07: Lac Paladru to La Côte-St-André

At the Carthusians before going to say hello to the Fantastic Symphony





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.

Today, Beyond Paladru Lake, you’ll cross a small chain of hills to reach the large plain of Bièvre-Valloire. You are in Bas-Dauphiné, which covers the whole of Isère where there are not only high-altitude massifs. This vast region covers a good half of the department, and is essentially composed of low or medium altitude hills and long valleys and plains, including those of the Rhône, Bièvre, Valloire and Bourbre.

Here, you are in the Cold Lands and you’ll join the wide valley of the Bièvre-Valloire. If, subsequently, you decide to follow the Via Adresca, the variant of Gillonay, you will pass on the other side of the hills, those of Chambaran. The major difference between these hills is that, on the Cold Lands, the pebbles of the Quaternary Era are much less present than on the Chambaran side.

As soon as you have reached the great plain of Bièvre-Valloire, you arrive in another country shaped by the geological accidents that characterized the region during the Ice Age. Conflicts have been incessant between the Rhône glacier and the Isère glacier, which have carried tons of alluvium and pebbles here. Sometimes the paths are real screes. You will quickly leave the plain to walk on the moraines above the plain. Finally, ramble, maybe the word is not right. This long crossing on the foothills of the plain is not really exciting. But, everyone can also have another point of view, of course.

Difficulté du parcours: Slope variations today (+482 meters/-596 meters) are very reasonable for a stage of almost 28 km. There are, however, some difficulties, including the climb to Les Allex, if you have spent the night at Paladru Lake, then the climb to the Slve Bénite (Blessed Sylve), but above all the demanding climb to the Ferme du Crêt beyond Quétan. And what about this terrific descent on the pebbles of the Bièvre towards Grand Lemps, one of the most tough descents of the Way of Compostela, especially in rainy weather? Once arrived in Bièvre, the difficulties disappear, except for a few short exceptions.


In this stage, the routes on paved roads clearly exceed the passages on pathways:

  • Paved roads: 17.0 km
  • Dirt roads: 10.7 km

p style=”text-align: justify;”>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: To reach Le Pin and beyond.


General overview of the difficulties of the route: without difficulty, except the climb to the Allex to join GR path, then the climb to the Sylve Bénite, quite steep. Often the slopes exceed 15%, but they are not long.

If you stopped beyond Le Pin in the two available accommodations, you will join us soon. But if you spent the night in Ars, which many pilgrims do today, since there is no longer any possibility of staying at Le Pin, to join GR path from Paladru Lake, you have to follow the road to the lake…
… then make the rather steep climb of the Montée de la Madonne.

After a short kilometer, the road joins GR path at the village of Les Allex.

Further ahead, the road crosses the village and descends to Le Pin in the countryside.
It arrives at the bottom of the descent under the village of Le Pin.
Fishing here is private in two small marshy ponds, and the Marais stream here flows from one pond to the other.
The road then enters the village.
In the village, which has lost its administrative identity since 2016 to now be part of the municipality of Villages Paladru Lake, you can find food but not accommodation. The restaurant is no longer a hotel.
Fortunately, there is a small grocery store at the exit of the village, but you still have to go during opening hours. The routes in France are often complicated and chaotic for the logistics of the pilgrims.
A road slopes up towards the exit of the village in the recent housing estates, without character, as usual in this region.
It quickly reaches and crosses the village of Chassigneux. Here, you walk on the Route de la Grande Dimière.
Shortly after, in the hamlet of Le Buisson, GR path leaves the road near an adobe farm for the Chemin de la Sylve Bénite. If you continue along Rue de la Grange Dimière, you will find the two accommodations where you can spend the night at Le Pin.
The Chemin de la Sylve Bénite is a steep pathway, often with slopes greater than 15%. You will again have plenty of time to taste the pebbles of Isère, but here quite discreet. At the start, the pathway runs through a little undergrowth on the Côtes du Gay, then it goes out into the meadows.

Below, today, the mists are dragging today on Paladru Lake. Even if the coast is severe, the panorama here is quite exceptional, as bucolic as one could wish. You ask for more.

