Aussois Sardieres Hiver Monolithe Ski De Fond©a.magnenotAussois Sardieres Hiver Monolithe Ski De Fond©a.magnenot
©Aussois Sardieres Hiver Monolithe Ski De Fond©a.magnenot|Alicia Magnenot

It is second nature for mountain enthusiasts to climb every rock they come across, and the Monolith was conquered for the very first time in 1957, by Michel Paquier. Making this climb has become a must-do for climbers who enjoy a thrilling challenge.
It was also here, on this very special spot at the foot of the Vanoise mountains, that a ceremony was held on 26th June 1965 to mark the opening of the Vanoise National Park, the very first French national park created for the purpose of protecting the outstanding flora and fauna.

The four kilometres that separate Aussois village from the Monolith of Sardières (indeed, the monolith stands in Val Cenis Sollières-Sardières) can be covered in any season, on foot, by bike, mountain bike, scooter or fatbike, or on skis, as well as by car from May to November.

In winter, the road becomes a Nordic ski trail and leads to the village of Sardières where the cross-country skiing centre can be found with a picnic room.

The Monolith Nordic area between Aussois and Sardières boasts 39km of maintained, waymarked trails for both classic-style and skate-style cross-country skiers. Ideal for beginners, but perfect for training too.

For a day’s snowshoeing, the Blanche trail is a must-do! From the Aussois Cross (1km outside the village of Aussois on the way to Sardières), this 7.5km groomed and waymarked trail offers a 215-metre elevation gain and can be freely accessed.

What better way to recharge your batteries in such generous natural surroundings against a backdrop of white snow, blue sky, green forest, and the silent, gentle warmth of the sun’s rays, all at an ideal elevation of 1,500 metres above sea level.

For several years now, in the Monolith forest, it hasn’t been rare to come across a mountain biker with a chainsaw in his rucksack… but where is he going? To do what? He is not a lumberjack, but an artist who unleashes his creativity on the trees that grow naturally around him. Serge Couvert, the sculptor from Aussois, carves trees into shapes that suggest families and happiness. What a pleasure it is to follow the “Sculpture Trail”, a land-art itinerary where each artwork has a name that resonates: “Fraternity”, “Liberty”, “Panic at the summit”, “A moai statue in winter”, “Tototte” (baby’s dummy), and so on. An original walk enhanced by an experience of the senses, visual discoveries, and the chance to let your mind wander in the forest.

Walking, mountain biking or snowshoeing along the forest paths, you’ll discover the Arponts plateau (mountain chalets and a vast prairie that you’ll reach after passing Jomier), then the Fournette Spring and the Chappe telegraph (a component of the very first point-to-point air and optics telegraphy system of mechanical design).

This Monolith site does indeed have a mine of curiosities as well as a landmark! In this forest, timber is a family affair when it comes to wood for heating, morel mushrooms can be found in spring, and any excuse is good enough to enjoy a pleasant walk whatever the time of year!