Valfrejus in summer
Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes is one of the most beautiful regions of France, proving to be a mix of unspoiled nature, history, art and gastronomy: in this region there are 9 regional parks and 2 national parks, which preserve lakes, volcanoes such as Puy de Dôme, high mountains and postcard villages like Modane.
It stands on the banks of the Arc River within the wonderful Vanoise National Park and its main ski resort is Valfrejus. His name evokes the famous Punta del Fréjus, a 2936 m high mountain, located between Modane and Bardonecchia, an Italian town located in the Piedmontese Val di Susa. Fréjus also gave its name to the famous tunnel, both road and rail, which connects France with neighboring Italy.
Certainly winter is the ideal season to fully enjoy the Valfréjus ski area, not to mention that it is also possible to ski on the slopes of the nearby Also, Bessans e Val Cenis. For those who want to discover the most hidden face of Valfréjus, then they can organize a holiday in the summer, thus discovering an immense heritage made up of forts, churches, museums, lakes and mountains to climb.
Summer in Valfréjus
Valfréjus is a renowned ski resort in the Vanoise National Park and is located at 1550 m. high, at the foot of the Mont Cenis massif and the Cime du Grand Vallon (also known as Punta Bagna). The buildings that you meet in Valfréjus were built in an architectural style that blends perfectly into the surrounding landscape, with the vast forest of fir and larch that surrounds it.
There is no season that is not perfect for visiting Valfréjus and its surroundings, but summer is the one that best allows you to experience the locality in all its facets.
In Valfréjus you can take mountain-bike rides or a horse riding: in this regard, in the middle of the summer season, between 23 and 29 August, the week dedicated to horseback riding takes place in Valfréjus, on paths that wind through the heart of the enchanting Vanoise National Park. In Valfréjus you can relax with the fishery in the Gran Vallon stream or in the beautiful lakes of Saint Marguerite, enjoying a silent and bucolic atmosphere of a naturalistic scenery that is nothing short of enchanting.
Those who love more adrenaline-pumping emotions, on the other hand, can test their skills on the zip line which, between one tree and another, fly over the stream and the Charmaix valley.
For the little ones, however, there is the beautiful one aquatic area of 600 square meters, built on the banks of the Charmaix, in a luxuriant forest area which also has picnic areas, a playground and obviously the possibility of dipping your feet in the stream, an opportunity that both children and adults will appreciate.
Valfréjus is a ski resort but in the very close Modane, 9,7 km away, there are many things to visit: the village, where there is also a Bob Park, is very pretty, with quite brightly colored houses and balconies in wrought iron. In the central Place de l'Hôtel de Ville there is a beautiful one historical fountain, considered a National Monument, built in 1572.
Walking through the alleys of Modane you have the opportunity to reach the Leaning House, an old barracks largely hit by the bombs of the Germans during the Second World War: the building has now become the seat of a very interesting museum which, as evident from the appearance of the house, is dedicated to the altered perception of equilibrium .
Among the main places of worship in Modane, the Chapel of Saint Jacques à Loutraz and especially the Church of Notre Dame de l'Assomption: the latter, after being destroyed by Allied bombing in September 1943, was completely restored in the mid-900s, with only the bell tower recalling the ancient appearance of the church. Going beyond the facade with three arches, you can admire frescoes inside depicting the Virgin Mary among angels and others dedicated to scenes from the life of ancient Modane.
Not to be missed is also the Chapel of Our Lady of Charmaix, a small XNUMXth century jewel built on a cliff, on the edge of a gorge crossed by the Gran Vallon stream, which can be overcome thanks to a picturesque stone bridge. Pilgrimage destination especially on the first Sunday of September, it houses a beautiful XNUMXth century altarpiece and a Black Madonna, dressed in gold-embroidered clothes. The statue of the Virgin, to which miraculous events are attributed, is located in a chapel, on whose walls there are many votive offerings.
Not to be missed is the Museobar, the Modane Border Museum, which allows visitors to learn about the history of Modane and Valfréjus: attention is focused on customs activities, on the construction of the international railway station and on the daily life of the past. The reference period is 1860, i.e. the year in which, with the Treaty of Turin, Modane was annexed to France.
Il Fort Saint Gobain it is another symbolic place of Valfréjus, with the barracks and galleries that can still be visited today: its importance is linked to its having belonged to the infamous Maginot line.
Then there is the Fort du Replaton which, from its 1210 m. high, it dominates Modane and the Valle dell'Arco. It was built between 1885 and 1891 with the aim of controlling the entrance to the famous Fréjus Tunnel: it could house a very large garrison, complete with heavy armaments. Like Fort Saint Gobain, this too was incorporated into the Maginot Line, later proving to be important in the victorious battle against the Italian troops.
What to do and what to see
Experiencing summer in Valfréjus obviously means spending as much time as possible outdoors, enjoying the lush nature that kisses this corner of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes.
For this reason, hiking is the most popular activity for holidaymakers in Valfréjus: one of the most beautiful routes is the one that leads to summit of Mount Thabor (3178 m. high). It starts from Le Lavoir and begins the excursion along the GR5, crossing green pastures with a view of the Cervin, the Grandes Jorasses, the Grande Casse and Mont Viso.