Section 2: Passing by the beautiful Sylve Bénite.


General overview of the difficulties of the route: some steep slopes.

At the top of the meadows, the pathway enters the forest.
Here, the pathway smoothens for a fairly long crossing of the Sylve Bénite forest, in the middle of hardwoods. Small beeches and chestnut trees dominate the whole region, but you also see hornbeams, maples, and oaks. The latter are beginning to point their noses more seriously. So far, they were not the kings of the places on the way. In autumn, it is easier to be a botanist. Just consider the morphology of fallen leaves or fruit pods. When you walk on beds of chestnut pods, it’s obvious, right? In French forests, it is not the magnificent grafted trees that are well known, but most often small, stunted chestnut trees, which often grow in clusters, on shoots.
When the pathway leaves the forest, it leads to the grandiose site of Sylve Bénite.
The Carthusian Order, founded by a German saint, St Bruno and his companions, clerics and lay people, appeared in 1084 in the Chartreuse massif. This order, somewhat reminiscent of that of St Augustine, is a subtle mixture. The Carthusian divides his life between moments spent in the community or as a hermit. He doesn’t just distil medicinal herbs. The general order was banned during the French Revolution. It took refuge in Italy, then was very gradually readmitted over time.

The Chartreuse de la Sylve-Bénite was founded thirty-two years after the motherhouse of the congregation of the monastery of the Grande Chartreuse. Several times transformed and destroyed, the chartreuse here was definitively closed in 1791, following the French Revolution. Since then, the building has been private and cannot be visited. You can only take a peek as you pass the perimeter wall.

There reigns in the region a whole series of legends linking the history of the Chartreuse and that of the city of Ars, neighboring the monastery which would have been engulfed in the waters of the lake. Excavations have shown that this village existed, near an ancient large Neolithic site. But, we do not know who, how and why this village has disappeared. Ars (Ars means burnt) was it burned for revenge or simply engulfed by a landslide? Where you may have stopped the day before, a landslide destroyed the whole village at the end of the XIXth century.

And we who naively thought that we were only passing through a place without history!

From here you can still take a look at the patches of fog that today surround the lake and the beautiful surrounding countryside.

Further afield, a small road comes out of the Chartreuse site to a parking lot.
Then, a pathway returns to the fairly sparse forest of Sylve Bénite, running on constant ups and downs.

If hardwoods dominate inside the woods, you also see spruces, when the pathway runs through the clearings.

When it comes out of the woods, GR path leaves for the plain, between grass and dirt, between meadows and corn.
Wherever you look, there are crops, meadows and livestock. There’s even a deer pen around here.
Shortly after, GR path joins the tarmac at the entrance to Blaune, a small farming village.
These villages that you’ll cross in Isère do not show signs of opulence. Some old houses are not even covered with traditional adobe, and recent villas often grow in a rather anarchic way.

Even the cross is discreet on the wall of a house.

At the exit of the village, the road flattens in the plain.
It is then a monotonous and endless crossing of a wide plain on the paved road. The whole country of Dauphiné is made up of a succession of plains and hills, succeeding one another from north to south. What you do know is that you are rapidly approaching the hill of Fûteau in front of you, where you’ll have to climb later.
Further on, the road changes axis, but not the landscape, still made of plowed land, corn, meadows, with here and there a clump of oaks.
There is not much to put under the pupil, if not in the distance the three crosses erected on the hill of Mollard Rond. Legend has it that Clodomir, a son of Clovis I King of the Franks, killed in battle against the Burgundians, was buried here.

Section 3: Towards the hill and the forests of Le Fûteau.


General overview of the difficulties of the route: the route near the hill of Fûteau is, it will be said, quite demanding.


