Le chemin du petit bonheur
As the route progresses, you gain altitude and follow the evolution of nature, from forests to alpine meadows at over 2000m, passing through the meadows around the villages. The route is always surrounded by peaks over 3000m.
50km of trails that can be taken uphill or downhill, depending on your level and desires.
Why this name?
The Chemin du Petit Bonheur is an ancestral trail that runs from village to village throughout Haute Maurienne Vanoise. The origin of its name has been lost, although some locals claim it was named by the boys of Lanslebourg, who used this forest path to discreetly meet the girls in the next village...
An itinerary to suit your needsTo be read in one go, in instalments or bit by bit.
A beautiful trail to cover in its entirety on foot, bike or horseback. Anything is possible: try the full adventure for a 1, 2 or 3-day itinerant tour, or do just one end of the trail and treat yourself to a segment of simple happiness, which might make you want to go further next time.
In the summer of 2023, the Chemin du Petit Bonheur has taken on a new shape. While the route of this ancestral trail has not changed and continues to link Modane to the hamlet of l'Écot over a distance of 50 km, the path has been adorned with new colors, new facilities and atypical proposals.
At first, you're carried away by this luminous yellow, the color painted on the ends of walkways, bridges and logs. The color acts as a guide, indicating where you've come from and where you're going.
2 "gates " at Modane and Bonneval sur Arc to mark this path
5 giant banquet tables (Size L, seating 12, at Collet de la Madeleine between Val Cenis and Bessans. Size XL, seating 20, at Val Cenis-Sollières and Val Cenis-Lanslevillard. Or size XXL, or 28 places at La Norma and Bessans: the choice is yours, depending on the number of guests!)
2 cabins for playing or resting in the forest at La Norma or in the meadows at Val Cenis-Lanslevillard
3 giant solariums for moments of relaxation and contemplation in Val Cenis-Sollières and Lanslevillard and not far from the hamlet of Villaron in Bessans
1 wind detector next to the Val Cenis-Sollières aerodrome, to see the wind in a way other than by listening or watching the trees bend over.
700 "little steps" that form a staircase for an alternative to a steep climb in the Chantelouve forest between Val Cenis and Bessans.
1 sylvotherapy room for moments of rejuvenation in the heart of the trail, in Val Cenis, between the villages of Lanslebourg and Termignon
1 forest of swings with a view to play in and observe the Haute Maurienne Vanoise from La Norma
Before setting off
The "Chemin du petit bonheur" map is an essential part of your trip. It prolongs the experience, as much as it tells stories and encourages young and old to go all the way. You can take it home with you as a souvenir of your trip on the Chemin du Petit Bonheur. Available from Tourist Offices or directly from the Maison cantonale at Modane station.
You can also download it free of charge in PDF format. On this map you'll find data and distances to help you estimate your travel time between the various villages of Haute Maurienne Vanoise.
When leaving the station, follow the signs "vers le chemin du petit bonheur". Before accessing the path, you'll need to cross the town of Modane to reach the start of the path, which is located just after the Saint Antoine stream (35-minute walk from the station to the start of the path). A warm-up in a still urban environment before embarking on your alpine adventure.
From the freeway exit, head towards Modane and park in the Europe parking lot, just opposite La Rizerie. It's a twenty-minute walk to the start of the trail, just past the Saint Antoine stream.
From Aussois, walk down to the Esseillon forts, cross the Arc gorges on the vertiginous Pont du Diable, climb back up to the Redoute Marie-Thérèse and take the Chemin du Petit Bonheur on the other side of the road. You've already had a good walk, but you can take a well-deserved break at the hut built on the chemin du petit bonheur. You can then continue on to Val Cenis-Bramans, where you can climb back up to Aussois.
From Val Cenis-Sardières, descend to the village of Sollières, where you'll be faced with a thorny dilemma: should you "go up" the "chemin du petit bonheur" towards the village of Termignon, or "go down" towards the village of Bramans? The choice is yours (but a word of advice: if you're in tribe mode, take the downhill path so you can all enjoy the giant solarium and XL banquet table together).
