Part 3 of our Summer Tour of The French Alps reaches Lac de Roseland
After spotting a sign for a barrage on our map, those instincts to investigate got the better of us. Before we knew it, we were heading out of Beaufort village in the direction of the quaint ski village of Aréches. Now we were ready to explore the beautiful lakes around Beaufort itself.
Carrying on towards the Barrage de St.Guérin, a narrow, winding pass lead us higher up into the mountains.
Suddenly, we turn a corner to be confronted by the huge concrete wall of the barrage. Then, a few more bends on this winding mountain road brought us to the most turquoise blue lake. A place where mountains and water meet, providing the most idyllic setting of the tranquil Barrage de St.Guérin.
The only downside is that this place was packed with cars, overland type vehicles and motorhomes. Not only that but we weren’t quite sure where to go first. So, our instincts followed a narrow road leadIng to a dead end and the beginning of several walking routes.
Here, chaos awaited! No more so because of cars parking either side, reminding us this is August and it’s only to be expected! Not to be deterred, Nigel carried on, aiming for the one lonely parking space on a grass verge.
With a few inches to spare, the Sprinter or should I say – the driver, got us through the narrow lane. Then, just in time for our arrival, another car left, thankfully making room for us after all.
Now all that was left was for a lazy outdoor lunch, followed by an easy circular walk around the lake. A leisurely stroll amongst stunning scenery rewarded by gorgeous mountain views across the water.
Best of all though, our favourite walk accessory lay ahead – a swing bridge! This one spanned a narrowing section of the lake, almost resembling a narrow gorge inlet.
Our feet lead the way across the metal treads of the bridge. Next, just in time for a photo opportunity came a passing paddle boarder gliding below, followed by a couple of canoeists. All ideal for my camera to make an appearance.
Finally, as we neared the end of the path the barrage wall appeared. Here, this last section of track began crossing the mega structure, taking us across the water, before arriving back at the start.
With temperatures hitting the 30’s once again, out came the folding chairs ready for a spot of relaxation and people watching in any shade we could find.
Just as the sun went down, the clouds rolled in and with it a few hours of stormy weather. As the rain fell, the road resembled a river. Then, hail lashed against the windscreen and lightening lit up the dark skies.
The following morning we awoke to the sound of machines. These were busy clearing landslides off the mountain from last nights rainfall.
Ahead of us, lorries worked to take away the debris, whilst we manoeuvred by. Now navigating our way around muddy rock falls on the mountain pass, as we left the great barrage wall behind.
Feeling a little more adventurous after our spell of off-road driving along a ski slope last week. Now Nigel felt the need to put the Sprinter to its paces on another mountain side.
First though, it was back to the very quaint village of Aréches to empty the loo and have a quick look around. Actually, it’s a charming little place, brimming with character whilst having the advantage of a few shops, so keeping things convenient.
There’s also a good Aire here and a dump area, close to the Télécabine. Making easy access to hiking, biking and of course, winter ski trails.
Finally, with the dirty stuff taken care of, we set off on a “Camping Car Interdit”, or “no motorhomes” route. Taking a steep, narrow road of the Col de Pré mountain pass.
Before long, we’d left Aréches behind, resembling a dot in the distance from our dizzy heights.
One advantage of the Sprinter is the narrow width, along with the sub-6m length. In addition, the high suspension and clearance of the 4×4, generally gives extra confidence to go to otherwise tricky routes.
To be honest, not much action was to be had, but the views were amazing and the narrow bends an attention grabber. Although plenty of cars had the same idea as us, only a few small vans crossed our path.
By the time we got to the top of the pass, the small parking area, unsurprisingly was full. Everywhere is so busy here, who’d have thought a virus was about?
We did feel a little disappointed that we’d not come across anything more hair-raising or even an off-road challenge. Nonetheless, we felt pleased to have accomplished a new mountain road!
Even better were the views on the final approach off the Col de Pré towards the incredible Barrage de Roseland. As the pass winds back down the mountain, the first glimpse of the blue waters of Lac de Roseland come into view.
