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  • Writer's pictureRita Selles

Hike in the Chartreuse mountains

Chamechaude is the highest summit in the Chartreuse Massif and the fourth most prominent mountain in France. This one is practically in our backyard as the trail head is only a 1/2 hour bus ride out of Grenoble.

We did this hike about 9 years ago and were ready to do it again.

We picked up a baguette from the bakery before catching the bus. By 8:50am we were on the trail. We started at about 1,000 meters in altitude and the climb would take us to 2,082 meters. This is what he had to look forward to (the mountain in the distance):

How do you climb that, you wonder!

You climb to the base of the mountain and then take a trail around to it's back side. There, you find a path up, all switchbacks.

Along the path we saw a fox, sheep, who moved off the path for us, and mountain bikes coming down the trail at a scary speed. Oh, and we had a dog accompany us for about an hour or more. She had a "dog bell" and we thought she belonged to the hiker further up the path, but this was not the case. In the end, maybe she belonged to the shepherd in the area.

The shepherd that takes care of the flock of sheep during the summer lives along the trail. Notice the paper on the fence.

"The private life of a shepherd is not easy with 15,000 visitors (ie: hikers) a season! We are trying nevertheless. Thank you for respecting this "private zone" (property)."

To access the top of the mountain we had to use a cable to get up. I don't think we did this last time! But so worth the view at the very top!

After lunch at the top we came back down to Sappey-en-Chartreuse, a village with a population of maybe 1,200. It has a ski hill, a church, city hall ("Mairie", where you see the French flags), a tourist center, a small grocery store, three cafés, with one that makes it's own craft beer and this is where we stopped before taking the bus back to Grenoble. Craft beer is just starting to be produced in France, so it was a treat to find this. As we were enjoying our beer we noticed people leaving the café with bags of bread. I asked about this and the owner said that the locals order this organic bread from a couple of villages over and it gets delivered daily.

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