Ailefroide – what’s there to do?
Ailefroide is a very small village in the Hautes Alpes in France. It is situated in a valley at around 1500m. We went there to climb and others of our group went for mountaineering on the surrounding high mountains and glaciers of 3000-4000m.
What I loved about this area was that there was a really good mix of things to do and it felt like it was a far cry from regular tourist places. I had expected fewer local facilities and was really heartened to find a Sherpa supermarket with freshly baked bread, croissants and pains au chocolat every day, as well as cheeses, hams, tartes, fresh yoghurt and jams.
Local amenities in Ailefroide included:
Small supermarket – Sherpa
This small supermarket had everything we needed for our stay. They are geared up for campers and the prices were much cheaper than Paris prices, we later found out!
Hotel with wifi
The hotel (I forget its name), does food, Ice creams (very nice indeed), teas and coffees, breakfasts etc. The teas and coffees are a but pricey, but nothing in comparison to Paris, where a coffee costs approx 4-5 Euros. It is just up the road from the campsite, past Sherpa.
Groceries Shop with a cafe/ beer bar / showering facilities
If you decide to go back to nature and camp wild, then you could grab a shower and wash your clothes at this facility. There is a small, but well stocked, shop, which has tables and chairs at the front serviced by the smallest bar in the world. You pay in the shop, take your ticket to the bar and voila, your boisson appears at your table. They do beers as well as tea and coffee. This is also the cheapest place for croissants/pain au chocolat – 4 for 2 Euros. This shop had all manner of things to sell – cups, bowls, stoves, nature books and so on. If you’ve forgotten something this shop is likely to have it, or something that will suffice in its place.
This shop has all the usual items you might need for a climbing/ walking holiday, in terms of equipment. It’s not cheap, but they rarely are. The staff were most helpful and very friendly.
Gift/ Outdoors Gear Shop
A lovely English woman has been running this shop for many years and was very helpful sorting me out with some cordelette for a prussic loop. She also furnished us with the correct materials for a postcard to the UK.
Post goes at 10.30am every weekday. It’s a yellow box on the wall around the corner on the left hand side of the Hut de Guides (as you look at the hut).
Pizza van x2!
There is a pizza van on site at the camping area. It’s there all the time (I assume – it was when we were there, but may change during low season). The pizzas were reasonable, starting at around 7.50 Euros and going up to about 12, with all manner of toppings and the obligatory chilli oil that the French seem to adore. In addition there’s a van that parks up on the main road in Ailefroide on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. We didn’t try their pizza, but others did and said they were good.
Further into Ailefroide there is a larger hotel. We didn’t go in, but it’s there if you fancy a bit of luxury.
Vans selling local tarts and goodies
Further through Ailefroide on the road towards the pre de mme carle hut, there were numerous vans selling local lovely food stuffs and drinks. We missed these (somehow), so can’t give a rating.
Dry Tooling area
If you go through Ailefroide and round to the right over the bridge towards the pre de Mme Carle hut, you’ll pass a smal car parking area with a large boulder on the right hand side. Towards the end of the car park there are some trees with a series of pallets tied on and tree trunks laid up against them. This is an impromptu dry tooling area which we used whilst there most safely. You will have to get your own gear up and down from it though, to be able to do it roped, so make sure you know what you’re doing to stay safe!
Regularly updated at the guides hut and the mountain hut – Beautiful flowery descriptions of the how the sun may glance fleetingly across the sky through whispers of clouds.. and such like. If you speak French, enjoy. Otherwise, find someone to translate.
Sauna and Jacuzzi
Just next to the campsite reception (8€ for one go). Leaflets at campsite reception.
Mountain bike hire
This is in Pelvoux, which is around a 6k walk downhill from Ailfroide, although obviously the return journey will be uphill!!
Outdoor Swimming Pool
To be found in Pelvoux at the bottom of the chairlift. (€3.40 for adult and child). It has a bar, which also does snacks. It was perfect when we were there as it was nice and hot and sunny.
This is in Vallouise, which is about 11k from the campsite, so a bit of a trek on foot. Its open weekdays and saturdays. Also Sundays it’s open 10.00-12.00 and 17.00-19.00. The woman in the shop was very helpful and attentive and sorted out a serious athletes foot issue with some very good medication over the counter. Costs comparable with the UK for the medication.
Market in Vallouise
Vallouise hosts regular markets every Thursday morning. It was large and featured all sorts of things from arts, crafts and clothing, to cheeses, fruits, vegetables and cakes. It was quite expensive, but clearly drew in crowds from far and wide. Stallholders started packing up at around 12.30, as the weather was so hot. We particularly liked the Eco-Cotton socks for 5 Euros and the fresh fruit and veg stalls.
If you can think of something we’ve missed, just let us know below!
For ‘How to get to Ailefroide’, check out our other ‘Ailefroide’ posts.