Val Cenis in summer
Parks and nature reserves are one of the main treasures of France and the Vanoise National Park is certainly among the most beautiful: established in 1963, it is the oldest in the country and connected to the Italian Gran Paradiso National Park.
Green valleys, lakes, peaks exceeding 3000 m. high and enchanting villages, among which it stands out Val Cenis. It is located in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, in the heart of the Savoie department and was in fact born in 2017 from the merger of the villages of Termignon, Sollières-Sardières, Lanslevillard, Lanslebourg-Mont Cenis and Bramans.
Val Cenis is the perfect destination for spending holidays surrounded by unspoilt nature, all year round and in every season: if during the cold season it is a very popular ski resort thanks to its 125 km of slopes, in summer it becomes the perfect place to go hiking throughout the area.
Summer in Val Cenis
Val Cenis can be considered a widespread municipality located in the shadow of the Moncenisio Alps, right on the border with the Italian territory. If in winter everything is muffled and almost silent, in summer Val Cenis becomes a lively territory, with the animals of the woods awakening from hibernation, the valleys that take on a bright green color and the lakes that enchant you with their crystalline waters.
This landscape wealth also makes it pleasant to practice sports activities outdoors, such as canyoning, mountaineering (towards peaks over 3000 m high such as the Grande Casse, the Charbonnel, the Dent Parrachéè and the Albaron) and the fishery at the wonderful mountain lakes of Bellecombe, Lac Blanc and the Luc du Mont Cenis site at 1974 m. high: near the latter, in whose waters the Petit Mont Cenis and the Punta di Ronce are reflected, it is possible to fish the cristivomer fish.
In Val Cenis you can also fly over the landscapes on board a ultralightperhaps recognizing the places in Haute Maurienne Vanoise where some of the most beautiful scenes of the film were shot “Belle and Sebastien: the adventure continues”.
Then remember that the impianti di risalita of Val Cenis are also open in summer, both the Vieux Moulin with the Solert chairlift, and the Girarde and the Roches Blanches chairlift. In this way it is possible to reach the starting points for excursions on foot, among the most spectacular in the French Alps.
Among the things to visit in Val Cenis is the Mont Cenis dam, the largest in France made entirely of rock: it was built between 1962 and 1968 to feed the Villarodin hydroelectric plant, thus producing 100% renewable energy, so much so that Val Cenis was awarded the Green Snowflake ( recognition that rewards the locality's commitment to promoting a life and tourism that are as eco-sustainable as possible).
To enjoy the best view of the dam, it is recommended to go to the viewing platform of the Canopee des Cimes, located on top of the Met at 2800 m. high: it is literally suspended in the air and can be reached with the Solert chairlift.
A tour to Val Cenis then allows tourists to discover the numerous chapels and enchanting churches, partly in that Baroque style which developed in the XNUMXth century in French Savoy. There is for example the Church of Nostre Dame de l'Assomption a Termignon, complete with a characteristic bell tower with a stone spire: inside there are 5 altarpieces, among which that of the Rosary stands out.
Then they are beautiful Sebastian chapel And that of Saint Roch, both a Lanslevillard: in the first you can admire the wall paintings narrating the life of San Sebastiano and historical episodes of the place such as the bubonic plague of the fourteenth century.
A bramans you can visit the church of Saint-Pierre d'Extravache, a Romanesque building that seems to have been founded by two disciples of the apostle Peter: the oldest and most visible part of this church, now in ruins, is the apse dating back to the XNUMXth century.
Finally, the late medieval one is not to be missed Chapel of Saint Antoine a Bessan, inside which there are 40 finely painted panels with scenes dedicated to the peasant life of the past, including Baroque sculptures and a carved wooden ceiling to simulate a starry vault.
In Val Cenis, in the locality of Sollières- Sardières, is the Balme Cave, formed about 13.000 years ago at the time of the last Würm glaciation. Man settled there at least 5600 years ago and tools, ceramics and arrowheads have been found inside, artifacts that narrate a time span that covers the Paleolithic, the Neolithic, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age .
What to do and what to see
There are many paths that allow hikers or simple walkers to explore the Val Cenis area, both on foot and by mountain bike: those who love two wheels can, for example, pedal through the dense and fragrant larch forests from Planay to Bramans or through the woods of Lansleburg and Termignon.
The more trained can try their hand at the challenging one Via Ferrata du Diable or on the easy Via Ferrata du Pichet, whose name recalls the cliff under which this route winds its way.
From Passo del Colle del Moncenisio starts a path which, with a slight difference in height of 448 m. and with only one stretch of rope present, leads to Turra Fort, located at 2529 m. of height. It was built on the vast plateau of Mont Cenis by the French, perched on a promontory, overlooking all of Haute Maurienne Vanoise and the Mont Cenis lake. You can clearly see the 2 bastions and 2 drawbridges, as well as the observatory which can still be visited today.
Another forte is to Bramble, located at 2280 m. high: it is a very particular circular construction, sunk into the ground and on two levels, from which rifles and cannons fired. The hike that leads to the fort passes along a path that crosses pastures dotted with bluebells and violets, also skirting Lake Clair at 2755m. high, whose fresh waters derive from the melting of the Lamet glacier.
