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Vanoise National Park visitor guide

Photo of Vanoise National Park

Visit Vanoise National Park, France

Vanoise National Park is an extensive protected area in the Alps in the south-east of France, east of Chambery and along the Italian border. This park is in the département of Savoie, in the Rhone-Alps region, entered via Modane to the south, Bourg-Saint-Maurice to the north and Moutiers to the west.

One of seven designated French national parks, to the east the park continues in Italy as the Grand-Paradis National Park.

Exploring the Vanoise National Park

One of the most popular outdoor areas in France, both during the ski season and the summer, the park receives more than 360,000 visitors each year. The scenery is mountainous and beautiful, sometimes almost other-worldly, and often very dramatic.

There are more than 100 mountains over 3000 metres altitude here, with the highest being the Grande Casse at 3855 metres above sea level.

Tignes ski resort in the Vanoise park

The most important towns in the region are the gateway towns (Modane, Bourg-Saint-Maurice and Moutiers) and the ski resorts. Otherwise there is little in the way of development within the park itself.

There are several villages in the region which are usually small, often in splendid settings, and provide an interesting glimpse of the harshness of mountain life - remember, many of the tracks now covered by well-equipped hikers were originally tracks used by the villagers to pass from one region to the next.

During the summer the Vanoise National Parc is essentially hikers territory, and there are numerous trails that can be followed including several long, sometimes difficult but always impressive, hikes and Grand Randonnées that pass through and around the region. In total there are more than 600 kilometres of trails in Vanoise National Parc.

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The well established winter sport and ski centres of Val d'Isère and Tignes are to the east of the parc and Val Thorens to the west. Other sports are also possible here such as mountain biking and paragliding - but note that mountain bikes are not generally allowed on the trails, but only on specific routes allocated to them.

If you are lucky you will also have the chance to see some of the wildlife in the parc as you explore, such as the Alpine Ibex and the chamois as well as some of the numerous smaller mammals and birds of prey that live here. A part of the reason for the creation of the parc was to provide a protected area for the ibex.

The harsh climate is also home to a myriad of unusual plants and flowers, even at higher altitudes above the treeline and there is always something unexpected to discover and enjoy.

Ibex in Vanoise national park

Other highlights

If you are more of a car explorer, you will doubtless want to ascend the Col de l'Iseran, south of Val d'Isère to the east of Vanoise National Park - this is the highest Alpine pass and will provide at least a glimpse of the hard landscape in the parc. The pass is usually open July to September, but often closed by snow at other times.

You can find more travel ideas in the Savoie guide and the Rhone-Alpes guide.

See also: 

Map of Vanoise National Park and places nearby

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Visit near Vanoise National Park with France This Way reviews

Tignes

Tignes

The ski resort of Tignes is made up of several smaller, interconnected villges

Tignes guide
Val d'Isere

Val d'Isere

Home to the Alpine Ski World Cup and part of the Espace Killy ski region, Val d'Isere is a very international ski resort

Val d'Isere guide
Bonneval-sur-Arc

Bonneval-sur-Arc

At Bonneval, listed among the 'most beautiful villages of France', you can discover a very traditional mountain village

Bonneval-sur-Arc guide
Courchevel

Courchevel

Courchevel, ski resort in the 'Three Valleys region', is also popular with summer mountain visitors

Courchevel guide
Val Thorens

Val Thorens

The high altitude skiing at Val Thorens mean it has a longer season than many ski resorts in the Alps

Val Thorens guide
Meribel

Meribel

Part of the extensive 'Trois Vallées' ski region, Meribel is extremely popular and has many activities available

Meribel guide

... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Savoie

The French version of this page is at Vanoise National Park (Francais)

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