The road passes through the pastures of the Replanette and runs alongside the Col de Vallée Etrite at 2434m. of height. After a stop at Rifugio Thabor, climb up to Lac du Peyron at 2430 m. high, proceed towards the Col des Méandes and arrive at the top, in a very suggestive lunar landscape.
From Le Lavoir, passing through the Mounioz Refuge, you can also get to the Lakes of Sainte Marguerite, in whose clear waters brown trout swim: there are two lake mirrors, the Rond and the Longa, even if in the past there was also the Lago della Grande Montagna, now dried up.
At the foot of Mount Thabor, between Modane, Orelle and Valmeiner, is the Natura 2000 site of the Thabor: the area extends between 1750 m. and 3178 m. high and, despite being little known, it shows an incredible landscape richness, between heaths, screes, prairies and high altitude wetlands. The site is populated by many fauna species, in particular ptarmigan, chamois and black grouse and, by organizing an excursion here, it is possible to spot some specimens.
In Valfréjus there is the beautiful Via Ferrata of the Gran Vallon where everyone, complete with a helmet, harness and safety lanyard, can enjoy the panoramas of Valfréjus from a unique perspective.
The via ferrata is made up of pegs, ladders, rope bridges and walkways and starts at the arrival point of the Charmasson chairlift.
There are many paths that start from Valfréjus, some of which lead to the small village of Les Herbes or Lac de la Partie: the waters of this high altitude lake are crystalline and pure and high peaks and the Polset glacier are reflected in it. The road to arrive, which also leads to the Chavière Pass, is really pleasant to travel, entering the forest of firs and pines, in a silent atmosphere interrupted only by the whistle of a few marmots.
The Sentiero della Selvaggina instead leads to the summit of the Col du Petit Argentier, at 2635 m. high: the road passes by Lavoir and Pas du Roc at 2323 m. high and then touch the summit.
From Valfréjus you can also reach the bucolic Narrow Valley, crossed by the course of the river of the same name: partly falling within the Italian Val di Susa, it is a veritable riot of pastures, meadows in flower and woods, with the mass of Mount Thabor dominating the landscape.
Moving to the nearby Aussois territory, one can instead visit the spectacular Monolith forest where, among spruces, mountain pines and larch stands the Monolith: it is an ancient limestone monolith of the The Dolomites, 93 m high. and clearly visible from every point of the forest. The Monolith rises to 1670 m. high in the territory of Sollières-Sardières and can be reached by following the pleasant Path of Sculptures, dotted here and there with wooden works created by Couvert.
The beautiful ones also arise in Aussois Forts of the Eissilion, built between 1819 and 1834 to stem the French advance, in a period in which the territory was part of the Kingdom of Piedmont and Sardinia. Worth visiting are the largest Fort Victor Emmanuel and the Redoubt Marie Thérèse, which can be accessed through the legendary Devil's Bridge, built according to ancestral tales, with the help of the Devil himself.
Remaining in the Aussois area, which is just over 16 km away, it is advisable to visit the Parc Archeologique des Lozes where prehistoric stone carvings have been found which testify how man inhabited this land since the Neolithic.
Finally, you can take part in the exciting excursion that leads to the top of the Pointe de l'Observatory, at 3016 m. of height. The path starts from Plan d'Amor and leads to Fond d'Aussois, the verdant plateau of the Vanoise National Park, also passing through Col d'Aussoise and Pralognan La Vanoise. During this excursion it is possible to retire to the refuge present at the Fond d'Aussoise, where the small Chapel of Notre Dame des Anges is also present.
Holidays in Valfrejus
A self-respecting holiday cannot be reduced to the simple discovery of little-known villages and naturalistic gems, but it also means discovering the folkloristic and gastronomic face of the area. This is true for Valfréjus, Modane and its surroundings: for this reason, the perfect period for a summer holiday in this corner of French Savoy is around 15 20-days.
In this period of time it is also possible to go on rather long excursions, which perhaps require an entire day, including a stop in one of the refuges present: there is no better place to taste the typical dishes of Savoy and therefore also of Modane, famous for its fragrant bread.
Honey and cheeses are the pride of the entire region, especially the Fourme d'Ambert, Auvergne blue, Beoufort PDO and the Saint Nectair; do not miss the classic squeegee, Potée Alverniate (cabbage and meat stew), the Points with chard, minced meat and prunes, but also the truffade prepared with cheese, bacon and potatoes. Reaching the nearby Aussoise it is also possible to visit the Honey Factory and the Brasseriè d'Oè, where you can taste the local craft beer rigorously prepared with water that flows from the Venoise glaciers: the environment is modern, with some period furniture and a splendid panoramic terrace.
In the surroundings of Valfréjus, particularly in Aussoise or in Val Cenis, a series of summer events which are truly unmissable if you want to get to know the traditions, folklore and culture of the area: think, for example, of the Argentine Tango Festival in Val Cenis or the feast in honor of the Virgin on August 15th in Aussoise.
For even a relaxing holiday, it is important to choose the accommodation best suited to your needs, whether they are for young people, for sports or for families with children. In Valfréjus there is no shortage of family-run pensions, B&Bs, luxury hotels: there is always the possibility of finding a refuge that also includes overnight stays, to sleep and always wake up with the Alps in the background.
Photo credits: valfrejus.com
Valfréjus summer holidays
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