Valtournenche in summer
At the foot of the Matterhorn extends the beautiful Valtournenche Valley, whose territory is between Cervinia and Chatillon.
Attempts to climb the legendary Monte Cervino gave the tourist turning point to this valley: in the 800s there were many foreign adventurers who reached the Valtournenche Valley and among these was the Englishman Edward Wuymper who, on 14 July 1865, managed to climb the Matterhorn.
Valtournenche in summer
Valtournenche is a splendid alpine valley crossed by the Marmore stream and is set between the Dora Baltea Valley, Valpelline, Vallone di Saint Barthélemy, Val d'Ayas and the Pennine Alps, among which the Matterhorn stands out.
The inhabitants of the valley call this iconic pyramidal mountain Gran Becca and, from its 4478 m. high (the third highest mountain in Italy after Mont Blanc and Monte Rosa), it is considered one of the most beautiful peaks in the world.
The Valtournenche Valley is certainly a very popular winter tourist destination, thanks to the famous Breuil – Cervinia Valtournenche ski area with 360 km of slopes.
But it's in summer that this valley shows its brightest and most luxuriant face, amidst heady scents and gaudy colours. Summer in Valtournenche allows you to enjoy days in the open air between excursions, sports and walks to discover pastures, pastures dotted with the typical rascards (barns built in wood and stone) and crystalline lakes, on whose shores you can relax with a pleasant picnic.
In any case, it is necessary to know that Valtournenche is one of the few places where it is possible ski even in full summer: the Matterhorn cable cars are in fact open during the summer, allowing the most passionate sportsmen to reach the marvelous Plateau Rosa glacier at 3458 m. of height.
The brand new one will be inaugurated in July 2023 Matterhorn Glacier Ride II Gondola which, in just 4 minutes, will connect the same Plateau Rosa to 3821 m. height of the Piccolo Cervino, part of the Monte Rosa mountain group.
Many impianti di risalita of the Valtournenche Valley are also used by lovers of two wheels, or mountain bike, freeride e Downhill: among the most popular, very panoramic routes, there are those that descend from Cime Bianche, from Plain Maison and from Plateau Rosa to Breuil Cervinia.
The latter is certainly the most famous tourist resort in the Valtournenche Valley, home to luxury boutiques and the tall building "La Casa del Sole" created by the designer Carlo Mollino, whose style stands out from the rural architecture that characterizes most part of the villages in the valley.
In Cervinia, however, there is also the Cervinia Golf Club with a beautiful 18 holes, which is one of the highest golf courses in all of Europe, being at about 2050 m. high, in a naturalistic setting that has few equals in the world.
The valley is very rich in villages to visit and among all there is valtournenche, located at 1524 m. height: the town revolves around the beautiful Church of S.Antonio Abate dating back to 1450 and restored in the mid-800th century: it is flanked by an eighteenth-century white bell tower, which creates a splendid optical effect, given the presence of the Grandes peaks in the background Murailles.
If on the external walls of the church there are tombstones dedicated to the legendary alpine guides of Valtournenche, inside it is possible to admire two exquisitely carved wooden altars, decorations by Mazzini and a high altar in polychrome marble dominated by the Stornone altarpiece.
Not to be missed is the Maison de l'Alpage, a large 600th century rascard which, in addition to the Tourist Office, houses a museum dedicated to life in the pastures: attention is focused on the geographical, historical, faunal and floral aspects , with a focus on alpine plants and Aosta Valley cow breeds.
Then there is the village of Cheneil, located in the basin of the same name in the shadow of the Grand Tournalin, used in the past as an astronomical observatory: from this small rural village you can reach the Sanctuary of Clavalitè at 2530m. high, dedicated to San Domenico Savio. It can be reached along a panoramic road partly paved by the XNUMXth century Alpine guides, which passes the Colle di Fontana Fredda arriving at this church with the Matterhorn in the background.
From Cheneil you can also reach the Great Balcony of the Matterhorn, through a panoramic lift or path n.107, which winds through the luxuriant alpine flora where curious marmots are hidden. It can also be reached from the village of Pad, a village closed to traffic, quiet and peaceful, which can be accessed from Buisson or from La Magdeleine.
From Chamois you can reach the Lod lake, located in the hamlet of Antey Saint Andrè: it is a lake of glacial origin, which can also be reached by following the famous Cammino Balteo which, in 23 stages, crosses the entire Aosta Valley.
Speaking Antey Saint Andre, in this hamlet the little ones can spend hours of fun at the La Borna Dou Djous Adventure Park, between climbing and really exciting paths among the trees.
A wooded road leads from Chamois to La Magdeleine, a village where the traces of 8 mills built along the banks of a small river that flows from Monte Tantanè are visible, which can be visited by following the Sentiero dei Mulini.
One of the places to visit in the Valtournenche Valley is the Petit Monde Ethnographic Museum a torgnon, located in a series of rascards, greneir e barn of the XV-XVIII century. Inside, rooms from the local rural past have been faithfully reconstructed, including those linked to the processing of milk and bread.
A Fountain instead arises the laboratory of Giangiuseppe Barmasse, a sculptor who works with wood in a pleasant and silent environment, showing visitors his wooden sculptures that smell like the mountains.
