France // The Alps and Franche-Comté //

The Isère valley and the Vanoise

The Massif de la Vanoise, a rugged set of mountains east of Chambéry, rises to heights of over 3500m, and offers challenging routes for skiers, particularly along the steep slopes of the Isère valley. The glacier-capped southeast quadrant of the Vanoise forms the Parc National de la Vanoise, where hikers will find some of the most spectacular GR trails in France. The easiest road access to the Massif is from Chambéry or Grenoble, although driving the winding and precipitous old highways from Annecy or Chamonix is an adventure in itself.

The A43 from Chambéry cuts between the Massif des Bauges to the north and the Vanoise to the south, following the path of the lower Isère River as it flows down from Albertville. Following the river by road from here involves a 180km journey south, north and south again back to its source high in the mountains near the Col de l’Iseran (2770m), close to the Italian frontier. From Albertville, the N90 climbs southeast along the bends of the Isère River for 50km to Moûtiers, the turn-off for the massive Les Trois Vallées ski region. At Moûtiers, the river course swings northeast and following it will lead you to Bourg-St-Maurice, the town at the midpoint of the upper Isère valley. At Séez, a couple of kilometres further east, the road comes to an important junction: the N90 continues to climb steeply towards the Col du Petit St-Bernard (2188m), while the D902 heads south towards Val d’Isère.

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