Italy at your doorstep

Haute Maurienne Vanoise is located on the Italian border. Take advantage of your stay to taste "una gelata" in Susa, to discover the museums and monuments of Torino, or to feast your eyes on Saturday at the big market in the capital of Piedmont.


Like an air of... Dolce vita

On foot along hiking trails, by car, bus or train, Italy really is very close! During your stay at Haute Maurienne Vanoise, take the time to visit Susa, Bardonecchia or even Turin, which is not so far away!

A quick taste of Italian architectural and gastronomic refinement? Take the 13.6 km Fréjus road tunnel (paying) between Modane and Bardonecchia. At the exit of the tunnel... you are in Italy! In less than 1h30, you arrive then in the capital of Piedmont : Turin. From Modane, you can also take the train to Bardonecchia and then to Turin.

However, we advise you to take the D1006 from Val Cenis-Lanslebourg (France), cross the Mont Cenis plateau and follow the route once traced by Napoleon to reach our neighbors in Piedmont as far as Susa (Italy).

At an altitude of 1,974 m and at the halfway point, you arrive in front of the sixth largest artificial water reservoir in France: the Mont-Cenis Lake and the sumptuous Mont-Cenis plateau.

Stop for a moment and let yourself be charmed by the few remnants of the late 19th century: in particular, the Ronce fort perched at an altitude of 2,286 m. As you continue on your way, you're sure to notice the pyramid-shaped chapel built by EDF in 1968 to replace the disappearing priory of the sunken village of Grand-Croix at the foot of the dam. The Pyramid houses a museum on the history of the site. At its foot, you'll discover a rich alpine garden open to the public.

A few more hairpin bends and you're there. In less than 50 minutes and 41 km, you're in Italy. Gelati, pizzas and dolce-vita are yours for the taking. At Haute Maurienne Vanoise, Italy has never seemed so close!

How to get to Italy

on foot, on horseback, by bike

For the more athletic, don't hesitate to take one of the many hiking trails formerly used by shepherds and other peddlers to reach our Piedmontese neighbors. From the Vallée Etroite pass in Valfréjus to the Carro pass in Bonneval sur Arc, the border with Italy extends over all the summits. Many trails in the bottom of adjacent valleys will make you pass from France to Italy without even noticing!

From Valfréjus, for example, you can take the GR5 and then cross over to Bardonecchia via the Col de la Roue. You can also take a multi-day horse trek from France to Italy.

From Val Cenis, follow the tracks of Hannibal who would have passed more than 2000 years ago by the Col Clappier, above Bramans. A beautiful itinerary with preserved mountain pastures, high altitude lakes and a night in a refuge (unguarded bivouac) at the Italian border before going down to the Italian village of Giaglione.

Still from Val Cenis, the access to Italy is also done by bike: the ascent to the Mont Cenis pass is a must for all cyclists. The descent to Susa is longer and more technical: save your strength to go back up if you make a round trip.

Finally, on the Bessans and Bonneval sur Arc sides, numerous historic trails link Haute Maurienne Vanoise to Italy. This was the route often taken by shepherds with their flocks. And, more discreetly, smugglers who tried to evade customs officials to avoid taxes on tobacco and other products, which they bought more cheaply in Italy and then sold in France...


A little history

High altitude valley of the kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia

Haute Maurienne became part of France in 1860. The region still enjoys a close friendship, thanks to twinning arrangements with our Italian neighbors (Val Cenis-Bramans and Giaglione, Modane and Bardonecchia). In summer, the Mont Cenis plateau, for example, takes on an Italian accent (it was Italian until the Second World War), with French holidaymakers and Turin residents in search of fresh air. These ancestral links are also reflected in encounters at the summits of our passes and mountains. Every August 5, for example, a pilgrimage brings together the inhabitants of Bessans and Suse at the summit of Pointe de Rochemelon, on the French-Italian border, at an altitude of 3,538 meters!

Visit Turin and Susa

Museums, Roman remains, squares and markets

Take advantage of your stay at Haute Maurienne Vanoise to visit the town of Susa, on the other side of Val Cenis (access via the Mont Cenis road). You'll be able to see Roman remains, including the superb Arch of Augustus, as well as Susa Cathedral and the market (Tuesday mornings).

Don't hesitate to continue a little further: the capital of Piedmont, Turin, is well worth a day's visit. With its superb museums (museum of cinema, museum of Egyptology...) its squares, its arcades, its churches... The market of Turin is also a must with hundreds of stands of clothes and accessories but also fruits and vegetables, Italian specialities, organic producers... The market takes place every morning and it lasts even all day on Saturday.