The Massif de la Vanoise, France’s second largest alpine range, rises south of the Mont Blanc and is encircled by the river Isere to the north and the Arc to the south. These two wide valleys are better known as Tarentaise and Maurienne.
Although the Tarentaise, as home to some of the world’s most famous ski resorts, comes into full tourist bloom in the winter ski season, there is its natural beauty to explore in summer plus a formidable array of traditional churches, hiking trails and full-on Alpine summer sports. For the daring, summer skiing in Tignes at the top of the Grande Motte glacier is a must, but the area offers a comprehensive range of activities, from the downright weird and wonderful to the more sedate and gentle. The little city of Moûtiers and ancient Aime count among the most interesting historic stops in the Tarentaise and also not to be missed is the major retable in the church of Saint-Martin de Belleville. The metallic blue-green river Arc snakes through the 75-mile long Maurienne valley – you’ll get the best view from the Col du Télégraphe.