Book with confidence for 2021
Lake at Tignes
Tour of the Vanoise
Tour of the Vanoise
11 stages . 12 nights

Tour of the Vanoise
Self-guided walking holiday

Key information Summer 2021 and 2022

Start: Modane, France
End: Modane, France
Season Dates: 1 August to 17 Sept 2021 and 17 July to 16 Sept 2022
Length: 11 days' walking, 12 nights
Typical walk: 16km, 800m ascent, 700m descent
Total distance: 160km or 100 miles
Highest altitude: 2,796m
Grade: Black 3 (Walking grades)
Group size: Any, from solo trekkers to groups

From GBP 1,200 per person

The Tour of the Vanoise is a spectacular high-level route in the French Alps, encompassing the main valleys and mountain passes of the Vanoise National Park. It runs along sections of the GR5 and the GR55 long distance trails. Located between the Mont Blanc and the Ecrin Massifs, the Vanoise is home to 107 peakes over 3,000m, providing the mountain back-drop to this trip.

Our 11-stage tour will take you on an immersive journey through Alpine meadows, past glistening lakes and over the rocky terrain of high mountain passes surrounded by snow-capped peaks. This combination of environments, cosy huts, delicious food and varying stage lengths makes for a great walking holiday. Our 11-stage tour stays in 7 traditional mountain huts, adding a remote mountain feel to your trip.

Our routecards follow the known Tour of the Vanoise route and 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 Val d'Isere. Our trip walks every step of the way without the need to use transport.

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.


Alternative trips
Something a little bit different?
Tour du Mont Blanc - more hotels
Julian Alps - a shorter hut-to-hut experience
Via Alpina - all hotel option available
Trip Options
Our normal 11-stage trip completes the Tour de Vanoise without unduly long days and with plenty of time to relax. The nice mix of long and short days allows for a relaxed holiday. We provide some of the options below and welcome you to ask if you would like more details!

Make the trip shorter
Our normal 11-stage hike can be made quicker, for strong walkers, taking 9 or 10 stages. This must involve at least one longer stage. This is achieved by merging the first two or final two stages into a single long day, in or out of Modane. (It's hard to recommend 8 stages or fewer for a full Vanoise circuit due to the length of the days and spacing of accommodation.) Another way to shorten your trek is to skip the first stage by taking a taxi from Modane to Refuge de l'Orgere. Please let us know and we'll discuss options that might suit.

Make the trip longer
Please ask us about adding nights at intermediate huts, for a 12- or 13-stage trip. Generally we would suggest rest days instead of extra stages but a mix is possible.

Walk half the route
For shorter trips, with the remainder left for another holiday, we recommend the Northern section over 4 or 5 days, starting in Val d'Isere and walking via Pralognan to Modane. The Southern section of the trail is then 7 days from Modane to Val d'Isere. Please ask us for more details.

Rest Days
As standard, we don't include a rest day. However, if you would like to add one in, we recommend Val d'Isere which is a larger resort about half-way round (and a great hotel). Alternatively for 2 rest days, we can break the trip at Bonneval-sur-Arc and at Pralognan-la-Vanoise, both pretty alpine villages. Please ask us for details.

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.

September trips start at Pralognan
Due to the season-end of the Refuge Peclet-Polset, which is the last hut in a circuit from Modane, a September start from Modane start would not reach it in time. Thus our September trips start and finish in Pralognan, from where the Peclet-Polset is the first night on trail. We'll advise when you book. Your trip starts with Stage 10, then Stage 11 to Modane, and then Stage 1 onwards back to Pralognan.
Tour of the Vanoise
1 August to 17 Sept 2021 and 17 July to 16 Sept 2022
Hutty Classic Comfy
10 stages
(11 nights)

Not available
GBP 1,140
Singles 125
Not available
11 stages
(12 nights)
Not available
GBP 1,200
Singles 125
Main Trip
Not available
11 stages
1 rest day
(13 nights)
Not available
GBP 1,270
Singles 150
Not available
Private guided
11 stages
(12 nights)
Group of 4 or more
Not available
GBP 2,400
Singles 125
Not available
11 stages
(12 nights)
Group of 1, 2 or 3
Please ask us
Baggage transfer
All stops except huts
Please ask us

Where we stay
Our classic mix of accommodation aims to give the best of both worlds; rustic huts in the mountains and friendly and comfy hotels in the towns. As standard our classic trip includes 7 nights in huts, and the remaining 5 nights in 2* and 3* hotels.

