The Lautaret and Galibier mountain passes

La Grave and Villar d'Arène lie at the foot of two mythical mountain passes that are Tour de France classics: the col du Lautaret (2056m) and the Col du Galibier (2645 m). At the Lautaret there is a stunning view of several mountain massifs: La Meije, Combeynot and Cerces. At the Galibier, the Barre des Ecrins as well as the summits of Savoie and Queyras join the feast. In summer both mountain passes are accessible on foot, by bike or by car. Follow the GR50 hiking trail from Villar d'Arène or climb the legendary roads on abike or an E-bike.

At the col du Lautaret, you can go for an easy, scenic walk along the discovery trail. The small hill at the start of the trail is home to many a marmot. Take a stroll around it to count the holes. If you don't know how to recognise a marmot, the Ecrins National Park Visitor Centre will give you all the information you need. Alternatively, the hike to the col du Laurichard is more challenging but the views are well worth your while.

In winter, the Lautaret pass is one of Europe's best spots for snow kiting and a popular starting point for ski tours.

The Lautaret Garden

 

The Lautaret pass is also famous for its natural botanical wealth, helped along by the great variety of climatic factors and types of soil. The Lautaret is a crossroads between the north and the south, between Mediterranean and Alpine climates, between sedimentary and volcanic rock massifs. Therefore more than 2000 plants from all over the world have found growing conditions that are similar to those of their original habitat in the Lautaret Garden at 2100 m above sea level.