What to do and what to see
Spending the summer in the Valtournenche Valley means taking part in unforgettable excursions, more or less easy depending on the degree of separation. For example, by following the path n.13 you can reach the Duca degli Abbruzzi Oriondè Refuge site at 2802 m. high with a view of the Plan Maison, the Plateau Rosa and the inevitable Matterhorn.
From the refuge you can continue towards the Croce del Carrel, whose name refers to the man who in fact opened the Italian route, called Cresta del Leone, to climb the Gran Becca. The trail passes small streams, small waterfalls and the little church of the Monte Cervino battalion, built in wood and stone.
Among the easiest and most family-friendly excursions is the Path of Energy which from Chamois reaches La Magdeleine, up to Lake Lod, crossing explanatory panels related to the importance of renewable energies. Then there is the Life Path which starts from La Magdeleine and is instead dedicated to health.
From Torgnon, possibly parking the car in the parking lot of the Chantorné chairlift station, walk towards the Alpe Betsoloz lake, a small turquoise gem surrounded by verdant pastures. On the way back you can opt for the Ru Verraye road which leads to Alpe Gorzà, where there is another small lake much loved for sport fishing.
Very famous is then the Via Ferrata Gorbeillon that from 1524 m. leads to almost 1800 m. of height: the starting point is the Châtillon Castle, located 43 km from Valtournenche, truly beautiful in its eighteenth-century hall of honour, in the fifteenth-century wall paintings that adorn the library and in the Italian garden.
From the Castle, walk along the SS406 state road towards Cervinia first and then Valtournenche, up to the road that descends to Crepin. Cross the Marmore stream via a bridge. You arrive at the Barmasse Refuge and an adrenaline-pumping Tibetan bridge, after passing stretches with cables and wooded areas.
The Valtournenche Valley holds many idyllic lakes and among these there is the Lake of Maen: it is an artificial lake created following the construction of a dam. It stands near the Gouffre des Busserailles, a wonderful ravine 35 m deep. and almost 104 m long: this canyon was dug over the centuries by the force of the subglacial Marmore stream and by the waters coming from the peak of the Matterhorn.
The ravine can also be reached from Pâquier, passing the Church of Saints Crispino and Crispiano and following the path that leads to 1676 m. of Proz height.
Equally beautiful is then the Blue Lake, located with its clear blue waters at 1980 m. high: it can be reached by walking on path no. 107 starting from Breuil Cervinia.
Above this tourist resort in the Valtournenche Valley there is also the Goillet lake, at 2516 m. high: the mass of the Matterhorn is reflected in its waters and can be reached by the Plaim Maison cable car or via path no. 6 which passes through Alpe Chavannon.
From Lake Goillet you can reach the Cime Bianche lakes sites at 2812 m. high: the path is truly spectacular, between areas still covered with snow even in the height of summer and the constant view of the Plateau Rosa.
Among the excursions that can be undertaken in the Valtournenche Valley is the trek to Chamlong and the lakes present here.
The hike takes participants past Lake Charey, then climbs in areas where the vegetation is starting to thin out. It reaches 2300 m. high from the Chamlong pasture and return by passing the Colle di Champlong at 2400 m. high, to then descend into the Chamois Valley up to La Magdeleine.
Also worth a visit Mont Tantane, where the remains of a Palaeolithic village are found (which can be reached by crossing Col Pilaz and the Charey pastures) and the Loz lake. This lake mirror is located at 1700 m. approximately high, a stone's throw from the gondola lift that arrives in Salette and is surrounded by a circular path.
Holidays in the Valtournenche Valley
The Valtournenche Valley is very rich both from a naturalistic, historical and artistic point of view: a summer holiday in this corner of the Aosta Valley can only take place between outdoor sports, excursions and relaxing walks in the rural villages of the valley.
Just in the summer then there are many events that cheer up inhabitants and tourists, such as the Veilla de Valtournenche which takes place in August every two years: the streets of Valtournenche echo the sounds of ancient trades, from the sheep shearer to the stonemasons up to the Rabeilleur, who supplied the unfortunate with old medicines.
There is no shortage of singers and narrators of ancient ballads never forgotten, but above all stands where you can taste the typical products of the place, from pancakes to polenta to fiocca, freshly prepared fresh cream.
At the end of September the Dezarpa, the festival that accompanies the return of the cows from the mountain pastures from Maen to Valtournenche: the animals, especially of the red-spotted Aosta Valley breed, are dressed up with colored bows and cowbells. The cows are usually accompanied by alpine guides, ski instructors, farmers and extras in typical clothes.
Having more time available also allows you to treat yourself to more than a few evenings in restaurants and refuges to savor the cuisine of the Valtournenche Valley: don't miss the cheeses such as Fontina DOP, Toma di Chamois and Fromazdo DOP, but also the sausages.
In this regard, a visit to the historic salami factory is not to be missed Maison Bertolin in Arnad, where you can buy the Tetun, the Franbon and the potato salami Boudin.
Le accommodation in the Valtournenche Valley are many and respond to the needs of every type of tourist, from the youngest to sportsmen and families with children. You can stay in mountain huts, holiday homes, family-run pensions or hotels full of every type of comfort.
Valtournenche summer holidays
If you are considering a summer holiday in Valtournenche, below you can find some useful links to find hotels and holiday apartments.
Find Summer Offers
The best offers in the mountains in summer, in hotels, bed and breakfasts or holiday apartments