The Lac Lérié and Lac Noir, nestled on the Emparis plateau, are magnificent lookout points located facing the ridges of the North face of the Meije and the Râteau (3809 m). The Emparis plateau has been designated a Natura 2000 site and can be reached via the GR54 hiking trail.

This steppe landscape was formed not only by geographical and geological events, but also by human activity, including pastoralism. Indeed, farmers still move their animals up to the green, high-altitude pasture in the summer, adding to the charm of the natural environment. You can learn more about the history of pastoralism at the Maison des Alpages in Besse-en-Oisans.

A specific feature of this site in rocky Oisans is the abundant presence of water, which can be seen in peatlands, lakes and waterfalls. There are even petrifying springs, the only ones in Oisans, visible when walking down towards the Refuge des Clôts.

Natura 2000

The largest coordinated network of biodiversity conservation in the world.

Natura 2000 was created to maintain this biodiversity, while taking into account social, economic, cultural and regional activities.

For over a century, increasingly intensive agriculture, urban development, the growth of infrastructures and communication routes have led to a reduction in the biological diversity that was once a key feature of the European continent.

Natura 2000 has a twofold objective, namely preserving biological diversity and enhancing local areas of land.

 

The Emparis plateau boasts outstanding biological wealth. Its location at the intersection of two bio-geographic areas (the internal Alps and the intermediary Alps), in addition to the climatic barrier (Northern Alps and Southern Alps) and its highly contrasted geomorphology and extensive geological variability, create hugely varied ecological conditions that favour the development of a large number of animal and plant species.

 

Agricultural and pastoral activity is a prominent feature of the landscape. Local hamlets are surrounded by hay fields, a significant source of biological diversity. Once at altitudes of over 2200 m, pastureland is the dominant feature, with sheep and cows grazing peacefully. There are also remarkable wet areas, especially in the Goléon Valley and on the plateau itself.

Mountain huts on the Emparis plateau

Whether just for a refreshing drink or for a full lunch (to try the delicious local speciality, the farcis de l’Oisans), there are three mountain huts on and around the plateau, namely the Refuge du Fay, the Refuge des Mouterres and the Refuge des Clôts.

The view

“Incredible”, “breathtaking”, “unforgettable”… Just some of the not-so-original adjectives used to describe the view of the glaciers from the lakes!

Go there, enjoy it and express your emotions by sending us an adjective, an original one, to describe these moments of pure happiness that we experience in the mountains.

What about the sunrise being “awesome”…oh no, sorry, maybe not, rather “a moment of pure magic”!

Park at Mizöen, Besse-en Oisans or Le Chazelet (La Grave) to hike up to the Emparis plateau via the GR 54 trail.

You could also drive up to the plateau on a rough track from Besse-en-Oisans or Mizöen.

Location

Park at Mizöen, Besse-en Oisans or Le Chazelet (La Grave) to hike up to the Emparis plateau via the GR 54 trail.

You could also drive up to the plateau on a rough track from Besse-en-Oisans or Mizöen.

GR 54 and other footpaths…

There are a number of hiking trails of varying difficulty up to the Emparis plateau, but the main route is of course the GR 54, which goes through Le Chazelet and Besse-en-Oisans.

 

From Le Chazelet:

Cross over the Gâ stream and after a long series of switchbacks, you reach the vast pastureland of the plateau. Stay on the GR®, through several small valleys, then turn off to the left on the path signposted Lac Lerié. Continue on to Lac Noir. If the weather is good, you will be able to admire the peaks of the Meije and the Râteau reflected in the lakes. Return down the same path (750m total height gain).

From Mizoën:

As you drive into Mizoën, take the track to the right leading to Singuigneret, where you leave the car and hike up the GR 50-54C to the lakes (1200m total height gain). You can also drive up the rough track to the Chalet du Fay (200m remaining height gain).

From Besse:

Park on the far side of the village and take the GR 54 up to the plateau (1000m total height gain). You can also drive up the non-paved track to the ruined Chalet Josserand, leaving a remaining hike of around 250 m height gain.

 

Take care as in wet weather, the tracks can become dangerous for cars.

 

Important: many flocks are watched over by Patou shepherd dogs. Hikers with dogs are therefore strongly advised not to leave the path and keep their dogs “to heel” or on a leash around livestock. When you see one of these mountain dogs, act calmly and passively to reassure it.

A free leaflet on how to behave in the presence of Patou dogs is available from La Grave Tourist Office.