Towns and Villages: East of Saint-Julien-Chapteuil

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This page introduces a couple of villages east of Saint-Julien-Chapteuil: Chapteuil, Les Couderts, Neyzac Bas, La Fraisse, Boussoulet, Les Vignes (Hautes, Basses), Montusclat, and Montvert.


About the Villages

When discussing the villages east of Saint-Julien-Chapteuil, I follow roughly the D15 eastwards.

Les Couderts, Chapteuil, Bacelles, Neyzac Bas, La Fraisse, Chanalez - Castle Hill, Water Mills and Ostrich Farm

If you drive on the D15 from Saint-Julien-Chapteuil to the east (direction Valence), you follow the valley of the river Fraisse, in which also a hiking trail runs. The village of Les Coudert (approx. 900 m) north of the D15 can be reached from both the road and the trail: You can climb the Chapteuil mountain (1031 m) with the ruins of a castle. If you have come on foot, you can return to Saint-Julien-Chapteuil via the village of Bacelles (approx. 900 m) in the northeast of the Chapteuil. To the west of the castle mountain is a large holiday resort. Whoever has parked his car in Les Couderts will of course return there. Or you can take a walk from Les Coudert to Neyzac Bas (approx. 950 m) and in an round trip to La Fraisse (940 m) south of the D15 and back to Les Couderts.

Les Couderts is a village scattered on an open slope, with a béate, cross, baking oven, some beautiful courtyards in the lower area and a former sawmill at the end of the village. The "trio of 7water mills" starts there.

The former castle mountain Chapteuil is not very high at 1031 m, but can be seen from afar from many places, especially when it shines in the sunlight in the evening. It is best climbed from Les Couderts, walking through ruins of walls and gates and going around the mountain, full of basalt organs, to the summit. At the top there is a tower ruin, but this area is closed and therefore we didn't enter it (the French keep to it less, but they are "at home" there)... From the mountain you have very nice views to the west, north, and east. The whole area is well worth seeing, at least if you like basalt rocks. The way back down to Bacelles (approx. 900 m) is also impressive (through meadows and agricultural land we return to Saint-Julien-Chapteuil and to Sumène).

The wather mill trail starts in Les Couderts, passes the already mentioned former sawmill and before Neyzac Bas (approx. 950 m) you reach the first ruins of water mills. Water mills can also be found on the edge of Neyzac Bas, a pretty and spacious village. Some of these mills were or are still covered with broom and therefore the roofs are very steep. In the course of the hike you will pass about 7 water mills, but you can also shorten the path and then you will come across fewer mills; we have done so more often. After crossing the D15, you will reach the farmer's village La Fraisse (940 m), which is situated at the river of the same name. Above the village there is an ostrich farm (Les Autruches de la Tortue).

From La Fraisse you can walk to Montusclat (and Boussoulet) or vice versa. From there you can also reach Les Mourets on the slope of La Tortue, where a son of our campground owners lives. From Les Mourets we also went through the valley of the Fraisse to Saint-Julien-Chapteuil and on to Sumène. Via Chanalez (930 m) one can either return to Les Couderts to finish the water mill trail or, as described above, follow the valley of the Fraisse river to Saint-Julien-Chapteuil (and in our case, continue to Sumène).

Boussoulet (Champcluse), Les Vignes (Hautes, Basses)

If you drive the very curvy D15 further eastwards, it continues to rise until it almost reaches its highest level north of La Tortue (1327 m) and then it runs flatter. The pass height is probably reached at the entrance of Boussoulet (1204 m), the first village after Saint-Julien-Chapteuil, which you drive through on the D15. The old church of Boussoulet is not far away from this point, but it faces more to the south, where the village sticks to a slope. Together with Montvert, Boussoulet forms a municipality called Champclause. At 1200 m, Boussoulet is as high as some mountain peaks nearby, and therefore it is quite rough and cold in winter (400 m higher than Sumène!). In Boussoulet there is a campsite with gîte d' Etape and there are several restaurants. We have not been able to discover shops, bakers or butchers, perhaps the shop with regional products still exists, which advertises on the street.

