When the friend you’re traveling with has a thing with hiking to the top of mountains on holiday, you have no other choice but to follow and make sure his tradition remains intact. Thank god I love hiking. And mountain tops. And a challenge. As you can see, following was a very big sacrifice on my part!
Luckily for us, France has many, many options when it comes to mountains. But we were trying to avoid the crowds, so the most obvious and most accessible ones were immediately off the list. Since it’s my friend’s tradition, I let him figure that part out and he came up with the Grand Veymont in the Vercors Massif. I had not heard of this place before – I shyly admit to having ignored France as a holiday destination before COVID – but I didn’t need much convincing that it was the place to be for us. Not a tourist hotspot, but still an immensely gorgeous piece of nature. Sold!
When we left the Cirque du Fer-à-Cheval, I was convinced that it would be impossible to find an equally amazing camping to put up our tent for the night. But my friend achieved the unthinkable. Camping Les 4 Saisons in Gresse-en-Vercors. We would once again be able to open our tent in the morning to an amazing view. Even more so, we’d open our tent to the view of our end destination for the day; the Grand Veymont. Pretty cool yet daunting at the same time.
We arrived on the camping early afternoon the day before we had planned our hike. But since my legs were pretty beat from hiking and biking around Cirque du Fer-à-Cheval the day before, I wasn’t really up for a lot of activity. However remaining put in such a beautiful environment also isn’t really an option in my book . While my friend set out to tackle some cols in the area by bike – yes, he’s crazy-, I opted for a less intense stroll through the fields and forest around the camping. And that was not too shabby either!
After about five kilometers of marveling at my surroundings, I had to give in and allow myself some rest. We had a pretty big hike ahead of us the next day after all. From the campground to the top of the Grand Veymont it is only little over five kilometers but with 1000 altimeters to cover, it isn’t exactly a walk through the park. Especially not when you wake up the next morning and find your legs already hurting with every step. Uh-oh…
But no time for crying, time for hiking! I wasn’t going to miss out on the views from the top and the amazing wildlife that was promised along the way. Over my dead body! The Vercors Massif is an excellent place to spot ibex and wild vultures, and I was determined to see some. And we weren’t disappointed. Once we got out of the forest – after two kilometers of steep, steep climbing – we could already see the vultures up high, circling around the peaks of the massif. Goosebumps all over!
And then as we hit the ‘Pas de la Ville‘ point at 1925 meters altitude, the ibex made an appearance as well. A small heard of females with babies moving down the slopes. Such a great moment.
From Pas de la Ville, it’s another 416 meters up to the top and it gets a bit more technical at certain places as well. Nothing too daunting though, and you’re surrounded by breathtaking scenery the entire time. Although that makes it trickier to keep your focus on where to put your feet…
And then, after little less than two hours, we finally hit the top. 2341 meters high. And what. a. view! I felt almost ashamed of not knowing about this place before this trip. A beautiful mountain range on one side and a stunning view on Mont Aiguille to the other side. And in between a whole lot of pretty landscape as well. It’s easy to forget about aching legs when you’re presented with such beauty.
It was only little after 11am when we peaked, but we simply wouldn’t accept another place to have lunch. There were still vultures flying around at a distance, the sun was shining down on us and we simply weren’t ready to start the descent just yet. I mean, can you blame us?
But as much as we would have wanted to, we sadly couldn’t stay there forever. So after lunch, it was time to start our descent. I – and mostly my knees – don’t really like hiking down, especially not on a terrain with loose rocks, but we managed to do so pretty swiftly. A bit too swiftly at one point, but I got up faster than lightning and no harm done.
Right before we hit the tree line again, we also spotted a little marmot running up the slope a few meters away from the trail. I was sad to see it disappear as quickly as it had popped up, but it was still such an amazing sight. Perks of hiking in a place with hardly any other people. Cherry on top!
It was around 2pm when we arrived back in Gresse-en-Vercors. 10,47 kilometers and 1069 altimeters conquered, and mostly a really amazing experience richer.
The Vercors Massif isn’t high on the average places-to-visit list in France and that honestly is a very big shame. It deserves a lot more attention. Not that I’m complaining, as one of the reasons I loved it so much is that we didn’t have to share it with a whole bunch of other people. However a bit more exposure wouldn’t be too bad. It offers so many gorgeous hiking trails ánd amazing biking opportunities, which we explored eagerly the next day of our trip. And which I will of course eagerly share with you guys in my next post!