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davidx Ceillac - A travel report by David
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Ceillac,  France - flag France -  Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur
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davidx's travel reports

Ceillac and La Queyras

  18 votes
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In France everyone knows Paris is big and Mont Blanc is high. You could loose Ceillac in Paris and the Queyras mountains are 1,000m lower than those of Haute Savoie but NOWHERE beats Ceillac or La Queyras for beauty.

Sundials are a feature here
Sundials are a feature here
In was in the 1980s that Pam and I were in La Queyras and a ski resort was being built at Ceillac. I hesitated to write a report on it for fear that it had changed too much. A quick look at the photos on otos/ceillacP03.html [no gap] dispelled my fears. Ceillac, however, still seems to be the idyllic French village it was then. So Ceillac is a village and La Queyras is a district in the Alps. However it does not lie in the region called Rhone-Alpes, which contains the highest mountains, but is in the Hautes Alpes Département of Provence. It’s south from Briançon and it borders Italy. We heard that it had a wonderful micro-climate and sure enough we were there about nine nights with one day of fearsome rain but the rest sparkling and sunny. Don’t expect warm nights in June, though. We were bitterly cold in our tent, until it occurred to us to lay a level of newspaper under our lilos. That solved the problem. If I had to list the things that stick most firmly in my mind they would include: the general quiet beauty of the whole area; the little streams in the morning that became raging rivers in the late afternoon after days of melting snow; the superb flowers, narcissi and yellow gentian at village level and so many Alpines above, particularly blue gentians around Lac Miroir near Ceillac; the marmots on the way to Italian Monte Viso; giving loud alarm signals like a referee’s whistle; [how I tried to capture these creatures on film and what great slides I have of the holes into which they had just disappeared]; the lovely camping site with emplacements between the larches; the sundials in the villages, a feature of the area; the incongruity of the corrugated iron roofs which have replaced timber; traditional boules games in the street and lastly a very specific sight – fences in the street at Ceillac the evening when thunder and lightning seemed imminent, to keep in the hundreds of sheep [literally] that had been collected there.

Favourite spots:
Fordable a.m. wetting p.m.
Fordable a.m. wetting p.m.
Since I welcomed breaks from driving, much as I enjoyed exploring La Queyras as a whole, my favourite days were those spent walking from Ceillac. I loved the village as well and was happy not to buy too much at a time so that I could walk down early in the day for more. Fresh bread was delivered to the site, which might otherwise have been the only thing making daily visits a necessity. Three walks I remember well. One was the fierce pull up through the woods above the waterfall to the fabulous Lac Miroir with its extravagant displays of different types of blue gentian. The other two were to mountain passes and one of them was where we learned never to assume that you will be able to cross back over a stream you have crossed easily some hours before. Melting snow has a very rapid effect. A more pleasant lesson was how very quickly flowers grow where snow has only just melted.

What's really great:
St. Veran
St. Veran
If you go down the road from Ceillac as though leaving La Queyras but turn roght instead of left and then turn at the next right for St Veran you will come to what may well be the highest village in Europe to be occupied all year round. The village has a brilliant website at r/english/decouverte-.html. We had worked out a good walk, starting from a point much higher up the rough road past the village but the snow still made this impossible.

Ceillac travelogue picture
If you pass the turning for St Veran and continue through Abriés, you will eventually reach a belvedere where you have to abandon the car. Do continue on foot into the land of the marmots with Monte Visto towering ahead of you across the Italian border. This was thought by many to be Hannibal’s route across the Alps with those elephants.
This seems as good a place as any to mention a very good website, ation-abries.htm with a clear relief map.

Ceillac travelogue picture
We stayed at Camping Mélèzes [larches], a three star site on the road to the Logis and the waterfall from Ceillac. The Camping Municipal nearer to the village was still being constructed and I don’t know how it compares. [one star].
The only thing at ours, which you could perhaps find off-putting was the unisex toilet and shower block. It didn’t seem to scare anybody away and in general the site is great with the delightfully spacious emplacements between the larches.
One note of caution. Check when they are open before you go! [Municipal 04 92 45 17 89 and Melezes 04 92 45 21 93]

Ceillac travelogue picture
‘La Cascade’, unsurprisingly situated near a waterfall, is a Logis de France a little above Ceillac. The one really wet day it seemed madness to spoil our trip to Briançon by cooking at the camp site. On reaching La Cascade we recognised practically evrybody eating there, our fellow campers. However I don’t want to sound as though I can only recommend it as a refuge from rain. The food was excellent and I’m sure it would make a really good place to stay as well.
http://www.lo k/recherch/in dex-ca.htm [no gaps]

Other recommendations:
Ceillac travelogue picture
Briançon is interesting primarily for its situation and its military architecture and general design. It was completely rebuilt, after being sacked, in the 18th century according to plans by Vauban.
I shouldn’t want to be there too long on a fine day. It,s a major winter sports centre and far too busy for my taste compared with La Queyras.

A last word of caution on La Queyras generally. We were prevented from doing some things we wanted by the snow and it is possibly better, certainly if you’re taking children, to go in late July and August.

Published on Sunday February 20th, 2005

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Mon, Jan 09 2012 - 07:42 AM rating by louis

Wonderful report and pictures are faboulous.

Thu, May 13 2010 - 08:13 AM rating by farnaz

wonderful report and very beautiful photos! thanks David!

Tue, Mar 01 2005 - 04:59 AM rating by ravinderkumarsi

very very well written report

Sun, Feb 27 2005 - 09:17 AM rating by marianne

Hi David,
Is this a photo of Pam?

Mon, Feb 21 2005 - 01:50 PM rating by mistybleu

Great report, and some of the pictures are fab.


Sun, Feb 20 2005 - 02:33 PM rating by bootlegga

Those are some stunning mountain pics! As usual, another great report!

Sun, Feb 20 2005 - 06:07 AM rating by rangutan

Great report on a beautiful place.

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