Simon - Lac des Vaches

Crossing the Lac des Vaches, with the Grande Casse in the background.

I’d done parts of this walk before – along the GR5 and the GR55, but this was the first time I’ve tackled the whole six-day Tour des Glaciers in the Parc de la Vanoise, the oldest national park in France.

From beginning to end it’s spectacular. Here’s the photographic evidence…

Towards Col de la Vanoise

Approaching the Col de la Vanoise.

Andrew - Lac des Vaches

Not a moonscape – it’s Lac des Vaches from above.


Up the switchback from Refuge de l’Orgere. The precipices caused some anxiety in the group, though the path is well made and safe in fine weather.


The Vanoise was declared a national park in 1962, partly to protect the bouquetins, or ibex, whose numbers were dwindling. Now they’re doing very well in the largest nature reserve in Western Europe.


Below Refuge de l’Arpont. No, that’s not the refuge. There’s an almost new building there now. Shame they couldn’t have squeezed in a few more showers.

Leaving Peclet-Polset

We were very lucky with the early summer weather, but we still had to traverse many snowfields. Fortunately the snow was soft enough to give good grip most of the time.

Arrival Peclet-Polset

Approaching Refuge Peclet-Polset.

Judy and Kevin in clouds

Only an hour of rain for the whole week, and as it cleared, the mist filled the valley.

Col de Chaviere

On the 2798m Col de Chaviere with Mont Blanc in the background. Thanks for the company, (l to r) Kris, Andrew, Kevin, RT, Simon, Annie, Charles and Judy. It’s been a fantastic week.


The Vanoise National Park is in the French Alps, south of Mont Blanc, adjoining the Italian border. Access is easiest from Geneva, with a drive through Annecy and Albertville to Pralognan-la-Vanoise (the way we did it) or from the town of Modane, which has a station and a road link through a tunnel to Turin in Italy.

Accommodation along the route is available at refuges run by the Parc de la Vanoise or the Club Alpin Francais. They are only open from mid-June to September and offer bed, breakfast and dinner for about EUR50 per person per night. To book, see

Safety: While the tracks on the Tour des Glaciers are well made and safe in good weather, be prepared to cross some snow in early summer. Good equipment, especially boots and rain gear are essential.


Filed under France, Hiking

7 responses to “BEST ONE WEEK WALK IN EUROPE – the pictures

  1. Hard to imagine such beautiful places exist. Good walk. Well done!

  2. Looks and sounds magnificent Richard. Green with envy. Thanks for your posts. What a great summer you must be having. Cheers

  3. Lovely! This is a favorite hike of mine that I did with my dad three years ago. We didn’t have snow but all the lovely views and wonderful vin de Savoie.

  4. Europe is beautiful, Can be best explored by walking! Stunning pictures!

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