Mont Blanc with its ski lifts could overshadow cross-country skiing. In reality, fans of this discipline know that Courmayeur, especially with the tracks of Val Ferret, is one of the best environments in the whole of the Aosta Valley. To understand the wealth of possibilities, we must add the excellent snow cover, which allows you to ski from early December to late April.
The cross-country tracks in Val Ferret
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Val Ferret is one of the most famous cross-country skiing areas in the Aosta Valley. Long, wide, flat, sunny, it has all the attributes to be the ideal terrain for both beginners and champions. Endless snow fields, snowy woods, huts topped by giant snow meringues on the roof, waterfalls and streams transformed into ice flows or impressive stalactites. And then, the gigantic parade of spiers and glaciers that rises on the northwest side, with the Giant’s Tooth, the Rochefort ridge, the Grandes Jorasses, the Aiguille di Leschaux, Mont Dolent. All in a silent and uncontaminated environment. “Stuff” that only a few other places in the world can dream of … During the winter season, the valley is completely closed to traffic. The roadway then turns into a wide track, where there are distinct spaces for everyone: for those practicing the “skating” step, for those of the alternate (moreover, with double tracks for overtaking). And then also tracks for hikers with snowshoes and for walkers. The main route is a long ring that goes from Planpincieux to Lavachey, a village in the middle of the valley with huts, chalets and restaurants. The outward and return journeys take place on distinct, rather easy tracks, for a total of about 6 km. For those who wish to continue, only in rare periods, a further route starts from Lavachey, which goes as far as Arnouva. The round trip is another 6 km, a bit more demanding than the previous ones due to some climbs (and consequent descents). Keep in mind that this is an itinerary that is closed for most of the winter period and is not used due to the danger of avalanches. For those who want to ski more, perhaps facing greater difficulties, numerous side variants branch off from the main route, from 500 to 1500 m long, which reconnect with the main run. In total, imagining going to Lavachey and coming back also trying 4-5 lateral variations, you could cover almost 18 km without ever repeating the same stretch of track. Along the entire stretch from Planpincieux to Lavachey there are numerous chalets and restaurants for a break or for refreshment. But not only. It can often happen to see someone comfortably spread out on a deckchair enjoying the midday sun, which from the end of January can be hot…
Other ski areas nearbyBeing in the same location for several days, it is normal that you may want to change from time to time. From this point of view too Courmayeur is generous. A small cross-country track, for example, can be found in Dolonne, a short distance from the gondola lift to Plan Checrouit. But good alternatives for practicing cross-country skiing are found both in the Aosta Valley and in France, although few at the level of the Val Ferret. A 23 km drive from Courmayeur you can reach the Arpy-Morgex area, close to Colle San Carlo. It can also be reached from Morgex in 8.5 km. It consists of a main ring, around which 6 routes from 1 to 7.5 km wind, with increasing difficulty from easy to difficult (blue, red, black). At the Foyer de Fond, it is possible to rent equipment and arrange lessons with cross-country instructors. A little further away, in La Thuile, is the cross-country skiing circuit of the Arly plain. The tracks wind through snow-covered fields and woods, creating routes of various lengths and difficulties. Even further away, about 1 hour by car you can reach Cogne, with its vast 45 km area, where the famous Marcia Gran Paradiso is yearly held. Going through the Mont Blanc tunnel, you reach the French side. Here you can choose between the two ski areas of Chamonix Les Bois and Argentière, with routes of easy or medium difficulty, between 1 and 11.6 km.
Access to the tracks and servicesIn winter, not only Val Ferret is closed to private traffic, but also Planpincieux, the starting point for cross-country skiing. How to go there, then? Easier than it might seem! You get to Planpincieux with the shuttle bus that from Entreves takes you in just over 5′ near the start of the slopes and the main rentals. The shuttle stops almost in front of Hotel Aigle. In Planpincieux there is the Foyer de Fond and the Bonora shop, where you can rent all the equipment and buy the daily ski pass. Other rentals are available in Courmayeur. Cross-country skiing lessons in Courmayeur are held by instructors from the Mont Blanc Ski School. Lessons can be individual or for small groups. The appointment with the instructors takes place in Planpincieux.
The strategic location of the Hotel Aigle near the crossroads between Val Ferret, Val Veny, the state road to Aosta and the Mont Blanc tunnel, makes it the ideal solution for cross-country skiers. In fact, the shuttle bus stop for Val Ferret is almost in front of the hotel. So you don’t even need to move the car. In addition, if you want to try the facilities of other locations in the Aosta Valley or in France, you can quickly take the state road to reach Morgex and La Thuile, or the tunnel to Chamonix. In an equally simple way, you can take the motorway to reach Aosta, Cogne and more distant places. For those who need to rent equipment, buy skis and accessories, or book cross-country skiing lessons, the staff of the Aigle Hotel is always ready to provide information and, if necessary, to solve any problems.
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