Around the mines (trail route no. 22)
L'Argentière-la-Bessée

Around the mines (trail route no. 22)

Fauna
Flora
History and architecture
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Alternating between meadow and forest, this circuit takes you into the Fournel valley, a place steeped in history, marked by the presence of silver mines
Running through the municipality of L'Argentière-la-Bessée, this trail takes you up to the north-facing slopes ("Ubac") and on to the Bois de Champ Pelbaud through a pine forest before dropping back down into the eponymous valley, a popular ice climbing centre in the winter. You will overlook the gorges of the Fournel where silver mining was at its peak in the nineteenth century, before passing through the fields and buildings of the municipality.

Description

The circuit starts at the Les Écrins campsite in L'Argentière-la-Bessée, follows the railway line for 500 metres, before crossing it to take the local road towards Le Plan Léothaud

  1. At the centre of the hairpin bend, go right onto a path leading to Peyre de Lière
  2. Go to the extreme right towards the "Ubac" (north-facing slope) and Leyrette and then climb up to the Bois de Champ Pelbaud, going through a pine forest until you come to Le Sapey
  3. Cross the Fournel via the bridge at Le Sapey and then head to the right towards the silver mines ("Mines d'Argent")
  4. Before the silver mines, head left to reach the Les Blachières road which takes you on a more open descent through fields and houses to the church and then past the industrial zone of L'Argentière-la-Bessée
  5. At the roundabout, turn right, then left and then right again to join the green route ("Voie Verte") to L'Argentière-la-Bessée along the banks of the Durance. Then, go back across the Fournel to the white water stadium and the starting point
  • Departure : Camping Les Écrins, L’Argentière-la-Bessée
  • Arrival : Camping Les Écrins, L’Argentière-la-Bessée
  • Towns crossed : L'Argentière-la-Bessée

10 points of interest

  • Fauna

    The common chiffchaff

    When spring arrives, a relentless «cheep, cheep» echoes around the forest. The singer is a small bird with a greenish grey and yellowish-white back, the common chiffchaff. Like other inconspicuous birds, the male has every incentive to make himself heard if he wants to attract the attention of a female! They are migratory and live almost anywhere where there are trees and bushes. 

  • Flora

    The sea-buckthorn

    Here and there, you come across a bush with narrow leaves which are green on their upper sides and silvery-grey underneath. Take care, the branches are spiky! In autumn, it produces acidic bright orange berries. They are very rich in vitamin C and are best as a syrup or marmalade. It is a pioneer species which colonises alluvial soils in sunny situations. It has also been used by the Mountain Terrain Restoration service to stabilise slopes prone to water runoff. 

  • Flora

    The wild angelica

    On the edges of seepage areas, the wild angelica grows. This is a tall umbellifer (the Apiaceae family) with blush white flowers and a hollow purplish stem. It is a cousin of garden angelica which grows in Northern Europe and is cultivated for its medicinal and culinary properties. The stem, the petiole (the «tail») and the leaf sheath can be candied.

  • Water

    The Fournel

    The Fournel mountain stream gives generously. Its water makes up a large proportion of the town's drinking water, supplies the irrigation canals, is used for hydropower and offers a recreational area valuable to the local economy in the form of its canyon, located in the gorge connecting it to the Durance. Being a mountain stream, it is impetuous, but sills have been built lower down and it has been dammed to prevent natural disasters. Numerous mountain streams have received the same treatment…

  • Vernacular heritage

    The silver mines

    The path passes close to the silver mines which gave L'Argentière its name (argent meaning "silver"). They were first worked in the early Medieval period and later abandoned before exploitation resumed again in the nineteenth century. They were finally closed in 1908. Since 1992, the site has been the subject of archaeological excavations, with major work to clear materials carried by the Fournel when in flood. They can be visited with a guide (by appointment), leaving the visitor in awe: how much ingenuity has been involved in extracting the silver-bearing galena!
  • Flora

    The Apollo

    This large white butterfly decorated with black marks and red dots, is common in warm areas where stonecrops and houseleeks grow, as these are host plants for its caterpillars. It remains common in the Alps, but is much rarer elsewhere. In fact, it is a protected species. Its movement to higher altitudes has been observed, in line with climate warming, because its eggs, which it lays on plants in summer, need a certain number of days of freezing temperatures in winter in order to hatch.

