Hiking the GR5 from St Gingolph to Menton

15 days. 600 kilometres. A hike across the Alps from Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean in July 2012.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Day 9 - Briancon to Ceillac

Distance: 42km, Ascent: 2550m, Descent: 2160m, Time: 11h30m
GR5 - Day 9

Day 9, I was planning on leaving the Briancon Parc Hotel by 6am, but then realised the buffet breakfast was already set up, so stayed to get my money's worth, and didn't get away until 6:17am.

The first part of the GR5 leaving Briancon takes a rather pointless dogleg via an old water course to reach Villard St Pancrace, where you could have just walked up the obvious road.

Beyond Villard, the trail cut through forest to reach Chalets des Ayes, above which there was simply the most fantastic display of wild flowers. The trail climbed steeply to Col des Ayes, 2477m, with a steep rocky descent down the other side. There were some pretty dramatic limestone cliffs before Pra Premier, then a dirt road down to Brunissard which didn't seem to have much in the way of amenities. I kept going until Arvieux before collapsing in the shade for a quick lunchstop. The trail to Lac de Roue, 1854m, was a little tricky to follow, but after the marshy lake the trail entered wonderful old pine forest, and gave a nice shady descent to Chateau Queyras.

It was pretty warm as I crossed the river below Fort Queyras with all the white water rafters. The a long hot flog through the forest to Pre Faure, and then to a false col above Fontaine Rouge, which turned out not to be a col at all but a continuing rising traverse across some dramatic slopes mined and carved out for gypsum.  When I finally reached Col Fromage 2301m, I was feeling fairly weary, and slumped on the ground and ate a few biscuits before getting stuck into the long descent to Ceillac, 1639m.

I was a bit nervous arriving at Ceillac, not knowing where the gite d'etape was, or whether it would have places, but eventually I found Les Baladins, and a cash point, and a small supermarket. The gite was busy, but I had a good sociable meal with some Spaniards from Tenerife.

View GR5 - Stage 9 in a larger map

Stage 9 - Briancon to Ceillac

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