Child Friendly Walks In Briancon, Alps

If you are thinking of going walking with your kids in Briancon then hopefully this short guide will help you.  I tried to find some child friendly walks on other website but it was quite hard.  If you find others yourself then please let me know and I’ll pop them up on here too.  A couple of things that I’ve found useful.  1) To plan routes, I use two apps based on OpenStreetMaps – one called PocketEarth which has an optional upgrade which gives you contour line.  The second called Map3D which has a great route planner and also shows the route in 3D which is helpful for the kids of understand the route.  2) I have found having loads of snacks keeps the kids going!

 

Walk To Refuge de Buffere

This is a beautiful family friendly walk up to a fantastic mountain hut which is lovely place to eat.  It’s easy to achieve with children because the paths are straight forward and mostly tree covered.  The tree lined section is the steepest section but our 4 and 6 year old managed without any problems.  At the start of the walk, you need to park in the Navache car park and take the shuttle bus up the valley (6 euros for adults and free for kids).  It’s worth asking the driver to stop at the right place because most people on the bus will be travelling further up the valley.   On the way back, you can either retrace your steps to the same bus stop or walk down the valkley to Nevache which add 2.5km onto the day.   It’s a lovely walk down along the river with beautiful waterfalls.

 

The stats are 380m assent, 548m decent and 6.4km distance.

 

The shuttle buses go from right next to the carpark.

 

Here is where you end up.  The food is great and you can get beer too.  Main courses are 9-12 euros.  Ice creams 2 euros.  The kids enjoyed omlettes and I enjoyed the pasta carbonara.  But the prize went to my wife, who ordered the assiette vegetariane.

 

This is the steepest section to the walk.  It’s not actually hard and there are plenty of places to stop for a snack.

 

You arrive back into Navache where there is a lovely bakery and ice creams.

 

Walk around Lac de L’Orceyrette

This gourgous family frienly walk takes you into a quiet nature reserve about 35 minutes outside Briancon.  You have to drive towards Ayes on roads which aren’t always tarmaced and you feel like you’re driving into the back of beyond.  However, as you arrive, you are greeted by a massive car park and it suddenly become okay.  It’s a fantastic circular walk which kids will love.  You should go around clockwise because this gives you best views of the lake as you come down and a nice rest by the side of the lake at the end. The first part of the walk is the hardest work as you climb up through the woods and then you can stop of a picnic in a meadow full of butterflies. You then traverse through woods, finally popping out onto a gravel road which takes you down to the lake.  I left my kids (with wife) at the lake to rest and then walked the final part and brought the car up to the lake to pick them up.

 

The stats – the whole thing circular route is around 9km.  It’s around 7km just to the lake.  There is 360m of ascent.  It took around 4 hours for us at a leasurely pace.  You go around clock wise.

 

You park in a large carpark next to the river.   We walked the route on a Saturday and it was filled with families playing in the river and camping.

 

Here is a photo of then entrance of the walk.  It’s a little unassuming and so you can easily walk passed it. This photo is taken looking back on it.  I.e you will have walked up from the carpark below.

 

Heading up between the trees.   It’s interesting walking and perfect for keeping the kids going,

 

The traverse is stunning with great views of a typical Ecrin skyline around you.

 

You get some lovely views of the lake.

 

Walking along the lake at the end.

 

Vallouise River Walk

Vallouise is pretty little villiage about 35 minutes drive from Briancon.  This family friendly walk is excellent for children.  It starts from the centre of the Vallouise.  You walk up one side of the river to a bridge and then down the otherside.   The first part of the walk is a flat gravel track and would be suitable for a buggy.  The second half of the walk has some reasonable exposed walking along a narrow path – so it’s sometimes worth holding kids hands.

The stats:  It’s only 3km long, with just 70m assent and took us roughly 2 hours.   Go around counter clockwise.

 

The walk starts at the bridge in the centre:

 

The best views are on the way back.

 

The path is quite thin but totally manageable for kids.

 

A High Walk In Montgenèvre

Montgenèvre is small ski resort about 30 minutes east of Briancon.   This is a great child friendly walk to do with your family because you can use the lifts to get up high – saving lots of time and energy    You need to get the lift pass which allows you to take both lifts right to the top.  It costs €12 adult, €8 child and children under 4 are free.  The only annoying thing about this walk is the mountain bikers who also use the lifts in the summer to race down.  It only affects the first section when you walk from the top of the first cable car to the second.

The walk is mostly in meadows.  You walk down the ridge towards a col.  You then talk through an undulating meadow to reach a beautiful lake which is perfect for a picnic lunch.  You than walk back up the col and then almost in a straight line through meadows back to the top of the first lift.  The meadows will be brimming with crickets, marmots and butterflys.  It’s a real treat.

The stats: 6km (not including the lifts), 490m decend and 130m ascent.  It took us 3hr.

The view from the top of the lift looking back at Montgenèvre.

Panoramic views from the top lift.

Looking down at the lake.

