A weekend in a van at the lake of Monteynard
A turquoise blue lake and a hike with breathtaking Himalayan walkways.
They had been talking to me about this place for a while. At the time, I preferred other more distant destinations to escape. Yet this nugget was less than 2 hours from where I grew up (Valmorel in Savoy).
As they say, “better late than never”!
I was captivated, it is magnificent, the views of the lake with fifty shades of blue and the Himalayan bridges are vertiginous.
The bridge at L’Ebron is no less than 180m high and overlooks the lake up to 85m high. The Drac is 220 m long and rises, like the Ebron, up to 85 m above the lake. It is therefore better not to have vertigo to pass them serenely.
Hiking, mountain biking, bungee jumping, trail running, or water sports such as windsurfing or kiteing, when conditions permit. There is no shortage of sports activities. An unmissable destination if you are in Isère or even in the Rhône Alpes. And for the delight of vanlifers, you will find plenty of great spots to sleep in.
Day 1 :
The first day, I arrived in the late afternoon, so I decided to go and see the sunset at the viewpoint located at the level of the village of Monteynard.
There is a small parking lot on the right (or left depending on where you arrive), with a splendid view.
The lake, the sunlight falling little by little. I decide to take pictures a little further on the ridge to walk with Tao and take some pictures.
I was not disappointed, the view of the lake, of this ridge, is completely crazy and the photos speak for themselves.
Back in the parking lot it’s decided, I stay here for the night. So I start to have a nice dinner and open myself a good Mont Blanc beer. Because they are the best and they are gluten-free (I have trouble digesting it, as well as cow’s milk… I am almost ashamed being Savoyard).
GPS point of the spot :
44.9657, 5.6984 (lat, lng)
N 44° 57′ 56″ E 5° 41′ 54″ (lat lng)
Day 2 :
The next morning, the weather was cloudy, but the view was still beautiful. What a joy to wake up there, facing this splendid view.
The day before, I had spotted a lot of blackberries on the way to the ridge, so I left with my tupperware to pick blackberries. This will enhance my snacks and breakfasts.
Then it was time for a short hike to see the first Himalayan footbridge, that of stage fright. It overlooks the lake and the Drac gorges.
I urge you to make the loop around the lake. It is necessary to plan the day because the hike takes in total between 5 and 6 hours if you choose to do it in its entirety.
You will also have to take the boat either in the morning before the hike (Departure from Treffort) or in the afternoon to return to your starting point (Departure from Savel). The crossing will take between 15 and 20 minutes by boat. Do not forget to book your ticket in advance so that you are sure not to stay on the dock because the number of seats on the boat is limited.
The good news for those who want to go hiking with their four-legged acolytes, dogs are allowed on the boat.
The advantage of this hike is that it is accessible to both sportsmen and less sportsmen. You can choose to do it in different ways.
From Treffort or Savel, you can do the whole hike or just a few sections, in a loop or round trip. It’s up to you to go at your own pace and according to your desires.
You will enjoy incredible views of the Triéves, or the Vercors and the Devoluy. Fortunately there are many shady passages in the forest, very appreciable because the sun was strong in this summer 2022.
For my part, I couldn’t do the whole hike because Tao was only 4 months old at the time. So I couldn’t walk it for hours.
I chose to do it in several sections and over several days and even if I did not do the whole I could still see this splendor of the 2 Himalayan gateways.
In the evening I went back to the same sleepy spot as the day before, it’s so beautiful and there was no one there. I wasn’t going to deprive myself. Two other vans then joined me but we were far from being on top of each other. Yet it was in the middle of August.
Day 3 :
After having taken the view with the Himalayan footbridge of the Erbon, I decided to change the scenery and make a trip in time thanks to the «little train of the blackberry».
This little mythical red train of the French Alps, offers a nice journey of 45 minutes with beautiful landscapes. Unfortunately the train will not take you to the end as was the case before. There was a landslide and part of the section had to be removed for safety reasons.
The train will drop you off at the terminus in order to reach on foot the end of the stretch that offers the breathtaking view of the lake and the dam. No difficulty to predict because it is a flat path more than 2m wide.
You will also find a restaurant for a snack or a drink in the sun. Personally I opted for a Spritz in the sun «with the view»!
GPS point :
44.8703, 5.8156 (lat, lng)
N 44° 52′ 13″ E 5° 48′ 56″ (lat lng)
In the evening, I went to rest near another lake not very far from the Lake of Monteynard, the lake of Sainte Pierre, located below the village of Saint Pierre de Méaroz (35 minutes by car from the beach of Savel and only 15 minutes from the Mûre). I understood that from mid-July to mid-August there were a lot of people but I was lucky, because when I went there, the last weekend of August, there were only 5 or 6 vans. So we were spoilt for choice level place and this spot is a real gem. By the lake, there are plenty of flat places shaded by trees.
It is forbidden to swim this because it is a dam lake but I met many anglers. I don’t fish, but apparently it’s a great spot for that.
I loved this spot, the next day I was able to enjoy the place and practice my yoga in peace. The lake, the singing birds, the sun caressing my face… I am not in paradise but almost.
Access and practical information :
Hiking around the lake :
Duration : 5 hours and a half
Positive altitude difference : 350m
Distance : 15.3 km . Departure from Treffort or Savel
Difficulty : Average, there is little difference in altitude but the hike is quite long and some passages are rocky, so plan on good walking shoes.
If you leave Treffort then the hike will start with the boat crossing. If you leave Savel, on the other hand, the boat will close the day of walking to return to your starting point.
Caution : the departure is made from a different point depending on where you left.
The little train of the Blackberry (Petit train de la mûre) :
The train runs from April to November.
Travel time : 45 minutes
Count 25€ per adult in high season (June – July and August) and 23.5€ in low season. 20€ for children and free for those under 4 years old.
Dogs are allowed but you will have to pay 4€ extra.