Verres – Ayas Valley – Joux Pass

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

Verres Castle - Photo © eivibi9
Verres Castle – Photo © eivibi9

The valley of Ayas is the second you encounter entering Valle d’Aosta. It’s a winding valley with numerous charming hollows, covered with meadows, fields and woods.

The road starts from Verres (for details concerning the castle please see here) and climbs to Challand-Saint-Victor and Challand-Saint-Anselme to Arcesaz and Brusson.

At Challand Saint Victor (774mt) you can visit the remains of the castle of Villaz 10th cent. and the parish church of Saint Victor, with its museum containing different religious objects (for example a crucifix of the 14th century).

Continuing up the road at 1040m you meet Challand Saint Anselme. From here a very panoramic car itinerary leads through the Tsecore pass reaching Saint-Vincent.

Near Challand you can visit the “Lago di Villa” nature reserve.

The lake is home to two water plants, which are very rare in the Valle d’Aosta, the white water-lily ant the amphibious bistort.

The nearby Arcesaz plateau is a drained lake dominated by the Comagne peak (2099m).

Antagnod - Photo © Giors
Antagnod – Photo © Giors

Brusson lies on a meadow slope at 1332mt. Pleasant village for tranquil holidays you can visit at Graines the castle built on a isolated rock spur, a major example of Romanesque architecture with a tower, chapel and surrounding walls. If you follow the valley you will reach Antagnod. The parish church of San Martino (1497) is worth a stop. Its wooden carved altar in Baroque style is the richest of the region.

The road ends up at Saint-Jacques , a picturesque little village, starting point of several tracks leading to mountain huts, after having passed Champoluc, famous summer and winter resort, and Frachey.

The Ayas Valley should be mentioned for the handicraft production of sabots, wooden clogs used by farmers and today sought-after souvenirs; the production is “semi-industrial” as well as by hand (made by artisans called “sabotiers” following tradition).

In the area you can admire several ancient devotional images painted on the walls and some sundials. Recently, a new via crucis (the highest in Europe) made of slate has been created by the artist Salvetta and placed along the path from Barnasc to the Mont Zerbion.

In the area you can visit some dairies producing typical local cheeses such as fontina. To return to Saint-Vincent you can follow an alternative road.

From Brusson you find the junction to the Joux Pass on the right.

"Napoleon Crossing the Alps" by Jacques-Louis David.
“Napoleon Crossing the Alps” by Jacques-Louis David.

It’s a very panoramic itinerary through the pass famous for the historic fountain of Napoleon: Napoleon passed this pass in 1800 and avoided being taken prisoner by an Austrian patrol thanks to this fountain at which they stopped to drink some fresh water.

Where to stay in Verres

There are high quality hotels and hostels available, check them out and make a reservation here.

Where to stay in Brusson

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

Where to stay in Champoluc

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