The road then arrives at the fork which allows you to climb the hill of Mollard Rond, at a place called Le Calvaire. Pilgrims rarely go there.
You’ll soon hear the roar of the motors of the highway and a very stony pathway takes over. Here, people have not removed stones from the alluvium of the Ice Age.
Through the corn, the pathway brings the walker near the A48 motorway, which connects Grenoble to Lyon.
Here, GR path passes under the highway and a paved road slopes up gently towards Quétan village.
The road crosses the village in length. Here, dogs howl everywhere, as is unfortunately often the case throughout the crossing of the Dauphiné.
At the top of the village, there is a small stretch of dirt, which is probably just waiting for the tar, because…
…above, the road is paved. It must be said here that the slope is steep, sometimes more than 15% and that vehicles climb to the farm above.
Further up, when the slope becomes gentler, you’ll find again the dirt at the Ferme du Crêt and its horses. The countryside is beautiful here near the forests adorned with their autumn colors.
Behind the farm, the stony pathway comes back to life.
Beyond the farm, the pathway flattens a while. Yet, climbing starts again in the undergrowth towards the top of the hill on a very stony pathway. If you pass here in autumn, you will hear the rifle shots of hunters throughout the region. But, to the sound, they are still far from the track.
Climbing is demanding. The feet heat up on the pebbles and the breath is short.
The top of the hill will still be appreciated by many pilgrims as a deliverance, because the track took more than 150 meters in altitude in a short time. Here, you really have the feeling of changing countries. At the top of the hill of Fûteau, the horizon exudes grandeur, it almost seems infinite. One would say oneself almost invincible to contemplate with condescension the Bièvre plateau below. From here, whatever track you choose, the Via Gebenensis or the Via Adresca, you’ll walk in the gentle foothills of the Bièvre for several days.
The descent to the Bièvre plateau is really steep, with a very slight intermediate flattening. At the start, the road really plunges into the Fûteau farm.
The road then arrives at the bottom of the steep descent into the enchanting site of the farm. Here, you are 1.5 kilometers from Grand Lemps in the plain.
The Fûteau farm, which also has a table and guest rooms, is a rather exceptional place, a real haven of peace surrounded by greenery and animals of all kinds. It is a dream place to spend the night.

A dirt road descends below the farm, where the cows graze in a magnificent park, which will soon run along oaks and chestnuts. Enjoy the moment, for hell is looming below.

Section 4: A tough descent to the plain of Bièvre.


General overview of the difficulties of the route: long and demanding descent to Le Grand Lemps, on the pebbles which roll under the foot. From there, the holidays.

When the pathway sinks into the forest that borders the Violet valley, it quickly becomes a difficult test. It must be said. This route is undoubtedly one of the worst passages of the Camino de Compostela. First, the show sucks. Then, the pathway is covered with large stones on a steep slope, sometimes more than 30% decline, for more than 500 meters. In rainy weather, it’s all-out war.

Yet, at first, everything seems calm and serene, when the pathway sinks into the hardwoods.

But quickly, it is seriously spoiled in the toboggan of pebbles which roll constantly under the foot.

It’s hell, I tell you…

Much down, the slope and the number of stones decrease a little.
It’s really deliverance when GR path reaches the suburbs of Le Grand Lemps. In this region, the signs of the GR and the shell of Compostela go hand in hand.
Le Grand Lemps is a small borough of 3,000 inhabitants with all the shops. The Grenoble-Lyon train line passes here. But, GR path does not go into the borough.

On the outskirts of cities and boroughs, whatever their size, the Way of Compostela is most often disappointing and sad. Here, over more than 4 kilometers, you leave for the banality up to Le Mollard. GR path first follows the departmental D73 road which passes through the borough.

At the height of the railway, GR path leaves the axis for the suburbs of Le Grand Lemps, which does not exude great luxury.
Here, you sometimes find a type of construction, also present in the Dauphiné and Haute Loire. These are walls or sections of houses made of large aligned stones grouted with cement or lime. Here it is limestone. In Haute-Loire, it will be more noble material, such as basalt or granite. Yet, the road runs rather along housing estates of small simple villas. Here, the Violet stream winds along the side of the road.
The road will soon leave the suburbs of the borough, whose steeple you can see in front of you, at a place called Barbaillon.
In Barbaillon, GR path leaves on the road towards Bévenais. Here, for a few kilometers, it’s not the most exciting route of the day, to put it mildly, especially since the sky has clouded over a bit. The road crisscrosses meadows, a few meager crops alongside small farms and fairly simple houses.
At the end of a fairly long straight line, the road will reach Le Borgeat, a small village located on the edge of the D73 departmental road, which crosses the entire axis to La-Côte-St-André.
Then, the road crosses a whole zone of houses that we will say rather rudimentary without wanting to offend their owners, mostly plastered.
Further on, it heads to the fairly large village of Bévenais. In this region, there is no bakery or cafe to eat.

