France | French Alps: Mont Blanc and the Tarentaise Mountains

Hike from Bourg-St-Maurice to Val d’Isère with views of iconic Mont Blanc.

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  • Mont Blanc: The Softer Side Trek
  • MontBlanc: The Softer Side Trek
  • Mont Blanc: The Softer Side Trek
  • Mont Blanc: The Softer Side Trek
  • Tarentaise
  • "It was fun because even though it wasn't a private tour, it ended up just being my family/friends on the trip so 6 of us. Nikola was able to adjust the hike based on what we were able to do or wanted to do which was awesome. I liked the amount of time we stayed at each hotel, we didn't really have to choose where we would eat for dinner- it was all done for us. It was so awesome! We had a lot of really amazing sites while we were there. It was my favorite trip ever."- Sunnie K.

Trip Highlights:

  • Hike the open countryside above Bourg-St-Maurice.
  • Visit the Eglise St. Michel on the hill above Le Châtelard.
  • Enjoy three nights in the famous village of Val d’Isère.

Mont Blanc is an icon; much more than a mountain. Huge enough and complex enough to always have something to offer cutting edge alpinists since the 1700s. And lucky for the rest of us it is so big and strategically placed on the French, Italian and Swiss borders that it is visible from the higher peaks of every Alpine country in Western Europe, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland and France. Actually, on a clear day you can even see it from the higher peaks in Slovenia!

Unlike the highlands of the Haute Savoie on the flanks of Mont Blanc, the terrain along the banks of the Isère River offers simply fantastic walking through truly antique and perfectly preserved hamlets in astonishingly remote locations.

Far from the frantic pace of Chamonix, our trip through the Tarentaise Mountains allows us to explore these fascinating valleys virtually alone and at a relaxed pace. We connect the villages of Bourg-St-Maurice, tiny St. Foy, and the bustling winter hotspot of Val d’Isère.

The Isère Valley is as well known for its cuisine as for its mountains, and we explore the finest of the finest that each village has to offer. Hiking days are gentle to moderate and we change villages every two or three days to further relax the pace.

Trip Itinerary

Travel from Geneva or Lyon to Bourg-St-Maurice, and then transfer (5 minute taxi) to our hotel. Meet the group for welcome drinks and dinner at 7:00 pm.

Hike the open countryside above Bourg-St-Maurice. Our day begins with a quick transfer to Les Échines Dessou. This village exemplifies the authentic and ongoing importance of farming culture in the Haute Tarentaise, including Fort du Turc and Fort de la Platte – 19th century fortifications, built on a strategic point at nearly 7000 ft. Descend to the charming village of La Thuile and return back to Bourg-St-Maurice hotel.

Distance: 7 miles. Elevation gain/loss: 2100 ft.

A short transfer brings us to Le Châtelard and the start of our hike. We make our way to Sainte-Foy-Tarentaise by way of another panoramic hike in the upper Tarentaise. We pass the 400-year-old église St. Michel standing alone on the hill above Le Châtelard. This is certainly one of the most important view points around. The trail then dives into the forest for a beautiful stretch before opening up in the ancient farm hamlet of La Falconnière. The picnic potential here is of very high quality. Now a relatively short descent ensues to another wonderful alpine village, Le Miroir. After a short break here we finish to our next destination, Sainte-Foy-Tarentaise.

Distance: 8 miles. Elevation gain/loss: 2300/2500 ft.

We are off to the high country today as we ascend the Val de Mecuel. Our objective is a glacial lake, Noir at 8000 ft, near the high mountain pass col de Montseti, offering 360 views of  glaciated peaks and its majesty the Mont Blanc. Descend to the tranquil valley of the Rutor glacier for a short transfer to our hotel in Sainte-Foy-Tarentaise.

Distance: up to 7 miles. Elevation gain/loss: up to 2500 ft.

Today we visit the village of Le Monal, seemingly trapped in a time long forgotten. Our hike from the St. Foy ski station traverses beautiful open country with grand views of the Tarentaise’s greatest glacier guarded summit – Mount Pourri! After lunch in the village we continue to Lac du Chevril and transfer to Val d’Isère.

Distance: 7 miles. Elevation gain/loss: 750/1200 ft.

Spend an outstanding day in the Grande Sassière Nature Reserve. Today’s trek begins at the Chalet La Sassière and follows gentle terrain to the Lac du Sassière, where we enjoy a leisurely picnic under the beautiful peak of La Tsanteleina. Return to our Val d’Isère hotel.

Distance: 6 miles. Elevation gain: 1000 ft.

A final outing above Val d’Isère ends the trip on a dramatic note. From the village of Le Fornet we follow an incredible trail through the Gorges de Malpasset. Coming out in the open high country on the other side we reach the Refuge du Prariond for a proper French Alpine Club lunch, with inspiring views of the massive terrain that makes this region resonate with the most discerning mountain enthusiasts. Return to our Val d’Isère hotel.

Distance: 8 miles. Elevation gain/loss: 1800 ft.

French Alps: Mont Blanc and the Tarentaise Mountains | France

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