||Strenuous, Strenuous Plus
||Hotel, Mountain Hut
We will be scheduling dates for this trip soon. Please check back.
|Single Supp Cost
Hiking Trip Summary
Part 1 of our journey begins at the foot of the Mont Blanc range in Chamonix. We spend 8 days hiking from the highest peaks in Europe southward, through the Savoie and the Vanoise National Park, to the pleasant mountain village of Pralognan.
Established in 1963, the Vanoise was France’s first national park. A wonderfully remote and expansive area, the Vanoise Massif encompasses 82 kilometers of pristine peaks and glaciers, is home to a vast array of alpine wildlife, and preserves the essence of French rural existence. A classic alpine hut-to-hut route, this is a perfect overture to long-distance hiking.
Part 1 of the GR 5 offers mostly remote alpine hiking with accommodations at wonderful mountain refuges. The route is often wide open and the vistas are expansive.
We are currently reworking our Grande Traversee des Alpes GR 5, Part 1 trip and will be reintroducing it in 2020. Stay tuned!
Day 1: Arrive Geneva, Cointrin International Airport. Group transfer at 1:00 pm. to Chamonix, France. Welcome dinner and orientation. Chamonix is home a dazzling array of many of the highest peaks in the Alps, including Mont Blanc (15,860′).
Day 2: Short transfer by bus to Les Houches and cable car transfer to Bellevue (5,610′). We begin today’s hike by passing the foot of the huge Glacier de Bionnassay, then head up through lush meadows to the Col du Tricot (6,995′) with spectacular views of the Aiguille du Bionnassay, Dome du Gouter, and the entire Chamonix Valley. After our steep descent from the Col, we arrive at our refuge.
Day 3: Departing from Les Contamines in mid-morning, we hike up the Mont Joie Valley, past a 15th-century mountain church, Notre Dame de la Gorge, cross a small ancient Roman bridge and continue up this broad alpine valley to our overnight stop.
Day 4: We begin a steady climb to the Croix de la Bonhomme (8,200′). The route from the Refuge de la Croix Bonhomme follows the narrow ridge of the Crete des Gittes, built by the French Military, and then drops down to the Col de Sauce and to the Plan de la Lai (6,000′) and up to the Refuge Mya. Views of Mont Pourri dominate the scenery.
Day 5: Our hike today leads us high above the Roseland Dam to the Col Bresson, flanked by dolomite-like arretes and aiguilles including the bold Pierra Menta. From here, our hike down to the refuge is spectacular. This simple refuge has a calm and remote setting.
Day 6: Our day will begin with a long, gradual descent down the valley floor to the village of Valezan. A short bus transfer will take us from Valezan to Peisey-Nancroix and on to the Chalet Refuge de Rosuel, located at the entrance to the Parc National Vanoise. After a rest stop, we head into the park, gaining elevation steadily. The hiking is stunning as we emerge onto a high, broad valley surrounded by rocky peaks and waterfalls fed by the high snowfields and glaciers. From here we get our first glimpse of the huge Grande Motte rising to over 12,500′! Our rustic refuge, Entre le Lac, lies next to a beautiful blue-green alpine lake.
Day 7: Entre le Lac to Val Claret. In the morning we’ll climb up to the Col du Palet (8,750′). The ever-widening valley is flanked by the Dome de Platieres and the tapered peak of Aliet. Up ahead lies the Grande Motte (12,500′), draped with huge glaciers. In the early morning, we’ll likely see dozens of marmots, chamois and perhaps some ibex. This is a planned short day but may very well take longer, because it is worth lingering. Overnight in a hotel in Val Claret.
Day 8: Today we leave the GR 5 and pick up the high mountain route of the GR 55, which cuts into the heart of the Vanoise. Hiking out of the ski area the route contours up the Rochers de la Petit Balme and to the Col de Fresse (8,300′). From here the route climbs through the narrow, Vallee de la Leisse, bordered by the Grande Motte on one side and the Rocher du Genepy on the other. Leaving the day-hikers behind at the col, we pass Lac des Nettes before dropping down to the remote Refuge de la Leisse (8,200′). From the refuge, the route continues to follow the quiet, beautiful valley and the Torrent de la Leisse down to the Pont (bridge) de Mon Croe Vie and our Refuge d’Entre Deux Eaux for the night.
Day 9: From the refuge, we climb to a high, broad valley lined by several mountain lakes and mountain peaks: Pointe Mathews (12,334′) and La Grande Casse (12,721′). The trail then rises to the Col de la Vanoise (8,300′) and the Refuge du Col de la Vanoise. From here there are spectacular views of the Glaciers de la Grande Casse and des Grands Couloirs. Rounding the very prominent Aiguille de la Vanoise, we hike down to the mountain village of Pralognan (4,680′). Arriving in Pralognan in the mid-afternoon, we’ll have time to stroll around this pretty village. Hotel with private bathrooms. Farewell dinner for those departing.