Section 5: On the slopes of the Bièvre plain.


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

On leaving Bévenais, the road continues along the houses lined up along the road. Sometimes, fortunately, the eye can rest on the adobe houses and the rolled pebbles, which mark the landscape.
Further on, fortunately, the road abandons the monotony of the rows of houses for a bit of countryside to reach La Charrière.
And the road flattens again through the countryside to Le Mollard hamlet. We told you. Beyond Le Grand Lemps to here, it is not joy that will light up your face

At Le Mollard, you are two kilometers to La Frette.

There, finally, the course becomes more pleasant. A wide dirt road replaces the tarmac, and the pathway runs along the hedges. Here, you may find sunflowers, a crop that is not very widespread in the Bièvre.
On the way the pebbles of the Bièvre are piled up, but sometimes farmers have also cleared the pathways and fields. Shortly after, the pathway crosses a small country road and continues in the undergrowth.
Further on, the pathway skirts the hedges, then follows a small stream where the oaks are soaking.
Nature is pleasant here and the pathway approaches the market gardens of La Frette.
Further afield, the dirt road becomes less stony and soon joins the large departmental road D1085, near a large property with rolled pebble walls, in the suburb of La Frette. GR path does not go to the village.
Shortly after crossing the departmental road, a small road leads under the church of La Frette.

There, GR path climbs behind the church in the grass, under majestic oaks.
A little up, it reaches a small paved road, which along an alley leads to the Château de la Villardière under the tall trees.

Castles flourish in the region. There is of course always the mansion, but these castles all have fairly large agricultural outbuildings.

UA dirt road then runs along the walls of the castle and flattens to the undergrowth. Throughout this region, oak dominates other hardwoods and conifers.

Section 6: Here, there are two ways to go to Le Puy-en-Velay.


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

At the end of the undergrowth, the route becomes a road and climbs towards Le Plantier hamlet.
In all these small villages, you really have to keep your eyes open to find a house that is out of the ordinary. There is really no great vernacular heritage in any Dauphiné region debt, except the adobe clay. One can only assume that this region has never been a wealthy region during its history.
At the height of the hamlet, a fairly stony dirt road descends into the countryside to the Biel stream. Here, the countryside is more cheerful, less monotonous than before.
Further ahead, the pathway slopes up the other side of the dale on a gentle slope, but the stones remain numerous, as is often the rule in the Bièvre area. The meadows clearly dominate the crops under the oaks.
Further up, GR path takes a road that slopes down to St Hilaire-de-La-Côte, then runs back on dirt.
It then undulates a little in the undergrowth, before descending towards the village…

…to reach the first houses of St Hilaire-La-Côte, at a place called Château du Bouchet.

Here, the road crosses the heights of the village. The main village is in the plain where the Grenoble aerodrome is located. The road passes in front of the small village square with its church and its cross.
At the exit of the village, the road climbs on the Chemin de Gondrine.
At the top of the Chemin de Gondrine, at a place called La Croix de chez Rivat, GR path leaves the tar for a dirt and grass road.
Further afield, the pathway runs for quite a long time on a very gentle slope along the meadows along hedges of deciduous trees. Cereal crops are rarer. Land must not be appropriated here.
Under small maples and small oaks, the pathway then joins a small tarred road at a place called Le Rondet.

In front of you then opens the wide avenue that leads to the Château de Montgoutier.

A stone’s throw away, before the castle, the route arrives at a highly strategic junction. This is where the so-called Gillonay variant, also called Via Artesia, starts. This route leads to Arles, but also to Le Puy-en-Velay. We also describe this route to Le Puy on this site. It is just as interesting as the Via Gebennensis, passing over the hills of Ardèche. Read both courses and make your choice.

