If the station of Vars welcomes ski enthusiasts in winter, the splendid mountain territory which is around becomes the playground for hikers in summer, who come to seek the pleasure of holidays in the great outdoors. Vars is located at the gates of the Queyras Regional Natural Park, and it is also in the heart of the park that we find one of the first municipal reserves in France, the Val d’Escreins, nicknamed the little Canada varsinc. The reason is simple, the mountain landscapes, with its green and flowery valleys, its high peaks and its fauna which animates the places, recall in many ways the great regions that one finds in the country of North America. The Val d’Escreins is a preserved area, entirely dedicated to hiking, with routes suitable for families with children, but also to those who wish to orient themselves towards more difficult paths to reach the summits. So after a long winter and when the sun has settled in comfortably, it’s time to head to the Hautes-Alpes for a 100% natural stay, before setting out again refreshed and with an array of beautiful images in mind.
Routes to follow as a family
In the Val d’Escreins, young and old are welcome to discover all the pleasures of the mountains in summer. In the direction of the resort of Vars , the discovery of the Rif Bel valley and its reliefs immediately puts holidaymakers in the mood. Once in the reserve, several routes are offered to families. The ideal with children is to start by warming up, and there is a nice 1.5 hour hike in a loop to the Chalances hut, where you alternate between passages in the forest and in open spaces. , all with very little difference in height. The ideal is to plan a picnic, to enjoy in the shade of a tree or by the river.
Once the legs are prepared, we can move on to other routes and in particular to the orientation course. Three levels are offered, from very easy to medium, during which parents and children, after collecting maps and compasses at the Val d’Escreins reception hut. , set out to conquer landmarks on which punches are installed to validate the passage of the family expedition. Depending on the route chosen, families will discover all that makes up the wealth of this high mountain territory, with a forest of larches and pines, stony paths, meadows, alpine paths as well as the ruins of the village of ‘Escreins. The orientation course is perfect for understanding the mountain, enjoying the panoramas, the flora and fauna. At the end of a day full of emotions, children will be delighted to join one of the tipis of the Refuge de Basse Rua, for an unusual night in the heart of nature, and far from all the hustle and bustle.
Another highlight of the stay, a 3-hour walk along the path of remarkable trees, to discover some of the most impressive trees of the Val d’Escreins, centuries old and some of which have a circumference of more than 4 m !
And to further prove to what extent the Val d’Escreins is a high mountain territory intended for the reception of families, one should not either miss to discover the botanical path, a loop of 600 m revealing a hundred species. vegetable. The Tétras Lyre discovery trail has been specially created and adapted to children, in order to make them discover the Escreins valley through a playful approach. The course is then marked out with desks explaining the life of yesteryear and the riches of the Valley.
On the way to the summits
A stay in the Val d’Escreins is also the possibility of setting out to conquer mythical peaks, located at an altitude of more than 3,000 m. Well equipped and ideally under a clear blue sky, hikers head for the Pointe d’Escreins and the Col des Houerts. On the way, we follow the Rif Bel crossing forests of cambros pines and larches. The mineral valley of Selette that follows leads walkers to make a steep ascent in the forest, then to stop on a plateau offering a magnificent panorama, and where you can enjoy the company of local fauna, including marmots. .
After a break to cool off, it takes two more hours of walking to reach the Col des Houerts and realize that the Pointe d’Escreins is not very far. Once you have completed this physical hike, all you have to do is enjoy the view that awaits us: the peaks of Font Sancte, the peak of Panestrel, that of the Houerts. In the distance on the horizon stand the Ecrins and their snow-capped peaks, then the Ubaye and its splendid Brec de Chambeyron, the second summit of the Chambeyron massif and the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. The effort is felt in the legs, but we hold our 3,000, and it remains a unique moment to experience during a summer stay in the Val d’Escreins.