06: St Genix-sur-Guiers to Paladru Lake

The monotony of the Isère hills





We divided the course into several sections to make it easier to see. For each section, the maps show the course, the slopes found on the course, and the state of the roads. The courses were drawn on the “Wikilocs” platform. Today, it is no longer necessary to walk around with detailed maps in your pocket or bag. If you have a mobile phone or tablet, you can easily follow routes live.

For this stage, here is the link:


It is obviously not the case for all pilgrims to be comfortable with reading GPS and routes on a laptop, and there are still many places in France without an Internet connection. Therefore, you’ll find soon a book on Amazon that deals with this course.

If you only want to consult lodging of the stage, go directly to the bottom of the page.

For several days, you’ll cross the Isère department. Alas, it is not the most beautiful part of it, that of the mountains, the Chartreuse and the Ecrins. You’ll rather visit the small hills above the wide plains, this immense plain which goes from Grenoble to Lyon.

From then on, the first part of the stage to Les Abrets will take place in a fairly monotonous countryside. The second part, fortunately, is a little more varied, with more underwood. You are in Dauphiné, a region shared by Isère, Drôme and Hauts Alpes. In these regions, among houses without much character, you often see houses, especially farmhouses, built of rammed clay, dirt sometimes covered with lime plaster. And then, icing on the cake, you’ll meet dozens of dogs, or even more, most of them furious behind the fences of the houses or attached to the chain in the farms. Only old harmless dogs are free, Fortunately, because the fangs of others are often superb! This gives an uninterrupted concert of these dogs throughout the course.

To make up for a long and monotonous stage, walk to Paladru Lake rather than the village of Le Pin at the end of the route. You can then taste the charm of the turquoise waters of a glacial lake. Understand, this is not an attack on Isère. But sometimes there are stages on the way that are less interesting than others. Not all of France is exceptional. Far from there!

Difficulty of the course: Slope variations today (+726 meters /-437 meters) are quite significant. The stage is long, with nearly 30 kilometers, unless you stop before. You climb very gradually, with many intermediate plateaus. Most of the time the climbs are easy, except for the difficult climb of Riboulet and a few short ramps here and there. Once at the top of the hills, the slope becomes steep to descend to Le Pin or Paladru Lake.


In this stage, GR path oscillates all day long between short passages on the road or on pathways. They are equivalent:

  • Paved roads: 15.3 km
  • Dirt roads: 14.9 km

Sometimes, for reasons of logistics or housing possibilities, these stages mix routes operated on different days, having passed several times on Via Podiensis. From then on, the skies, the rain, or the seasons can vary. But, generally this is not the case, and in fact this does not change the description of the course.

It is very difficult to specify with certainty the incline of the slopes, whatever the system you use.

For “real slopes”, reread the mileage manual on the home page.

Section 1: From the Rhône plain to the gentle hills of Isère.


General overview of the difficulties of the route: course without any difficulty.

On leaving St Genix, GR path crosses the Guiers, a river that originates in the Chartreuse massif in Savoy and flows here, a stone’s throw away, into the Rhône River.
Here was once the border between France and Savoy. Today, it is the border between the departments of Savoy and Isère. On the other side of the bridge is Aosta, the capital of French charcuterie. “Jambon d’Aoste” was a registered trademark of the Aoste group, which also includes Cochonou and Justin Bridou, in foreign hands. At one time, advertising even used Italian opera tunes to sell the ham. The European Commission has banned the use of this confusing name, and the brand has been renamed to “Jambon Aoste”. And then, what a great nuance!
GR path leaves the bridge and follows the river for quite a long time on the tarmac road before entering a dirt road.
This morning, we are between fog and sun. To the right of the dirt road stretch the lakes of Romagneu.
GR path will follow the lake and its park for more than 1 kilometer. On the park, there is room to accommodate several regiments.
Further ahead, still following the river, GR path leaves the lake, runs into the fields along the undergrowth.
Soon, the pathway leaves the river and a paved road crosses a fairly wide plain. It’s not very fun, shall we say.
Further on, the engines rumble. Shortly after, the road crosses the A43 motorway, the one that connects Chambéry to Lyon.
Immediately after crossing the motorway, a small road climbs towards Romagneu Castle. This castle, whose origins date back to the XIth century and which had seven towers, has melted down and today has nothing of an impregnable fortress. The castle is private, behind its gates, and cannot be visited.

Section 2: From one village to another on the hill.


