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Pré de Madame Carle

This is Le Pré de Madame Carle, formerly a fertile valley at the end of the Vallouise Valley...

The roads ends, leading you to the foot of the glaciers and there… Nature offers all the beauty it has to offer. If there is one place that you should visit, it is perhaps here!

The Pré de Madame Carle is a marvellous tourist site in the Pays des Écrins. It can now be reached, thanks to the construction of the road from Ailefroide in 1938, and is the start point for many mountaineering courses. It is the most visited site in the Écrins National Park with close to 150,000 visitors per year. In the centre of the Park, it provides access to the famous ascensions in the massif: Barre and Dôme des Écrins (4102 m, the massif’s highest peak), Roche Forio (3730 m), and La Montagne des Agneaux (3664 m)…

The Glacier Blanc and the Glacier Noir joined here in the past (19th century). The Glacier Blanc, which has been monitored for more than a century, receded by almost 2 km between the 1980s and the 2000s. The progression and retreat of the glaciers have left piles of stones and have completely erased the fertile aspect of the area.

The National Park is committed to preserving the site so that the natural resources that it represents are protected as much as possible for future generations.

Two mountain refuges welcome you on your high mountain expeditions. The Glacier Blanc and Les Écrins.

The legend of the Pré de Madame Carle

extract from the book ‘Around Briançon in winter, Step by Step…’ By Jean-Michel Neveu and Marianne Chanel

‘Since the 17th century, writers and locals have been telling a very different story, confusedly associating Dame Carle and Geoffroy Carle, president of the Grenoble Parliament. He lived with his beautiful young wife in the hamlet of La Bâtie. Highly involved in village life in Les Vigneaux, one day he decided, at his own expense, to have frescoes, representing the cardinal sins and their punishments, painted on the Saint Laurent Church in Les Vigneaux. He made his wife responsible for supervising the work of the young Italian painter hired for the work. It is said that it was with great pleasure that Louise fulfilled this task seducing the handsome artist. But during an evening in Rame (the former name of La Roche-de-Rame), the far too beautiful Dame from La Bâtie, taking advantage of Geoffroy Carle’s absence, soon forgot the poor painter on the arm of the Seigneur de Rame. Naively and carelessly, she went to the church to check on the painter’s progress, in the arms of her new conquest. Hurt and jealous, the painter swore revenge.  All that remained for him to paint were the faces on the representation of the sins: the pretentious Seigneur de Rame would be pride, and cheated Geoffroy Carle would be perfect as anger. As for Mme Carle, she would be forever astride the goat representing lust. Geoffroy Carle had no difficulty identifying the portraits. Enraged, he too decided to seek revenge. Secretly, he stopped feeding and watering his wife’s mule for several days. One morning, Geoffroy Carle took his wife to visit the meadows at the end of the valley, above the Grande Sagne Valley, he went on his horse, and she rode on this exhausted mule. Drawn to the water of the Saint-Pierre stream, the thirsty mule eagerly jumped into the tumultuous waters, taking seductive Mme Carle with him forever.’