Descending to 1620 m. high there is a crossroads: turning right you come across a fairly ruined pasture which bears a plaque, which recalls the adventures of the German soldier Hörnle who, passionate about mountaineering, decided to climb Punta Roncia. At that moment, however, he was seen by French patrols, in the midst of the Second World War and, rather than give up and fall into enemy hands, he literally let himself fall into the void from Pass du Chapeau, however only breaking his arm.
The villages of Termignon, where the tasty cheese is produced Termignon Bleau with strictly raw cow's milk, but also bramans: the latter village is famous for its past, since Hannibal passed through here in 218 BC with his retinue of 37 elephants, before crossing the Clapier Pass and setting out to face the Romans.
Among the most pleasant walks that can be done in Val Cenis is the You des Plantes, a beautiful thematic itinerary dedicated to the hundreds of species of wild and aromatic plants. In reality, this route largely coincides with the Via del Sale, i.e. the mule track that connected Termignon to Pralognan, used until the XNUMXth century by salt merchants. The same salt was extracted from the waters of the Moutiers and was transported by donkey throughout the Haute Maurienne Vanoise, until it reached Piedmont.
From Val Cenis it is also possible to reach the adjacent territory of Also, still in the Savoie department, to visit the beautiful ones for example Forts of the Eissilion, a fortified complex built in the first half of the 800th century when the territory was still in the hands of the Kingdom of Sardinia and Piedmont, with the aim of defending it from the French.
All five of them rise in a scenic glacial basin and, among all, the visitor is most struck by Fort Victor Emmanuel, the largest and most majestic, extended on the side of the mountain as if it were terraced. The little ones can also participate in a treasure hunt along the Promenade Savoyarde de Decouvert, thus collecting a series of clues to thus get to free the lieutenant imprisoned in the fort.
Not to be missed is the Monolith, a 93 m high menhir. which rises from a dense forest of larches and spruces, in the locality of Sollières-Sardières: it is made up of dolomitic limestone and the impact, for those who walk on the path that winds into the Monolith Forest, is truly spectacular.
There are not a few mountaineers who have tried to climb this suggestive monolith and the first to succeed in the enterprise was Michel Paquier back in 1957. In this regard, the route also partly coincides with the Path of Sculptures, with wooden works by Couvert hidden behind shady trees.
Those who love ancient history and archeology cannot fail to organize an excursion to the vault of the Lozes Park, reachable starting from the locality of Aussois. In this area, which can be visited via two well-signposted educational itineraries, stone engravings have been found, made in the Neolithic and Iron Ages.
Among the most beautiful excursions to do in the summer around Val Cenis is the one that leads to Pointe de l'Observatoire: it is a peak that touches 3016 m. high, located between the Maurienne Valley and the Tarentaise. The route starts from the car park located near the dam of the Plan d'Amont artificial lake and continues up to Fond d'Aussoise, a verdant plateau in the heart of the Nanoise National Park. Here there is a refuge, perfect for a refreshment stop before resuming the excursion towards the final destination, the Pointe de l'Observatoire.
Holidays in Val Cenis
Choosing to spend the summer in Val Cenis means spending as much time as possible in the open air, playing sports, walking and hiking, discovering the surrounding area.
Having two weeks available also means being able to treat yourself to some pampering, such as stopping in one of the restaurants in the village or in the refuges to taste the traditional cuisine of Val Cenis and Savoy, therefore without always having frugal meals between one trip and another. Among the dishes to be tasted absolutely in Val Cenis there are the truffade made with cheese, patai e bacon, the Points with prunes and pork, the cheeses (dal Blue al Saint-Nectaire up to Beoufort DOP), honey and beer prepared with water from the Venoise glaciers. It is then recommended di do not miss a tasting of local wines such as the Beaujolais, Côtes du Rhône e Savoy.
There is no holiday without festivals and celebrations and Val Cenis is certainly no less: for example, at the end of August the Val Cenis Tango Festival, dedicated to that Argentine dance that still today binds the inhabitants of Val Cenis to those who emigrated. Among dj-sets, concerts and dance lessons, the most exciting moment of the festival is the Milonga de las Nubes, which takes place on the panoramic Mont Cenis Pass at 2100 m. of height.
Trekking lovers, on the other hand, can participate in the Trail EDF Cenis Tour which takes place in the first days of August: the Haute Maurienne Vanoise allows enthusiasts of all ages to walk to discover enchanting landscapes, on routes ranging from the 6 km long one to the 78 km long path.
Staying in Val Cenis means having a wide choice of accommodation, including tourist villages, hotels with SPAs, B&Bs, holiday homes, cheap family-run hotels or luxury hotels. In Val Cenis you can also sleep in rather original and unusual lodgings, such as the barns renovated using only natural materials or in the yurts of the Haute Maurienne, those typical Asian dwellings declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Val Cenis summer holidays
If you are considering a summer holiday in Val Cenis, below you can find some useful links to find hotels and holiday apartments.
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