Saut de La Pucelle

Hautes-Alpes / Ecrins National Park / La Grave, Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur, France

About Saut de La Pucelle


Hiking Distance: 600m round trip
Suggested Time: 30 minutes

Date first visited: 2012-05-18
Date last visited: 2012-05-18

Waterfall Latitude: 45.04601
Waterfall Longitude: 6.28412

The Saut de La Pucelle (which I believe translates as “the leap of the Virgin” or “the Virgin’s leap”) was the lone waterfall attraction that we were able to fit in during our limited time passing in and out of Ecrins National Park in the French Alps.

We were well aware that a place as wild and mountainous as the Ecrins was stocked with waterfalls that were known and reasonably accessible as well as those that were tucked away in its backcountry. However, given that this was a roadside waterfall (on a well-traveled road no less; see directions below), we figured this waterfall was the one in the region that offered the most bang for the buck in terms of time and effort, especially considering the foul weather we had encountered that day.

In addition to Saut de la Pucelle, we noticed there were a few other noteworthy waterfalls in the Ecrins seen from the road as well. Unfortunately, the limited number of opportunities to stop made it difficult for us to photograph and spend some additional time at those other waterfalls. Saut de la Pucelle was the lone waterfall that we stopped at, which was why we devoted a web page to it.

After stopping for the falls, I took a fairly steep and muddy (i.e. slippery) path up to get a closer view. That was where I found myself trying to photograph and take a movie while being blasted by the mist of the powerfully gushing waterfall. I literally couldn’t tell if the water came from the rain or from the waterfall itself!

In any case, it was a nice place to get out of the car after a bit of long and tedious mountain driving. It was also a nice place to get some fresh air and exercise while basking in the rugged alpine scenery that epitomized the French Alps.

The village of La Grave itself is part of the Hautes-Alpes department in the far north of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region. However, geographically speaking, if you look at a map of the area, this department could’ve easily belonged to the Rhône-Alpes as both Isere and Savoie practically sandwich this department from the south and north, respectively. I’m sure it was for political reasons (namely autonomy) that it worked out this way.

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Saut de La Pucelle is located right off the north side of the well-traveled road D1091 near the northern extreme of Ecrins National Park just west of the town of La Grave. It’s about 40km west of Briançon and 79km southeast of Grenoble.

We actually came here by way of Grenoble by leaving the autoroute A480 at the southern end of the city and got onto road D1085. Heading southeast on D1085, we then caught the D1091 and took that through the twisty mountain roads full of tunnels and cliff-hugging sections before stopping at the conspicuous falls.

There’s a signposted car park (more like a loop detour) over an alternate bridge spanning the waterfall’s stream to the north of the road. Across the D1091, there’s also some cafe or accommodation (I forgot which) where I’m sure they’d let you park there if you happened to be a customer.

For additional context, Grenoble was 107km (90 minutes drive) south of Annecy and 111km (90 minutes drive) southeast of Lyon. The city of Lyon was 466km or at least 4.5 hours by car from Paris. However, we used the very fast and efficient TGV (high speed train or le train a grande vitesse), which wound up taking around 3 hours to cover this stretch between the two major cities.

Sweep following the road before zooming in on a distant cascade then focusing on the Saut de la Pucelle itself


Right to left sweep showing the muddy path to get here then looking right into the misty waterfall

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Tagged with: hautes-alpes, ecrins, national park, provence, cote d'azur, french alps, france, waterfall, grenoble, la grave, rhone-alpes, briancon

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