General overview of the difficulties of the route: course without any difficulty.

Further up, the road climbs towards an undergrowth and crosses it under hardwoods and chestnut trees, to the place called Le Boutet.
There, a pathway leaves in the meadows and the eternal corn. In front of you, you can see the villages of La Perrière and Les Rivaux, adjoining the Bois de Fayet.
Further afield, the pathway descends gently from the hill to join the paved road.
Here a road climbs back towards La Perrière. Here, the slope is quite gentle.
Fortunately, sometimes heritage resists the banality of today’s constructions, which are largely mediocre. Tell me which walker will remain to contemplate a housing estate of today’s villas? Although it is easy to understand the pleasure of their owners to live in a detached house. Yet, adobe farms are just exceptional.
A pathway then climbs in the grass, under the oaks and chestnut trees, to briefly cross the Bois du Fayet.
When it leaves the woods, GR path follows a paved road which leads to the hamlet of La Vigne.
On leaving the hamlet, the road descends into the fields towards a small undergrowth, where chestnut and ash trees proliferate.
Further ahead, the road heads to a washhouse fed by the Guindan brook, a tributary of the Guiers River Here, the site is charming and relaxing. So much the better!
The road passes in front of farms, most often in adobe. Adobe is an old story. Choosing the right soil was of course crucial. At the beginning of the construction chain, the diggers extracted the clay soil and filled the porters’ bags. On the base made by the masons, often made of rubble and pebbles, the carpenters began the work, laying the formwork one meter high, boards connected by a clamp. The holes that we see in the rammed clay are the mark of the clamps. Masons put the clay there, plowed it, that is to say, packed it down. Clay was tapped several times, in regular rhythm, to eliminate the humidity. The work was difficult. The carriers often carried bags of almost 100 kilos. And you had to climb the ladder to bring the material to the carpenters, as the house went up. When the adobe reached the top of the formwork, the clamps were removed. Masons let it dry for eight days. They often added mortar or wooden planks for the joints and started again for the next formwork. The cranes did not exist and how many porters suffered on these houses that some will say but which are in fact often almost authentic masterpieces. Those here are not the most successful, but they have the merit of being present.

Section 3: In the monotony of the low hills of Isère.


General overview of the difficulties of the route: course without great difficulty, with a few slightly steeper slopes.

Ahead of us walks a group of German pilgrims. This will increase the Pilgrim stat on Via Gebennensis. Generally speaking, less than 10 people walk on this route in a day, sometimes, but rarely, 15 people. The manager of the Revel-Tourdan inn tells us that he registers 600 nights a year at his place. As this alone must represent more than half of the people who take Via Gebennesis, it can be estimated that only a thousand pilgrims choose this route. This is obviously little compared to Via Podiensis, where it is estimated that 15,000 pilgrims pass through each year. Here, it is mainly Swiss or Germans. The French are rare like white crows.

Here, GR path crosses D92 road, that goes towards Le Pont-de-Beauvoisin, and further on the Massif de la Chartreuse, from which flows the Guiers River. Here, the GR65 leaves for the village of Priolaz.

The road crosses an extended village with housing estates of recent villas.
It is only at the end of the village that you’ll find a little more soul.
Further afield, the road then reaches the first houses of La Bruyère.

It is here that the Bièvre stream flows, which runs through Aosta to empty into the Rhône River. Here, the Martinet site and washhouse are charming. We must note the beautiful things, because on this stage, there is nothing really fun to put under the pupil.

As the road bends here, a shortcut in the grass allows you to join the road up and cross the rest of the village.
A little further on, the paved road ends in a dead end at the hamlet of Le Renard. You can clearly see when crossing this region that it is not opulence that has place here. Then, a dirt road, which runs towards the undergrowth, takes over.
Then, quickly, GR path leaves through meadows for the undergrowth.
The passage in the wood and brief, before GR path finds the light.
At the exit of the wood, it finds the tar back and runs through the farms and the rare villas of Cochardières. You’ll see, it’s boring.

Section 4: Passing through Les Abrets, a more important borough, because the train passes there.


General overview of the difficulties of the course: course without great difficulty, with a small ramp before the Abrets railway line.

