Around the blue diamond: visit to the Pays de Serre-Ponçon


Around the blue diamond: visit to the Pays de Serre-Ponçon

Christophe Dugied

In the Pays de Serre-Ponçon, all points of view converge on the turquoise gem. But the valley of the Embrunais, between water and mountain pastures, also offers a thousand riches, the last of which, the House Cimes, opens us its doors.

Around the Serre-Ponçon Lake, second largest artificial lake in Europe, was built over time a microcosm. Between hotels, historical monuments, cultural sites and restaurants, the inhabitants and craftsmen of the Pays de Serre-Pinçon receive us to present us the treasures of their beautiful region.

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A sporting region

It's our little inland sea, explains chef Sébastien Félix at Sébastien's La Table restaurant. In summer, in Les Orres, you can choose every day between hiking, mountain biking and swimming at the bottom, it's magic! "From all over the mountain, we can see this huge lapis lazuli expanse, the second largest artificial lake in Europe, whose dam was created in 1955, to master the fiery Durance. Who would have thought then that its waves, where the Grand Morgon is reflected, would lend itself to all the nautical activities, favored in the afternoon by the rise of thermal winds?

Serre-Ponçon lake, hypnotic, up to Chanteloube.

Christophe Dugied

In the valley, sport is not an anecdote. At the Orres resort, imagined in mimicry with larches and snow, and labeled Heritage of the twentieth century, we borrow by bike thirty kilometers of marked trailsNot to mention hiking in the middle of pine trees, via ferrata or horseback riding. The queen of equestrian tourismit's Evelyn Joachim, who, from Le Kiowah ranch, takes you to discover the fauna and flora. A picking that turns into an aromatherapy course where we discover how to transform dandelions into herbal tea or salad, the therapeutic or beauty virtues of primroses, St. John's wort and calendula.

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The picking of flowers during a horseback ride organized by Le Kiowah ranch.

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Local gastronomy

The beautiful variety of alpine flora also inspires local chefs. At Sebastien's Table, blueberry and hyssop scent the dishes. The very locavore chef uses many plants that bring "freshness, acidity and texture in the mouth". Same philosophy at Xavier Lecharny at Maison Cimes whose cuisine explores the berries of juniper like the flavor of larch. An inspiration that can be found in Embrun's master chocolatier, Luc Eyriey, who sculpts dramatic chocolate sketches telling the story of fashion or artistic trends throughout history but does not forget the ganaches at thyme or tea!

Sébastien Félix's dish, the chef at Sébastien's La Table restaurant, at Les Orres 1650: "Minced lamb with hyssop and barberry, deglazed with larch liqueur, small vegetables on the pedestal "

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In Crots, the castle of Picomtal, which hosts guest housesIn 2015, it received the VMF Contemporary Garden and Heritage Award, for its resurrected park, which is the work of a local child, landscape painter Loïc Pianfetti. Dominated by the southern peaks of the Ecrins and Parpaillon mountains, the 16th century chateau has a wonderful dialogue with rustic and aquatic plants. In the Embrun Valley, nature is a major issue, protected since 1973 by the creation of the Écrins National Park, which protects nearly 92,000 hectares of mountains. A breath of fresh air and biodiversity who sometimes encounters great history and art.

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One of the towers of the Château de Picomtal, with the Louisiana style veranda, behind which we can see Mount Guillaume.

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Embrun, a city full of history

The city of Embrun bears the traces of its past greatness, ancient roman capital and ecclesiastical metropolis, with the cathedral Notre-Dame du Réal which dominates the valley from the top of its rock and its fortifications Vauban. Marie-Christine Lapassat is proud to show that her charming mansion, the bed and breakfast Le Pigeonnier, already existed on the oldest plans of the city.

With its cathedral Notre-Dame du Réal, anchored on its rock, Embrun dominates the valley of the Durance. Romanesque by its aisles, and gothic by its nave, it astonishes by its duotone of black shales and white limestones, and welcomes all the summer of the classical concerts.

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Abbey Boscodon, masterpiece of Romanesque art, founded in the twelfth century by the order of Chalais, is nestled in a lush fir forest, at the foot of the Grand Morgon and hosts exhibitions. Half an hour from the lake, we find the beautiful prefecture of the Hautes-Alpes, Gap, and the inevitable Museum Museum departmental where the conservator Frédérique Verlinden creates new bridges between permanent collections and contemporary art, by questioning the rural identity.

