The Vanoise National Park in France’s Rhône-Alpes region is the oldest Wilderness Reserve of the nation and a haven for wildlife, authentic alpine lifestyle and mountain walking enthusiasts. It has hundreds of hiking paths with around 100 peaks over 3,000m. It is an important site for the protection of flora and fauna, including the famous ibex and the striking and unspoiled landscapes of the Vanoise, which are magical and awe-inspiring.
This tour takes an unusual approach to hiking. Instead of hiking from A to B, it is made up of a series of day hikes that bring you back to the comfort of your accommodation, allowing you to walk with a daypack only. The exception is a few nights in a majestic hut to reach spectacular peaks and to experience traditional alpine accommodation and food. Take your time, immerse yourself in the landscape, watch the wildlife, and create those once in a lifetime memories. Your host is from that very valley and knows it like the back of his hand: trust him to share its beauty and be taken to places from his childhood memories!
Why choose us
Your tour host, Cyril Delafosse-Guiramand, is a French citizen. While he lives in Australia with his family, he grew up in the French Alps close to the Vanoise National Park and loves returning to his mountain home. He has a passion for the outdoors and has undertaken several expeditions around the world, many on his own two feet. His toughest was following a prisoner escape route from a brutal Siberian gulag. With a 10kg backpack, he trekked more than 11,000 kilometres in 15 months over the world’s most merciless Asian landscapes. His hiking passion stemmed from his childhood where he treated the French Alps as his backyard and playground. He is intimately familiar with the landscapes, sites and conditions of the area you are heading to. He is eager to take you there and share its beauty, culture and insider stories.
July to October 2018
12 days (11 nights)
Group Meeting Point:
Lyon airport (FR)
Who can go?
Trip overall Hardship Rating [where 1 is 'easy' and 10 'is very tough'] = 4,6 /10
Difficulty = 7
Isolation = 4
Danger = 3
This activity involves (%):
Transport: Walking = 90% Taxi/van = 10%
Survival skills = 0%
Orienteering = 70%
Group Autonomy = 40%
This itinerary is an overview of what you will do during this 12 day experience. The order of activities may change according to weather and conditions.
Day 1: (D)
Meet your tour host at Lyon Airport and transfer to Lachenal, a small village close to the Vanoise National Park. After settling into our accommodation, enjoy an evening briefing and gear check over dinner cooked by our resident chef.
Day 2: (BD)
After breakfast, start a one day hike to La Praz, a tiny hamlet that has barely changed in 50 years. Then down the valley to Bozel and back up to our chalet. The hike takes us through different levels of the alpine eco system: pine tree forests, open pastures and long streams. It is a perfect starter to get everyone’s legs in motion. Dinner is cooked by our chef. . 5 hours return, 660m climb.
Day 3: (B)
Refuel your energy levels at breakfast for this one day hike to Mount Jovet, the peak behind our chalet. At 2,558m above sea level, we will have 360 degree views of the alpine ranges, including the famous Mont Blanc and Grande Casse. 8 hours return, 1,700m climb.
Day 4: (BD)
Today’s one day hike leads us via La Duy to Champagny - a traditional ski resort. We walk along cliffs, traverse a pasture valley and climb up to the crest like the herdsmen used to do. Discover the area’s rich pioneering history, including a closed silica mine and World War II sites. We return to our chalet in time for our home-cooked dinner by our resident chef. 5 hours, 1,000m climb. Return to Bozel by car.
Day 5: (B)
After breakfast, we jump in our van and head to the valley of Laisonnay. We walk to the Plaisance refuge and may see some chamois and bouquetins (ibex) en-route. On the walk back we stop at Noelle's farm to see the traditional way of herding, milking and making of mountain cheese. We return to our chalet by car. 6 hours, 950m climb
Day 6 (B)
Today is a rest day. Hang up your boots, and take a break. Enjoy the sun on the terrace, read a book, rest and recuperate. Or enjoy optional activities (at an additional cost) such as visiting the famous resorts nearby, a massage, mushroom and berry picking, or take an alpine joy flight, just to name a few of the activities on offer.
Day 7: (BD)
Today we embark on a full day hike. Starting from Plan Fournier, we walk through a forest and zigzag up a steep open slope to Grand Bec Hut that sits on the crest. This hike offers possibilities to see wildlife and fabulous vistas of the valley on one side and a glacier on the other. We head down a different route and return to Lachenal by car. For our last night at the chalet we enjoy one last meal cooked by our resident chef. 5 hours, 1,155m climb
Day 8: (BD) After breakfast at the chalet, we transfer to Courchevel 1650 and hike towards the Merlet lakes and hut. We continue to Refuge du Roc de la Peche where we stay for the next three nights. Our luggage will be waiting for us there. This beautiful all year-round hut is the only one of its kind, in the middle of the Vanoise National Park. The scenery is breathtaking. In the evening, we enjoy a traditional mountain style dinner. 8 hours, 1200m climb.
