Courmayeur

This is an excerpt from the book “Aosta Valley Itineraries”.

Monte Bianco - Photo © Marco Milani
Monte Bianco – Photo © Marco Milani

Its name is indissolubly tied to the Mont Blanc: it is a modern alpine town known all over the world, besides being one of Italy’s most patronized ski resorts. In a wide basin, at 1,224 meters of height, at the foot of the giant massif of the Mont Blanc, among larch trees and firs, among mountains and glaciers which make it incomparable, boasts a first rate tourist-receptive organization of an international standing.

Developed around the old Saints Pantaleone and Valentine church, Courmayeur, since the 19th century, is to be considered the capital of alpinism and of mountain touring, even if, back at that time, the thermal activity which used to be largely practiced through the cure of mineral waters resulted to be much more important.

Today as back then the hotel facilities are equal to the expectations of the tourists who attend such resort. Downtown, Via Roma, pulsing heart of the town, narrow and at intervals tortuous, is the commercial and worldly fulcrum.

Also to be visited in Courmayeur is the House of the Guides, seat of the Duca degli Abruzzi Museum, where are collected documents, relics and materials used by the alpinists who marked the history of alpinism with their enterprises.

Among the hamlets of Courmayeur we recall La Saxe, famous for its source of mineral waters; Dolonne, a locality where one of the first ski lift plants of the Valle d’Aosta was built; Entreves, which is at the head of the Valley, at the confluence of the Dora river of the Veny Valley with the Dora of the Ferret Valley, in the inhabited center of which one can admire an ancient fort-house of the year 1391.

On July 16, 1965 the Mont Blanc tunnel was opened, a grand work of engineering, 11,600 meters’ long, which crosses the chain of the Mont Blanc (on the vertical line of the Aiguille du Midi.

The thickness of the granitic rock cover is of 2,480 meters, which is a record measure for road and railroad tunnels) starting from Italy, at the foot of the Brenva glacier, to arrive to France, at the foot of the Bossons glacier, both spectacular perpetual ice flows. The initial project of the tunnel contemplated a maximum movement of 14 vehicles per hour for each direction: it soon turned out to be very faraway from reality; the passages are today about 2,200 a day.

The Ferret and Veny Valleys, owing to the multiplicity of the practicable sports, are a goal for athletes and mountain lovers both in the summer and in the wintertime. In the Ferret Valley, the fish tourist reserve is much patronized and appreciated; and the 9-holes-golf course, which offers some really spectacular passages, is well renowned. The lovers of winter sports will find in Courmayeur a varied and qualified offer, such as to make it one of the most appreciated ski resorts all over the world: the Checrouit and Veny Valley ski districts, linked up high, offer over 100 kilometers of ski runs at disposal of the lovers of alpine skiing.

Val Ferret - Photo © Luca Baldassarre
Val Ferret – Photo © Luca Baldassarre

In the Ferret Valley, 35 are the kilometers of ski runs prepared for Nordic Ski. In the presence of the Mont Blanc, moreover, it is in function a ropeway plant which, on account of the splendid scenario which it crosses, has also been defined as “The eighth Wonder of the World”. The Mont Blanc, with its mass, has always stirred up alternate feelings of respect, attraction and fear; in ancient times it even used to be called “ Mont audit” – Damned Mountain – . It is the highest mountain in Europe, and has always been charming owing to its grandeur.

It is therefore granted that many alpinists have, deep in their heart, the ambition of its climbing: the ascent to the Mont Blanc, though, demands a good preparation and knowledge of the mountaineering techniques. The Alpine guides of the Valle d’Aosta are deep connoisseurs of their mountains and, with their professionalism, they offer the possibility to accomplish ascents and crossings in maximum safety conditions. On August 15 of each year the traditional and folkloristic Party of the Guides takes place in Courmayeur. On this occasion spectacular performances are also carried out by the working Guides.

An attraction of considerable interest is represented by the crossing of the “Vallee Blanche”, accessible, in springtime, for skiers of a fairly good level, in a suggestive scenario, in the presence of the Mont Blanc.

Where to stay in Courmayeur

There are high quality hotels, apartments, condo hotels and B&Bs available, check them out and make a reservation here.

Saussurea

It is the highest botanic garden in Europe, at the Pavillion, at 2,187 meters of height, a short way from the Torino refuge; it is easily accessible by the cableway of the Helbronner Peak. It was created about ten years ago, in cooperation with the Donzelli-Gilberti Foundation and the Regional Government. In the garden, which can be visited in the Summer season, the species of the spontaneous flora of the Mont Blanc and of some other mountain exotic flora are studied and brought out. At Saussurea, furthermore, they have introduced botanic species of different origin and they have recreated natural environments such as the moraine and the prater.
Courtesy of Regione Valle d’Aosta – Turismo