Our classic 11-stage trip stays in 7 huts. Whilst private rooms are not available at any of the huts along the route, at 2 huts (Refuge de L'Arpont and Refuge Plan du Lac) we always try to book you in their smaller rooms of 4-6 people.

We can't avoid dormitories entirely on the Vanoise tour, given the key huts on the trail and the lack of private rooms in all. We're glad to advise on what we can do. On 1 or 2 nights, it may be possible to avoid huts by travelling off the route. For most clients we suggest staying in all 7 huts if possible, 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.

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. For a touch of luxury, however, we offer the option to upgrade your hotel in Val d'Isere. Please ask for details.

Our trip is already quite 'hutty' meaning we do not have a dedicated hutty option for the Vanoise. It might 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 Supplement
The single supplement covers the higher cost of single rooms at the hotels (4 on our normal trip). The huts do not offer single rooms, or dorms for single occupancy.
Refuge de Péclet-Polset
The futuristic hut of Refuge de Péclet-Polset
Chains before Pont de la Neige
A short narrower section of path, with chains before Pont de la Neige, Stage 7

Our approach to the Tour of the Vanoise
Our routecards stick to the generally accepted Tour of the Vanoise route. We walk every step of the way without the need to take buses or taxi transfers, except where you wish to skip a section. We don't include a rest day as standard, but we can add 1 or 2 rest days in. Your choice will depend on how many days you wish to hike in succession. Please do just ask us about the various options.

Simon Stevens at Alpine Exploratory Hannah Wright at Alpine Exploratory
Alpine Exploratory's 2021 research on the Tour of the Vanoise will be led by Simon Stevens in June and Hannah Wright in July.

The Terrain
The Tour of the Vanoise is a popular trail in Summer. The trail also combines sections of the GR5 and GR55 long distance trails. The result is solid trails for the most part. The terrain on the higher sections of the trail is sometimes steep and rocky such as 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 as much information as we can in our Season Update each July.

Is it for me?
The Tour of the Vanoise 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 and valley paths. The route also includes a great mix of accommodation with 7 characterful mountain huts giving a remote mountain feel to the trail and 5 comfy 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 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 11-stages.

The route is generally well signposted and waymarked, 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 Stage 11. 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. (Our routecards point out refreshment stops).

The route passes through a number of key mountain towns and villages: Val d'Isare, Tignes and Pralognan-la-Vanoise. These three are well-known as ski resorts and come with good hotels and shopping.

We grade the Tour of the Vanoise 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 and, at times, an ability to cope with narrow and exposed paths. In a few sections the path is a little exposed and chains are provided to aid progress, such as sections approaching Pont de la Neige on Stage 7. There are also a number of sections such as the Col de Chavière on Stage 11 where the route becomes rocky and crosses a number of scree slopes requiring steady foot placement.

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. Reckon on 2-4 hours 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.

Our September trips start and finish in Pralognan due to the earlier closure of the Peclet-Polset hut which is the last one in a circuit from Modane. Pralognan is the charming ski village at the end of the valley from Moutiers, a 3-hour coach ride from Geneva Airport.

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!
  • Bespoke accommodation itinerary - tailored to suit your preferences
  • Breakfast on every morning
  • Dinner at the huts (7 nights on our normal trip)
  • Detailed Routecards TVA1-11 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 (5 nights on our normal trip)
  • Baggage transfer (available as an extra)

Baggage transfer

Let us move your bags along the route for you. We offer a baggage transfer service on the Tour of the Vanoise as an extra, to all stops except the huts. This means from Modane to Bonneval-sur-Arc, to Val d'Isere, to Pralognan and back to Modane, 4 drops in all. On hut nights your bag will simply be transferred to your next hotel. Instead you might like to leave luggage in Modane whilst you hike; please ask us to coordinate this.
Got questions about the Tour of the Vanoise?
Feel free to ask us any questions you have about any aspects of your planning and preparations! Lucy, Steph, Hannah W, Hannah G and Nicky 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.

Tour of the Vanoise enquiry form

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Optionally, where did you first hear about us? We're always curious!

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If you prefer, please feel welcome to email or call us. Thanks!

Contact Alpine Exploratory
Phone +44 (0)131 214 1144
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Since Alpine Exploratory started in 2005 we have loved getting to know our clients from around the world. Along with the UK, our best-represented countries are the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Please use our national-rate numbers for a cheaper call to contact our office in Edinburgh.

The Alpine Exploratory Team
The Alpine Exploratory team in Edinburgh

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Lac des Vaches
  Lac des Vaches, Stage 9    Photos from the Tour of the Vanoise

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