From glacial torrents to high peaks, the GR 56 takes you to the eastern end of the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, between the Écrins and Mercantour massifs. The main thread of the route is the Ubaye, the 80-kilometre (50 mi) long river that gives its name to the sumptuous valley you explore. With alpine lakes, picturesque villages, wild valleys and peaks of over 3,000 metres (9,900 ft): the setting is clear, the adventure can begin.
The Ubaye Valley is a high mountain environment with a little something extra. The proximity of the Mediterranean influences the region and the flora is a particularly important witness to this unique climate: in Ubaye, you can see edelweiss and lavender in the same day. Besides that, the fauna is of alpine character so you’re sure to come across a host of marmots, ibexes, chamois and mouflons on your way.
This is a region rich in biodiversity, but also in history. Just a stone's throw from Italy, the valley and its passes are true witnesses of our country's past and of those who defended it in its darkest moments. Forts, military barracks, lookouts and blockhouses line the passes you cross and mark former communication routes and strategic defence sites.
The GR 56 is traditionally walked anti-clockwise from Méolans-Revel, but you can do it as you wish. Saint-Paul-sur-Ubaye can also be a good starting point, depending on where you come from. In this Collection, I’ve organised the route into nine stages, all of which end at a hut or a place where you can find several choices of accommodation. There are many manned and unmanned huts along the way, and wild camping is allowed on the whole route. Don't hesitate to ask the hut wardens along the GR to find good places to pitch your tent.
In terms of access, ZOU!’s LER 30 bus line connects you with the SNCF station in Gap and from there you can reach Méolans-Revel. Gap is accessible by TER from Briançon, Valence and Marseille in particular, as well as by overnight train from Paris.
Finally, opt for the period between the beginning of June and the end of September to hike in complete peace, without having to worry about snow.
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Last updated: February 3, 2023
This first stage of the GR 56 takes you to the small hamlet of Laverq.
You cross the Ubaye at Méolans-Revel and the adventure begins. The first two thirds of the day are devoted to the gradual ascent of the Col de Séolane. You start with a few tight turns in the undergrowth, then the slope levels out…
Between valleys, ridges and summits, this second stage will surprise you with its diversity.
You retrace your steps from the day before in the direction of the Laverq abbey and resume your journey on the GR. The Blanche de Laverq torrent will guide your steps at the start of this stage. You follow it…
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This third stage is marked by your entry into the Mercantour National Park and the discovery of its incredibly wild landscapes.
From the refuge, a little less than two kilometers separate you from the Baisse de Prenier, your first pass of the day. You then move on a fairly hilly balcony path dotted with…
You continue your exploration of the Mercantour National Park on this fourth stage, which takes you to the small village of Bousieyas.
From Bayasse, a gradual climb through the Moutière valley brings you to the pass of the same name, at 2,444 meters above sea level. A superb mountainside path takes you…
This fifth stage is simply superb: from green valleys to rocky passes, you will be amazed.
On leaving Bousieyas, the path rises towards the former barracks of the Camp des Fourches, which precedes the pass of the same name. Used until the end of the Second World War, this barracks for alpine hunters has…
This sixth stage is marked by your discovery of numerous fortifications built before the Second World War to defend France from Italian battalions. All in an incredible setting, between valleys and high peaks.
The first third of the stage is devoted to your ascent of the Col de Mallemort. The climb is…
No passes or summits on the program for this seventh stage, which lets you discover the Haute Ubaye and its small typical villages. Which doesn't mean no positive elevation though! The last third of the stage is particularly marked by a climb to the heights of Fort Tournoux.
You reach Saint-Paul-sur-Ubaye…
This eighth stage is characterized by crossing the Parpaillon valley and the Riou Bourdoux forest.
From the gîte, you retrace your steps from the day before and find the GR. The path rises slightly above the village to the small Sainte-Anne chapel. You follow a forest track to the Bérard bridge, where…
This ninth and final stage takes you back to Méolans-Revel through woods and mountain pastures. Expect mostly downhill, though punctuated by a few more hilly sections.
From the refuge of La Pare, the path is quite forested at first, with some openings on mountain pastures which offer you superb points…
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