The Vanoise National Park, France's first national park, celebrates its 60th anniversary, marking six decades of extraordinary conservation and biodiversity efforts. Established in 1963, this iconic park has become a beacon of environmental preservation and a haven for wildlife and nature enthusiasts alike.
The Vanoise mountain range located in the Western Alps is the third-highest massif in France, reaching a height of 3,885 m at the summit of Grande Casse. The Vanoise massif is located in Savoie, between the le col of “La Croix du Bonhomme” and Modane, in the heart of La Maurienne and the entire region is a source of wonder to all who visit.
Known locally as the Parc Nationale de la Vanoise, it shares a border with Italy and the Gran Paradiso National Park. With many summits exceeding 3000m, the Vanoise National Park boasts spectacular views of jagged peaks, stunning glaciers, lush meadows, and even a historic salt road: a visit here is surely one you won’t forget.
The park itself covers a vast landscape where everything is protected: fauna, flora and rock. On the Italian side of the border, the park is continued by the Gran Paradiso National Park. Together, these two parks cover over 1250 km², making the area the largest alpine national park. It really is an area of infinite discovery and wonder!
Wildlife and plants
The Park of La Vanoise is the oldest national park in France. When it was created in 1963, its mission was to save the Ibex. While walking, you will no doubt see marmots, ibexes and chamois. There are over 2,000 ibexes and 5,000 chamois living in the protected wilderness. The alpine chamois, like the ibex, spend most of the year above the tree line. They descend the snow line in early spring and late fall to enjoy the grass uncovered by the ice and snow.
The Vanoise National Park is home to a wealth of indigenous flora and fauna which you may well also be able to spot. Smaller mammals such as stoats, and of course the notorious marmots whose piercing cries will catch your attention. Wolves, Eurasian lynx, mountain hare, badger, ermine and weasel are some other animals living in the cols and valleys of the Vanoise.
There are more than 100 bird species in this wonderful, protected area, from birds of prey such as vultures and the golden eagle to black woodpeckers, nutcrackers, choughs and black grouses.
In addition, you will discover a wide-ranging flora: edelweiss, blue thistle, sabot de Vénus (the largest orchid in Europe) and many other species.
Hiking the Vanoise National Park
With its multitude of gorgeous lakes, situated at an altitude of c3,000m (nearly 2 miles) and its several glaciers, the Park of Vanoise is not only a paradise for advanced hikers but a “must” for anyone fit enough to discover its unrivalled natural beauties.
We have taken what we feel are the highlights of this vast wilderness for our 7-night itinerary. Our “Tour of the Vanoise” takes you into high and remote places trekking from hut to hut in un-spoilt, tranquil and stunningly beautiful surroundings.
It is an 80km (50 mile) trek around the park and is a real challenge. The terrain is not for the faint-hearted, steep arêtes and exposed traverses make this tour a real adventure. We have graded this trek as an 8 – both “strenuous and demanding”. Each day you will hike an average of 13km (8 miles) with an average daily height gain of around 900m. You need to be used to walking in the mountains to enjoy this hiking tour - two of the 6 days of walking involve height gains AND descents of between 1000m – 1500m. Seasoned trekkers will enjoy the challenges the hiking trails bring, as well as the beauty of the surroundings.
We will take care of all the necessary arrangements to trek and stay in the Park and will provide you with everything you need to stay safe and enjoy trekking over the Vanoise massif. The accommodation is varied and used by visitors to the park, but we will ensure that you stay in accommodation we know and trust. Whilst on the trek you will enjoy both a hearty breakfast and a well-cooked evening meal at your accommodation, leaving you to choose either packed lunches or to eat at the wonderful refuges along the route.
Vanoise National Park Map
Trek a hiking trail less travelled!
We can’t tell you why this park is not that well known outside of France. But we can help you to take advantage of that fact! Our guess is that the park is so vast and has over 500kms (310 miles) of hiking trails, that there is something for everyone here and the vast natural expanse can absorb its visitors easily. We are always amazed by the tranquillity of the trail we have chosen to wander on this wonderful walking holiday through the Vanoise National Park.
Why not experience it for yourself with our self-guided trek of the Tour of the Vanoise?