Beyond St Genix, the landscape is so uniform, from one hamlet without much character to another which has no more, from a field to a meadow, from one undergrowth to another even more dense, from one dog barking to another, that if you come back here another time, you will probably not remember having been there once. But no, the dogs will remind you of your visit. They have long memories. And here, it does not work out. GR path now runs on a plain that it will follow almost to Les Abrets.
It then leaves the road for a pathway that heads towards the undergrowth. Here, the oaks have taken over, but the chestnuts, maples and hornbeam shoots are resisting.
And off you are for more than a kilometer and a half, on a wide dirt road, sometimes on long straight lines between meadows and undergrowth. But where are the cows in the country?
Much further, at a place called La Loue, the tar reclaims its rights. Here, you are a short half-hour walk to Les Abrets.
Further ahead, GR path follows the road for a while, then heads to the sewage treatment plant on a dirt road.
Shortly after, the pathway will rise, quite steep, over the railway line. The Paris-Lyon line passes here, and there is a station in Les Abrets. It is because you are on the axis of Paris and Lyon. It must be said here that for foreigners who do not make the entire journey, these stations are life-saving, as there are few trains in “Deep France”.
Further up, the pathway climbs again to reach the suburb of Les Abrets.
A road then leads to the small borough (3,600 inhabitants), with all the shops. Having seen hardly anyone in the previous hamlets, you may have the feeling when you arrive from here that the town is teeming with people. It is probably also thanks to the presence of the train that the borough has developed.
The Church of the Assumption in Les Abrets dates from 1850, built on the remains of an XIth century church. It is from this place that GR path continues. Valencogne is announced at 7.5 km and the Paladru Lake at 15 km.
Here, the road leaves in the suburbs, crosses a deer park.
It arrives at the cemetery. From there, a pathway leaves in the grass along the wall of the cemetery.
It heads towards Le Tiret, a suburb of Les Abrets, which it joins on tarmac.
Further afield, GR path follows the road for a while before crossing the Draisin stream and its small pond.
So, it’s quite a long crossing of the plain on a half-grass half-dirt pathway in the fields. At this time of the year, there is nothing left but maize on the stalk.

Section 5: Over hill and dale in the countryside.


General overview of the difficulties of the route: difficult course, with the demanding climb of Riboulet and some beautiful ramps sloping up to the hills..

Then, the pathway begins to climb slightly in an undergrowth…
…to come out near the few houses in the hamlet of La Rochette.
Shortly after, a small road leaves the hamlet through the meadows up to the Montée de Riboulet. There are cows here, and not just howler dogs.
The Montée de Riboulet has to be earned. It is nearly 400 meters of climb on slopes sometimes approaching 25%. In hot weather, without a tree, you will lose 1 liter of water. Passing by here, you can only admire, if you meet them, for the children who take this road twice a day, to go to school in the village above.

When you’ll reach Juvenin Castle fork, you’ll breathe a sigh of relief.

Beyond this point, a fairly rocky pathway descends into the meadows. Whenever you see pebbles, these are the places where the peasants have not eliminated the moraines that cover almost all the hills of Isère. But here, the pebbles are less present than in the Bièvre or the Chambaran, which you will cross if you take the Gillonay variant, from La-Côte-St André.
Further on, the pathway continues to descend quite steeply in an undergrowth of oaks, chestnuts and ashes to find the small Biôt brook.
Beyond the stream, it slopes up on the other side, still in the undergrowth.
At the exit of the wood, GR path finds ta paved road near the first houses of Vieux-St Ondrans.
A magnificent iron cross is planted on a large block of stone. Here, GR path will follow the road a bit uphill…
…then, to avoid the road, take a shortcut on a pathway where the slope does not ease and where the stones roll under your feet. In Isère, these pebbles are mostly rolled pebbles, transported and eroded by the glaciers.
Fortunately, the climb is not long and the pathway arrives on a small plateau, at the bottom of the village of Les Alimards.
The road will slope uphill through the village scattered along the road. In this region, as the villages do not have a bakery, you really don’t meet anyone. Only, sometimes, a tractor hums around. If you tell a Parisian that you can cross all of France without meeting many people, he will not believe you. Go through here to get an idea.

Section 6: Long crossing on the top of the hills.


General overview of the difficulties of the route: course without any difficulty.

At the exit of Les Alimards, a dirt road will climb slightly, pass near the small stream of Combaud…
… then follow the undergrowth.

On the horizon stretches the Rhône plain. Dreary, without the Rhône River which we have not seen for a long time.

