Things to Do at the Heart of the Alps in Spring

In Haute Maurienne Vanoise, spring is the season of rejuvenation. Snow still blankets the mountain peaks but nature is waking up and lending magnificent colours to the wide open spaces. Spring is a fantastic time to enjoy all our region has to offer.

Back to Nature

Spring is the season of nature’s renewal. The trees are budding and hibernating animals, like marmots, are waking up. In the flower-filled Alpine pastures, it is easier to spot wildlife. The mountains, with less people around at this time of year, have some big advantages as a holiday destination away from the crowds: you can take the opportunity to pick wild flowers with professionals and guides. You can even taste some of the plants or make a recipe using natural flavours (like dandelion or birch). When the snow melts, you can also admire some magnificent temporary waterfalls, like the ones that hurtle down from the Vanoise massif on the Bessans plateau.

Spring is also a great opportunity to get those muscles working again, with the Mont Cenis and Iseran passes opening to cyclists, or to try out ski touring (traditionally known as ski de printemps or ‘spring skiing’ in French). Or why not take on a new adrenaline-filled challenge with via ferrata or a high ropes course, for example?

Get Up Close and Personal With Mountain Passes By Bike

Mont Cenis and Iseran, two mountain passes that cyclists in the Tour de France dream of – or perhaps dread – cycling, sit at 2,081m and 2,764m in altitude respectively. Daredevils and experienced hill-climbers can choose between different elevation gains. A gentler climb on the Mont Cenis pass setting off from Val Cenis-Lanslebourg (700m) and a more challenging one taking the Iseran pass from Bonneval sur Arc (1300m).

The Mont Cenis pass is open as of 29 April and you can even take it all the way to Susa (Italy) to treat yourself to a gelato or pizza (subject to Italian COVID-19-related entry requirements). As for the Iseran pass, the road will need to be completely cleared of snow before it can be opened to traffic (opening 10 June 2022, subject to weather conditions).

Climbing this pass in June and passing between walls of snow is a one-of-a-kind experience for any cyclist.

The Joys of Marmot Watching

Go out looking for marmots and listening out for their loud, piercing calls in mountain pastures, along the sides of the trails and on sunny slopes dotted with rocks. In the spring, it is easy to spot this fascinating little mountain animal in the Mont Cenis massif, in the Orgère valley and in Bellecombe at the edge of the Parc National de la Vanoise.

After months of hibernating, marmots are not very shy in the spring. It’s also the best time to see baby marmots playing together.

Smiles guaranteed 😀on your social media!

Where Is (Still) Good for Trying Ski Touring?

With pleasant temperatures and plenty of snow remaining, the heights of Bessans and Bonneval sur Arc promise a great ski touring climb. The Bessans Bonneval-sur-Arc area, recognised as ‘Mountaineering Terrain’, offers a wide choice of trails and routes. Accompanied by a guide, discover the world of ski touring: the untouched landscapes at sunrise, the silence, the emotions of the climb, the descent and the arrival at the summit. The Carro, Evettes and Avérole mountain refuges are open for use but remain unstaffed.

For a long time, ski touring was known as ski de printemps (‘spring skiing’) in France. This was because it was done at the end of winter, when the conditions were right for it – and the ski lifts were closed!

Connect With Nature

Among the wild flowers of the mountains, you can find some that are edible, medicinal and full of benefits!

For a mix of gentle hiking and learning about Alpine plants, there is a mountain guide in Aussois who combines walks with low elevation differences through the spectacular scenery of Haute Maurienne Vanoise (dry grasslands, meadows, forests, etc.) with workshops where you’ll learn how to spot, identify, pick in line with the rules, prepare and enjoy these precious gifts that Mother Nature has given us.

→ Make a booking with a guide

Get Adventurous

Fancy experiencing new thrills, seeing new scenery and places brimming with history? Well, you can with the  longest ‘via ferrata’ in Europe (7 stretches joined on to one another), below the Forts de l’Esseillon, remnants of the defences of the House of Savoy, or at the Parc du diable, the longest treetop adventure course in the whole of the Savoie region:  230 challenges at all difficulty levels, spread across 25 different circuits.

Both of these activities and the equipment you’ll need are available in the spring, an ideal time to go while these places are not yet very busy.

The Peak of Wellness

Want to develop strength and flexibility, relieve yourself of stress, find inner stability and admire the nature of Haute Maurienne Vanoise? All possible with Hatha yoga, a broad approach to yoga; you’ll explore its many facets practising poses, breathing techniques and meditation.

At high altitude and surrounded by nature with a stunning view of the peaks of the Mont Cenis massif, you can reinvigorate your body and mind while the colours of summer return around you… Perfect for recharging your batteries over the space of a zen weekend!

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