Le Grand Veymont is the highest mountain in the Vercors (2.341 meters) and it offers a magical sunrise. I went multiple times at the top and I even went on a camping trip with my 3 year-old-son. I’m French and I grew up quite close to the Vercors massif, so gathering information on the net is pretty easy since most resources are in French. This article is a simple armodexperiment guide to hike and camp at Le Grand Veymont for English-speakers.
Expect to see a 360 degrees panorama from the top, where you will have a magnificent view on the Mont Aiguille, the Vercors, the Ecrins, and the Devoluy.
If that’s not enough for you, you can check the article I wrote on how to thru-hike the Vercors massif.
Where to start the hike to Le Grand Veymont ?
Multiple options are depending on where you are currently.
- From Valence :
You need to get towards St-Agnan-en-Vercors. Soon after this town, you’ll find a steep road leading you to a hut, this is where the hike starts. You need to type “Maison Forestière de la Coche” on Google Maps. There’s a massive parking lot there and I’ve seen camper vans’ owners sleeping up there. It sometimes doesn’t come up in the search box, so you might type “Maison Forestière de Pré Gandu” which is less than a kilometer away from the first one but you can’t access by road. From Valence it takes more than an hour and a half.
- From Grenoble :
The hike starts in Gresse-en-Vercors, which is less than an hour away from Grenoble. Type “Ski Mécaniques De Gresse En Vercors” on Google Maps to get the exact departure point. There’s a parking lot where you should be able to find a spot.
Characteristics of both hikes :
- From Valence :
Starting from “La Coche”, there’s a loop you can do that totals 20 kilometers and a height difference of 950 meters. It could take about 8 hours and a half for a reasonable hiker taking some breaks. The start is pretty easy and mostly flat for the first 6 kilometers. Soon after it gets steeper as you are walking to the “Le Pas de la Ville”, which can be difficult and is best taken on the way up then down. Eventually, you get to the top of Le Grand Veymont, where you finally enjoy the well-deserved view. You can continue the path and get down from the other side, “Le Pas des Chattons”, easier than the previous “Pas de la Ville”. It gets down quite steep though but the trail is well-maintained. Once you get down you’ll need to go towards the right and follow the sign indicating “La Coche” to get back to your car.
There’s a good description and a map of the trail to be downloaded on VisoRando. It’s in French but I recommend it, at least for the map.
- From Grenoble :
It is much steeper than the previous one. The hike is shorter since it is only 12 kilometers round way, but with a height difference of more than 1.100 meters. You’re going up and down through pretty much the same trail and access the summit through the rocky “Le Pas de la Ville”.
You can get a free map and everything you want to know about the hike (in French) on VisoRando.
Where to camp?
The best spot to camp, in my opinion, is just down Le Pas des Chattons. You would get a pretty great sunrise from this spot, and since you’re down the summit it’d much less windy and cold. There’s a massive patch of grass, although you need to be careful since there’s a cliff at the end of this patch.
You can also camp right at the summit at more than 2.300 meters. Unfortunately, it will be a rocky floor, but if you have decent material it won’t be a problem. To protect you from the wind there are a few walls made of rock that were human-build.
Camping at Le Pas des Chattons is insanely popular, and the night I camped with my son there were about 10 other tents, but only two at or near the summit. Not a problem though, as the patch of grass allows you enough distance and privacy.
You don’t necessarily need a tent to camp. You could be fine with just a sleeping bag as long as it can stand colder temperatures. Don’t expect the temperature to be above 5 in the night even if you are in the middle of the summer.
What to bring ?
Water : If you start from Valence you will find a fountain named “La fontaine de Gerland” on the way down from “Le Pas des Chattons”. Impossible to miss at it is right on the path. On the way up there’s another water source at “La Jasse de la Chau”, but you would need to walk about 200 meters out of the way but instead following the GR to find it.
Food : There’s no shop unless you’re in St-Agnan ou Gresse-en-Vercors. You won’t find much on the hike unless you specialized in foraging.
Good hiking boots : The trail is not difficult for the most part, but once you get closer to the summit you’d definitely need a good pair of shoes.
Weather-proof equipment : The weather can change rapidly, so bring sun cream but a light raincoat as well.
How did I hike with my kid ?
These are a few useful tips to do the same. First I started in Valence, so I had to go to “La Coche”. Instead of doing a loop I went directly to “Le Pas des Chattons”, as I believe that the other side “Le Pas de la Ville” was way too difficult for my son and me. The path was very smooth and we got to “Le Pas des Chattons” in about 3 hours. We set the camp here, and the next morning we left all the stuff in the tent to attain the summit. It’s pretty safe up there so I had no problem doing this, no one was supposed to know we were out anyways. I carried my son on my shoulder for the last very steep part and that was it. He had no problem with the altitude since we already hiked the highest mountain in Taiwan and also Hallasan in South Korea. We got to the summit by around 8.30 am.
A few things to be aware of…
- Don’t expect to have the mountains just for yourselves. It is a popular hike and you probably won’t be the only one. Remember that it is common in France to say “Bonjour !” when you meet a fellow hiker.
- The hike will be more difficult to complete from November to May. You’ll probably find snow on the way, and you better have suitable equipment for that.
- There’s a possibility to encounter sheepdogs during the summer. We call them “Patou” in French. If you see some (they usually don’t come alone) just try to avoid them and avoid having a menacing attitude towards them.
- There’s no public transport to reach any of the two starting points. You’ll have to hitchhike if you don’t have a car or a good hiking friend.
- You might have the chance to see plenty of animals as you get closer to the summit. I had the chance to see many ibexes and marmots.
Feel free to ask any question or just let me know how your hike to Le Grand Veymont went !