Hiking Les Eaux Tortes and le Laverq, French Alps

This second day of hiking in the Alps of Haute Provence started with a long windy drive into the picturesque Laverq valley. Although not too difficult to find if you know where you are going, it is not on the Google map and required asking directions from a local before we found the right road.

Once on the trail we were further delayed by a mission to find the owner of a vehicle parked by the side of the trail whose lights had been left on. Following the sound of crashing limbs, which took us into the forest on the other side of the river, we found the owner clearing trees.

The friendly logger “rewarded” our good deed with directions to a back trail through the forest and up the valley slope. A little used route that was still reasonably well blazed white, albeit fly ridden, steep and with switch backs but no vistas.

Thankfully it did finally connect again to the main trail at #6 on the map.

After another long slog up more switchbacks we reach the col (pass) de Seleta.

Dark clouds were starting to roll in over the peaks announcing the thunderstorms predicted for that afternoon. Still, we were astounded by the splendor the of the pass. The upper reaches were streaked in white while lower down the grasslands were a maze of running water – the melting snow turning the otherwise lazy little creek into a veritable river.

From here, crossing the hanging valley repeats the scene from the day before with much of the trail under snow and, worse yet, underwater around a small lake which forces us to scramble over the boulders at its banks.

By this time dark clouds have moved on and we can take our time. The trail on this side of the valley is more scenic than the climb up, passing dramatic waterfalls down mammoth slabs of rock. It is also wetter, with sections of the trail under snow and a number of creeks to ford.

After a long steep descent we hit the main trail coming in at Plan Bas, and continue to descend, although, not as steeply, along the river down to the valley floor and the trail head.

From Les Alpes-de-Haute-Provence…à pied, #32 Les Eaux Tortes et le Laverq. Starting point: The parking area is at the trailhead about 1500 meters past the Abaye of le Laverq. The turnoff for Le Laverq is at le Martinet, along D900 about 10 kilometers west of Barcelonnette. From the auto route follow signs to le Laverq and then the small brown signs to L’Abaye. In times of possible heavy rain it is encouraged to park in the lot just before the abbey as the road to the closer-in parking area requires fording a small stream.

At the trail head follow the white and red blazed GR56 that continues along the road. At #3 on the map pick up the sentier de découverte, which is inconsistently blazed blue or yellow. In general the trail is well used and easy to follow. Be sure to bring a map as there are several trails that traverse the area.

June 19, 2013

For links to all the posts in this series see the Other Destinations page.

2 thoughts

  1. WOW, looks like a beautiful hike!! Every time you post pictures of France, that country surprizes me.. France is not just Paris and vineyards people!

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