Spoiled Landscapes (2)

Col de Furfande

The Col de Furfande is a well-known mountain pass on the GR58 hiking trail, which circles the Queyras valley in the French Hautes Alpes. Expecting to find, at its 2500 meters, relief from steel and gas, the hiker will be disappointed. The site has been turned into a chaotic parking lot, with excess vehicles spilling into the grasslands below.

The area is “one of the jewels of the Parc régional du Queyras”, we are told by the website of the refuge de Furfande, but this seems to imply little in terms of protection. The shelter is situated just below the col, on the unspoiled south side. On the north side, a dirt road cuts a broad scar through the mountainside and ends right on the pass. It seems to serve no other purpose than that of bringing lazy-legged guests to the refuge, which has been rebuilt in 2013 in a luxury fashion (“with generous government support”, according to a Dutch website).

A more orderly parking lot (empty when I passed it) has been created some 400 m lower and a 90 minutes walk away. The marking “Parking randonneurs” must be a joke. Its tiny size shows that the roadbuilders guessed right: whoever takes his wheels thus far aims for the top.