The Vanoise Natural Park is located in Savoie, between the high valleys of the Maurienne and Tarentaise rivers. There are about a hundred peaks rising to over 3,000 metres, including many glaciers. Its more than 400 km of marked trails are an invitation to superb hikes, which offer the opportunity to contemplate some of the most beautiful panoramas of the Alps and which call for the discovery of a very rich fauna. Before setting off, however, you should be fully equipped and have your itinerary in mind. These few pieces of information will help you to prepare your future and unforgettable Tour de la Vanoise.
How to be well equipped for the Tour de la Vanoise ?
As with all hikes, the Tour de la Vanoise requires the right equipment. It is essential to be able to walk and rest in optimal conditions.
First of all, you need to think about clothing that allows you to be warm, while feeling comfortable and not sweating too much. In the hiking bag, have a jacket and rain gear for the most extreme conditions. You should also feel perfectly comfortable in your trail boots, they should be high and worn with a good pair of socks to avoid blisters.
Other items to have with you are a hat or cap, sunglasses, a water bottle, food and equipment to eat, a small first-aid kit, walking sticks, as well as binoculars and a camera to make the most of the smallest details of the mountain panoramas and immortalize them.
During the Tour de la Vanoise, it is necessary to reserve the nights in the huts that line the different circuits. It is also possible to book full or half board to avoid having to carry too much food. To rest in optimal conditions, use a sleeping bag adapted to the place where you are going to sleep. A light sleeping bag for moderate temperatures is sufficient for nights spent in the refuges. On the other hand, for those who wish to bivouac near the refuges, it is necessary to be well informed on the subject before leaving and it is then recommended to be equipped with a sleeping bag adapted to cold or even very cold temperatures (the mummy sleeping bag for example, whose shape close to the body reduces draughts) to sleep in the tent. And yes, even in summer, temperatures can drop below 0°C at night. You will then have to choose from the different materials available on the market according to your preferences: down, polyester, synthetic fibre, cotton, linen, polyamide, non-woven fabric...).
What is the best itinerary for a hike in the Vanoise Natural Park?
The Tour de la Vanoise is traditionally done in 6 or 7 days, but it is also possible to do it in 3 or 4 days. Note that the period from May to the end of September is the best. Everyone should do it according to their ability to walk in a mountain environment. In any case, you must be in good physical condition, because if the terrain is moderate most of the time, some sections are steeper and more complex. The chosen route must be adapted to the condition of the walker, whether a beginner or an experienced hiker.
The following itinerary, lasting 6 days, gives an overview of the treasures revealed by the different stages of a Tour de la Vanoise. Departing from Pralognan-la-Vanoise, we climb to an altitude of almost 2,000 m, at the foot of the high peaks and glacial dames. The route continues the next day with the Col de Chavière and a stroll in the alpine area. The view over the entire Maurienne is unobstructed. On the third day, beginner hikers can stroll between pine forests and alpine pastures, while the more experienced can enjoy a more sporty moment via the Col de la Masse, at nearly 3,000 m altitude. The following day, the path that passes on the side of the Dent Parrachée allows you to contemplate wonders such as the Pointe des Sarrasins, the Meije and the Ecrins. The penultimate day, the imposing glaciers of the Dômes de la Vanoise, the impressive and unmissable Chasseforêt and Arpont domes. Then, the adventure continues with the lake of the Vanoise pass and a walk around the summit of the Grande Casse. This is the highest point of the massif with a height of 3,855 m! On the last day, on the way back to Pralognan-la-Vanoise, the scenery on offer includes the Aiguille de la Vanoise, the Grande Glière and superb lakes: Lac Long and Lac des Vaches.