Feet on First Snow

Nov 2, 2012

Growing up with four seasons, I’ve always had a soft spot for each season and I’ve always looked forward to the next one. Autumn’s no different. Although it indicates that the warm and sunny summer’s behind us, I find it refreshing to switch my flip-flops finally into real shoes, put up a candle or two as the nights are getting darker, and most of all, enjoy outdoors with all the colours nature is showcasing to us (Note: Denis would definitely want to mention here the opening of the oh-so-delicious Raclette season!). And what about that special moment when you look outside and the first snow starts falling- enchanting!

Meanwhile all this may or may not actually happen in Paris, it certainly does down in the Alps. Last autumn around Halloween we headed down to Briançon to make the best of the long weekend, and get on to those hiking trails. The train from Paris takes us directly to an Italian alpine village called Oulx and from there we need to cross a mountain pass (Col de Montgenèvre) with a car to get to Briançon. Now, we were informed that it would be snowing quite a bit on the pass and thus we took a shuttle bus* instead of someone picking us up (with summer tyres on the car). And good that we did, because as soon as we left Oulx, the road was covered in snow and more kept coming down! Pretty excitement-filled drive, I'd say...

It's always great to be back though, and every time we open the front door we can already smell the dinner that's waiting for us in the kitchen...

Over the next three days we tried picking up hikes that would still be doable without snowshoes or skis, and we ended up having three wonderful days walking on the first fresh snow, getting lost in the quiet nature and simply just breathing the freshest mountain air! 

Here are the places and photos of each day- hope you can see why it's so easy to love this season especially in this corner of the world...

Chalets des Acles

Croix de Bretagne

Col du Buffère



SNCF / TGV (direct trains):
- High speed train from Paris (Gare de Lyon) to Oulx (Italy), 3 departures each day: 7:49, 10:41 and 14:41 (duration about 4h30)
* There is a shuttle from Oulx station to Briançon after each train, it's 10€/ way and takes about 40min
- Night train from Paris (Gare Austerlitz) to Briançon, departs every night but times vary (arrives to Briançon the next morning)

Check schedules here.

Plampinet - Chalets des Acles:
- A great autumn hike (especially if you’re lucky enough to get a fresh snow in the morning!), following a small road till the little (summer-) cabins. Gorgeous nature with fiery orange larches and rocky snow tops just behind. Possible to continue on a smaller path afterwards…

Read more about trails & hiking here and here.

Fort de la Croix de Bretagne:
- Following old military road till the fortress overlooking Briancon and the Italian side. Nice views, not too much snow yet…

Read more here.

Refuge de Buffère & Col du Buffère:
- Steep push till refuge, then following the valley up until the pass (Col du Buffère). From the refuge onwards there was quite a bit snow already, but not impossible without snowshoes, but gaiters needed.

Find a General Guide to Hautes-Alpes here.


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