The Vanoise National Park is the oldest of the French national parks. It shares a 14-kilometre border with the Italian Gran Paradiso Park, with which it is twinned, and was created in 1963. Together, they make up the largest protected area in Europe. Covering 535 km² between Maurienne and Tarentaise, the Vanoise Park offers some of the most beautiful landscapes in the Alps, in France and even in Europe. Landscapes that will enchant you during your CAMPING HOLIDAYS IN THE VANOISE or your CAMPING HOLIDAYS IN SAVOIE.
Sumptuous landscapes in the heart of the Alps
The Vanoise National Park is above all characterised by its high peaks. The park is home to more than 100 mountains over 3000 metres and 18 peaks over 3500 metres. The highest point is the Grande Casse with its 3855 metres. It is followed by the Mont Pourri (3779 metres) and the Grande Motte (3656 metres). The wide range of altitudes in the Vanoise (from 1,280 metres to 3,855 metres) offers very contrasting landscapes, from green valleys to peaks covered in eternal snow. From your campsite in the Vanoise, your walks will take you to the mountain pastures, around crystal-clear mountain lakes, to the discovery of waterfalls, in forests as well as on the glaciers. The Vanoise massif is distinguished by its ice cap, the largest in the Alps. These ice caps remain visible in summer despite the beautiful climate that bathes the park. It is indeed sheltered from the rains coming from the Ocean by the Prealps and the Belledonne mountain range and benefits from a very nice sunshine. The road itineraries are rare in the Vanoise, the most beautiful sites are only accessible to hikers. The Iseran pass, which is accessible by car, offers superb panoramic views of the park and the Alps. The latter, at 2770 metres, is the highest road pass in the Alps. A mythical stage of the Tour de France, it is a real challenge for cyclists. However, if you are not ready to tackle the 7% slopes, many rental companies now offer electrically assisted bikes. You can dream of being Hinault or Anquetil without making too much effort. Closed for a good part of the year because of its snow cover, it generally opens at the beginning of June. Whether by bike or by car, don’t miss the opportunity to go there during your camping stay in the Vanoise.
A preserved fauna and flora
The Vanoise Park was originally created in 1963 to preserve the Alpine ibex. This was a success, as there are now 2600 of them. However, this is not the only attraction of the park, which has 1200 animal species, 107 of which are protected. Among the most emblematic are the chamois, the golden eagle and the bearded vulture. And of course the marmots which will accompany you during your walks. The flora of the Vanoise has nothing to envy to the fauna. If France has around 5000 species of vascular plants, the Vanoise Park alone is home to nearly 1700. And this for only 0.5% of the national territory! This incredible variety is due to the great diversity of soils and the altitudinal amplitude of the park. A free atlas of rare plants in the Vanoise, which can be downloaded from the park’s website, will help you to recognise them during your hikes. Among the most sought-after plants is the famous Venus hoof orchid. Don’t hesitate to share your photos on the We Love Camping website if you see one during your stay in the Vanoise.
The Vanoise, a hiker’s paradise
There are few roads in the park. The Vanoise is best discovered by hiking. The park has more than 400 kilometres of marked trails that will delight hiking enthusiasts. The majority of these hikes are generally possible from June to the end of October. However, we can never be sure of a late or early snowfall. Some tours are short and easy and can be done with children. Others, on the other hand, require a good physical condition. The park has published practical information sheets to download for the most popular hikes. Those who want to take their experience further can embark on multi-day hikes. There are many refuges where you can sleep at altitude. Some chairlifts and ski lifts in winter sports resorts remain in operation during the summer, allowing you to start your hikes at altitude. Among the most beautiful itineraries, the Vanoise glaciers tour above Champagny-le-Haut can be done with the family. The Tour des Glaciers de la Vanoise, on the other hand, should be reserved for experienced hikers and requires several days of walking (from 4 to 7 days depending on your level). It does however offer some unforgettable views. If you wish to venture out on a glacier hike for the first time, it is often advisable to be accompanied by a mountain guide. There are many such guides in the Vanoise and they will allow you to fully enjoy this magical experience. Don’t hesitate to ask at the reception of the campsite where you are staying with your tent, caravan or camper van. They will be able to advise you on the best guides in the region.
Outdoor and white water sports in the Vanoise Park
The Vanoise National Park, with its unspoilt and varied landscapes, lends itself perfectly to the practice of outdoor and white water sports. In winter, of course, it is skiing and winter sports that take precedence. In summer, a much wider choice is available with canoeing, kayaking, rafting or canyoning in the rivers of the Vanoise (Isère, Doron de Bozel, etc.) or climbing, Via-Ferrata, paragliding or mountaineering in the relief of the park. Road cycling will take you up the slopes that have forged the legend of the Tour de France. If you prefer mountain biking, the Vanoise offers you some very nice differences in altitude as well as numerous hiking trails to explore.
A heritage to discover
If the main asset of the Vanoise Park is its spectacular landscapes and its natural expanses, the region is also home to a heritage that deserves to be discovered. There is of course the rural heritage of the Alps with some charming villages such as Pralognan-la-Vanoise, Bonneval-sur-Arc or the hamlet of l’Ecot, but also more surprising sites such as the Esseillon forts. The Esseillon barrier was built at the very beginning of the 19th century (between 1815 and 1830) by the kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia to protect itself from France. It is made up of 5 forts staggered along the width of the valley. Each fort is named after one of the members of the royal family: Marie-Christine, Marie-Thérèse, Victor-Emmanuel, Charles-Albert and Charles-Félix. None of these forts has ever had to undergo the test of fire. Now classified as historical monuments, three of these forts have been restored. The Marie-Thérèse Redoubt houses the Vanoise Fortified Heritage Interpretation Centre.
Our campsites near Vanoise National Park
A selection of the best campsites for caravans, tents and motorhomes in or near the Vanoise.