Tag Archives: patte d’ours

Hoofin’ it in Les Hautes-Alpes

Herding the flock to lower pastures in Les Orres

These short getaways to France feel almost like a tradition by now. In spring and fall, we get the itch to pack up and go. This recent trip took place at the end of October (while the forest here at home was still essentially green). It took 5 hours (220 miles) to get there, but when we arrived in Les Orres, the vibrant colors were a sight to behold!

A gentle nature walk starts at the parking area Pra Paisset, and we did just that for about a mile before heading back. The trail goes further up to an observation deck at Source de Jerusalem, and further still to Lac de Sainte-Marguerite. Total distance one-way: 3.6 miles. Altitude gain: 2000 feet. We’ll simply have to return another time to do the entire route and other hikes in the area.

No escape to France is complete without discoveries that are gastronomic in nature. There’s an absolute treasure of a boulangerie/patisserie that we came across in the small village of Chateauroux-les-Alpes: Aux Petits Godon. Actually I didn’t stumble upon them by chance, but a rave review on Google led me to this spectacular place for artisan breads, dessert pastries and fine viennoiserie.

L-R: patte d’ours (bear paw), croissant, pain au chocolat

The bear paw (or bear claw) had a thin layer of rum-flavored pastry cream within. This was way beyond the usual sweet dough, almond filling and almond-topped bear claws that I’ve had in the states. This was extraordinarily YUM. Croissant, flaky and buttery; pain au chocolat, divine.

Clockwise from top left: vanilla tart, chestnut tart (à la Mont Blanc) but with a whipped cream and berry filling, chocolate lingot, lemon meringue tart

“Two for you, two for me. But we share everything.” No need to gush over these; they were as good as they look. We’ve visited a lot of patisseries in tiny, lesser known villages in our travels to France and this truly is the cream of the crop. Definitely worth hoofin’ it over there!