Dormillouse waterfalls

A Day Walk at the Freissinières Valley – A 7.5km circular walk with 450m of uphill (35 minute drive from Briançon, Serre Chevalier)

The road to the start of this walk leads from the main N94, passing under the railway, just before Roche de Rame and heads up the cyclists’ tortuous ascent of the hill to Pallon before finding the flat section of the valley of the Biaysse. The massive orange cliffs, bearing one of the first Via Ferattas in France, contrast with the green fields below.

After the village of Freissinières itself the road becomes narrower but cars can reach the parking at the head of the valley without a problem in summer. On the other hand, in winter, this is an avalanche-prone valley for ice climbers and walkers on snow-shoes.

Route

Waterfalls of Dormillouse © Greg Murrow

Waterfalls of Dormillouse © Greg Murrow

From the car park at the end of the road, cross the bridge and follow the path down the left bank of the river Biaysse
to emerge by the road bridge that you crossed earlier in the car. Walk a short distance along the road back towards Fressiniéres (500m) to the point where the old mule track sets off up left through the trees (Vielle Route to Dormillouse). Follow this path by a steady zig zagging
ascent which crosses spectacularly beneath a large waterfall. You may keep your feet dry or in heavy flow, have to be content with some photos and turn back. If you do cross the outflowing stream, note that it drops away over a large cliff to your left, so take care. The path leads on to the hamlet of Dormillouse, where you can find refreshments before descending out over a small bridge and then the twisty path back to the car, with views into the huge waterfall and the powerful stream just above the car park.

Dormillouse © Greg Murrow

Dormillouse © Greg Murrow

Dormillouse

Orange lillies © Greg Murrow

Orange lillies © Greg Murrow

This walk is best enjoyed at a leisurely pace, to take in the grandeur of the cliffs that in winter hold incredible amounts of ice. The waterfalls create a damp micro climate that suits the growth of the spectacular Orange Lillies that thrive either side of the path in Spring. As part of the route crosses into the Ecrins National Park, it should be noted that dogs are not even allowed on a leash. More adventurous, arduous walks can be taken from the same car park using the map ‘ORCIERES-MERLETTE CARTE DE RANDONNEE 3437 ET’ 1: 25 000 from the IGN.