10 must-see natural sites to visit and photograph around Serre-Ponçon
Nature is omnipresent around Serre-Ponçon and spectacular moments are to be had in some places. Before the altitude lakes, dizzying waterfalls, and unusual discoveries, you’ll be glad you have your camera to add to your Instagram feed. Here is a quick overview of the places you need to photograph from all angles.
1.The ‘overhanging oak’ in Bois Vieux
Near to the dam, and the Bois Vieux beach, there is an isolated, wild creek. It can only be reached from the water, by boat, canoe or paddle. The locals know it well and it is only after tough negotiations that we have been authorised to add it to the list. Therefore, we won’t be giving any further details concerning its location. Get ready for an adventure to find it. Just one clue, a characteristic oak above the turquoise waters marks the entrance to the creek.
2. St Apollinaire Lake
This small lake, nestled in a lush setting is the ideal spot for family walks or picnics. It is also a landmark for fly fishers. It can be reached directly by car during the summer, but in winter, you’ll need snowshoes to take in the breathtaking view of the Pic de Morgon.
3. Siguret Lake
This is one of St Apollinaire Lake’s cousins. The natural lake of glacial origin is just as easy to access but this time provides a vast panorama of the Écrins massif and the peaks overlooking Embrun and the Durance Valley from Mont Guillaume to La Tête de l’Hivernet.
4. Les Aiguilles de Chabrières
One of the regions incomparable mountains. From an altitude of 2403 m, Les Aiguilles de Chabrières overlook the Serre-Ponçon Lake and the Réallon ski resort. With their dolomite appearance, a high-mountain landscape is within reach. What a feeling to ski at the foot of them in the winter. In summer, Réallon’s panoramic chair lifts mean you can reach them rapidly and set off towards La Brèche de Chambrières in order to do the tour and discover the Oucanes (limestone crevasses) on the opposite side.
5. La cascade de la Pisse
The most beautiful and majestic waterfall around the Serre-Ponçon lake. At the gateway to the Écrins National Park, in Chateauroux-les-Alpes’ Rabioux Valley, the Distroit stream rushes down 100-metre-high cliffs. Less than 30 minutes from the car park, it therefore ideal for an easy family stroll in a wild, unspoilt, natural environment.
6. La ripisylve du Liou
The Liou marshes at the far north of the Serre-Ponçon lake are home to rich and varied fauna. The raised walkway leads into the heart of the Alpine mangrove where you will be able to get a closer look at the aquatic wildlife.
7. Le Parcours des Fées
A poetic interlude in the heart of the mountains. Along the footpath leading to the Razis waterfall in the Crévoux Valley, roughly 20 works of art are exposed in a natural setting. The icing on the cake: you can even to spend a night beneath the stars in a shepherd’s cabin that has been restored and converted into a work of art.
This easy walk forms a circuit, takes roughly 2 hours and will bring out the child in you as new elements are revealed.
8. La marmite des Géants
The hamlet of Gourniers in Réallon is one of those valley floors with an end-of-the-world feel where time seems to stand still… Here you are at the entrance to the Écrins National Park. From the car park, a 30-minute interpretation trail will guide you as you discover the sector. An opportunity to marvel at the force of water that has been eroding the rock for thousands of years, to the extent that it has created kettle holes of gushing white water. A feature that can be found all over the different valleys in the Écrins massif.
Before the kettle hole, take a quick detour to the Pissarotte waterfall, which flows over beautiful slabs of coloured rock.
Avant la marmite, faites un rapide détour vers la Casade de la Pissarotte qui s’écoule sur de belles dalles de roches colorées…
9. The Parpaillon Tunnel
This surprising tunnel, perched at an altitude of 2600m is one of the region’s most remarkable features. Almost 500 m long, it can go through it with an all-terrain vehicle, that may or may not be motorised, or on foot. If mountain biking or walking, a reflective vest and a head lamp are a good idea for this strange experience. Dating back to the 1800s, the structure is simple. You will walk along the exposed stones in the depths of the mountain merely by the glimmer of your own light. The snow is not cleared on the access route and it is rare to be able to reach it before mid-July. Even late into the season there are icy patches and icicles along the walls. Welcome to another world…
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Behold the sun setting over the lake
No specific recommendation for the final item on the list. It is a Serre-Ponçon classic and each of the region’s inhabitants have their own favourite spot for observing this magic moment. Find yours! Some advice before setting out on your adventure, note the different viewpoints on the area’s maps and choose the left bank of the lake, from Embrun to Le Sauze du Lac to observe the sky lighting up to the west. If there are a few lingering clouds, the colours will be even more intense !
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