On its way north-west, the Aosta Valley ends at the foot of the Mont Blanc massif in the Entrèves plain, just beyond Courmayeur. Here it branches into two large valleys that flank the Mont Blanc chain.
Looking at Mont Blanc from Entrèves, Val Veny is the one on the left.
Compared to the opposite Val Ferret, Val Veny appears more harsh, grim and glacial. This is mainly due to the colossal moraines of the Brenva and Miage glaciers which, descending from their lateral valleys on the left side, invade the valley and block it.
Morphology of the Val Veny
Val Veny is a straight glacial valley, parallel to the Mont Blanc chain. It stretches for about 13 km in a southwest direction from Entrèves to the Col de la Seigne (2512 m), where the border with France is located.
The orographic left flank is dominated by the south-western sector of the long chain of Mont Blanc, which overlooks the valley with rocky ridges, terraces, glacial valleys, moraines. Among the most important peaks: Mont Blanc itself, the Aiguille Noire du Peutérey, the Brouillard ridge, the Aiguille du Trélatéte and the Aiguille des Glaciers. Deep glacial valleys furrow the massif, enclosing gigantic glaciers that descend to the valley: the Brenva glacier and the Miage glacier.
The right side is also steep, but wooded and alpine at high altitudes. The peaks are not particularly high (barely touching 3000 m) and separate the Val Veny from the side valleys of the La Thuile area.
At the bottom of the valley flows the Dora di Val Veny, an impetuous stream fed by the melting waters of the glaciers, which at the exit of the valley merges with the Dora di Val Ferret to form the Dora Baltea.
Val Veny from top to bottom
Proceeding in the opposite direction to the course of the stream, from the mouth of the valley towards the Col du Grand Ferret, four sections can be distinguished.
- The first section, at the end in the Entreves plain, is dominated by the terminal tongue and the lateral moraines of the Brenva glacier. The road climbs up with a few bends on the left of Entrèves and touches the sanctuary of Notre-Dame de la Guérison, the white church that in many postcard images can be seen standing out on the picturesque shape of Mont Blanc.
- A second flat section follows, Plan Veny, characterized by groves, meadows and clearings, where spaces have been created for picnics and campsites and car parks. Almost at the beginning, the village of La Zerotta rises, consisting of huts, chalets, small restaurants and from where a powerful chairlift starts. A bridge leads on the left side of the stream to the village of Peutérey, located under the suggestive pyramid of the Aiguille Noire du Peutérey.
After a few clearings and a few hairpin bends, you reach Visaille, a small group of houses located opposite the enormous mass of Mont Blanc, with its famous pillars and the Freney and Brouillard glaciers. Immediately afterwards, the valley is interrupted by the Miage glacier, which flows out from a deep side valley to the left of Mont Blanc, creating a sort of barrier with its large moraines.
The third sector begins with a gorge between the moraine and the stream, crossed by a stretch of road that is still asphalted. A little further on, the valley leaves behind the side of the moraine (impressive) and opens into a vast grassy plateau, where the stream flows calmly and forms Lake Combal. At the beginning of the plain, a system of paths allows you to climb up to the edge of the moraine, from where you can easily reach one of the wonders of the area: Lake Miage. It is a small glacial lake enclosed in part by the moraine and in part by the mass of the looming glacier.
The valley continues flat for almost a kilometer, until the confluence from the right of the glacial valley that descends from the Aiguille des Glaciers. Here the valley rises and on the right is closed by the Pyramides Calcaires, a group of limestone, bare and rocky towers. Almost at the base, you can see the Elisabetta Soldini Refuge (2195 m).
- The last stretch of the valley is the Vallone de la Lex Blanche. A succession of slopes and valleys, partly grassy and partly stony, flank the Pyramides Calcaires at the base and with a last leap reach the 2512 m of the Col de la Seigne. The pass represents the border point with France and is also one of the most important passages of the Mont Blanc Tour.
Attractions in Val Veny
Val Veny is a protected area for its high landscape and naturalistic value.
Mont Blanc shows its most impressive face from this side, with an alternation of powerful views and picturesque landscapes.
In front of Visaille it rises majestically with its rocky peak, from which impervious ridges (Peutérey, Innominata and Brouillard) and great ice flows (Freney and Brouillard glaciers) descend. Further on, looking backwards from the Combal plain, beyond the gray stripe of the moraine, Peutérey’s sharp crest draws one of the most elegant lines known. Further ahead, you can enjoy in all its magnificence the scenographic contrast between the rocky and icy masses of the Aiguille du Trélatéte and the harsh and naked silhouettes of the Pyramides Calcaires.
