Domaine de Charance

Le Domaine de Charance : Mountain, park and garden

The headquarters of the Conservatoire Botanique and the Parc National des Ecrins, the estate is located 4 km from the town centre of Gap. 
This exceptional natural site welcomes walkers, sportsmen and families.
In Charance, you will find all the desires of nature.


Leaning against the Charance mountain which protects it from the winds, the Domaine de Charance is a sunny balcony located at an altitude of 1000 metres.
Dominating the Gapençais basin and the Val de Durance, it is a unique place in the Southern Alps to discover and admire Nature.
The Town of Gap owns and manages Domaine de Charance.

Go in the morning to attack the peak of Charance which dominates Gap from the top of its 1852 m.
Take the "squirrel's trail": a fun family walk; a giant snail, a perched owl and other new features on the course, which, from surprise to discovery, will lead you to the perched balcony of Le Rochasson, one of the most beautiful views of Gap.
Then continue to reach the summit, you will be rewarded with an exceptional panorama, with an orientation table just above the Breche, a natural gateway to the crests, as an air balcony over the vast landscapes of Gapençais, Dévoluy and Champsaur.

Centuries of history

From the 10th to the 15th century: A Castle

Since the Middle Ages, a castrum has appeared on the heights of Charance. The family of Saint-Marcel held the fief under the authority of the Counts of Provence. 

On May 12, 1309, the bishop of Gap bought the domain. The castle became the "Château des évêques" and remained so until after the French Revolution.


In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries: The bad blows of history

The fortified house left to abandon is transformed by the bishop Gabriel de Sclaffanatis into "a large house with farm outbuildings".

The domain was then a very vast agricultural domain. In 1569, during the Wars of Religion, the "Reformed" ransacked the estate, which waited until 1644 for Bishop Arthur de Lionne to restore it. A new dramatic episode was the "fire of Gap in 1692". The Duke of Savoy, hostile to Louis XIV, set the town on fire. 

The domain was again destroyed, and the bishops tirelessly rebuilt. This time, it is Charles Benigne Hervé, in 1694, who is at the origin of the current layout of the domain and undoubtedly the author of this residence which became the "Château de Charance" with its first terraces.


18th century: The revenge of the Lumières

Bishop Jacques Marie Caritat de Condorcet decided to make Charance a "residence of pleasure". If the farm buildings kept their own uses, the castle became the object of all the embellishments. Particular attention was paid to the terraced garden. His successor, the bishop Jean Baptiste Marie de Maillé de la Tour Landry, followed suit and made it "the most pleasant castle that could be found twenty places around" and made it his main residence until 1784.

The Revolution put an end to the bishops' multi-century reign over the Château de Charance. The estate, seized as a national asset, was sold at auction on February 26, 1791.


XIXth century : A romantic nature

Rich owners succeeded one another at the castle. For the first time, a vast landscaping ambition was drawn up. From the back of the castle to the foot of the mountain, Charance was transformed into an "English-style" garden: waterfalls, a longer pond, a boat house, and walks in the undergrowth.


In the 20th century: Opening and rebirth

The Domaine was bought in 1973 by the commune of Gap who wished to open it to the public. The terraced garden, listed in 1988 as a Historic Monument, has since been completely renovated.


21st Century: A Message

Charance continues its beautification. This site, with its exceptional charm, to which the Gapençais are very attached, is both a testimony to history and an emblematic figure of environmental preservation.


Source : © Service Domaine de Charance

Terraced gardens

Located in front of the castle of Charance, the garden - classified as a remarkable garden - is composed of 4 terraces.


Their basic structure dates back to the 16th century. At that time, when the estate was home to the bishopric of Gap, the garden had a more utilitarian vocation (orchard and vegetable garden) than ornamental. The city of Gap acquired the estate in 1973 and launched a landscape design competition in 1993 to restore the garden.

Wild plants and cultivated plants are planted on all four terraces to reflect the richness of the biodiversity of the Hautes-Alpes.


Opening : every day from April to the end of October in free access.


In July and August come and enjoy a moment of relaxation on the deckchairs at your disposal.

The collection of ancient roses

A unique collection of 600 varieties of ancient roses. The generosity of their bloom and their intoxicating perfumes will remind you of the roses of the gardens of yesteryear.



Please note: the rose collection will be exceptionally closed during the summer of 2024.


The arboretum

Walk around the lake with 15 panels describing the trees of the domain.


Trail area

Discover the courses of the biggest Trail race of the Southern Alps - the Gapen'cimes (6 courses, 2500 participants)!


For those who are more athletic, climb the Pic de Charance, discover the village of Rabou, walk along the foothills of the Pic de Bure and climb the majestic Pic de Gleize.

Charance in family

Would you like to visit the Domaine de Charance with your family? Do not hesitate! With its picnic facilities, its children's playground and its various treasure hunts, Charance is the ideal place for young and old to have a good time.



The Piste de l'Ecureuil holds some nice surprises along the way; by following it you will reach the Charance peak with its 360° panoramic view. Go in search of the wooden animals hidden along this walk of about 1h30-2h to be done in family.


The Mystère des Ténèbres, an unforgettable adventure to live with your family in the heart of the forest of the Domaine de Charance. From 6 years old.


More information


Practical information - summer

A FREE Linéa bus line (n°73) takes you from the city center to the Domaine de Charance.


An Information Point is open on the Charance parking lot: Monday to Friday from 10am to 12pm and from 2pm to 6pm, WE and holidays from 2pm to 6pm. 

Snack bar. 


Stroll "La piste de l'écureuil" / free
Track game "Le Mystère des Ténèbres" / 15€ (pack on sale at the Information Office Gap and Tallard/ service Animations Charance)


Toutourisme: Dogs on a leash. Numerous streams and water points all over the area.
Accessible walks and hikes, varying difficulties.

Alpine Garden of Gap-Charance

Want to wander through the Alps effortlessly to discover their incredible biodiversity?


The Alpine Garden of Gap-Charance invites you to discover 20 natural and semi-natural environments of the French Alps from the plains to the highest peaks. Wet and dry environments, woodlands and lawns, cultivated biodiversity, scree... are presented to you through 5 desks that punctuate your journey.

Want to know more? Find detailed descriptions of the environments on the website:

Located on the municipal domain of Charance, the Alpine Garden of Gap-Charance was created by the National Alpine Botanical Conservatory with the support of the city of Gap. It is part of the Jardinalp network of 8 Franco-Italian alpine gardens.

Source : © Jardins Alpins


3 routes of discovery of natural environments near the alpine garden:

  • Pic de Gleize : hiking between alpine meadows, scree and rock faces;
  • Canal du Drac : walking or cycling between forests, moors and garrigues;
  • Montagne d'Aujour and Crêt des Selles: cycling loop between Buëch and Durance, to discover the water hemp leaf Serratula.


Interactive routes and GPX trails


Free access every day from April 1st to November 1st from 8am to 7pm.
Groups on reservation.


Contact and groups:


More information:



Plaquette du jardin alpin    Cartographie en pdf