In the mountainous Ecrins the houses in the villages huddle together for warmth and companionship around a winding road, joined by steep narrow cobbled lanes and steps. The houses are built from rough stone with steep roofs and small windows. Typically, the windows have shutters and the traditional stone houses have a sort of wooden balcony for storing logs.
Above the village of La Grave the villages cling to the hillside, looking as if they could slide down at any time. Around the villages the pattern of the old farmed terraces can still be seen in the meadows. Each village has a church in a similar style and there are also stone wayside shrines on the roads between the villages, you might also find the communal oven and you will always find a water tap of fresh mountain water. As you climb higher the houses in these villages are less likely to be occupied all year round. In Le Grave we stayed at the wonderful Camping de la Meije just a few minutes from the village.
In Vallouise and Venosc we admired the sundials, including the beautiful 19th century Zarbula sundial on a magnificent villa in Vallouise. You can follow the Sundial trail through the region to find more.
We toured around the Ecrins National Park in an anti-clockwise direction over a couple of weeks and camped in five different valleys, each one having its own personality and each offering spectacular mountain walking.