Tour of the Vanoise South
7 stages . 8 nights . Circuit of the Vanoise National Park
Lake near Col de la Vanoise
Tour of the Vanoise South
Tour of the Vanoise South
7 stages . 8 nights . New for 2023

Tour of the Vanoise South
Self-guided walking holiday


Key information Summer 2023

Start: Modane, France
End: Modane, France
Season Dates: 15 July to 17 Sept 2023
Length: 7 days' walking, 8 nights
Typical walk: 12.5km, 700m ascent, 660m descent
Total distance: 88km or 55 miles
Highest altitude: 2,796m at the Col de la Chaviere
Grade: Black 3 (Walking grades)
Group size: A minimum of 2 people

From GBP 810 per person

Our Tour of the Vanoise South trip is a 1-week walking holiday following the Southern circuit of our longer 11-stage Tour of the Vanoise. This particular loop is the most popular hiking circuit in the Vanoise National Park and is more well known by its French name Le Tour des Glaciers de la Vanoise. It is a spectacular high-level route in the French Alps, encompassing the many glaciers, lakes and mountain passes of the Vanoise National Park. It runs along sections of the GR5 and the GR55 long distance trails to create its own circuit. Located between the Mont Blanc and the Ecrin Massifs, the Vanoise is home to 107 peaks over 3,000m, providing the mountain back-drop to this trip.

Our 7-stage tour is primarily a hut-to-hut circuit staying in 5 traditional huts with 1 night in the bustling town of Pralognan-La-Vanoise at the end of stage 5. This trip will take you on an immersive journey past the Vanoise glaciers, glistening lakes and over the rocky terrain of high mountain passes. Look out for marmottes, ibex, eagles and even shy chamois as you walk through the protected national park. The combination of environments, wildlife watching cosy huts, and delicious food makes for a great walking holiday.

Our routecards describe the trail in detail, allowing you to relax and enjoy the walking. Although we don't include a rest day as standard, we offer the option to add in a rest day in the lovely town of Pralognan-la-Vanoise. It is equally possible to skip the first short day of walking from Modane to Refuge l'Orgere by taking the bus should you like a shorter walking holiday. If your group would like to hike with a guide, we can also arrange a privately guided trip. We welcome you to get in touch to ask for more details on this option.




Map

Alternative trips
Something a little bit different?
Tour du Mont Blanc - a greater mix of nights in towns as well as a few in huts
Julian Alps - a shorter 5-stage hut-to-hut experience in Slovenia
Via Alpina - 7-stage hike staying in hotels on all nights
Trip Options
Our classic 7-stage circuit completes the 1-week Tour of the Vanoise without unduly long days and with plenty of time to relax. We provide some of the options below and welcome you to ask if you would like more details!

Make the trip shorter
The best way to shorten your trek is to skip the first short stage to Refuge de l'Orgere by taking the shuttle bus or a taxi on the first day and starting directly from stage 2. This makes for a 6-stage hiking holiday.

Make the trip longer
It is possible to add an extra night's accommodation at the Refuge Col de la Vanoise between Refuge Entre Deux Eaux and Pralognan-la-Vanoise on stage 5. This would make for two very short days of walking, but the Col de la Vanoise is in an exceptional setting so you may enjoy to take your time here. Pralognan is also a lovely town so by shortening your walking day on this stage, you'll have the chance to spend more time in the town.

Rest Days
As standard, we don't include a rest day. However, if you would like to add one in, we recommend an extra night in the lively Alpine town of Pralognan la Vanoise. Pralognan is just a small town but has plenty of restaurants and shops to enjoy a relaxed day.

Hike with a guide
Hike with confidence in the company of our fully qualified International Mountain Leaders (IMLs), with the navigation, accommodation and arrangements taken care of. If your group would like a guide for your trip, please get in touch for more details.