If you decide on the Gillonay variant, you can stay at the Château de Montgoutier, but you must book in advance, or go further on the variant. Otherwise, you go to Côte-St André, and you come back here the next day.

Section 7: Chez Hector Berlioz, at the Côte-St-André.


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

If you stay on the Via Gebennensis which heads towards the Côte-St-André, here you are a stone’s throw from Château Montgontier, another manor house with agricultural outbuildings.
A road circumvents the agricultural domain of the manor.
At the exit of the estate, a forest lane leaves the road and descends steeply into the undergrowth. Here, again, oaks, chestnuts and beeches dominate the other species.
The descent is short and from the bottom of the dale a less steep road slopes up.
At the hilltop, it runs in front of a magnificent fountain made of rolled pebbles, facing the Château Pointière, another mansion and its agricultural outbuildings.
Beyond the main driveway of the castle under the plane trees, GR path then follows the Chemin des Vignes, along small residences. It is a slightly richer neighborhood than those you encountered today on the way.
A little further on, it runs near a wooden cross at a place called Belmonière. Here, you are just over 2 km to La-Côte-St-André.
Below the road, you can see the steeple of the church of St Maurice, and lower down the great plain of the Bièvre.
Another cross. Here they are numbered and there are three of their kind. And the road descends to the very bare church of St Maurice, a small Latin cross church, built at the end of the XIXth century. There are parts in adobe and rolled pebbles, the vernacular heritage of Dauphiné.
It is the church of Gillonay, on the height. Here, the road descends between the church and the cemetery.
Beyond the church, GR path follows the road for a little longer, which ends in a dead end before entering a wide pathway, the Chemin de la Morelière, through meadows and copses along the hedgerows of bushes.
You are on the heights of the Bièvre plain, in fact on the moraines of this wide plain which was shaped by glaciers in the Quaternary Era, hence the countless pebbles found on the tracks, which the peasants did not remove stones, as they sometimes did in the meadows and the crops. Here, the pathway climbs a bit more. Below, in the Bièvre plain, stretches out along Gillonay, where the variant of the same name goes.
The pathway will then cross the meadows for a long time, passing a little further on the Chemin de Parady. Nature is very gentle here.
At the end of the pathway in the countryside, GR path joins the suburb of La-Côte-St André on the road.
It gets a little closer to the town by sloping down the Chemin du Pollard road.
Further on, it crosses the small D71 departmental road and continues on Rue Martel towards the city center.

The road passes in front of the Louis XI castle, classified in the list of Historic Monuments, on the heights of the city. Built in the XIIIth century by the counts of Savoy, this castle is known to have hosted the future king Louis XI in the XVth century. He made from it one of his favorite residences, being a great lover of hunts organized in the Bièvre. Significant changes were made thereafter. You can visit the castle, and even the Chocolate Paradise Museum, which is adjoining. The Berlioz Festival also takes place there.

Just below the castle nestles the magnificent old mill of the castle, which dates back to the early Middle Ages, renovated over the centuries.
In a sumptuous alley, GR path arrives on the esplanade which dominates the city.
The esplanade overlooks small squares and stairs that run under the hill and in the roofs. This is the beautiful part of the town.
In a maze of small stairs, tunnels and large walls, with incredible charm, the route then descends to the very beautiful XIIIth century hall.
Here, under its magnificent beams, the market is held once a week. La Halle is also listed as a Historic Monument.
The Les Halles district is the only part of the city that offers a bit of character. For the rest, in this city, which has nearly 5,000 inhabitants, the activity is mainly located in the long Rue de la République which crosses the whole city. It is also in this street that the museum dedicated to Berlioz is located.

Hector Berlioz, for many the greatest French composer, and with good reason, was born here in 1803. His father was a doctor. His birthplace has become the Hector Berlioz Museum. But, after twenty years spent here, he made his career mainly in Paris, where he died in 1869. A Berlioz festival takes place every year in August. It takes place in the courtyard of the Château Louis XI, which can accommodate more than 1,000 spectators.



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Next stage : Stage 8: From La Côte-St André to Revel-Tourdan
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