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If you want to give yourself a relaxing day of cross-country skiing, try the tracks of the famous Val Ferret, in Val d'Aosta. The tracks, within everyone's reach, develop under the gaze of the spectacular peaks and pinnacles of the Mont Blanc group, in a valley with enchanting panoramas.


Cross-country skiing: Val Ferret, Valle d'Aosta. Nordic skiing at the foot of his majesty Mont Blanc


I'll start immediately by pointing out that, in order not to run into any discomfort, and to enjoy the day in the best way, it is advisable to keep in mind some aspects related to logistics, which are not adequately described in many of the promotional sites of the valley, and which I will tell you about later.

A day here is really worth it. Already when you approach the final head of the Valle d'Aosta, the scenery of the peaks of Mont Blanc, looming above your heads, will be impressive, and will capture your attention. And it will also help you to forget, almost, certain false notes related to the urbanization of Courmayeur, and to the ski lifts, which do not appear in balance with the surrounding mountain environment. When you find yourself gliding on your skis in the middle of the valley, the quiet and beauty of the places will reconcile you with yourself and with the world.

But let's go step by step and describe the tracks.


Sci fondo Val Ferret Aosta 003

Sci fondo Val Ferret Aosta 001



It is important to bear in mind that it is not always possible to reach the start of the cross-country trails with your own car. In fact, access to Val Ferret (as well as to Val Veny) is rightly limited, to protect the quiet and nature of the valley. In short, access to cars is forbidden from 9 to 16. Those who arrive before 9.00 can reach the starting point of the tracks, Planpinciex, by car, leaving the car in the park in that location. After nine o'clock (or if the car park has filled up in the meantime), you can take the shuttle that leaves from the Entreves Sports Field (see map), and which makes several stops along the road that passes through La Palud, and reaches Planpincieux. Return ticket for an adult €1.8 (2022). The shuttles leave approximately every 15 minutes.

You can park your car in the large car parks in the sports field area, and then buy tickets at the box office near the football field, where the bus route also ends (avoid waiting along the road, where there is no stop sign , because the bus doesn't stop there). The ticket on board can be purchased with a surcharge. More information about the ordinance that regulates access to the valley can be found on the website of the Municipality of Courmayeur. Also bear in mind that access to Val Ferret can sometimes be closed due to the danger of avalanches, in the event of heavy snowfalls (also for this aspect, consult the Municipality website).

Having made this extensive but necessary premise to enjoy the day, let's move on to the actual description of the cross-country ski area.

Once you get off the car or the shuttle, go to the Foyer de Fond, where you can buy the day ticket for the tracks (9 euros - 2021/2022 season), and where you also have changing rooms, toilets and showers at your disposal.

The start of the trails is behind the Foyer, or at the "Bonora" ski rental and workshop, or even near the Planpincieux car park. We are at an altitude of 1582 meters above sea level (see complete slidegallery of our ski day).


Mappa fondo Val Ferret Courmayeur

Sci fondo Val Ferret Aosta 002


I tell you immediately not to pay too much attention to the quality of the track conditions at the beginning, and also to the possible crowding of the first meters. In the first part of the tracks, the presence of tourists who come to visit the valley (here it is also possible to take a pleasant walk up to Lavachey, along a special pedestrian path) means that there are some treads on the track (we have also seen of snowmobiles....), and also a relative crowding of departing cross-country skiers. But it's enough to move 4-500 meters away from the start, and everything changes. The cross-country skiers disperse, and the track conditions become good again.

The Val Ferret trails are mostly blue level, i.e. easy. In particular, the main track that winds along the valley floor is of this type, with tracks for classic tecnique, and space on the left for skating. The gradients are modest, and, apart from the first stretch of about a kilometer from the starting point, which gains altitude with a slightly steep slope, for the rest of the track continues on a slight uphill slope, up to Lavachey (1645 meters above sea level), and slightly downhill on the way back towards Planpincieux.

Only a few possible, and short, variants on the valley sides coincide with red level tracks, with some steeper ascents and descents, and some good bends. We tried to ski along some of them (see our track), but we didn't think it was anything difficult.

Overall, the district is characterized by approximately 22 km of trails. The valley floor track reverses its direction shortly after Lavachey, about 10km from the start of the trails. The track develops mostly in open spaces, rarely in the woods, and along the way there are some huts, or refreshment points (bars/restaurants), in particular in Tronchey and Lavachey, as well as at the start in Planpincieux.

The valley has a North-East / South-West development which means that the valley bottom remains more in the shade in the morning, and sunnier in the afternoon. This aspect, together with the proximity to a mountain massif with peaks over 4000 meters, guarantees good snow conditions and snow retention. In particular, keep in mind that, at the end of December - beginning  January, the first part of the route (South East side of the valley) almost up to Lavachey remains mostly in the shade, and is rather cold, while the return, along the North side West, is sunnier.

On the occasion of our skiing, we found 50-80 cm of snow, probably not much for the area, but still more than in many other locations where there are cross-country centers, on the southern side of the Alps, in this winter so far not too much generous as snowfall. For information on the conditions of the slopes, you can consult the website In addition to Bonora, for ski rental or assistance, you can also contact the Club des Sports Val Ferret, in Planpincieux.


The tracks were well groomed, and the snow was of good quality: neither too hard nor too soft. The waxing, with Toko universal wax from 0 to - 30 °C, was perfect for our needs, with the skis flowing pretty well. The return way from Lavachey to the starting point is fast and very enjoyable.

The average level of the skiers didn't appear particularly high to us. Probably, due to the ease of the tracks, the place is frequented more by amateurs looking for a day of relaxation, than by agonists in training. Indeed, the area lacks some slightly more adrenaline-pumping variants, with some more technical uphill or downhill sections. But if you love going fast on tracks with modest slopes, the slopes of Val Ferret are for you, with the possibility, of course, of making even more laps, and covering many kilometres.

And I have to tell you in all honesty that, sometimes, when you practice cross-country skiing, it's also nice to send your brain to mass, and let your skis slide, carefree.

Happy skiing. Fabio Muriano

Click here, for the complete slidegallery of our ski day


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