Markings: follow the yellow
Easily recognizable, the bright color guides you and lets you know where you've come from and where you're going.
This signposting often reuses elements that were already in place (fences, walls, etc.), and the signage has been reinforced in certain sectors with logs indicating the direction of the path. For this additional signposting, all the wood comes from Haute Maurienne Vanoise forests. Various species (fir, spruce and larch) were carefully selected by Office National des Forêts (O.N.F.) teams, then shipped to Val Cenis-Lanslebourg, shaped by a local sawmill, painted by local youngsters as part of a participatory project, and installed on the path to serve as a guide for your journey.
Find your poleScreen-printed "le chemin du petit bonheur" sticks await you along the way.
Silk-screened "le chemin du petit bonheur" sticks have been scattered all along the route. It's up to you to find them, walk with them and put them down or... keep them for an authentic, natural souvenir.
These sticks, if they become walking companions, are first and foremost branches of green alder, a very (too) dynamic species that is invading the forests. Green alder is regularly cut down by Office National des Forêts (French forestry agency) teams seeking to restore a habitat favourable to the reproduction of animal species or forest regeneration. In this case, the sticks you'll find along the path this summer come from a black grouse habitat restoration operation in Bessans.
Share your little pleasures
Five boxes, more or less hidden along the path of small happiness, await you. Inside, you'll find postcards on which you can read the little words of previous walkers, a pencil and blank cards on which you, in turn, can write and share your little happiness(es).
From the smell of coffee in the morning to the warmth of your child's hand, it's up to you to share your little happiness. A thread between walkers who meet through the lovely medium of these little words.
5 reasonschoose the chemin du petit bonheur for a family outing
The metro-boulot-dodo or the "can do better" report card of the youngest quickly fades after a few hours' walk.
The evolution of nature from 1000m to 2000m surrounded by peaks above 3000m
The "chemin du petit bonheur" is a leisurely stroll along the valley floor. It's a walk that's accessible to the whole family, and allows you to see the different levels of the Alps: forest, meadows and mountain pastures. From an altitude of 1,000 metres at Modane, it reaches 2,000 metres at the hamlet of l'Ecot. All overlooked by the glaciers and peaks of the Vanoise.
A wide path
The Chemin du Petit Bonheur follows the ancient trail that criss-crosses the Haute Maurienne Vanoise valley. In fact, the trail is suitable for motorized vehicles. So it's easily accessible to all, especially cross-country baby carriages.
Sleep in a soft bed every night
With the Chemin du Petit Bonheur, you can easily stop for a lunch break or an overnight stay in one of the villages you'll pass through. The choice of accommodation is yours.
Buses run between Modane and Bonneval sur Arc all year round. Easy to get back.
10 things to do on the road to happiness
- Take a dip in La Norma's waters or try a water-line crossing.
- Go tobogganing on the rails at La Norma
- Discover the fortifications at the Redoute Marie Thérèse
- Let yourself be lulled by the tales and legends of Val Cenis-Bramans and discover the story of the brigands of the "14 hats" or of Hannibal, the Carthaginian general who passed through here with his army and his elephants over 2200 years ago.
- Admire the typical architecture of the villages of Haute Maurienne Vanoise and stroll through the narrow streets of Val Cenis-Bramans, Bonneval sur Arc or the hamlet of l'Ecot.
- Immerse yourself in the valley's thousand-year-old history at the Val Cenis-Sollières archaeology museum.
- Taste Beaufort cheese and discover the secrets of its manufacture with a visit to the dairy cooperative in Val Cenis-Lanslebourg.
- Climb the via ferrata walls in the Gorges du Diable between Avrieux and Aussois, at Le Pichet in Val Cenis or at Andagne in Bessans.
- Canyoning in the Arc at l'Ecot or river tubing at Val Cenis
- Step inside a Baroque church and take in the sights at Avrieux or Val Cenis-Lanslebourg.