Further afield, the dirt road will then undulate in the meadows, along the hedges of oaks and ash trees. It’s open countryside here. No living soul, no or few livestock.
Then, the chestnut trees return in number, and shortly before Valencogne, the tar reclaims its rights.
The road then arrives in Valencogne, an extended village, the largest in the region, but which has hardly more than 600 inhabitants. But the supermarkets are very far from the village. So how does the elderly, without means of transport, manage to survive in these small countries?
Many pilgrims stop at the restaurant of the Brocard gîte, at the entrance to the village, just before the small Brocard Cross, a very small cross lost in the foliage, which you can barely make out.
The sober St Jean Baptiste church dates from the end of the XIXth century.
Near the church, GR path descends to a small pond where the Pisse Vieille stream flows. It is charming here, it must be said.
As soon as it leaves the village, GR path finds a dirt road which will climb steeply in the meadows on the hill. Here, the slope is around 15%.
Here, the small chestnut trees take over the forest. In autumn, it is better to have thick soles on your feet. The locals go out to pick these wild chestnuts in autumn, often until the end of October.
At the top of the hill, GR path crosses a small plateau in the grass until it joins a small road.
Further ahead, the road leads to Gréhaut hamlet.
Further on, GR path follows the road for a while before returning to the woods of Grande Rivoire on dirt or grass.
Here, it undulates in the woods before emerging on the road to reach a crossroads at the Croix Charpenne, a wooden cross planted like a semaphore in the meadows.

Section 7: Transition on the high plateau.


General overview of the difficulties of the route: some beautiful slopes, uphill on the high plateau, but it is very bearable.

You are now walking on a high plateau and the paved road wanders through the meadows.
The road soon heads to Lambert hamlet. All these hamlets in the region are two or three houses along the road.
Beyond the hamlet, a fairly stony pathway smoothens on the ridge, between meadows and crops.
Here, the pathway will seem very long to you, and it is. It leads to an undergrowth in the beech and chestnut trees. The climb is often quite gentle, but sometimes with a small bump.
Nothing is happening. There are many very boring passages in this stage. You will then arrive at a crossroads at a place called Côte Simandre. Here, if you walk to Le Pin, you can take the shortest route. But, if you prefer Paladru Lake, which we recommend, or even to Le Pin, followtGR path, which is a little longer.

Section 8: Descent to Paladru Lake.


General overview of the difficulties of the routee: steep descent to the lake.

Here, the sign makes you believe that you are at the end of the coast. But no! The coast will continue for a good kilometer, trampling tons of chestnuts in autumn.
GR path will cross the Bois de Prena in the middle of deciduous trees, with sometimes small clearings where the brush is emancipated.
IFurther ahead, it reaches the top of the coast, where there are watchtowers for ornithologists, who knows? Nay! These are used for the bloodthirsty hunt for wild pigeons.
Initially gentle, the descent into the forest quickly becomes very steep.
The slope becomes even steeper, to more than 25%, when the pathway leaves the forest. It is one of the beautiful pebble fields of Isère. It can even sometimes be painful, very trying, because of the stones rolling under your feet.
The deliverance takes place when the pathway joins the paved road in Brandoux hamlet.
Here, a direction is given for the Gîte des Balcons du Lac, which is the same as that of GR path. A road flattens in the countryside.
Shortly after, you arrive at a strategic junction. GR path slopes up on a dirt road to the right. In front of you, the paved road descends towards Ars. The problem with the stage is that Le Pin is not teeming with accommodation. In fact, there aren’t any more. In the past, you could stay at the inn. Not anymore. If you continue to Le Pin, you will have to leave the village, walk a few kilometers to find two accommodations, a short distance from the track. It’s the same problem here. If you slope down to Ars, you will have to take GR path back to Le Pin the next day to continue your journey. You have the choice. It is not our goal to favor one way over the other. But, the track to Ars gives you the opportunity to admire Paladru Lake.
Having used the two tracks at different times, today we will take the lake variant. A very steep road descends to the lake.
The road quickly leads above the very beautiful lake, nicknamed the “blue lake” by local residents. This lake is sort of private, managed by the Sociiety of Paladru Lake, that regulates the inhabitants, boaters and navigation on the lake. Some areas of the lake are natural and inaccessible. More than a thousand inhabitants live on the banks.

You will then arrive at the Balcons du Lac, a house full of beds, run by charming retired peasants, where donkeys and alpacas live in harmony.


Feel free to add comments. This is often how you move up the Google hierarchy, and how more pilgrims will have access to the site.
Next stage : Stage 7: From  Paladru Lake to La Côte-St André
Back to menu