The great crossing of Vercors (GTV in French for Grande Traversée du Vercors, do not mix up with TGV the French fast train!) is a set of trails by foot, mountain bike, horse, ski or snowshoes in the Natural Regional Park of the Vercors. But this article is about the great loop: 390 kilometers and 20 (+/-) days hike around the Vercors’ mountains and its variant through the Natural Reserve: 60 kilometers in 3 to 4 days. Here luxury lies in the natural simplicity of the surroundings and in the authentic scenery.
Markings of the hiking trail
The GTV loop does not use a single trail. As a consequence, get a map before you start. You will sometimes follow the red and white markers of GR trails (GR9, GR 91, GR 93) and sometimes follow the yellow and green markers of local trails.
Access points to the Vercors
Access points at the beginning or end of the trail sections:
- Saint-Nizier-du-Moucherotte is connected to Grenoble by a 14,5 kilometers marked trail.
- Die, Crest, Clelles and Lus-la-Croix-Haute also have their train stations.
For the variant through the Natural Reserve, reach Villard-de-Lans from Grenoble or Valence (more details on the destination Vercors post). From Chatillon-en-Diois, either continue walking to Die (23,5 kilometers)or take a public bus (n°29).
Hiking itinerary and trail sections
The 370 kilometers great hiking loop may be divided in four sections of 4 to 7 days each.
From Saint-Nizier-du-Moucherotte (Grenoble) to the pass of the Pellas (col des Pellas)
This 4 to 5 days section starts the loop going South from Saint-Nizier. The trail passes close to Villard-de-Lans before reaching Gresse-en-Vercors. Hikers can admire the Grand Veymont, the highest peak of the Vercors (2 341 m).
From the col des Pellas to Die
This section takes about 5 days hike. The trail continues to the South, following the Natural Reserve. Arriving in Lus-La-Croix-Haute, the trail heads to the West toward Die, passing by the Archiane Cirque. Le Cirque d’Archiane (in French) is one of the geological highlight of this section. Hikers will love its 400 meters high limestone cliffs and may observe alpine ibex reintroduced in 1989.
From Die to Pont-en-Royans
From Die, the trail heads to the North, passing by some major highlights in 4 to 5 days. Ombleze is a sort of lost valley, where you can appreciate its canyon or make a stop to climb the famous cliff. Before that, the trail crosses the amazing highlands of Font-d’Urle and Ambel, where horses, cows and sheeps pasture in summer.
From Pont-en-Royans to Saint-Nizier-du Moucherotte
The trail heads North-East and leads you back to Saint-Nizier. Pont-en-Royans is worth a stop with its 16th century architecture and colourful houses hanging on the cliffs. Back to Grenoble will take you around 5 days passing by the Coulmes and the Moliere.
Maps courtesy of the Vercors Regional Natural Park. More itineraries and explanations on their website dedicated to hiking and other outdoor activities.
The variant through the Natural Reserve
The variant is a 60 kilometers trail going through the Natural Reserve of the Vercors. It is the biggest Natural Reserve in France. This experiential hike into the wild takes around 4 days. The trail starts south of Villard de Lans and ends in Chatillon-en-Diois. No roads, no village and few water sources. Follow the (occasional) red and white trail markers of the GR91. Besides, there is no guarded refuge, but in order to rest you can use one of the non-guarded hut, like the Cabane de Chatillon or the Cabane de Pré-Peyret.