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An old gite transformed into a modern guest house

But when we talk about the nourishing nature and the superb heritage of the Embrunais, we must talk about its latest pearl, as beautiful as hospital, the House Cimes. In the charming village of the chief town of Les Orres, an old gite has given way to the most contemporary guest rooms, linen and wood clad in shades of hemp, petrol blue and sunflower yellow.

The different rooms with a graphic and peaceful spirit, decorated with vintage or design objects.

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After experiments in Eygliers and Nantes, Sandrine and Xavier Lecharny wished to return to this incomparable naturewhich combines mountain and sun. "Here we do not breathe the same," says Sandrine, "the city is too hot for us, this house, where several generations have succeeded each other, has a real history and we like to meet people, to share, to please."

In addition to suites with lovely terraces, the dining room is a marvel of simplicity with its wicker chandeliers, small country bouquets, tables soberly prepared. A Scandinavian style that resonates with the beautiful surrounding nature, old trees in the garden with breathtaking views of the valley, panoramic.

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The dining room of the Maison Cimes, which opens as a restaurant at the end of the week, cultivates a beautiful sober design, associated with a certain sense of direction with this ballet of wicker chandeliers. The walls painted in gray mouse give the impression, in front of the spectacular landscape, to be in a photographic room.

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The gastronomic arts are in unison : "endives, mushrooms and licorice", "asparagus, burrata and juniper berries". Classical music fills the house while one lingers on the beautiful collection of art books and the drawings, on the wall, of their already very promising son. The Peaks are really the top of our trip!

Address book around Lake Serre-Ponçon

- Shopping:

Concepts and trends. Cécile Calvet, interior designer, offers a beautiful decorative selection inspired by nature in her decoration shop. Nordic brands to the one, but also Angel of the Mountains or A Spirit in More ... Exhibition of the creations of Gapençais Florentin Lavigne. 27, rue du Mazel, 05000 Gap. Such. 06 23 44 40 54 and

Ceramist Sylvie Cotta. His creations in delicate porcelain seem out of the wave. Barely bluish, its sandstone pieces, where white buds or snowflakes hatch, are like a tribute to the eternal mountain. Entraigues Park, 05200 Embrun, tel. 04 92 43 37 83 and

Pastry chef and chocolatier Luc Eyriey. For five generations, the Eyriey have been masters of chocolate. Luc, who works with the Valrhona school, sculpts 3D compositions, full of life and poetry, and imagines fabulous desserts. Place Barthelon, 05200 Embrun, tel. 04 92 43 01 37, and Place aux Herbes, 05000 Gap, tel. 04 92 54 56 93,

The Embrunaise Farm. For its high-quality sausages, string sausages, packets, coppa and Speck ham. ZA Les Moulins, Bosco-don Road, tel. 04 92 43 84 45, 05200 Crots.

Or sleep

House Cimes. Sandrine and Xavier Lecharny have imagined for this former gite, with the spectacular sight on the valley, a beautiful and refined decoration, and given this small supplement of artistic soul which signs the addresses of exception. Inventive and sensitive cuisine of Xavier. The house is a restaurant on Fridays and Saturdays. 26, rue des Villandrins, 05200 Les Orres, tel. 04 92 44 10 36 and

Le Pigeonnier, bed and breakfast. The beautiful personality of Marie-Christine illuminates this mansion, close to the magnificent pro Menade Belvedere on the Edge of Roc, large rooms and soft and romantic colors. 2, rue Victor-Maurel, 05200 Embrun, tel. 04 92 43 89 63 and

Marie-Christine in the garden of her bed and breakfast, Le Pigeonnier, in Embrun.

