently up to the Petit Area pass which gives us a glimpse of the 360 view that awaits us a few hundred metres higher.
The sun gradually declines, the view is more and more magical and makes us forget that we will soon have to pitch our tent somewhere in this very "stony" landscape. We climb to the Grand Area viewpoint at 2,869 metres, the highest point of this hike.
Ecrins, Vanoise, Mont Blanc, the Italian Alps, our eyes don't know where to look anymore, the panorama is so wide. It is not surprising that history made the Grand Area a strategic military location during the First World War.
We leave a note in the hiker's notebook left under the Belvedere cross and go in search of the site for our bivouac.
The sun is setting fast, at 3,000 metres the temperatures are dropping with it and although we would like to stay and daydream, it is time to pitch our tent. We are far from the flat meadow with its fresh grass.
We clear a small light slope of stones as best we can and settle down, thinking that this would be the best test for our floor mats and that the acupressure of the stones on our backs would do us a lot of good. Let's just say that given the time of day we had to reassure ourselves as best we could.
One Forclaz chicken curry later, a few pictures of the illuminated valley and we dive into our sleeping bags to avoid getting too cold. Contrary to all expectations, it was one of the best nights spent in bivouac, the calm of the place, the magic of the landscape must have made us forget the discomfort of the ground.
The sun warms us up, the view of the rising morning is as beautiful as the one of the day before. We know that today is our last day in the Alps and we want to enjoy it. Each in silence, enjoying the moment, we eat our breakfast and put away our equipment at a snail's pace. We have never been so slow and silent on the way back to the car, the magic of the trek has worked:joy, nostalgia and a deep desire to return as soon as possible are the feelings that run through us.
One more thing:
"One of the most beautiful "panoramic hotels" I have experienced, at the cost of some minor aches and pains"