Bessans and Bonneval sur Arc

Recognised by Unesco as alpine mountaineering

Bessans and Bonneval sur Arc have been certified as “Mountaineering Terrain” by the French national UNESCO Committee for Mountaineering and the Federation of Mountaineering Clubs. World recognition of the region’s very natural character, both in summer and winter, and of its long mountaineering history.

“Mountaineering is the art of climbing mountains by one’s own means – physical, technical and mental – in a responsible and environmentally respectful way. It is a traditional physical activity that is also about a common culture, an art based on knowledge, expertise and the vital acquisition of an understanding of the mountain environment and of environmental awareness.”

Association Bessans-Bonneval sur Arc Terre d’Alpinisme.

The region’s ASSETS

Strong local historic links with mountaineering

Local guides who have contributed to the birth and development of mountaineering practices in France in the late 19th/early 20th century. In particular, Jean Joseph Blanc (1842 – 1914), AKA “Le Greffier”. His son, Pierre Blanc (1881 – 1966), AKA “Le Pape” not only helped enhance our knowledge of the high-valley summits, but also led expeditions in the Himalayas. Great mountaineers have explored the summits of Haute Maurienne Vanoise, including William August Coolidge and Lionel Terray, and this has helped to highlight mountaineering practices in the valley.

Natural assets

• A region surrounded by over 50 peaks exceeding 3,000 metres and multiple glaciers.
• Excellent terrain for exploring with the family, trying “soft mountaineering” disciplines and perfecting techniques. As the training ground of Thibault Anselmet, the new French ski mountaineering champion, Bessans and Bonneval sur Arc are also the perfect terrain for ski touring and ski mountaineering, for all levels from beginner to expert. Among other sites, the Avérole Valley is “one of the most beautiful ski touring spots” according to French explorer and mountaineer Jean Louis Bernezat.
• The guarantee of snow cover which, according to the latest Météo France models, will make winter mountaineering, ski mountaineering and ski touring possible for at least the next 50 years.


across the region

Guides and leaders: mountain professionals on hand all year round

Take advantage of this unique region, officially recognised by the French national UNESCO Committee for Mountaineering and the French Federation of Mountaineering Clubs, to try mountaineering, in summer or winter, with the mountain guides of Bessans and Bonneval sur Arc.

5 good reasons to take up mountaineering

  1. Contemplating, pushing your boundaries
    The summits catch your eye, so why not visit them? Mountaineering calls upon your mental and physical ability to contemplate and cross landscapes you previously thought inaccessible, and offers brand new sensations. Mountaineering is all about surpassing yourself, committing yourself.
  2. Finding humility
    In the mountains, nothing is easy, there are no givens. The immaculate white stretches of winter invite contemplation. It is the mountains that decide, and mountaineering teaches us to listen to them. When safety conditions are not entirely met, mountaineers must be humble enough to turn back before reaching the summit or other objective..
  3. Experiencing thrills like the great mountaineers
    Premier de Cordée, Alpes Magazine… stories that have us dreaming of mountains. If you dream of climbing one, head for the Pointe des Fours, the Albaron, the Charbonnel or the Aiguille Rousse in the company of a guide from Bessans or Bonneval sur Arc.
  4. Meeting a mountain guide
    Have trust in the mountain guides, with their chiselled features, a passion for their “territory”, and a qualification from ENSA, the French national ski and mountaineering school. Calling upon a guide is the best approach if you’re keen to learn mountaineering properly. Your guide will introduce you to the different techniques (roping up, using crampons, handling ice axes, etc.) and also teach you to adopt a mindful approach to the mountains.
  5. Sharing a human adventure
    Nature, togetherness, thrills and a human adventure… Mountaineering promises all of the above. First and foremost, it is about solidarity and human relationships. The French expression “compagnon de cordée” (literally “rope-party companion”) is used to express the importance of being able to rely on others.

Association Bessans Bonneval-sur-Arc Terre.