Hiking the Tour de la Haute Tarentaise in the French Alps

I was wondering if I should continue blogging about the next 3 months where I will be hiking different trails all over France, but I think it may be interesting for non-French people to hear about trails a little more off off the beaten track than the Tour du Mont-Blanc or the GR 20.
This one, I chose to hike it because it’s actually where I work in the winter (in La Rosière), but I’ve never been there in the summer.
So it will be cool to see this place in a totally different way.
It is an 83 km loop starting from Bourg-Saint-Maurice, which is at the crossroads of many ski resorts in the French Alps.

Day 1

As I just finished the Tour du Mont-Blanc yesterday, I have to go from Chamonix to Bourg-Saint-Maurice which, on the map, seems to be only 50 km away as the crow flies.
But these are the Alps.
So it actually takes 7 hours!
It sounds absolutely ridiculous, but after all, there are a few mountains to go around.
I’m pretty tired but I can’t even sleep because I have to change trains all the time.
I finally arrive in Bourg-Saint-Maurice and it’s really weird to be here in the summer.
Rather than starting here, I hitchhike in La Thuile, a little further.
This will make it easier for me to complete my next hike.

I only hike for a few hours, mostly through very beautiful forest, although I get lost and end up doing a big climb in the wrong direction.
That sleep I didn’t get on trains…
The marking isn’t actually very obvious, so it’s the kind of track where you check your phone a bit more frequently.

For dinner, I treated myself to fresh pasta and half a reblochon to accompany.
Reblochon is a Savoy cheese and it’s really delicious.
Not the best choice during a heat wave though.
That means I have to finish it tonight.

Day 2

In the morning I arrive at Les Arcs 1600 which is a famous ski resort.
Later I am back in Bourg-Saint-Maurice, which the trail goes around.
There is a nice variety today, from forests to pretty hamlets and lovely views across the valley.
I arrive on the other side of where I was this morning and I see Les Arcs and above, Mont Pourri.

I also find myself on a road very close to the Tour du Mont-Blanc, less than 10km away.
Which is funny considering it took me 7 hours on the train to get from one trail to the other.
I kind of end up not being able to find a possible campsite at all.
I walk until 11 p.m. on a steep climb and finally find a terrain that is not the best but that will have to be done.

I arrive tomorrow at La Rosière and I sense a Belgian beer and desperipinte trap.
What is a desperipinte?
Dangerous, that’s it.

Day 3

It’s a fairly easy morning as I did most of the climbing yesterday.
Although there is a small detour that I missed because I was probably dreaming, so I have to walk a bit more…
I’m quite close to the St. Bernard Pass, a road that takes you to Italy.
It’s funny to see because it’s closed in the winter and I work where the road ends.
If you like skiing, La Rosière is the only ski resort in France from which you can ski to Italy, which is pretty cool.
I’m not very far from La Rosière so I’m thinking of having lunch there.
I’m starting to see a lot of day hikers and these are actually the first hikers I see on this trail.

I arrive at the snack bar where I work and get myself a good burger and a lemon pie.
And two Trippel Karmeliet on tap.
This beer is simply the best but it’s also strong and combined with yesterday’s walk I’m ready for a nap.
After a good rest, I am ready for an evening.
It’s actually July 14, but a lot of people usually don’t really care in France.
I don’t know anyway.
I meet my co-worker/roommate Coco and we are surely in a desperate mood.
A desperipinte is a pint-sized mojito with desperado beer instead of sparkling water.
We are joined by Marianne, another friend and go to a restaurant where it’s mussels evening. I don’t eat seafood, but a burger will do.
More Belgian beer, wine, genepi…
We finally go home with Coco but it looks like that bottle of moonshine on the table says it’s not bedtime yet.

Day 4

Yes… Now it’s hangover time.
After some aspirin and coffee, I feel better, but I rest anyway.
I get a pizza before saying goodbye and hitting the trail again.
It’s even hotter than before and that surely doesn’t help to feel better after last night.
It’s still very pretty and I’m really glad I got to see this place in a different light.

I’m back in La Thuile (well, one of three places called La Thuile in the area, because you know, you only have a handful of names to choose from when naming a place.. .) where I started and was originally planning on hitching to Tignes, where I will start my next trail in the Vanoise National Park, but it’s already 9pm so I just pitched the tent nearby and I’ll hitchhike tomorrow.

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About George Dailey

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