As I've written before our eldest son is not particularly fond of walking or hiking. We have therefore a list of 'things-do-to-other-than-hiking' to get us through the vacation in relative harmony. The idea is to do one or two hikes, than something from the 'things-to-do-other-than-hiking'-list followed by a day of doing nothing, staying on the campsite and only go away for shopping. And than, rinse and repeat the cycle.
But we have another trick up on our sleeve. What do kids invariably like? Swimming, of course. And where better to swim than in a natural lake? So the trick is: walk to a mountain lake where you can take a swim.
The Alpes around Briançon are abundant with mountain lakes. For this hike we choose the region North of Briançon, known as the Vallée du Clarée. A little beyond the village of Nevache lies a little settlement with the name Fontcouvert. It is reachable by a very small tarmic road. Because Fontcouvert is such a popular start for hikes, the road is closed for cars between 9 am and 5 pm. During those hours you're supposed to park in Nevache and take a shuttle bus to Fontcouvert. As we arrived there a little before 9 o'clock we chose to drive to Fontcouvert ourselves.
The road to Fontcouvert is small, windy and not really suited for two-way traffic. There is a reason why the road is closed for normal traffic during day hours. When a car or bus nears from the other direction one or both have to look for a suitable spot to pass another. And as it is so full of bends one has to drive really slow because you just can not see what is approaching from the other side of the bend. Add to that the number of cyclists going up (and down) and you have a mix for disaster if not everyone drivers really careful and slowly. Since I bought a new car only two weeks prior to going on holidays I'm driving really carefully... :-)
Event though we arrived a little after half past 9, the parking was already nearly full. We were lucky to find a parking spot somewhere in the middle.
From the parking place you walk back in the direction you came from, across the river Clarée. This is already a really beautiful spot and we were almost tempted to just forget the hike up and stay here the rest of the day.
Across the bridge the path goes left and starts going up. It is an easy path even though the rise is quite steep.
Within the first 40 minutes or so you rise almost 300 metres as can be easily seen from looking at the houses on the other side of the valley.
Somewhere along that path we came across a house, where the people who live there, appearantly have three dogs, called "Sky", " Laskac" and "Nala".
After a climb of 300 meter you reach Revuge de Ricou. There the path takes a turn right and you go straight up. The path winds it's way upwards for about 250 meters across a grassy mountainslope, scattered with rocks.
And then, rounding another bend in the path you suddenly get your first view of Lac Laramon.
Lac Laramon is a beautiful mountain lake with clear blue water and full of trout, both very young and small ones and full grown adults. The view of the surrounding mountains is beautiful and there is enough room for a nice place to lunch a long the shores of the lake. It is an idylic, almost perfect place.
Yet, we did not stay there. Because some 100 meters higher, there is a second lake, Lac dus Serpent. And yes, the French word serpent means the same things as the English word serpent. Though why it is called that is not clear; we did not see any snakes there.
That second lake is even more beautiful than the first one. And since it takes extra effort to get there, there are less people.
We enjoyed our lunch there. And stayed for a few hours, reading, spotting marmots, enjoying the view. It is a beautiful spot and with the nice weather we had there it is almost a bit like paradise.
(All images were made by me)