Wondering what to do in La Grave in summer? Here’s your bucket list!
The La Grave lift (Téléphériques des Glaciers de la Meije) takes you on a journey above the moraines with a view of high peaks and glaciers. You will disembark next to the Girose Glacier, at an altitude of 3200 m (10499 ft). Up there, you can of course enjoy the panoramic view, from the glacier at your feet to the Mont Blanc in the distance, and you can also visit the ice cave, go on a very easy glacier walk or a glacier hike with the mountain guides of La Grave.
In the south facing alpine pastures, all the way from La Grave and the Emparis Plateau to the Lautaret Mountain Pass, the viewpoints of La Meije are never-ending; the summits where you look her straight in the eye, the lakes reflecting her, the balcony trails where you can contemplate her many faces … It’s not a bluff, La Meije (13068 ft), really is one of the most beautiful mountains of the Alps!
La Grave and Villar d’Arène are located on the border of the Ecrins National Park, whose majestic peaks and glaciers are best admired hiking. Several high valleys, scenic mountain passes, turquoise mountain streams and meadows filled with alpine flowers and marmots all add to the joy of walking. There are various mountain huts where you can spend the night, in the lower pastures or close to the glaciers.
To sleep in a mountain hut gives you a real change of scenery, a long journey without going all that far. When staying up high as all the others head down to the valley you can fully enjoy the calm and the soft lights of evening and early morning. You can reach many mountain huts in only an hour or two of walking, those at higher altitude require more effort and experience.
In a sport climbing crag (an outdoor wall with permanent bolts) you can take your first steps or improve with the help of a climbing instructor or a mountain guide. And if you’re an experienced climber you can of course go on your own with family or friends. There are 5 sports climbing spots around La Grave and Villar d’Arène, from absolute beginner to expert level, as well as several multi-pitch routes where you can boost your vertical skills.
Climbing, scrambling, managing your fear of heights, surpassing yourself, seeing the whole Alpine chain – or nearly – unveil… In La Grave, you can take your first steps as a mountaineer on the Western Summit of the Râteau, where a single a day will take you to the top. For the following steps, there’s an endless choice of peaks. How about a night in the legendary Aigle Hut and then setting out at dawn for the Eastern Summit of La Meije?
Or perhaps you’re a hiker and ropes and crampons are not your thing? You can still reach above 3000 m and see the Mont Blanc and his cousins at the Mas de La Grave peak!
Always on the lookout for a thrill or just fancy trying something new? In La Grave and Villar d’Arène, you can go mountain biking on dirt roads between the villages and hamlets, on singletracks with a glacier view or on expert routes at the La Grave lift (Téléphériques des Glaciers de la Meije). For those who prefer keeping their feet on the ground, trail running is a good option. Whitewater activities come in two types: rafting on the Romanche River or canyoning in Chazelet. Paragliding, you will take flight by the glaciers. Via ferratas make it easier to climb a cliff and getting used to heights (or not). And if you didn’t read the preceding paragraphs, scroll back to read about mountaineering and climbing.
The Lautaret and the Galibier have a permanent place among the giants of the Tour de France. Starting out from the villages at the foot of La Meije, you will climb a winding road next to a row of majestic mountains, on a classic bike or why not an E-bike? On some mornings during the summer the mountain passes are reserved for cyclists.
In the botanical garden at the Lautaret Mountain pass, at an altitude of 2100 m (6890 ft), myriads of plants from all over the world are organized after origin. The Himalayas and the Caucasian mountains present themselves as dabs of bright colours with La Meije and the glaciers as backdrop. A world tour in a few steps!
Chamois, marmots and birds of prey, stars and astronomy, alpine flowers and edible flowers, geology and glaciers, how mountains are shaped through the eons, the effects of climate change… During a visit, a course led by a scientist or a themed outing with a mountain leader you will discover the secrets of many a natural wonder.
Stroll through the narrow streets of hamlets and villages, enjoy the view from remote little chapels, perhaps ask yourself which is this curious porous rock they’ve used to build church porches and fountain arches, why people here made their bread only once a year and what was the function of the tiny triangular windows and the gable stairs. Why not explore it all on foot, walking from one village to the next? On the way you can stop by the farms to check out the tasty alpine produce.
Around here you can savour delicious cheeses made with goat milk or the rich milk of the ancient cow race Hérens, local lamb, veal and heifer beef as well as vegetables, pasta, eggs and honey-based sweet treats. You can even carry your local farm produce home in a wickerwork basket made in a workshop with a view of La Meije.
Lautaret pass - Natural Reserve of Combeynot
The Lautaret pass is the crossing point between the Romanche Valley and the Guisane Valley. It is also one of the lowest points on the ridge line separating the Northern Alps and the…