Les Vignes Hautes (1200-1230 m) lies to the north of the D15 and Les Vignes Basses (1180-1200 m) to the south of it. Former campsite neighbours of us bought a summer house in Les Vignes Hautes. From Boussoulet we pass it, when we hike from there into the southern Meygal massif (PR478 and variations). A few hundred metres further along the D15, a forest road branches off to the north into the Meygal massif; this is the southern access to the Meygal massif. In the north, meets the D18 this road east of Querières; this is the northern access to the Meygal massif, which I have already described elsewhere. Shortly after the turn-off there is a stele in a parking lot, which reminds of the murder of French resistance fighters by the German Wehrmacht.

Montusclat, Croix de l'Etoile

From Boussoulet there is a small road, the D150, leading south past the Sabatoux campsite and via La Pradette Haute to Saint-Julien-Chapteuil. By the way, the D150 is a "panorama road", from Sabatoux to La Pradette Haute with views to the south over the Gagne valley, from La Pradette Haute with views to the north over the Meygal massif and the plain around Saint-Julien-Chapteuil. About one kilometer after Sabatoux, the D153 branches off to the left towards Montusclat (148 inhabitants; 1047/1055 m) (so it almost goes back again, only lower...), which is situated on the southern slope of La Tortue (1327 m) about 150 m below Boussoulet in the valley of a small river (Ruisseau de Montusclat). It has not only a beautiful old church, but also a number of so-called notary houses from the 16th and 17th centuries; it must have been a rich administrative centre in the past. From Montusclat, a hike leads south to the Croix de l' Etoile (1176 m), a Calvary with oratorio.

Montvert (Champclause)

A little further east and connected to the D15 by a small road (branching off at La Calla at a large car park) lies the small village of Montvert (approx. 1280 m) on the plateau, which is surrounded by woodland in the east. In the centre of the village there is a fully restored assemblée/béate and a public oven. Two PRs lead through Montvert, leading to the Meygal massif (PR 478) and the Lac Bleu (PR475). That's why we passed through Montvert. The Lac Bleu is one of the most popular excursion destinations in this area and is described elsewhere.

Before the D15 reaches La Calla, the D26 already branches off the D15 towards Fay-sur-Lignon, and Montvert is also connected to the D15 in the west by small access roads.


The municipality of Champclause (200-230 inhabitants; 1200 m), whose town hall and a church are standing more or less alone in the area, consists of several villages and includes Lac Bleu. We parked there and made walks from there (PR476, PR477).



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Hiking Tours

  Starting Point   Length Duration
Number Recommended Alternative Name (km) h:min min max References
PR57 St. Julien-Chapteuil Circuit du Mont de la Tortue
19 – En massif du Meygal (It. Péd. En Ht. Loire)
PR57 St. Julien-Chapteuil Le Mont de la Tortue
Le Pays des Sucs et du Meygal … à pied (13)
PR60 St. Julien-Chapteuil Circuit du Fraisse
19 – En massif du Meygal (It. Péd. En Ht. Loire)
PR475 Lac Bleu Lac Bleu Autour du lac Bleu
Le Pays des Mézenc et de la Loire sauvage … à pied (35); Le Pays des Sucs et du Meygal … à pied (9); älter: Le Pays du Mézenc … à pied (1)
PR478 Boussoulet (La Calla) Boussoulet, parking at the church Le Bastiers
Le Pays du Mézenc et de la Loire sauvage … à pied (34); älter: Le Pays du Mézenc … à pied (4
PR476 Champclause Champclause, parking at the mairie La Champ de Pin
Le Pays des Mézenc et de la Loire sauvage … à pied (36); älter: Le Pays du Mézenc … à pied (2)
PR477 Champclause Champclause, parking at the mairie Circuit de la truite
Le Pays des Mézenc et de la Loire sauvage … à pied (37); älter: Le Pays du Mézenc … à pied (3)
Magenta: Older version (Randonées pédestre et VTT au pays des sucs - Yssingeaux)
Blue (italic number): Older version (Itineraires Pedestres en Haute-Loire)
Red: New





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