Between France and Italy, a matchless high altitude hike
This hike between Modane and Monêtier-les-Bains cannot be beaten for grandiose scenery. Nature lovers and budding explorers-cum-adventurers will adore the itinerary that combines delightful French and Italian villages with mythical natural sites, such as Mount Thabor and its matchless panorama and the prospect of swimming in lakes or in Roman spa resorts.
Mytriptailor tip: This hike (3,818-metre ascent and 3,310-metre descent)) is above all intended for hikers in peak physical condition !
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How about stretching your legs to start the journey? This 15km-section leaves Modane and takes you to the foothills of the Thabor mountain, an iconic peak in the Alps and Cerces range. The road takes you past a number of outstanding sites and you will be able to admire breathtaking limestone turrets and alpine scenery. Spend the night in the Thabor Refuge.
Once you reach the Thabor mountain, you have two options: leisurely make your way down to the Tavernette valley or climb Mount Thabor. In both cases, the day ends at the Granges de la Vallée Étroite, a Franco-Italian site well worth the effort! One of the quirks of this hamlet, part of the town of Névache since 1947 following a peace treaty, is that the inhabitants, the signposting and the telephone system are all Italian, despite being governed by France.
Follow the GR5 hiking trail that loops its way up through thick forests of larch trees to the magnificent Thures plateau. You will then go past Lake Chavillon where the bravest may want to jump into the crystal clear, if chilly water. From there, up to the Thures pass and then down to Clarée Valley, one of France’s top natural sites. The day draws to a close at Névache, an authentic little village in the Alps where you will be able to relax and sample delicious farm produce.
The Buffère Pass will take you over into the Guisane valley, commanding a stunning panorama over the Écrins mountain range. As you venture deeper into marmot territory (the species is protected in all the nature reserves and parks of the Alps), you may hear its whistle of alert, warning its fellow creatures of the presence of a predator (one whistle for a bird, two for a mammal !). You will then reach the ancient spa resort of Le Monêtier-les-Bains, where you can soothe your aching muscles in Roman style
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