Having a picnic 🙂

 

Walk To Refuge des Drayères

This is very easy child friendly walk in the Claree valley.   The walk starts in the same way as the walk to Refuge Buffere.  You park in the Navache carpark and catch the shuttle bus to Laval which is the final stop of the bus.  The walk follows a river and there you can either follow the track to the right of the river or a much smaller and more interesting foot path to the left.   You should be aware that sometimes the footpath can flood in the spring.   The Refuge des Drayeres is a very friendly and welcoming refuge.  The food is reasonably priced. For example: omlettes – €9, beef bourguignon – €12.50 and coffee – €1.80.  If the weather is poor there is plenty of space to eat inside.  It’s also worth noting that the Refuse de Laval is at the start of the walk (about 2 minutes from the bus stop) and so you can get a pre-start coffee.

I recommend going around clockwise.  The stats are: 5.5km and 190m ascent.

 

Here is where you will end up. There are tables outside and inside.  The staff are very friendly.

 

Here is the walk up on the footpath.  The views are spectacular.  This is the steepest section.   Small sections of the path have drops off the side and so worth holding hands for.

 

There was a delightfull little girl in the hut.  She had some colouring which she kindly shared with our kids.  They loved it.  We are planning to come back to this hut and spend the night with the girls!

 

Walk To Lac de L’Oule

This walk is perhaps the highest of all the walks.  It’s about 45 minutes drive from Briancon up a narrow winding road.  You arrive at the Col de Granon which has a cafe, lots of old millitary baracks and a large car park.  It is perhaps the most popular walk of all the walks that we did.  It is full of families walking up the large paths.  It’s an easy walk because you can’t get lost and it has minimal height gain.  You can vary the lenght of the walk by either going down to the lake or turning around at the col.   The only down side in my opinion is that it is too popular.  In the other walks, we found peace and lots of nature.  This walk is all about the views though.

The stats:  6.5km and 290m ascent (assuming that you go all the way down to the lake).

There are two lakes.

The walking is really easy and path really clear.

 

I hope this post was useful to someone.  Please leave me a comment if you like it.

Great Alternative to Adobe Illustrator

I’ve been using Adobe Illustrator for perhaps 16 years.  It’s been a trusty workhorse for me.   My old version of Illustrator stopped running well on new versions of MacOS – so I had to upgrade and move to their subscription model.  Since then, I’ve been trying to find another program to use.  I hated seeing the £16 leaving by bank account each month – especially when I’ve haven’t used it for a few weeks while I’ve been on holiday.

Finally – A good alternative to Adobe Illustrator... I needed a program which works on Mac and Windows.  I’ve tried the free programs like Inkscape (I love open source stuff) but it just isn’t as good enough.  Finally, I found Affinity Designer .  It’s a modern updated / rebranded version of a program called DrawPlus that’s actually need around for donkey’s years.   It costs around £50 and so it quickly pays for itself.   The really cool thing that they’ve done is make a trilogy of three graph programs which intergrate really well with each another to make a really cool workflow.  However, this post isn’t really about that.  It’s about their alternative to Illustrator.

Here is screenshot:

I mostly use Affinity Designer to create marketing material, patent drawings or design documents.  I’ve been using it for a while now and here are difference between Affinity Designer and Adobe Illustrator that I’ve noticed….

Improvements Over Adobe Illustrator

It Feels The Same – Firstly, it’s worth pointing out that 99% of the application feels the same.   The quick keys (such as “v”,”a”,”space-bar”) are all the same.  It feels natural (unlike swapping from Photoshop to GIMP which everyone tries at some point and then gives up).  The UI is basically the same.

Copy and Paste – This might seem slightly picky and random but something that I have always hated about Adobe Illustrator was the copy and paste function.   Illustrator would put the pasted object somewhere seemly random on the document.  With Affinitiy Designer it puts the pasted object on the top of the object you are copying.  The first time it happened, I searched around for the object and couldn’t spot it!  Copying the new object on top of the old one is excellent because you don’t have to search and often I find that I want the new object next to the first thing anyhow.

Selection – In Illustrator anything is in a dragged out selection box is selected.  I used to find this really annoying because you might just catch a tiny bit of an object in the selection box and then you have do a shift-click to deselect it.  In Designer only things which are entirely in the selection are sellected.  This is much much better usability.  I love it.

Disavantages Over Adobe Illustrator

Speed – Affinity Designer claims to be really quick.  I use it on both a Mac and Windows.  On my Mac it seem fine but personally, I don’t find it quite as quick as Illustrator on my Windows machine.  I’m sure that there is way to speed it up but out the box it seems to be the case.

Patterns – There isn’t a fill pattern library.  (Yes, this is hard to find in Illustrator but at least it exists).

Not everythings in the menu – Affinity Designer has loads of features and a context based menu.  This is great but you have to know what the icons on the menu do.  For example, it’s hard to find out how to evenly distribute objects until you find the button.  Which is here:

I will keep updating this post as I find more differences.  I hope this helps someone.