- At a glance
- Locality & Walks
- Accommodation & Meals
- Travel options
Your Holiday at a Glance
|Independent Walking Holidays||
|Dates for 2020||
|Price (with luggage transport)||
|Price (without luggage transport)||
|Accommodation and Meals||
|What's not included||
Alpine Adventure - Chamonix to Briancon
This is the second stage of a mythical walk which follows the GR 5 long-distance trail from the shores of Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean coast at Nice, following the entire length of the French Alps. We have split the walk into several self-guided walking holidays, although it would be possible to combine them. Our holidays include luggage transfers so that you can enjoy the amazing scenery with only a light day pack.
You'll start your walking holiday in Chamonix and after passing by the foot of the immense Mont Blanc glaciers you’ll head through the alpine meadows of Beaufortain, famous for its cheese. Between Pralognan & Modane you’ll discover the beautiful summits and glaciers of the Vanoise National Park and then Mont Thabor. Afterwards the climate changes and the mountains become more arid as you pass into the southern Alps.
The traverse of the French Alps is a truly unforgettable experience as you head south passing by the majestic summits of the Mont Blanc range before passing through the Vanoise and Mercantour National Parks. Your wonderful trail passes through a variety of landscapes, wildlife habitats and historic sites including the green alpine pastures of the Savoy, rocky deserts in the Queyras, beautiful perched villages of the Roya, snowy peaks of the Mont Blanc and ibex in the Mercantour.
7 days self-guided walking between accommodation. Walking per day amounts to an average of 5 - 7hrs walking and 870m of ascent and descent. Maximum altitude gain: 1100m. The walk follows the GR5 for the most part, but there are variations proposed in order to avoid ski areas. The walks take place on paths, although they are mountainous and rocky in nature. You should have a reasonable level of fitness and be comfortable with walking on mountainous terrain with a good head for heights.
Day 1: Arrival
Arrival at Chamonix. Night and dinner in hotel
Day 2: Chamonix - Bionnassay (1350m)
Your self guided walking holiday starts by the southern balcony trail facing Mont Blanc and its famous jagged peaks (aiguilles). This takes you to Les Houches from where you'll take the Bellevue cable car. A path which follows the mountain side will then take you to the snout of the Bionnassay glacier. Night at Bionnassay above the Contamines Montjoie Valley. + 630 m ; - 1160 m; 15km; 5hr 30
Day 3: Bionnassay (1350m) - Nant Borrand (1430m)
After descending towards la Gruvaz your walking trail then climbs the Contamines Valley. We also offer a variation which goes via the Alpages (alpine meadows) of Miage (1559m), a wonderful spot at the foot of the Domes de Miage, as well as passing by the Plateau du Turc before descending to Les Contamines-Montjoie. Your day finishes in the Nature Reserve of Contamines-Montjoie where vehicules can only enter before 7am or after 7pm. Hence you will only get your bags at 7.30pm. + 970m ; - 830 m; 18km; 6hr 15
Day 4: Nant Borrand (1430m) - Plan de la Lai (1818m)
A truly alpine day with the ascension of two cols during the course of your walk. You'll discover the quiet alpine meadows of Balme before reaching Col du Bonhomme (2329m) as you enter Beaufortain, famous for its cheese. You'll then undertake a gentle traverse climbing gradually to the Col de la Croix du Bonhomme (2479m). You'll then follow a spectacular ridge (Crete des gites) with great panoramic views, including views back to Mont Blanc, before descending to Plan de la Lai. Transfer to auberge at Cornet de Roselend. + 1020m ; -665 m; 12km; 5hr 30
Day 5: Plan de la Lai - Valezan (1186m) - Pralognan (1710m)
Your day starts by a balcony trail above the reservoir of Roselend through alpine pastures. After crossing the Treicol stream you'll climb to Col du Bresson (2469m) dominated by the spectacular summit of Pierra Menta. The descent to the Tarentaise Valley follows the Ormente mountain torrent and then the sunny side of the mountain. Transfer by taxi between Valezan and Pralognan la Vanoise. + 895m ; -1553m; 16km; 6hr 30
Day 6: Pralognan (1710m) - Orgere (1889m)
You'll climb the beautiful Chaviere Valley to climb past the refuge at Roc de la Peche. After an easy walk along this huge glaciated valley you'll start your climb towards the Col de Chaviere (2796m). On the way you can take a small detour to the beautiful Lac Blanc located in a wonderful setting below the Col du Souffre surrounding by peaks capped with glaciers. Your descent is dominated by the glacier de la Masse on your left. Descend past Lac de la Partie before heading through pasture to reach Orgere on the edge of the Vanoise National Park. + 1086m ; -910m; 15km; 6hr
Day 7: Val Frejus (1829m) - Vallee Etroite (1785m)
Transfer by taxi to Val Frejus on the other side of the Arc Valley. Your walking trail starts in forest, than passes old military installations before joining Combes de Roches. The Col de la Vallee Etroite takes you into the southern Alps where the vegetation and the light is no longer the same. In addition, this valley has a strong Italian influence. + 610m ; -630m; 11km; 5hr
There are several different options possible on this day including going via the Refuge Mont Thabor and the Marguerite lakes (+100m)
Day 8: Vallee Etroite (1785m) - Nevache (1600m)
After a night spent at the foot of the mountains: Pointes Gaspard, Melchior and Balthazar, you'll climb progressively towards Col des Thures, passing Lac Chavillon in a magnificent setting. The rest of the day is just as pretty as you cross the Thures Valley and descend through beautiful larch forest with rock pinnacles to reach the hamlet of Roubion. + 410m ; -600m; 8km; 5hr
Two variations are possibles going via Lac Bellety (+100m) or climbing to the summit of Aiguille Rouge (+500m)
Take the shuttle bus to reach the train station in Briancon or Bardoneccia station in Italy for TGV train to Paris.
Holiday ends after walk on day 8 or book extra night's accommodation in Nevache or Briancon. Also possible to book the next leg of the walking holiday from Briancon to Nice to continue the trek.
Accommodation & Meals
You’ll be staying in a mixture of simple hotels, auberges, gites and refuges in private rooms for 2, except for one night where there is no choice but to stay in a shared dormiotory. Good wholesome mountain food.
Make your own way to Chamonix at the start of the holiday.
Eurostar trains run services from London St Pancras to Paris. Take RER to Paris Gare de Lyon and take train to Bellegarde. Change for train to Chamonix. Trains also from Lyon and Marseille via Bellegarde.
Return trains: TGV from Bardoneccia 18h54 to Paris 23h19 (trains go via Chambery) - check on www.voyages-sncf.com Shuttle bus from Nevache at 17h55 for Bardonecccia 18h30 - check on www.05voyageurs.com
Also night train from Briancon 20h29 for Paris 07h25. Shuttle bus from Nevache at 16h19 for Briancon 17h00 check on www.05voyageurs.com
By Air and rail
Regular direct flights to Lyon St Exupery with Easyjet, British Airways and Flybe and then trains as above. Also possible to fly to Geneva and take trains from Geneva with a couple of changes.
Please contact us for assistance in organising your travel arrangements
There is secure, covered parking to leave your car in Chamonix (about 40 euros for the week), although return train journey is long. Parking d’Entreves (Tel : 04 50 53 65 71), 275 Promenade Marie Paradis. Take entrance Chamonix Sud, gare routiere Chamonix Sud.
Another option is to leave your car at Chambery train station and for the return journey take a TGV train from Bardoneccia to Chambery.