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GR738 Belledonne - Day 1 - Aiguebelle > Refuge de Roche Brune

View on the massif of Lauzière

Date: Sunday 15/08/2021 Stage: Aiguebelle > Refuge de Roche Brune Distance: 10,25 kilometer Ascent: 1119m / Descent: 47m Weather: Sunny, 32°C

Finally! After a fairly fast but overheated train ride, I arrive in Aiguebelle (323m) at around 15:20. A small adjustment to the rucksack and off I go. I want to try and get as far as possible, because bad weather is predicted tomorrow and then speed is reduced anyway.

I had hoped for GR signs at the train station, but I can't find any. So I quickly get my topoguide out. Behind the tourist office the trail briefly goes up to the hamlet Saint-Arnaud (340m), crossing the A43 motorway. And that will be about the only flat part of the whole stage. Because of the heat, after less than two kilometres I have to cool down at the little fountain of Saint-Arnaud, to start the climb that will continue for the next six kilometres, with steep sections of sometimes more than 30% gradient. You don't often get to see those on GR trails.

The village of Montgilbert (534m) is the last possibility to refuel on the GR until tomorrow in Le Pontet. Unless you bump into someone further up Le Planet. Up to the village the path is quite steep, but then follows a slightly flatter part in the cool shade of the forest. From Le Planet (754m) the climb is steep and you reach the steepest parts of this stage; the Côte du Suet. I am sweating like crazy despite the shade offered by the wooded climb. Some hikers meet me. They have followed the GR trail in the opposite direction and will reach Aiguebelle in less than an hour.

The fortress of Montgilbert

After the Croix St-Bernard (1281m) the path begins to level off and I can regain my senses. One and a half kilometres further on is the ruin of the Fort de Montgilbert (1370m) which, together with its gun emplacements on the nearby ridge, had to defend the valley of the Arc from the end of the 19th century. The unmanned refuge of Roche Brune (1395m), where I sleep tonight, is such an old artillery post. I arrive there a little before 7 pm, but have bad luck. A local family has just come up by car before me and is planning to have a nice barbecue evening here.

The view is beautiful. I cannot yet see the Belledonne massif from here, but in the east you can see the Lauzière massif, with the Grand Pic de la Lauzière (2829 m). On the western side, you can see the Chartreuse between the trees.

Because it is more practical, I put myself to sleep in the shelter. You mustn't be afraid of coming face to face with a bunch of rats, because you can hear them walking around in the ceiling. The French family packs up all their stuff at 10 p.m. and the sound of their engine fades away fairly quickly, so peace is restored.

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