This is an excerpt from the book “Aosta Valley Itineraries”.
All along the road to Courmayeur you can see a lot of castles, they were used above all to keep an eye on the central valley, which represented a fundamental route.
Strategically positioned on rocky outcrops and in view of each other, they made up an effective observation and signaling system stretching throughout the whole valley.
You can still admire some of them: Chatel-Argent at Villeneuve, Montmayeur at Arvier, Chatelard at La Salle….
5km before Courmayeur you have to stop at Pre’-Saint-Didier, to have a look at the huge waterfall near the hot water spring (30°C).
It was an important military station along the Roman road to Gaul and now its a nice village at 1000m ideal for tranquil holidays and starting point for excursions around the Mont Blanc.
The parish church of Saint Laurent, rebuilt in the 15th century, enlarged at the end of the 19th century, contains a high altar of the 17th century, with a big crucifix of the 15th.
The bell-tower is one of the most ancient of the valley, dating back to the 11th century.
Courmayeur (1224m) is a small mountaineering capital at the foot of the Mont Blanc. In the old center a nice shopping area, charming cafès, restaurants and the parish church with the Romanesque bell-tower. Behind the church you will find the House of the Guides with the Duca degli Abruzzi Alpine Museum.
Only a few km from Courmayeur, at La Palud, you can experience the thrill of crossing Mont Blanc with the Courmayeur-Chamonix cable car, divided into 6 stages.
It reaches the Punta Helbronner at 3462m and then the Aiguille de Midi at 3842m; it is a spectacular and unforgettable experience.
At the first stop you can visit the alpine garden “Saussurrea” (open from June to September), it’s the highest in Europe and hosts more than 800 plant species; stop at the Punta Helbronner, the rock crystals exhibition is worth a visit.
There are numerous and easy excursions in the neighbourhood: Combal and Miage lakes in the Val Veny as well as the numerous and well-equipped huts. In this valley is the Sanctuary of Notre Dame de la Guarison, built in 1792 and destroyed in 1816 by the glacier (the statue of the Madonna was miraculously undamaged), and then rebuilt in 1867, becoming famous for the healing power of the Madonna (in the sanctuary there are a lot of crutches, ex-voto and gifts brought by healed people). In the Val Ferret golf players can enjoy a 9-hole course at the foot of the Grandes Jorasses.
Scattered all around the Val Ferret there are a lot of small restaurants offering traditional dishes, among them “Valle d’Aosta steak”, “carbonada with polenta” and “civet” as well as the typical salami are worth mentioning and do not forget to have a coffee in the typical “friendship cup”!
Where to stay in Pre Saint Didier
There are high quality hotels, apartments, condo hotels and campgrounds available, check them out and make a reservation here.
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.