Day 10: Pralognan – End of Part 1 and Start of Part 2. For those hiking all the way to the Med, today is a rest day. For those departing, there will be a group transfer to the Geneva Airport at about 9:00 am, arriving at the Geneva Airport at about 11:00. Please contact us before firming up any travel plans.
If you wish to have your own room at the hotels, there is a single supplement charge for Part 1: Chamonix, Tignes, and Pralognan. Please let us know if you would like a single at the time of registration. Please note: Single or private rooms are not available in the refuges or gites. If you are traveling alone and would like to share a room, we will match you with a roommate. If there is no one with whom you can share, we will not charge you extra for this “forced” single during the hike.
- There may be changes or modifications to the itinerary.
- Transfers: We have done our best to limit the number of transfers, but it is impossible to complete this wonderful journeys without them. The distances combined with the scarcity of appropriate overnight accommodations make transfer necessary. Many, but not all, days will either start or end with a transfer.
All accommodations, all breakfasts, most dinners, all group transfers on vans, buses, trains and ski lifts as described in the itinerary, luggage transfer for one medium-sized duffel bag from Chamonix to Pralognan. Great hiking and memories!
Airfare, lunches, optional/individual transfers or excursions, dinners in Tignes, items not on set dinner menu, tips to guides/leaders, beverages, insurance, excess baggage charge, items of a personal nature.
This hike is not vehicle supported. You will need to carry a small- to moderate-sized pack with all the clothing and accessories you will need for the duration of the hike. (See our sample packing list.) With advances in synthetic clothing and other travel gear, it’s possible to keep your pack weight to 20 lbs., including lunch and water. Any extra luggage or belongings you may have will meet us in Pralognan.
ACCOMMODATIONS AND FACILITIES
Hotels are generally 2- or 3-star hotels, most with private baths. Breakfasts are served at the hotel. Some are more simple 2-star hotels with shared baths.
The mountain huts or refuges and gite d’etapes (overnight accommodations for travelers) have their own charm and unique character. All are remote and located in spectacular settings. The shared facilities are simple, but most have hot showers. Most accommodate from 20 to 40 hikers, sometimes more.
Breakfasts and dinners are served at the hotels or refuges and lunches are picnic style along the trail.
It is easiest to fly to Geneva. However, there are frequent trains from Zurich or Paris; just be sure to allow for extra travel time. Included in the trip cost is a group transfer from the Geneva Airport on Day 1 for those hiking the entire trip or just Part 1.
WHO WOULD LIKE THIS TRIP?
Our Grand Traverse of the Alps Part 1 is an exceptional hike. This varied, remote and sometimes strenuous route leads through the heart of the Vanoise National Park. It is great for the hiker who looks forward to wonderful, challenging days and likes the thought of staying in some remote and rustic refuges and small family-run hotels. This route is definitely off-the-beaten-path.
WHAT MAKES THIS TRIP DIFFERENT?
This first part of the Grande Traversee des Alpes provides a rare hiking experience. Distant Journeys is one of the very few companies that offer this trip as a true hut-to-hut route. The huts are classic and remote, some only accessible by foot. It is true, you do have to carry your own pack for this trip, but the reward is hiking through some of the most beautiful, remarkably pristine landscapes of the French Alps.
Geneva airport at 1:00 pm on the first day for a group transfer to our hotel in Chamonix.
Part 1 of our Grande Traversee des Alpes will end with a morning group transfer to the Geneva Airport.
Please contact us for a more detailed itinerary, for more information, or to register. We're also happy to supply a list of past participants willing to share honest insights into this guided GTA Hike, Part 1 experience.
Reserving a Trip
A deposit of $400 along with your completed registration forms will reserve a space on your requested trip. We accept
MasterCard, Visa, and American Express card as well as personal checks. To make a deposit, you may either follow one
of the “Reserve a Trip” links below, give us a call at 1-888-845-5781, or include your payment information in the
area provided when completing your registration forms.
The balance is due 60 days prior to departure for most of our trips. When applying less than 60 days prior to
departure, full payment is due. For final payments, we accept MasterCard, Visa, and American Express, as well as
As confirmation of receipt of your deposit and registrations, we will send you a comprehensive packet of information
pertaining to your trip, an invoice for final payment and additional information including release agreement form,
medical information form, travel information, and packing list. Upon receipt of final payment, you will receive trip
rendezvous information and a list of accommodations. Returning trip participants will receive a 5% discount on most
Receipt of all forms will finalize your registration.