This lake is stunningly beautiful and one we’ve been to a few times before but from different directions. Still, nothing can prepare you for it’s mesmerising appeal even though you know what’s coming!
The mighty Barrage de Roseland holds back the turquoise blue water of the Lac de Roseland and it’s just stunningly beautiful.
Just beyond the barrage is a grassy picnic area where overnight parking is tolerated. Tonight there must be 15 campervans parked with us, enjoying the incredible mountain and lake setting.
Earlier in the day, once lunch had settled, we’d tried to walk along the lakeside. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a path at all on this side of the dam.
After walking along the road for about an hour, despite finding other walking routes, we failed to find any other signs or even a map for that matter.
Never mind, the views were fabulous, even if it meant walking on the road. A little chapel and a few restaurants offering outdoor dining, gave welcome breaks to those passing by, all within this gorgeous lakeside setting, resembling a picture postcard.
Waking up to a glorious morning alongside the still waters of Lac de Roseland brought a new sense of vigour.
“Let’s walk right round the lake” Nigel suggested. Looking a bit like “Are you sure” edged across my face hadn’t put him off.
We were ready to leave our scenic parking spot, moving further along the lake to the start of our walk, from a small parking area opposite the sign marked “Sous le Biolley’ on the yellow hiking sign.
Taking the path in the direction of Molledraz, one hour fifteen minutes away, lead us along a well marked path above the lake. Before long, the route took us through trees before crossing a few small waterfalls.
The storm from a couple of nights ago had left its mark on the now muddy path. Even a wooden plank bridge crossing one of the waterfalls had been dislodged, meaning we were to make use of what stepping stones we could.
By the time we reached Molledraz, the path began an upward track through grassy hillsides towards Treicol, about an hours walk away.
The lake had turned a corner, following the mountains into a narrow chasm, bringing a different dimension to its appearance.
On the hillside, Mammots played on the heather-filled slopes in front of us, whilst the aqua blue reflections of the lake filled the surrounding green hills with blissful tones of perfection.
Walking routes are in abundance here, the only difficulty is deciding which paths to take.
Where our path crossed a mountain stream at Triecol, clear water flowed out towards the lake, the path merging into a dirt track. Here we found ourselves walking up towards the Col de Pré, where we’d driven the previous day.
The route now became marked in the direction of L’Entrus, taking us between pine trees before emerging out onto the tarmac road of the Col du Pré itself.
This section lead us on, down the winding mountain pass, sharing our steps with passing cyclists and vehicles before arriving at the Barrage de Roseland.
This huge dam wall is rather something, crossing it on foot is quite spectacular. In fact, this whole walk, although not especially busy, which of course, is a good thing, is actually rather beautiful and possibly somewhat unheard of.
Add into the mix, a colourful display of wildflowers, butterflies fluttering between scented floral delights and busy bees making full use of the natural abundance in their midst. Overall, it’s just all rather perfect.
The only downside, is the one side of the lake, where we’d walked yesterday, is walking on the road. Never mind, we can’t have everything!
After four hours we’d finished! Glad to see the van parked alongside a fresh water fountain, where a refreshing bucket of ice cold spring water came in useful to soak our weary feet.
As one lonely hiker washed her clothes in the concrete trough, we left her to her laundry, continuing over the incredible mountain pass of the Cormet de Roseland.
Here, the sound of cattle bells echo through the green pastures, whilst hikers, climbers and just about every kind of road tripper mingle across the grassy Alpine pass.
In the distance, the snow capped Mont Blanc range glistens in the sunlight.
A reminder that this route follows the multi-day hiking trail of the Tour de Mont Blanc, which is where we’ll be mingling with those resting hikers on our next overnight stop, at the tiny hamlet and mountain walking adventure centre of Les Chapieux.
More to come in our next chapter where we walk towards glacial valley’s and take coffee alongside the most handsome looking donkey I’ve ever seen!