Christophe Dugied

The castle of Picomtal. With the faith of the builders, Jacques and Sharon have revived this medieval gem and its beautiful garden. Concerts, plays and cooking courses enliven the scene. 05200 Crots, tel. 04 92 43 07 77 and

The Chambers of Orel. In this large and comfortable modern house, one enjoys an incredible view of the lake and Sandrine's home cooking. The Rencureaux, 05200 Saint-André-d'Embrun, tel. 06 72 28 66 41 and

Good tables

Sébastien's Table. Our chef, trained at Escoffier school and referenced at Gault & Millau, is an ambassador of his region: 80% of his bistronomic map comes from less than 80 km, and it's delicious. Bravo! Le Boussolenc Building, Center Station 1650, 05200 Les Orres, tel. 04 92 44 01 13 and

Eden Lake. Incredible view of the big blue of Serre-Ponçon from the garden where chef Julien Bernard officiates in a beautiful palette of flavors. One of the rare gastro with a view! 1, rue des Maisonnettes, 05160 Savines-le-Lac, tel. 04 92 44 20 53 and

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Julien Bernard, chef at L'Éden Lac restaurant in Savines-le-Lac, prepares "An orange caramel tile, mint marinated strawberries and chiboust cream"

Christophe Dugied

Peppermint. Foccacia bread and curry style, seasonal vegetables and goat cheese ice cream, soft biscuit pear and hazelnut, perfect iced with citrus fruits and Timut pepper, the chef Emmanuel Renaud regales the palates of Gap. 20 bis, rue du Center, Gap, tel. 09 52 77 55 73.

The Compotier. In this English-style teahouse, everything is homemade and very tasty. We love the cake with chestnut cream, panna cotta with verbena or rosemary. 12, rue du 11-Novembre 1918, 05000 Gap, tel. 04 92 44 01 85.

Le Compotier, tasty canteen-tea room.

Christophe Dugied

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To do, to see

Serre-Ponçon Lake: for hiking and cycling around, on more than 420 km of marked trails dedicated to mountain biking, but also visit the Museoscope entirely dedicated to the history of the dam, the hydroelectric power station (on reservation), admire the Saint-Michel chapel sitting on its island , practice boating, kite surfing, paddle, boat drink ... everything is possible on the sea of ​​the Hautes-Alpes. June 24th, "Make the lake", free test of nautical activities; 1st and 2nd of July, 9th meeting of Voiles d'en haut; July 8 and 9, Race Nautic Tour. Rens on

The Bay Saint-Michel, on the lake of Serre-Ponçon, offers an incredible sight on the chapel of the XVIIe century which seems enthroned on the waters. It was spared during the construction of the dam in the 60s, because it was erected on a promontory. It is forbidden to dock there. The bay has become a paradise for water sports.

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The Orres. In addition to the remarkable Bike Park, you can discover in six days, thanks to the Passep'Orres, more than a dozen activities, some unlimited.

Equestrian Center The Kiowah. On her horses Yumah and Aurore, Evelyn takes you to discover the best mushroom corners and the virtues of the flowers of the massif that are brought back in her wallet to learn, on her return, to make her own cosmetics. Chemin de Prélallègre, 05200 Les Orres. Evelyn Joachim: tel. 06 86 69 35 92 and

Museum Departmental Museum of the Hautes-Alpes. Exceptional collections of archeology, painting and rural heritage that interact with interventions of contemporary artists very inspired. A cultural treat totally free! Exhibition (s) "Entre Temps - Rappel, Paysage (s), Tant", until February 2018. 6, avenue Maréchal-Foch, 05000 Gap, tel. 04 92 51 01 58 and

Thierry Ollagnier's Garden of Secrets in front of the Musée Muséum départemental.

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Capuchin Art Center. The old Capuchin church hosts 4 to 5 exhibitions a year where artists are invited to create works in resonance with the place. Exhibition "Liberty of the liaisons" of Matthieu Cossé, Florent Dubois and Eleonore False, until August 27th. Espace Delaroche, 05200 Embrun, tel. 0492 443087 and

Abbey Notre-Dame of Boscodon. A place out of time, in the middle of the fir trees, which has been the subject of extensive renovation projects since 1972 and hosts art exhibitions. She has just found her steeple and a beautiful garden of singles in the cloister. Exhibition of the sculptor Cédric Rouze, "Plenitude and stripping", until July 30th. 05200 Crots, tel. 04 92 43 14 45 and

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In the cloister of the abbey of Boscodon, We can, sculpture of Cédric Rouze, resulting from the exhibition "Plenitude and stripping".

Christophe Dugied

The magnificent city of art and history of Embrun, including its cathedral.

We thank for their welcome Sandrine and Xavier Lecharny, House Cimes, and, for their precious help, Sandra Padovani of the agency Duodecim and Thomas Giovannangeli of the Office of Tourism Serre-Ponçon.