Day 9: (BLD)
After breakfast, we walk through pastures and sheer mountain peaks to reach the Peclet Polset Hut, visiting cheese makers along the way and stopping to enjoy marmots whistling at us! Discover a modern high mountain hut dedicated to climbers tackling the surrounding peaks. We have our picnic lunch here, before we head to Lac Blanc and Col du Soufre that resembles a lunar landscape. This is a high-altitude mountain environment with approximately 2,000m above sea level! We return to our hut in the valley for dinner. 8 hours, 1200m climb.
Day 10 (BLD)
Today is a rest day. Hang up your walking shoes and take a break. Indulge in the beautiful views and recuperate in the Jacuzzi and sauna.
Day 11 (BLD)
After breakfast, we embark on a full day hike to Pointe Ariande. This walk is locally referred to as "balcony walk" because of its 180 degree views and is in one of the most traditional valleys in the French Alps. We picnic on the pass and return to our accommodation for our farewell dinner. 6 hours, 700m climb.
Day 12 (B)
This morning we are met and transferred to Lyon Airport where our program concludes.
Weather / local conditions / Terrain:
Weather in this region is continental. Summer temperatures can reach up to 30°C during the day and 0°C at night in altitude. The environment is rich in wildlife: from trout to foxes, chamois, marmots, mountain deers, lynx and eagles. In some areas wolfs are visible. The landscape is made of pine trees, spruce, birch and ferns in wet areas, high peaks, rock fields, pastures, snow and glaciers.
In Lachenal, nice and mountain like B&b.
In the hut: mountain style accomodation in private rooms no dormitory
At the accommodation most meals are covered by our kitchen staff (as per the schedule) or at local restaurants, to experience fine food and great diversity. This choice is available when booking.
Most lunches on hiking days are cold picnic (baguette, patés, saucissons, wine, fruits, sweet treats, etc) - We take you to the market to experience and choose your own products under the guidance of your host.
In huts, excellent hearty food is served. It will be mostly french traditional mountain food (quite rich), served for people burning a lot of calories during the day. This aside, it is delicious and highly awaited for after a long day trekking. You'll be surprised at the quality of dishes that cooks can put together in such remote and secluded areas.
Airport pickups and drop offs are made in our mini van.
To make time, a short drive to the ideal departure point is organised for some walks.
If needed during the trek, it is possible to 'skip' or 'come out' of the wild. These transports would be made in 4x4 or local all terrain vehicles.
What to expect
This trek is an immersion into the amazing local history that this region has, away from touristy trails, in the deep heart of tradition and local culture. Your host has designed this itinerary to purposely reflect that rich history, spanning from the Romantic period of the late 1800s to the last industrial revolution of the 1960s. It includes local 'going to school' trails, romantic stories, world war tales and simple merchant adventures. You will be amazed at the hidden gems this region has to offer.
While this trip involves a lot of walking, the daily distances are not great. The walks have been designed to be enjoyed at a leisurely and comfortable pace so you can take in the surrounds. It is a mountainous area and some days will be harder than others, but we adapt the itinerary to the rhythm and capacity of the group. Rest days are there to help.
We use a combination of accommodations during this trip. In Lachenal you will be in a beautiful chalet in a typical village a short distance from restaurants and shops. A three-course dinner will be prepared by our resident chef accompanied by local wines.
We will stay in the Roc de la Peche Hut for three nights. It is a traditional mountain hut that is more luxurious than most, with access to hot showers, Jacuzzi and sauna.
Meals are very 'french'. Expect butter toast, jam and coffee for breakfast. Most picnic lunches are not included as we take this opportunity to visit local markets for you to buy your favourite produce: like a nice baguette with paté, saucisson, jambon, crudité and wine! For dinner we enjoy nice hearty mountain meals!
During your days off (rest days), a lot of extra activities can be organised, like massages (Ayurveda), visiting the local ski resorts of Courchevel and Méribel, flying above this amazing scenery in a small plane, paragliding, or visiting a local farm.
The weather in the region is continental. Summer temperatures can reach up to 30°c during the day and drop to 0°c at night in altitude. It is possible to experience four seasons in one day.
Safety and security
We take safety very seriously.
There are no major risks but the ones inherent to mountain hiking (body injuries, weather, etc.). We minimize these risks by preparing for them. But the best is to act mindfully and carefully during the trip. The area is well known to your experienced host and the guide, and the route could differ depending on local conditions.
Should an incident happen, rescue protocols are well established and local rescue operators can be contacted via huts and in some areas directly by mobile phone. In that regard, part of the price of this trip is a French Alpine Club (CAF) membership that provides a comprehensive rescue insurance cover anywhere in remote alpine range, including helicopter (often the only way to get out fast). For group safety this insurance is compulsory.
per person in a group of 4 (twin share) = AUD $4124
Single Supplement available, contact us.
Inclusions and exclusions
Should you have any questions please contact us