Le Pré de MMe Carle


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The Pré de Madame Carle is one of the jewels for tourists in Vallouise, in the Ecrins National Park and massif. It is located upstream, at the end of the paved road, just about in sight of the Glacier Noir and Glacier Blanc.
The name gives rise to lots of questions!
Firstly, it is not a meadow but a rocky area formed by the Saint-Pierre torrent shifting from its course, where the different branches of the stream have overflowed.
 Only a larch grove has managed to grow at the end of the road sheltered from the old terminal moraine of the Glacier Noir. Add a few speckled alders on the edge of the rocky area and that is all the greenery that exists in this barren landscape where rocks prevail.
And who is this Madame Carle who has given her name to this uncultivated place in a way that is so unusual in the mountains?
In fact, you have to go back to the beginning of the 16th century, 500 years ago, to find the answer to these two questions. The climate was warmer than nowadays and the glaciers much smaller, and at that time, the Glacier Noir and Glacier Blanc would not advance from their high plateaus. Chronicles from Chamonix, for example, indicate that the current location of the Mer de Glace was formerly a mountain pasture. Chronicles from Vallouise relate that the meadow really did exist, right there where today there are only stones. It was a beautiful alpine meadow which was even inhabited in the Middle Ages, and was part of the property given to Geoffroy Carle, the President of the Parliament of Dauphiné, by King Louis XII in 1505. When Geoffroy Carle died his wife, Louise Sereyne, originally from the valley, administered his estate and thus gave her name to this part of his property.
The formation of the site goes back far in time: the meadow results from the filling in of a former glacial lake, retained downstream by a powerful terminal moraine stemming from Younger Dryas glaciation.
The Pré de Madame Carle is without a doubt the most famous and most visited place in the Vallouise. There has been road access since 1934. Today the car park can accommodate the thousands of visitors who arrive from mid-July to the end of August, keen to hike the most popular trails up to the two glaciers. The car park is also the departure point for the climb up to the glacier Blanc hut (2542 m) and the Ecrins hut (3175m) which are among the most visited in the Alps. The old Refuge Cézanne hut (1874 m), now hidden in the larch grove, reminds you of the time when the road did not exist and the approach to the summits was a real expedition lasting several days. There is now a second modern hut at the end of the road.
Directions to :
GPS coordinates
Latitude : 44.88500
Longitude : 6.35611