In the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, this wild valley offers a Nordic and gourmet break in this winter without ski lifts. Ski touring, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing … Our guide, from Barcelonnette to Pra Loup.
From the shores of Lac de Serre-Ponçon to the Col de Larche, on the border with Italy, the Ubaye Valley is nestled in the eastern part of the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. Crossed by the river that bears its name, this sunny gateway to Provence alternates between the discovery of small villages where time has stood still – such as Méolans-Revel or Saint-Paul-sur-Ubaye-, ski resorts, Nordic sites and high peaks dominated by the Aiguille de Chambeyron (3412 meters).
Barcelonnette, its capital (2300 inhabitants per year) perched at 1135 m, invites you to stroll with its shopping streets and its unusual “Mexican villas”, the legacies of migrants returning to the valley. A stone’s throw away, you will find the stations of Sauze and of to loup which, despite the closure of the ski lifts this winter, will attract cross-country skiing and snowshoeing enthusiasts with their marked routes. Suspended at an altitude of 1,830 meters, the third resort of Ubaye, Saint Anne, overlooks the village and the hamlets of the Condamine-Châtelard in the preserved part of the Haute-Vallée.
A “polar” change of scenery in perspective, in this white paradise for hikers. In this valley of the Southern Alps, there are also three Nordic areas to try out cross-country skiing. That of Val d’Oronaye, unveils 40 km of slopes of all levels, the most famous being that of Lauzanier. More bucolic, the Nordic site of Saint-Paul-sur-Ubaye offers 18 km of tracks that crisscross between larches and on the banks of the river … When the snow is there, know that there is a nice loop 2 km from Barcelonnette, on the Bois Chenu golf course. Dog sled rides with a musher, ski touring accompanied by a guide, snowshoes on marked routes near the slopes… The reliefs of Ubaye reveal themselves in a sporting fashion.
Discovering Haute-Ubaye on snowshoes
The Haute-Ubaye, which begins after the village of Jausiers, offers a feeling of high mountains and unspoiled landscapes. To enjoy it with your snowshoes, head for the small resort of Sainte-Anne. Two routes: a 5 km loop that begins at the resort car park towards the Vallon du Parpaillon and goes to the Sainte-Anne Chapel (locate the signs and allow 3 hours). Easier, the small circuit “Les Eyssalps”, 3 km with splendid windows on the valley. When the conditions allow – you have to take a narrow road – plan a snowshoe trip starting from the Hameau de Maljasset, a jewel of a village set on immaculate heights. It will take 3 hours for this 7 km breakaway which serves the Clos de Balet viewpoint.
To rent your equipment: Sports Technicians – Grand Rue 04850 Jausiers; Phone: 04 92 81 13 93
Be careful to respect the markings because the mountain areas are not secure.
Slide in sledges in the Meyronnes forest
The musher Eric Martinez offers baptisms in dog sleds in the expanses of the Val d’Oronaye. Comfortably seated in the sled, participants (up to two adults and one child) are towed by 7 to 10 dogs. Along the Ubayette, a tributary of the Ubaye, and under the snow-laden trees, the convoy moves to the rhythm of the pack.
Cleaning: Au Howl du Crépuscule 30 € / per person; tel .: 06 19 35 50 98. On special request, possibility to learn how to drive a team.
Sleep in a yurt or in a barrel
These are certainly some of the most unusual accommodations on the banks of the Ubaye. On the one hand, glass barrels, and above all well heated, to spend the night in the heart of nature. But also, for families, a 27m² yurt in the middle of larches. Six people can stay around the wood stove. The host has also transformed one of his glass barrels into a sauna that can be privatized. Nordic experience guaranteed for lovers of hot and cold (and snow scrub)! Packed lunches made from organic and local products are delivered on request. The plus: adjacent to the Nordic site of Saint-Paul-en-Ubaye, you can put on your cross-country skis when you jump out of bed.
90 € / night with breakfast (-15% on the second night and 15 € / additional child). Lunch basket: 45 € for two people. Chez Carole Route de Vars 04530 Saint-Paul-sur-Ubaye https://www.yourte-ubaye.fr/
Feast on local specialties
At the entrance to the village of Jausiers is open, every day of the year, the House of Country Products. About sixty artisans and producers from the Valley have their specialties represented there! Génépi is featured in a few variations: syrup, tomme, terrine or even sausage. You can find La Sauvage beer made in the Saint-Paul-sur-Ubaye brewery, lentils and small spelled from La Bréole, larch bud jelly and even pies! Do not miss the beautiful stall of cheeses made from cow’s and goat’s milk Ubaye Valley Dairy Cooperative. Two direct sales stores in La Bréole and Barcelonnette.
Taste absolutely the Carline, a hard cheese with a gray rind, made from pasteurized cow’s milk. Its flowery and pronounced taste places it in the side of cheeses with character! Note that it was refined in an old railway tunnel …
Adresses: House of Country Products (Jausiers) : open every day all year round, in winter from 9.30 am to 12 noon and from 2.30 pm to 6 pm; Ubaye Valley dairy cooperative : open 7 days a week at the La Bréole store (9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. / 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.) and Sundays until 12:30 p.m. in Barcelonnette, in season; http://www.fromagerie-ubaye.com/
Pra-Loup, Sauze-Super Sauze: what to do in a resort without a downhill ski?
SKI TOURING IN SAUZE
The resort offers several marked ski touring routes near the slopes. You can choose from: a course of 4.4 km (810 meters of difference in height) or of 2.3 km (550 meters of difference in height) to be spotted thanks to the blue markers for skiers. Leaflets to be picked up at the Sauze Tourist Office, at the entrance to the resort. Tel: 04 92 81 05 61. ESF contact: https://esf-sauze.com/
SLEDGING ON RAIL AT PRA LOUP
During the school holidays, head for Pralines, the new two-seater rail sled for 1 km of descent with peaks of 40 km / ax and pretty thrilling curves.
Prices: € 5.50 / children and € 7.50 / adults. https://www.praloops.fr/
How to get to the Ubaye Valley
By car : from Lyon (4 hours), take the A43 motorway to Grenoble then the A51 motorway to Monestier. From Clermont, follow Gap, Barcelonnette / Vallée de l’Ubaye.
From Aix-en-Provence (2h15), take the A51 to Tallard, direction Barcelonnette / Vallée de l’Ubaye.
By train and plane:
The nearest station is the Gap station (Hautes-Alpes), about 65 km from Barcelonnette.
The nearest TGV station is Aix-en-Provence, 2 hours 15 minutes by car.
Marseille Provence Airport is located 210 km from the Ubaye Valley.