||Chamonix to La Vanoise and Modane
||Strenuous, Strenuous Plus
||Hotel, Mountain Hut
Jun 15, 2020 - Sep 15, 2020
|Single Supp Cost
Hiking Trip Summary
Much like a European version of the Appalachian Trail, the Grande Randonnee 5 (GR 5) is a spectacular long-distance hiking route that runs the length of Europe, beginning on the North Sea and ending on the shores of the Mediterranean. The section of the GR 5 which begins at the base of the Mont Blanc Massif and traverses the French Alps south to the Mediterranean is referred to as the Grand Traverse of the Alps (GTA). If you are looking for a classic hut-to-hut hiking experience, we recommend this hike on the Grand Traverse from Chamonix to Modane. This is a rewarding and immensely varied journey
Your journey begins at the foot of the Mont Blanc range in Chamonix, Haute Savoie, and heads south through Savoie Region and the Vanoise National Park, to the pleasant mountain village of Pralognan-la-Vanoise and on to Modane.
Established in 1963, the Vanoise is France’s first national park. A wonderfully remote and expansive area, the Vanoise massif encompasses 82 kilometers of pristine peaks and glaciers, captures a vast array of alpine wildlife, and preserves the essence of French rural existence.
This part of the GR 5, starting in Chamonix and ending in Modane, is a classic alpine hut-to-hut route: remote hiking, rustic refuges and expansive, wide open vistas. This is one of the few hut hikes in France that is truly “hut-to-hut.”
Day 1: Arrive Geneva International Airport. Independent Travel to Chamonix. 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 to Bellevue (5,610′). Begin today’s hike passing by the foot of the huge Glacier de Bionnassay then 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 a steep descent from the col, you arrive at the refuge.
Day 3: Departing from Les Contamines in the mid-morning, 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 the overnight stop.
Day 4: You 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: The hike today leads high above the Roseland Dam to Col Bresson flanked by Dolomite-like arretes and aiguilles, including the bold Pierra Menta. From here, the hike down to the refuge is spectacular. This simple refuge has a calm and remote setting.
Day 6: Hike to the quiet village of Valezan, continuing into Parc National Vanoise. The hiking is stunning as you emerge on to a high, broad valley surrounded by rocky peaks and waterfalls fed by high snowfields and glaciers. From here you will get your first glimpse of the huge Grande Motte.
Day 7: The morning part of the hike climbs 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 witness dozens of marmots, chamois, and perhaps some ibex. Descend to Val Claret for the night.
Day 8: The route climbs from Val Claret and leads through a remote and barren landscape. The route follows the quiet, beautiful valley and the Torrent de la Leisse down to the Pont (bridge) de Mon Croe Vie and the refuge for the night.
Day 9: From your refuge, you climb to the Col de la Vanoise. Rounding the very prominent Aiguille de la Vanoise, you hike down to the mountain village of Pralognan. Overnight in a hotel in the quiet and peaceful village of Pralognan.
- It is possible to end the hike in Pralognan in the afternoon, meeting a private taxi who will transfer you back to Chamonix. The transfer time is about 1 1/2 hours. Overnight in Chamonix. The trip will end the next morning after breakfast. Please contact us for other options.
Day 10: Leaving Pralognan in the morning, a short transfer by taxi takes you to the edge of the park where you begin the hike in the Vallon du Doron to the Col de Chaviere. This Col is the highest Col of any of France’s long-distance routes (9,230’) and offers an impressive view of the Mont Blanc Massif, over 100 miles away. Descend to your quiet overnight refuge.
Day 11: From Aiguille Doron and descend to Modane, about 2 hours. Depart by train to Geneva. The trip will end when you arrive in Modane. (Note: Modane is a great place to end this wonderful hike; however, getting anywhere from Modane can take some time. Please contact us for more information about travel and the best place to end the hike.)
- This itinerary is only one of several possibilities. Please contact us for other options.
- Travel information
- Maps covering the route
- Detailed trail notes
- All overnight accommodations
- All breakfasts and most dinners
- Transfer as detailed in the final confirmed itinerary
Airfare, lunches, travel to and from starting/ending point, transfers or excursions on trains, lifts, buses, taxis, extra charges due to changes in itinerary, dinners in Chamonix or Pralognan, items not on set dinner menu, beverages (except what is served at breakfast), bottled water, insurance, items of a personal nature.
This hike is not vehicle supported. You will need to carry a small- to moderate-sized pack with only 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 can be left at the hotel until your return or transferred as per your final itinerary.
ACCOMMODATIONS AND FACILITIES
The hotel in Chamonix is a wonderful family-run hotel located in the center of town. This older -ashioned hotel is welcoming and helpful. All rooms have private baths. The hotel in Pralognan is located in the village and offers private rooms with private baths. Breakfasts are served at both hotels.
The mountain huts are remote and rustic 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 refuges and lunches are picnic style along the trail.
The nearest airport to the starting point is Geneva Airport, Switzerland.
This route begins with your first night's accommodation in Chamonix.
This will vary depending on the final confirmed itinerary.
WHO WOULD LIKE THIS TRIP?
The Grand Traverse Part One is a route not hiked by many Americans, though it travels through some of the most beautiful and pristine landscapes of the French Alps. The accommodations are rustic, old-world alpine farms that have been converted to accommodate hikers and are referred to as refuges. Many are in amazingly remote locations only accessible by foot. This is a perfect trip for experienced hikers looking for a route that is well off-the-beaten-path and offers a little bit more of an adventure. The hiking is challenging, with some strenuous plus days. If you have hiked in other parts of the Alps and are looking for a slightly different experience this definitely a route to consider!
WHAT MAKES THIS TRIP DIFFERENT
As the Tour du Mont Blanc has become increasing popular, this first part of the Grande Traversee des Alpes offers a quieter, more remote, and possibly more authentic hiking experience. Distant Journeys is one of the very few, if not only, companies that offer this section of the GR 5 as a self-guided itinerary. The huts are classic and remote, many 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.
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 self-guided Grande Traversee des Alps experience.
Reserving This Trip
A non-refundable deposit of $500 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.
Before registering for this, please read our Terms and Conditions in their entirety and then refer to our Self-Guided
Trips page for specific information regarding the process.
The balance is due 60 days prior to departure for most of our trips. When applying less than 90 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.