Prices
Tour of the Vanoise South
15 July to 17 Sept 2023
Classic Comfy
Self-guided
6 stages
Skipping night at Ref l'Orgere
(7 nights)
GBP 760
Singles 90
GBP 840
Singles 115

7 stages
(8 nights)
GBP 810
Singles 90
Main Trip
GBP 890
Singles 115
7 stages
1 rest day in Pralognan
(9 nights)
GBP 870
Singles 90
GBP 1,000
Singles 115
Private guided
7 stages
(8 nights)
Group of 4 or more
GBP 1,690
Singles 115
Please ask us
7 stages
(8 nights)
Group of 1, 2 or 3
Please ask us
Options
Baggage transfer
We cannot offer bag transfer on this trip due to the remoteness of the huts.

Accommodation
Where we stay
Our classic mix of accommodation aims to give the best of both worlds; rustic huts in the mountains and friendly hotels in the towns. As standard our classic trip includes 5 nights in huts, and the remaining 3 nights in 3* hotels. Please note that Modane is more of a practical place to start the trip, rather than a quaint Alpine town.

Huts
Our classic 7-stage trip stays in 5 mountain huts. Private rooms are available at only 2 huts (Refuge Plan Sec and Refuge de L'Arpont), depending on the availability at the time of booking. Then the other huts only offer the option of domitory accommodation in bunk beds. The dormitories are all of small size (6 to 8 people), except for at the Refuge Peclet-Polset which only offers large dormitory places in 12-person rooms.

It is impossible to avoid dormitories entirely on the Vanoise tour, given that this is foremost a hut-to-hut trip. We suggest staying in all 5 huts, as they contribute to the overall Alpine experience and are the natural stopping points along the route. They also offer a wonderful communal spirit, and are situated in the best locations.

Comfy
Due to the hut-to-hut nature of the trail and the limited number of hotels in the towns and villages, a comfier schedule is hard to achieve. We can offer a hotel upgrade to a 4* hotel in Pralognan-la-Vanoise, and to make your trip comfier, we can offer to book private rooms at 2 huts (Refuge Plan Sec and Refuge de L'Arpont) if they are available at the time of booking.


Hutty
Our trip is already quite 'hutty' meaning we do not have a dedicated hutty option for the Vanoise. It may be possible in the towns and villages to swap hotels for auberges or to book a more basic hotel. Please ask us if you'd like to explore the more basic accommodation options.

Single Room Supplement
The single room supplement covers the higher cost of single occupancy of a room at the hotels (3 on this trip). The huts do not offer any single rooms, so we will book shared dormitories on the other nights.
Refuge de Péclet-Polset
The futuristic hut of Refuge de Péclet-Polset
Route
Steep scree at Col de la Chaviere
Looking back down at the steep ascent to Col de la Chaviere
Our approach to the Tour of the Vanoise South
The Southern circuit follows the typical 7-day Tour des Glaciers de la Vanoise circuit as advertised by the Vanoise National Park. Alpine Exploratory's version offers some differences in our stopovers points whilst sticking to the main route. The Tour of the Vanoise South is a popular trail in Summer, especially with French people on holiday in the mountains.

Nicky at Alpine Exploratory
Alpine Exploratory's research on the Tour of the Vanoise South was led by Nicky Mount in July 2022.

The Terrain
The Tour of the Vanoise trail is made up of sections of the GR5 and GR55 long distance trails which results in clear trails throughout. The terrain can be steep and rocky on some sections, particularly on the rocky ascent to the Col de Chaviere on the final stage. This is complemented by the more relaxing sections of contouring hillside paths and tracks with some rockier sections to keep you entertained.

There are some small sections of steep, loose ground requiring care and also short sections of exposed ground with chains to hold. These should not present a problem to most mountain walkers and there are no via ferrata or climbing sections. In early or late Summer, there is a good chance of snow patches lying on the higher paths which will require care, but the lower paths are likely to be snow-free. We provide information on snow in our Season Update each July.

Is it for me?
The Tour of the Vanoise South is a wonderful trail and often cited as one of the best multi-day hiking trails in the Alps. It provides outstanding views throughout and is less busy than the neighbouring trails of the Tour du Mont Blanc to the North and the Tour de l'Oisans (Ecrins) to the South. The trail is a mix of challenging days on rough mountain paths and easier days on solid tracks. The route also includes a great mix of accommodation with 5 characterful mountain huts giving a remote mountain feel to the trail and 2 friendly hotels in the towns allowing for rest and relaxation.

