Tuesday 26 September 2017

A Magic Place in France

Have you ever heard of the Chartreuse Mountains? Yeah me neither. Although you really should have! It is literally one of those hidden gems on the planet. If you're into hiking, it's honestly rather difficult to have a bad time in the French Prealps or Alps. Seriously: Everything looks unbelievable cute, people are super-friendly and then of course there's that thing about french pastry, croissants, pain au chocolat, wine, cheese, ... It's fucking civilised!  

Anna jumping the arch
Did I mention that the landscape is also fairly stunning? Ooops sorry but you probably already looked at the picture. This is an arch called "La Tour Percée" and with 32m it's the biggest natural arch in the European Alps. If that's not enough, the sucker is also a double arch. I know it's a bit over the top but this is how it rolls.

Why haven't I heard about this?!?

Good question! Because you can't see that thing neither from the village below nor from the ridge-line above. It is obscured by sitting in a bowl and was vastly unknown until 2005 the local mountaineer Pascal Sombardier made it know to a wider audience while researching unique destinations in the area. Believe it or not but the existence of "The Pierced Tower" has not been recorded before that. Everyone shrugged when Pascal was asking the local mountaineering community about the arch. Although twelve years have passed, La Tour Percée remains widely off the grid and doesn't appear in any major guidebooks. 

Where is it?

Once you know this thing exists, it's actually quite easy to find. You can just park your car in the little village of St Michel and then take a leisurely walk up some forest roads and hiking tracks. The last bit gets a bit sketchy but thanks to modern technology (GPS) even that isn't really a challenge. In all honesty a bit of climbing is involved and although it's only something like a very easy four metre pitch, it's not the greatest idea doing that without a rope. The consequences of falling are most likely fatal: if you miss the ledge, you're adding 30m of "air-time" and the rocks show some signs of holds snapping off.

However if you do make it, you'll be rewarded with stunning and bizarre rock formations. This is hands down one of the best day-hikes I've ever done and it gets right up there with the Routeburn Track in NZ (although that's not a day-hike). Just make sure you're not up there in foul weather otherwise the panorama will be a bit sad.

Now off to France > You'll love it ❤️🇫🇷
Cheers :)

Location: Just north of Grenoble
Coordinates: N 45° 22.141' E 005° 54.253'
Accommodation: Camping Martinière
Parking: St Michel

360 View:

More Pictures: 

Short Climbing Pitch



Sunny Days

Mont Blanc in the Background

View from the Campsite

The Arch

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