Need an escape to the heart of nature in the South-East of France? We have made a complete guide of the best things to do in Vanoise National Park.
It is the oldest National Park in France, established in 1963. It is located in the Chain of the Alps, more precisely in Savoy, between the Tarentaise valley and the Maurienne valley, bordering the Italian park of Gran-Paradis. We are discussing visiting the Vanoise National Park, a splendid place that opens all year round.
A multitude of leisure activities awaits you to discover the beauty of the landscape, the fauna, and the flora. These activities will be an opportunity to explore this park and appreciate all its riches, in its heart, but also the membership area on the outskirts. To help you prepare for your stay, we have listed the various possibilities to visit the Parc de la Vanoise!
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Best Things To Do in Vanoise National Park: A Complete Guide
The Vanoise National Park, in a few words
This beautiful National Park has 400 km of marked trails that allow access to the best viewpoints. You will discover villages with typical stone and slate constructions. And lovers of summits will be delighted with the highest point, the Grand Casse, from the top of its 3,855 meters.
The different environments, from low altitude to high altitude, are the refuge of about 200 species of birds. If you are discreet, you can also see ibex, emblematic of the park, chamois, marmots, black grouse, ptarmigan …
Finally, the park has no less than 1,200 plant species, enough to delight nature lovers!
1. Hiking in Vanoise National Park
Hiking on the trails is a great way to visit the Parc de la Vanoise. One of the most famous hikes is the Petit Mont-Blanc from Pralognan-la-Vanoise. The landscapes are beautiful, and you have to plan the day.
The Iseran is one of the highest passes of the Vanoise, appreciated by cyclists, but you can also go hiking: Pointe des Lessières, Ouille Noire…
Some of the best hikes are the lakes of Bellecombe, the Col de Fresse via the ridges, and the refuge of the Evettes.
2. Horseback riding in Vanoise National Park
Go on horseback to discover the most beautiful landscapes, passing through forests and mountain lakes. In summer it will be a classic walk, and in winter you could try the ski-joëring.
3. Fishing in Vanoise National Park
Do you like fishing? In Pralognan-la-Vanoise for example you can fish in the river Doron de Chavière in the hamlet of Prioux. But also in Brides-les-Bains or doron de Pralognan, between Pralognan and Planay.
For whipped fly fishing, head to Lake Merlet Superior. Several high-altitude lakes and mountain streams allow fishing in the park.
4. Skiing and winter sports
To make the most of your stay in the Parc de la Vanoise, you can select a ski resort close to the park’s heart.
Bonneval-Sur-Arc has the charm of a small, typical, and authentic mountain village. Pralognan-la-Vanoise, symbolic, is also the closest to the park’s heart. Aussois is a station at the park entrance, easy to access.
You can practice skiing, snowshoeing and why not ice diving, baptism in dog sledding …
5. Mountaineering and glacier tour in Vanoise National Park
La Vanoise is famous for mountaineering because many peaks are more than 3,000 meters away, and you can see the largest ice cap in Europe. This white paradise will delight mountaineering lovers.
Several routes are to be done, including the Grande Casse and the tour of the Vanoise glaciers, which are technical but perfect for admiring the park’s glaciers.
6. The prettiest villages
Visiting the Parc de la Vanoise also involves discovering its most beautiful villages! Then go for a walk in Pralognan-la-Vanoise, a must-see place in the region! This charming village is nicknamed “the pearl of the Alps.” Bonneval-sur-Arc is also a small village of great beauty. It is located at the foot of the Col de l’Iseran and close to the Italian border.
These two villages are pleasant ski resorts in winter. If you go to Bonneval-sur-Arc, extend the visit to the hamlet of l’Ecot, the village of “Belle et Sébastien.” A preserved picturesque site with stone houses and slates, a chapel …
7. Paragliding and hot air balloon flights in Vanoise National Park
Enjoy an aerial view over Val Cenis or pralognan-la-Vanoise. A two-seater flight to admire the Vanoise from another angle! It is also possible to make flights in Val Cenis by microlight and helicopter, and for baptism in a hot air balloon, you will have to go to Courchevel. There are a lot of best outdoor activities to do in Val Cenis that will make your trip unforgettable.
8. Fortified heritage in Vanoise National Park
Visiting the Parc de la Vanoise is also an opportunity to discover the forts of the Esseillon. This former military site for defensive purposes is classified as a Historic Monument.
The forts, built between 1815 and 1830 on the plans of the Marquis de Montalabert, all bore the name of a person from the royal family of Piedmont-Sardinia. Some are restored and can be visited.
This is particularly the case of the Marie-Thérèse Redoubt, which is now a museum: the Centre d’Interprétation du Patrimoine Fortifié.
9. Canyoning in Vanoise National Park
Let yourself be tempted by a canyoning session in the Vanoise Park! With family or friends, you will enjoy yourself! You will slide on the waters of the canyon of Ecot or Boyat from Val Cenis or Bonneval-sur-Arc.
10. Rafting in Vanoise National Park
Do you like whitewater sports? Enjoy your visit to the Parc de la Vanoise for a descent from Termignon to Bramans. It is a class 2/3 course, of 6 km, which does not present any particular difficulties.
Want to let off steam in the white waters of the Vanoise? Then have fun with the floats used for the hydrospeed descents in Val Cenis. Several levels are offered: small rapids, large waves, and technical for 1h30 to 4h00.
The more athletic will opt for a mountain bike course to visit the Parc de la Vanoise. Several marked paths await you in the communes of Bessans, Aussois, Bonneval-sur-Arc, Termignon, Pralognan-la-Vanoise and Champagny-en-Vanoise. Cross-country courses of different levels are offered with varying distances and elevations.
13. Via Ferrata, climbing and tree climbing
Lovers of Via Ferrata could make Pralognan-la-Vanoise the waterfall of the Fresh, which is short but technical. And for an easier route the Via Ferrata Plan de Bouc in Champagny-en-Vanoise will be perfect. Not to mention the Via Ferrata du Diable in Aussois and Avrieux. Other spots await you in Val Cenis, Bessans, Villarodin-Bourget.
If you want to climb, several sites are suitable for this activity, in Courchevel, Villarodin-Bourget, Val Cenis, Bessans, Aussois, Pralognan-la-Vanoise and Bonneval-sur-Arc.
Finally, tree climbing enthusiasts will have fun in Pralognan-la-Vanoise on the tree climbing and zipline course.
So, to sum up, Vanoise National Park has something for everyone. You can hike, ski, mountain bike, or even rock climb here in the park. Moreover, you can immerse yourself in the region’s cultural and historical heritage by exploring traditional villages and attending local festivals. I hope you find the article “13 Best Things To Do in Vanoise National Park: Guide” helpful.