This route suits those with good overall fitness and experience of multi-day hikes in the mountains. You will also need the ability to walk for up to 6 to 8 hours per day over rocky ground. If you are very fit and active day-to-day, then the Vanoise can also be suitable for those relatively new to multi-day trekking, although previous mountain walking experience is still necessary. The main challenge of the Vanoise, aside from the daily distance, is the amount of ascent and descent with just over 7,000m of ascent over 7-stages.

The route is generally well signposted and waymarked by yellow signposts, aiding navigation, although a map and compass is needed for navigation in case of bad weather such as low cloud. This is particularly important on the higher rockier sections such the Col de Chavière on the last stage. It is important that at least 1 person in each group can navigate with a map and compass. We provide you with our routecards, providing detailed descriptions of each days’ walk, along with the topographical maps for the full route.

A level of self-sufficiency on the Vanoise is necessary as transfer bags (an optional extra) cannot be delivered to the huts. On hut nights you’ll need to carry everything you need for that days’ walk and the day after. But with plenty of huts and chalets along the way, delicious food is easy to come by. All of the huts also offer the option to buy a packed lunch for the following day too. Our routecards also point out refreshment stops.

Difficulty
We grade the Tour of the Vanoise South as a Black 3. This trail is first and foremost a walk and there are no glacier crossings, via ferrata or rock climbing. There are however a few sections of steep and rocky ground which require steady foot placement. There are also a number of sections such as the Col de Chavière on the last stage where the route becomes rocky and crosses a number of scree slopes requiring steady foot placement.

Walking Guide to the Tour of the Vanoise - our detailed guide
How to get there
Your holiday starts and ends in Modane, which is a medium-size working town in a major valley linking France and Italy. It has solid road and rail links. The most convenient airports are Lyon and Turin; Geneva has many more Summer flights but is a longer rail or coach journey. Be prepared to travel 2-4 hours to reach Modane depending on the route. Train and bus connections are also possible from Chambery, Grenoble and Paris. We describe the various options in our Trip Notes and please ask if you'd like earlier advice.

Travel to and from the trip is not included in the holiday price, and we leave you to arrange your transfers individually. We do however take care to give the most useful notes possible about all travel options. We supply these both on booking in your Trip Notes, and in your info pack which we send out prior to your trip. We also offer personalised tips based on our extensive travels across Europe; please ask us for advice and we'll be happy to help!
Included
  • Bespoke accommodation itinerary - tailored to suit your preferences
  • Breakfast on every morning
  • Dinner at the huts (5 nights on our standard trip)
  • 7 detailed Routecards of the Exploratory system, printed on waterproof paper
  • The 2 French topographical maps (1:25,000)
  • Expert advice and local information
  • A comprehensive Season Update following our pre-season recce
  • Full support during your trip from the Alpine Exploratory team (9am until 9pm in the Alps)
Not included
  • Travel to and from Modane
  • Local transport during the trip
  • Travel insurance
  • Lunches, snacks, drinks and evening meals in the towns (2 nights on our standard trip)
  • Baggage transfer (available as an extra)

Baggage transfer

Let us move your bags along the route for you. At an additional cost, we can offer 1 bag drop at Pralognan-la-Vanoise for you. Please let us know if you'd like to opt for this option. Alternatively it is also possible leave your luggage at the hotel in Modane whilst you hike.
Got questions about the Tour of the Vanoise South?
Feel free to ask us any questions you have about any aspects of your planning and preparations! Lucy, Steph, Nicky, Dan and Rob will reply with expert advice. We spend a lot of time walking our routes and more broadly exploring ski and hiking trails around the world so do feel free to ask anything at all.


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The Alpine Exploratory Team
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Lac des Vaches
  Lac des Vaches    Photos from the Tour of the Vanoise


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