But from a naturalistic point of view, the valley has many other attractions. First of all, the incredible spectacle of the glacier that flows into the gray waters of Lake Miage. Moreover, the Miage glacier is a marvel in itself. It is, in fact, the only example in Europe of a Himalayan type glacier. A glacier, that is, without a glacial basin and fed by the confluence of other glaciers. Among other things, the low altitude it reaches allows anyone the thrill of walking on it without any danger and without the need to wear crampons.
Some points of the valley, in particular the slope leading to the Rainetto Bivouac and the Estellette valley, are excellent observation points for chamois and ibex.
Activities and sports in Val Veny
During the summer season, Val Veny is a wonderful terrain for both hiking and mountain biking.
The level of the excursions can range from very easy to very difficult, in some cases to the limit of mountaineering difficulties. The most typical destinations are the numerous lakes in the area, the passes at high altitude, the refuges and bivouacs in the Mont Blanc group.
Furthermore, Val Veny is part of the Tour du Mont Blanc. The famous itinerary comes from Savoy through the Col de la Seigne and continues to Lake Combal, from where it climbs to Lake Checrouit, to descend to Courmayeur. The route is very popular and before Covid-19 it was not uncommon to come across hikers from all over the world.
For mountain bike enthusiasts a typical itinerary is to travel the Val Veny from Courmayeur to the Elisabetta Refuge. The more experienced, on the other hand, follow the same itinerary as the Tour du Mont Blanc.
Typical activity in Val Veny is mountaineering. Many of the most classic and famous itineraries take place in its basin. For example, the Italian route to Mont Blanc, the Peutérey ridge, the Innominata ridge, the great routes on the Brenva basin and the routes on the famous pillars of Mont Blanc.
During the winter season the valley is deserted, except for the area around La Zerotta, where the ski facilities are located. Higher up, over 2000 meters, the vast Courmayeur Mont Blanc Checrouit-Val Veny ski area extends.
Val Veny is also a terrain for ski mountaineering and freeride descents.
A destination for all seasons is a visit to the Sanctuary of Notre-Dame de Guérison, located at the beginning of the valley.
Connections and centers in Val Veny
Val Veny is connected to Courmayeur by a carriage road. Take it from the Larzey-Entrèves municipal road, shortly after Courmayeur, on the left, at La Saxe. The road can be followed up to Visaille, where the bus lines also end. From there on you can only proceed on foot or by bicycle.
In winter the road is closed to cars, so the valley can be reached in two ways: by snowmobile or by the ski lifts and downhill slopes of the Courmayeur Mont Blanc Checrouit-Val Veny ski area.
The difficult accessibility and the status of a protected area mean that the Val Veny is not very inhabited. The only centers are the localities of La Zerotta, Peutérey and Visaille, small groups of huts, chalets, holiday homes and campsites. For the rest, the valley has only a few huts (almost no mountain pastures), refuges and high mountain bivouacs.
Services and support points in Val Veny
Val Veny is served by a bus line departing from Courmayeur’s Piazzale Mont Blanc to Visaille. The service operates during the summer season. The stops are in all inhabited centers and parking areas in the valley, to allow drivers to leave the car in the first free place.
Closed as it is in winter, Val Veny certainly does not have the facilities and services typical of a normal Alpine valley. However, it has everything you need for summer tourism and, in the case of La Zerotta, also for skiing.
Along the valley, before Visaille, you can find campsites, holiday homes, chalets, small restaurants. There are plenty of refreshment points in La Zerotta and in the main high-altitude points touched by the ski lifts.
The support points for mountaineering are many, especially around Mont Blanc. In particular, we can mention the Monzino, Elisabetta, Gonella, Quintino Sella and Durier refuges (beyond the border with France). The bivouacs are numerous and, except for a few cases, located in daring positions and reachable with climbing difficulties: Alberico and Borgna alla Fourche, della Brenva, Borelli, Craveri, Crippa, Lampugnani, Rainetto, Hess.
For hikers, refreshment points are available in the main refuges (Maison-Vieille, Elisabetta, Monzino, Gonella, CAI-UGET) and at Lake Combal, a stone’s throw from Lake Miage.
Recently, a few hundred meters from the Col de la Seigne, the military barracks (2365 m) was renovated and has become the most important information center along the Tour du Mont Blanc route.
Entrèves is located almost at the entrance of the Val Veny. So it is very easy to reach the valley from Hotel Aigle.
By car it is a matter of a few minutes. Just follow the municipal road to Courmayeur and at the crossroads at La Saxe, after about 2 km, take right. The road climbs to the little church of Notre-Dame de la Guerison and then enters the valley.
Access by bus from the hotel is just as simple. You need to reach the same crossroads at La Saxe (on foot, by car or other bus) and take the shuttle bus from Courmayeur. The bus takes you to Visaille, an extreme point that can also be reached by car.
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