Gran Paradiso Area

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

Cogne at dusk - Photo © porticodoric
Cogne at dusk – Photo © porticodoric

This area includes the valleys of Cogne, Valsavarenche and Rhemes, which form the Gran Paradiso National Park and the valley of Valgrisenche.

At about 14km from Aosta at 880m on a dominant terrace of the valley you meet Introd with its castle of the 13th century, a big round building dominated by a square tower standing in the central inner court (closed to the public). Near the castle there is an old farmhouse called l’ Ola, one of the best examples of rural buildings in Valle d’Aosta . In the village you can also visit the wood carving center “Les amis du bois”.

The name of the village, Introd, has his origin from its position at the crossing of the Savara and the Dora di Rhemes rivers.

Several excursions are possible starting from the little village of Les Combes, where the Pope used to spend his summer holidays.

Climbing the Gran Paradiso - Photo © kenya
Climbing the Gran Paradiso – Photo © kenya

Valsavarenche in the heart of Gran Paradiso national park is the best area for excursions to Gran Paradiso, the only mountain over 4000 m situated completely in Italy, and to the Grivola mountain.

During the last century this area was chosen by the Royal Family for their chamois and ibexes hunts and today it is a good starting point for excursions in the park.

In the valley are scattered several picturesque villages: Chevrire, Molore, Bois de Clin, Rovenaud.

Where the valley widens is the village of Degioz, where you can find the Visitors center of Gran Paradiso Park, which presents the main natural aspects of the park, as well as the predators present in the area. The last village you can reach by car after Eaux Rousses and Maisonnasse is Pont, from where the track to Nivolet Pass starts linking Valsavarenche with Ceresole Reale and Turin.

The Rhemes Valley is parallel to Valsavarenche. Driving upwards you first meet the quiet village of Rhemes-Saint-Georges at 1218 m, starting point of several excursions during which you can see marmots, chamois, ibexes and also the lammergeyer, a recently arrival in our region.

Rhemes-Notre-Dame Old Mill - Photo © borninsextum
Rhemes-Notre-Dame Old Mill – Photo © borninsextum

At the end of the valley is the little village of Rhemes-Notre-Dame with a visitors center with the permanent exhibition called “Welcome back lammergeyer” concerning the extinction and the reappearance of the biggest European bird.

The other beautiful valley present in the area is Valgrisenche, which can be reached from Leverogne (Arvier) on a road climbing near a peak on which stands the sanctuary of Rochefort (once a medieval castle) near the village of the same name.

The wild landscape is dominated by Montmayeur tower. Continuing up the road there is a medieval fortified manor house just before the village of Planaval. In the valley you can admire the Ruitor glacier and the imposing artificial lake of Valgrisenche, whose wall is used for climbing.

At 1664m is the little village of Valgrisenche, with its parish church of the 14th cent. and its medieval bell tower. In Valgrisenche you can also visit the “Draps exhibition” (local hand-woven material). Drap weaving has been the typical handicraft of the inhabitants of Valgrisenche since time immemorial. A rough cloth made from sheep’s wool and woven on rudimentary looms is available today in bright colors and geometrical or checked patterns.

Where to stay in Cogne

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