Pralognan: Col de la Vanoise hike


GR55 over Lac des Vaches

Situated at the foot of the imposing Grande Casse (3855 m), Col de la Vanoise (2517 m) is probably the most visited site in the Vanoise National Park.

Historically the col was a trading route between France and the Piemonte region. The long-distance hiking trail GR55 runs through the mountain pass.

The GR55 ascends from the village of Pralognan la Vanoise (1410 m), but most visitors doing day hikes use either the Fontanettes parking (1640 m) or even the Genépi chair lift to Barmettes (at about 2000 m) as their starting point. The chair lift ran on certain days only.

We chose the third option. The cable car to Mont Bochor (2022 m) which ran every day in summer took us up in a few minutes. From Mont Bochor, we first descended along a trail which ran diagonally along the mountain flank (sentier balcon; nr 12 in the local guide), then ascended to Refuge des Barmettes. We continued along the wide GR55 trail (nr 14 in the guide), heading northeast. The scenery became more and more high alpine and we reached Lac des Vaches (2330 m). Flat rocks had been placed in the middle of the semi-dry lake to facilitate the crossing.

From the lake, the GR55 turned east then southeast passing Lac Long.  The col and the refuge soon emerged in front of us in the middle of verdant alpine meadows.  We could admire La Grande Casse in the north and the Vanoise Glacier in the south. It was a truly remarkable scenery.

We used the same itinerary back to the cable car.

Climb: 720 m

Distance: 14 km

Duration: 5 h 30

Map: 3534 OT Les Trois Vallées


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