Crossing the Lac des Vaches, with the Grande Casse in the background.
I’d done parts of this walk before – along the GR5 and the GR55, but this was the first time I’ve tackled the whole six-day Tour des Glaciers in the Parc de la Vanoise, the oldest national park in France.
From beginning to end it’s spectacular. Here’s the photographic evidence…
Approaching the Col de la Vanoise.
Not a moonscape – it’s Lac des Vaches from above.
Up the switchback from Refuge de l’Orgere. The precipices caused some anxiety in the group, though the path is well made and safe in fine weather.
The Vanoise was declared a national park in 1962, partly to protect the bouquetins, or ibex, whose numbers were dwindling. Now they’re doing very well in the largest nature reserve in Western Europe.
Below Refuge de l’Arpont. No, that’s not the refuge. There’s an almost new building there now. Shame they couldn’t have squeezed in a few more showers.
We were very lucky with the early summer weather, but we still had to traverse many snowfields. Fortunately the snow was soft enough to give good grip most of the time.
Approaching Refuge Peclet-Polset.
Only an hour of rain for the whole week, and as it cleared, the mist filled the valley.
On the 2798m Col de Chaviere with Mont Blanc in the background. Thanks for the company, (l to r) Kris, Andrew, Kevin, RT, Simon, Annie, Charles and Judy. It’s been a fantastic week.
The Vanoise National Park is in the French Alps, south of Mont Blanc, adjoining the Italian border. Access is easiest from Geneva, with a drive through Annecy and Albertville to Pralognan-la-Vanoise (the way we did it) or from the town of Modane, which has a station and a road link through a tunnel to Turin in Italy.
Accommodation along the route is available at refuges run by the Parc de la Vanoise or the Club Alpin Francais. They are only open from mid-June to September and offer bed, breakfast and dinner for about EUR50 per person per night. To book, see refuges-vanoise.com
Safety: While the tracks on the Tour des Glaciers are well made and safe in good weather, be prepared to cross some snow in early summer. Good equipment, especially boots and rain gear are essential.
Filed under France, Hiking