Hautes-Alpes (05700) Population: 335 Altitude: 698 m
Rushing along the Route National with everybody else, turn off west at Eyguians between Serres and Laragne-Montéglin. The little D30 road goes along the valley of Céans, with rich farmlands between two ranges of mountains with varied shapes. Only one minute from the rush, and you're in very beautiful countryside.
Only eight km down the road from Eyguians, the little Céans river cuts through a high mountain spine, in a narrow S-bend gorge at the base of high cliffs. The village of Orpierre is built into this narrow gap, and the vestiges of a defensive wall climb the steep northern spine to where the castle once stood.
There's a peaceful beauty here in this village, with the church, fountain and petanque courts, and a huge plane tree that was planted in 1780. High cliffs and steep mountains surround the village on all sides, but with in-between valleys for plenty of sun and light. A couple of terrace cafés provide stopping places for the hikers and climbers.
The heart of Orpierre is the circular, fortified old village (photo above). The streets are very narrow (photo 17k), and many of the houses seem to have the original medieval stone fronts. There's a maze of long, low vaulted passages beneath the houses from street to street; the most and the longest we've ever seen in Beyond.
The Grand Rue goes the length of the old village. Several vaulted passages connect it to a parallel stree so vaulted it's nearly an underground (or underhouse) street.
Many of the ancient buildings are being renovated, with visible progress since our last visit.
Le Qartz café-snack bar will make you sandwiches or salads, and you can sit and watch the rock climbers while you eat.
South of the village, tall cliffs curve around into the gap of the Céans, and beside them the mountain slopes house a large campsite (photo 21k). Northeast of the village, the solitary peak of Le Suillet rises needle-sharp, with an interesting looking vertical cave high on the side (photo 16k). Northwest of the village is the rocky spine with the ancient wall.
History of Orpierre
First record, 570-1100 Valperrus
Gallo-Roman: There was a Roman presence here, and a treasure of Roman coins was discovered.
Medieval: The Barony of Orpierre belonged first to the Prince of Orange and then to the King of England. It was ceded to the King of France in 1713.
Aug (1st Sun) - Fête patronale
• GPS: 44.313479, 5.692738
IGN (1/25,000) #3239 E "Seyne (3439 ET)"
Didier Richard (1/50,000) #28 "Montagne de Lure, Val de Durance"
The GR946 (Grande Randonnée) runs north-south through Orpierre.
• The GR north goes through the old village streets, beneath the vaulted passages, and up the narrow rock spine above the village. Arriving at the top of a very narrow spine overlooking the village, there's a tremendous view east and west. The GR goes up the western side, below the ridge, to Le Suillet (1324 m), marked as 2h30. The trail continues north through the mountains, then drops down to the village of Trescléoux (665 m), 4 hours from Orpierre.
• For the GR south, go out east of the village and take the road south down to the river. The GR946 follows the little road, then continues up the side of the Montagne de Chabre to the Col de St. Ange (the site of climbing rocks). The trail drops down the southern slopes through the Méouge forest to Barret-le-Bas and points south.
VTT rentals are available from Vertige Sport in the village.
• The eastern face of the rocky spine north of Orpierre is a wide wall of cliffs, called the "Mur d'Escalade" (climbing wall).
• Another climbing rock, at the Col de St. Ange on the Montagne de Chabre south of the village, as normally accessed via the village of Barret-le-Bas.
- Vertige Sport, a small climbing shop in the village, serves the visiting rock climbers.
- Open daily, 18h-20h.
Hanggliding and paragliding is done from the ridge of the Montagne de Chabre (1279 m), east of the Col de St. Ange.
Orpierre to Laragne-Montéglin is 14 km, and there's probably a bus.
Laragne-Montéglin is on the rail line Aix-en-Provence, Sisteron, Serres, Veynes-Devoluy. The Laragne-Montéglin Office de Tourisme is, Tel: (33) 492 65 09 38.
Department 05, Haute-Alpes Buses
- See Beyond's Haute-Alpes (05) Bus Schedules for downloading Haute-Alpes bus-lines map and bus-line schedules [pdf for each line] (link for PDF files).