Wonderful. This is what I have in my mind when I hear talking about Courmayeur and all that surround it. Only the Monte Bianco, the highest mountain of Europe – with its 4810 mt – makes it special. Admiring from the bottom that “white” giant or even better, going up by cable car gives unique sensations, really hard to describe. Both in winter and in summer Courmayeur is beautiful and in fact very desired; many high level accommodations (both hotels-very beautiful Gran Baita, with its amazing restaurant, and restaurant and bars), very nice the historical center, the only negative thing, maybe, it’s the difficulty to park. But what makes it a vacation in Courmayeur it’s everything surrounding it.
My top ten:
1)Monte Bianco cable car. You take it a La Palud, you can arrive before at Pavillon (2173 mt, 19 € RT ), where there is Europe’s highest garden (“Oasi Naturalistica Giardino Botanico Alpino Saussurea“, see video), a crystals’ permanent exhibition and also an appreciated restaurant, and then till the old Torino mountain shelter (3335 mt., 35 RT). From there, through an infinite internal stairs or a suggestive but maybe a bit dangerous path (told, not by chance “path of the giants”) you can arrive walking to new Torino shelter (3375mt.). From there you can see in front of you both the highest Monte Bianco top and the entire wide valley. In case of limpid day all the others mountains (Gran Paradiso, Cervino, Monte Rosa etc.), 25 km of mountains above 4000 mt. An amazing view, really touching. To avoid very long lines it’s better to go at the opening, not to go down too late. Other advice is to take a rest at Pavillon, on both ways. In the end, a note: they’re building the new cable car, to be ready in 2015. That will bring you till “Punta Helbronner”.
2) Val Veny. It’s the area on Monte Bianco’s left, a lot of mountain shelters where enjoying unique moments and suppers. We advice Pre’ De Pascal (above 1900 mt.) where you can also find a beautiful meadow with children playground and chairs for adults. Very good restaurant (not to be missed their specialty, above all “fried porcino mushrooms”).
3) Val Ferret. It’s the area on Monte Bianco’s right, right after La Palud. Many restaurants also in this case, not bad the Chalet Proment da Floriano, both bar and restaurant, a few meters from a very beautiful playground and an horse center.
4) Fun Park di Dolonne. It is amazing how, sometimes, simplicity can make a place so perfect. Dolonne Fun Park– a Courmayeur’ s community – it is a middle area with a lot of games for children even put by chance and the very neat meadow, very comfortable cushions-sofa where parents can relax watching their kids playing. You can also take a snack, be aware of bees and wasps thug.
We recommend to have lunch at Maison lo Campagnar, a beautiful characteristic shelter mountain 400mt far from Fun Park. Very nice Dolonne where, every Wednesday there is an interesting market.
5) Chamonix. Wonderful. Respect to Monte Bianco it is more or less in the same Courmayeur’s position. That is under the mountain’s slope but on the other side. But differently from Courmayer, beyond being a little more bigger (many bar and restaurants, and also shops where you can stop to eat or shopping, it is attended only by young people: French, Italian, and from everywhere in the world. Not to be missed the vertiginous ascent in the Aiguille du Midi cable car (3842mt).
6) Traforo del Monte Bianco. So, yes, a simple tunnel became an attraction. Only about 11km, obviously perfect, as perfect should be the drivers’ behavior (speed between 50 and 70 km/h and distance from 100 mt fixed and 150 moving. Two blu lights have to separate the two motor vehicles). The cost is high, about 50 euros, we recommend to ask your hotel to have discounted tickets.
7) Orrido’s path and the sightseeing Pre-Saint Didier terrace; downline, the itinerary lives close to the ancient bridge on Verney’s Dora, trespassing Pre-Saint-Didier spa and proceeding for 200 mt on the right you will find the path. It takes 40 minutes to arrive on the top. Downstream the path there is the new and suggestive sightseeing board walk on Orrido’s gulch of Pre-San-Didier. With its 160my height, it gives you a new emotion and an incomparable view on Monte Bianco’s chain, on Pre Saint Didier wide valley with Champex, Palleusieux and Verrand beyond a beautiful view on Orrido’s waterfall and on thermal spring’s cave. See a spectacular video:
In the end, very nice, the town of Pre Sant Didier. For swim’s lovers there the regional covered swimming pool, open from 1 pm or (2 pm, depending on days) to 8,30pm.
8) Annecy lake. It is in France at 120 km far from Courmayeur (half an hour driving in a wonderful scenery), it is about 500mt, it’s one of the biggest and cleanest lakes of France. It’s pleasant to swim in its clear water (a bit cold) during summertime. Many restaurants along the lake, few high level. You can join the visit to Chamonix or to the wonderful places nearby (Megeve and Geneva for example): [wpgmappity id=”11″]
9) Notre-Dame de la Guarison Sanctuary.Wonderful. A small Church at about 1550 mt with view, on Monte Bianco but also on the tunnel entrance (see a very suggestive video). This church’s peculiarity is also in so many ex voto presence, represented not only by crutch as in many other churches, but in the paintings telling about the “miracles” happened in those places. Some of them also well done. It is on the road for Val Veny.
10) Terme di Pre’ Saint Didier. Wonderful structure, enviable location, very good services, obviously high prices
Also a mention to “Parc animalier d’Introd“; at 27 km far from Courmayeur (about 30 minutes driving through SS26, a beautiful street going through all the beautiful towns (for example Morgex), it is an interesting park with all the animals (deers,bouquetins, squirrels, owls, foxes etc) almost all free but all up and down, so not very good for families with small kids. It also has a functional pic-nic area supplied with same games for kids.
At the and a gem: at 5km far from Introd ( home of several vacations for Giovanni Paolo II), there is one the symbol of the region: the “Saint Pierre Castle”, really amazing, but unfortunately under reconstructing works, so you have to ask if it’s open or not. There many castles to see: suc as “Savoia Castle” at Gressoney Saint Jane, recently set of a Gerard Depardieu movie.