SR de l'Oreille d'Âne
This SR is located between the south of the Upper Alps (Écrins national park) and the north of Upper Provence. The route visits the Bochaine, the Dévoluy, the Beaumont, the Champsaur and the Valgaudemar, the surroundings of the Serre-Ponçon Lake, and the Prealps of Digne. It will make you discover small roads, perched villages and unknown passes around Gap, and will offer you panoramic views of the vast valleys of the Drac and the Durance, on either side of the famous Route Napoléon (N85).
The SR culminates at 1820 m (Orcières-Merlette) while its lowest point is the Cognet bridge over the Drac (510 m, or 86 m lower than its neighbour, the Ponsonnas bridge). Climatically, the southern part still benefits from a Mediterranean influence, while the northern part is more exposed to the northerly winds, humidity and cold of the Dauphinois massifs.
The route includes four out-and-backs: to Céüse, a ghost ski resort; to Notre-Dame de la Salette, an impressive sanctuary perched in the mountain pastures; to the Gioberney glacial cirque and its amazing high mountain atmosphere at only 1650 m altitude; and to Orcières-Merlette, entered into the legend of the Tour de France in 1971.
These small, secret and hard roads, can seem thankless to those who dream of high passes or a long trip in the Alps. To appreciate this SR, you have to like getting lost in the details, and have very low gears.
The slopes are often very steep (Céüse, Cognet, Col du Parquetout, ski resorts of Chaillol and Serre-Eyraud, Col de Clans). Finally, you will have to face the frightening tribe of -is: Pontis, Fillys, Urtis, Colombis. It hurts!
Te road up col de Clans is rutted, and there are 3.6 km of unpaved road to descend Mount Colombis by its northern slope.
Capital of the Hautes-Alpes department, Gap (750 m above sea level), is connected to Paris daily by a sleeper train of the Intercités network, but also by TER to Briançon, Grenoble, Valence (Valence-Town and Valence-TGV stations), as well as to Aix-en-Provence and Marseille. The Oreilles d’âne (donkey ears) are a gratin of spinach and lasagna (these are sometimes made with pancake batter), an emblematic dish of the region, as well as Ravioles and Tourtons.
Géoportail (topographic maps of France by IGN, Institut Géographique National)
Topographic maps of France by IGN can also be viewed on Openrunner (a service requiring a subscription of 13 euros per year)
Viamichelin (Michelin maps of France)
Landscapes of the SR de l'Oreille d'Âne
Montagne de Céüse
Le Dévoluy (col du Festre)
The Obiou, highest peak of the Dévoluy mountains, as seen from the Trièves
The Trièves - view on Pellafol
Col de Masserange - view on the Vercors
View on the Drac valley near Cognet
Col du Parquetout - view to the North
Alpine pastures near N.-D. de la Salette
Approaching the Sanctuary N.-D. de la Salette
The road to the Gioberney
The Artouze road after Serre-Eyraud
View from Orcières-Merlette
Serre-Ponçon Lake, and Savines Bridge
View on river Ubaye as from road D900
Turriers, in the Prealps of Digne
View on the Durance valley near Venterol
Les Demoiselles Coiffées (Hoodoos)
On the top of Mount Colombis
View to the South from Mount Colombis