From Ville-Vieille there is a small path through forest which leads to the village Les Meyries. From there you can walk trough beautiful landscape to Soulier. Soulier is a small village with a beautiful little church, it also has a gite where you can stay. From Soulier there leads a road down to Chateau-Ville-Vieille for about 3 kilometres. For the last kilometre you can already see the Fort Queyras.
Fort Queyras played a defensive role also serving as a symbol of authority at the end of the Middle Ages. The castle belonged to the Dauphine and was handed over to the King of France in 1343. It is an impressive building and open to the public.
This morning we left Abries and actually we wanted to go to the Lacs du Malrif. Besides us there we about 100 other people who choose the same direction for today. By walking in the direction of the lakes we got some impressions of the Queyras - it is very green! Not so much rock, but a lot of grass and flowers. So we walked up along a small church and then through a nice valley along a river. From there it goes up trough grass many hundred metres. But after some hours the sky turned from blue to white and clouds began to form. It looked exactly like one situation where a storm arrived last year! So we both decided that it is better to return. So we walked back the same way we came. At the small church we stopped and had a picnic. By this time the sky was blue again! So we stayed there the rest of the afternoon lying in the sun. Then we went back to Abries and from there we took the bus to Ville Vieille.
Here are some tips when you want to go to the Queyras national park:
you will be the only foreigner - 99% of the other people you meet are French
you will be treated as a foreigner, like you are coming from Germany you will always be referred to as "Allemand", people are not very helpful to you
nobody will ask you if you understand, people will just continue to talk in French, other languages are not accepted
accommodation is not very comfortable, we stayed in many mountain huts and simple accommodations before, but the ones here were really bad
a lot of grass and green, if you expect rock you better stay on the Italian side around Monviso
most of the bus connections you have to reserve 36 hours in advance! otherwise there will only be one bus a day (or even not that), bus time tables and reservations can be found here: http://05voyageurs.com/
it is hard to find food which does not consist of meat, which is not good when you are vegetarian
Ok, maybe this sounds not so good and somehow like discriminating French people, but it was what we experienced.
After three days in France we decided to go back to Italy where we experienced friendly, helpful people.
Because the weather in the Alps was mostly very bad this summer we decided to hike through one of sunniest parts of France - the Queyras.
To go there you have two options - take the TGV trough France (very expensive) or go to Torino in Italy (cheaper) and then cross the border hiking along the Col d'Abries.
When you want to go into the Queyras national parc from Italy a good starting point is the small village Ghigo di Prali. So from Torino there is a bus to Perosa Argentina and from there a continuing bus to Ghigo Prali. So what is quite confusing is that in the maps the village is marked as Ghigo. But bus timetables and signs say Prali. So don't be confused, it is the same. We get off at the last stop. If you want to stay in Ghigo there is a posto tappa.
To go from there to France we start early in the morning and walk in the direction of Rifugio Lago Verde. At first the path goes through a forest, but later on you have a good view around. Just before the Rifugio Lago Verde we keep right and climb up to the Col d'Abries which is 2658m high. From the Col d'Abries you have a great view - one side to Italy and the other side to France. For being so high it is very green and a few hundred metres down we can see many flowers and grass. Because huge clouds are coming we go quickly down. Shortly before reaching Le Roux we walk along a river which is very beautiful. The small village Le Roux is not very spectacular and so we walk directly to Abries. Actually Abries is quite a nice small town, but there is far too much car traffic! We stayed in a gite called Le Villard. The gite was not comfortable and we were happy to leave the next morning.
On the Internet we found some nice looking photos of Strasbourg and because it is not too far away we decided to spend one day there during our Christmas vacation.
In Strasbourg we walked around the city and enjoyed the sunshine. We even had some crepes on the Christmas market. The Christmas market is open until New Year which was a bit strange. Strasbourg has many nice looking frame houses and you can walk along the river. There are many small lanes.
In the evening we enjoyed a tarte flambee with a glass of wine. Afterwards we were surprised how nice the houses and bridges are illuminated when it is dark outside. It is really worth to walk around the city when it is dark outside.
During our alpine crossing from St. Gingolph to Menton we recorded parts of our track with a Garmin etrex GPS receiver. Unfortunately we sometimes didn't have enough batteries with us. So we don't have tracks for the whole tour. Still, what we have is available as a set of .gpx files below. There are several ways to view .gpx files. Under linux you may use viking in combination with open street map. As far as I know google maps is also able to display .gpx files. We provide those files hoping that they are helpful to others. But of course using the data is on your own risk.