  • Vernacular heritage

    The hamlets of L'Argentière

    Before it was attached to the municipality of La-Bessée during the revolutionary period, L'Argentière covered this well-exposed slope, with all its hamlets from the church to Eychaillon. It was only in the second half of the nineteenth century, when the Durance was dammed and industries sprang up here, that the modern town of L'Argentière developed in the plain between the two old localities. The path takes you on a discovery of the old hamlets and their very attractive houses.

  • History

    The Francis turbine

    The American James Francis developed the Francis turbine between 1849 and 1855. It is a “àreaction” turbine suitable for medium-sized waterfalls (with a water head of between 15 and 500 metres). The water enters the turbine and then circulates between the turbine blades, which are fixed, while the inner wheel is mobile. The pressure at the wheel intake is greater than the pressure at the outlet. 

  • Water

    The Durance

    The Durance is the biggest river in Provence. Its source rises in the municipality of Montgenèvre at an altitude of 2,390 metres, and it flows down to meet the Rhône to the south of Avignon. This is a "pluvio-nival" river, that is to say, its flow depends on the natural addition of water due to snowmelt and rainfall. It thus constitutes a real playground for kayakers from across Europe.
  • Water

    The white water stadium

    As part of its restructuring after the closure of the industrial site, the town of L'Argentière-la-Bessée opted for sports tourism, exploiting the natural elements present on the site, that is to say, water. Standing at the beginning of the longest navigable section of the Durance river, in 1993 the municipality decided to establish itself as a major white water centre by creating this stadium which covers a 400-metre stretch. So thanks to its reputation and its ideal situation, every year this stadium hosts several elite competitions at national and international level.

Forecast


Altimetric profile


Sensitive areas

Along your trek, you will go through sensitive areas related to the presence of a specific species or environment. In these areas, an appropriate behaviour allows to contribute to their preservation. For detailed information, specific forms are accessible for each area.

Short-toed snake eagle

Impacted practices:
Aerial,
Sensitivity periods:
MarAprMayJunJulAugSep
Contact:
Parc National des Écrins
Julien Charron
julien.charron@ecrins-parcnational.fr

Short-toed snake eagle

Impacted practices:
Aerial,
Sensitivity periods:
MarAprMayJunJulAugSep
Contact:
Parc National des Écrins
Julien Charron
julien.charron@ecrins-parcnational.fr

Short-toed snake eagle

Impacted practices:
Aerial,
Sensitivity periods:
MarAprMayJunJulAugSep
Contact:
Parc National des Écrins
Julien Charron
julien.charron@ecrins-parcnational.fr

Short-toed snake eagle

Impacted practices:
Aerial,
Sensitivity periods:
MarAprMayJunJulAugSep
Contact:
Parc National des Écrins
Julien Charron
julien.charron@ecrins-parcnational.fr

Short-toed snake eagle

Impacted practices:
Aerial,
Sensitivity periods:
MarAprMayJunJulAugSep
Contact:
Parc National des Écrins
Julien Charron
julien.charron@ecrins-parcnational.fr

Recommandations

Before setting off, it is very important to check the opening periods for this route on the website: https://stationdetrail.com/fr/stations/le-pays-des-ecrins/parcours

Share your photographs on social networks with #stationdetrailecrins

Check weather conditions before setting off.

Rescue services contact details: Secours Montagne (Mountain Rescue): +33 (0)4 92 22 22 22 or 112

Show consideration for the work of farmers, livestock keepers and owners

Close all gates behind you

Take your litter home

Do not take shortcuts across pastureland

The trail routes are also suitable for walking


Information desks

Vallouise Park house

, 05290 Vallouise

http://www.ecrins-parcnational.fr/vallouise@ecrins-parcnational.fr04 92 23 58 08

Information, documentation, models, exhibitions, screenings, product sales and works of the Park. Guided tours for school, reservation required. The new Park House opened in Vallouise since June 1, and offers visitors an interactive permanent exhibition inviting to explore the area and its heritage. A temporary exhibition space will allow a renewed offer. Finally, the device is completed by an audiovisual room to organize screenings and conferences Free admission. All animations of the Park are free unless otherwise stated.

Find out more

23 Avenue de la République, 05120 L'Argentière-La Bessée

https://www.paysdesecrins.com/contact@paysdesecrins.com+33(0)4 92 23 03 11

Transport

Public transport >> www.pacamobilite.fr
Consider car-sharing >> www.blablacar.fr 

For more information, ask at the Tourist Information Office nearest to the trail starting point >> www.paysdesecrins.com

Access and parking

16 km from Briançon, take the N94.

Parking :

Car park at the Camping Les Écrins, L’Argentière-la-Bessée

More information


Source


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