In the heart of the French Alps, the Maurienne Valley was the ancestral passage between France and Italy, running from east of Chambéry to the ‘Arc’ water springs and glaciers just past Bonneval. In the Haute Maurienne, the Parc National de la Vanoise is one of the largest protected areas in Europe and offers raw natural beauty on a grand scale.
Situated in the Vanoise National Park it is a superb area for alpine walking and mountain cyclists. South of Chamonix and east of Grenoble it is perhaps best known to skiers, but in summer it is an area of stunning mountains, crystal clear lakes, pine forests and alpine valleys. It is vast and unspoiled, with traditional alpine villages, abundant wildlife and an artistic tradition dating back to the Middle Ages.
Discover prehistoric relics, rock engravings, sculpted devils, baroque treasures, and traditional crafts, alongside delicious mountain produce. The hospitality, warmth and friendliness of its inhabitants has been renowned since Hannibal, Montaigne and Napoléon came here.
The metallic blue-green river Arc snakes through the 75-mile long Maurienne valley and you’ll get the best view from the Col du Télégraphe. The famous hairpin bends of Montvernier lead up to Montpascal which opens onto the extensive cross-country skiing area of the Col du Chaussy. For the most photographed site in the Maurienne, make your way to Montrond with its 17th century church set against the impressive backdrop of the Aiguilles d’Arves, a fabulous trio of needle-like mountains. Keen walkers should climb to the top of Les Evettes for an unforgettable 360 degree panorama.
Unspoilt Alpine villages surrounded by flower-filled meadows abound, many with a legacy of rich Baroque chapel art. In Les Villards, the women sometimes still wear the traditional costume of an embroidered full skirt accompanied by a large cross. Sample the Mont Corbier liqueur made from mountain herbs and, if you’re anywhere near the hamlet of Beaufort, try and visit Les Arves cooperative where a particularly good Beaufort cheese is produced.