We first walked in the Vanoise in 2011 when we did the GR5. We were impressed with the area and bought a detailed map with the intention of returning. In late August 2016 we found ourselves heading to Europe for a graduation and a family wedding in the Netherlands, and we decided to spend some time walking in France in September.
We left Amsterdam by train the morning of September 5. After lunch in Paris, where we changed trains and stations, we arrived in Modane late afternoon. Modane isn’t a tourist destination, it is railway and forest industry town not far from the Italian border, but it is on the southern edge of Parc de la Vanoise and serviced by the high-speed Paris-Milan train, making it easy to access and a good starting point.
We did a spectacular 12-day walk: beautiful scenery and great weather. We couldn’t have asked for anything better. The hike stands out in our minds as one of the highlights of the hiking and touring we’ve done, and that’s saying something!
Despite good weather, we modified our plans for the last three days—the forecast changed to 20-25cm of snow at high elevations. We had planned to be well above 2500m those three days, but prudence prevailed; we turned around and went back to the refuge we stayed at on Day 3. From there we walked down into the valley to Termiginon, then back to Modane. We felt sad to leave the high mountains early, but as you can see in the photos, it was the right thing to do. Besides, we now have a good excuse to return.
A map of the route is at the right (or above if you are using a small screen). Click it to open a Google map. We walked the figure-eight shaped blue route starting at the bottom in Modane. The line in red is the route we hoped to take back to Modane, but instead we walked the blue route on the lower right through the valley.
Below is a large gallery of photos. Click the first one (or tap it twice) to open as a slideshow. See the end of this post for some references.
Our walk was largely based on the Cicerone guide Tour of the Vanoise.
Park website in French (opens on the page about hiking)
More hiking info: Walks in Parc de la Vanoise