The Aosta Valley: A Paradise for Cross-Country Ski Fans
Italy’s Aosta Valley is home to some of the world’s most famous ski resorts, but it’s also the location of many less well-known mountain villages, each offering a truly authentic winter holiday experience.
Shared between these big-name resorts and little-known villages are not just hundreds of kilometres of downhill ski slopes, but also an extensive network of cross-country tracks spread throughout the Aosta Valley.
Whether you’ve never tried cross-country skiing before or are a seasoned pro on the light, thin skis doesn’t really matter. Beginners can hire equipment and take technique classes with patient instructors, while more experienced cross-country skiers can head out on one of the Aosta Valley’s more challenging routes. You can of course also mix downhill and cross-country skiing during your Aosta Valley holiday.
Cross-country skiing, in peaceful locations usually away from the ski lifts and most other signs of modern life, is a great way to connect with nature while taking in the fresh mountain air and beautiful alpine landscapes at a leisurely pace, cross-country tracks for different abilities run among the woods or along the valley floors of the Aosta Valley, some following the course of streams or around the lakes.
There are always snow-covered tracks that are perfectly prepared, both for the classic technique and for skating. You can find them at more than 20 different Aosta Valley locations, each with its own character, a unique history and breathtakingly stunning views.
Here are some of the best-known:
The most famous cross-country ski resorts are Cogne, Aosta Valley’s queen of cross-country trails, with its 80 km of slopes that wind around under the peaks of Grivola and Gran Paradiso, Brusson which hosts international ski and biathlon competitions, as well as Courmayeur with its magnificent Val Ferret, one of the two large valleys that follow the thread of the Mont Blanc chain.
The Marciagranparadiso itinerary in Cogne is where it all began in the Aosta Valley. Considered one of the most spectacular and technical of all the Italian Cross-country skiing locations, its 45 km of tracks wind around, for the most part, within the Gran Paradiso National Park. Each winter there’s a truly unique race here, immersed in the silence and majesty of the peaks of Aosta Valley which, over the years, have seen many of the world’s best athletes compete.
Another famous spot is the village of Saint-Barthelemy, home of Federico Pellegrino, winner of a sprint world cup and an Olympic silver medal. This beautiful location boasts 30 km of slopes, most seeing plenty of sunshine, and is also known for the modern Astronomical Observatory which carries out scientific and educational activities.
Also popular amongst cross-country skiers are Torgnon, with its enchanting views, Gressoney-Saint-Jean, Gressoney-La-Trinité, the area of the high valley of the Gran San Bernardo that extends into the territory of Etroubles, Saint-Oyen and Saint-Rhémy-en-Bosses.
There’s also Arpy, a quiet town in the municipality of Morgex, which has special facilities for children and Rhêmes-Notre-Dame with tracks winding through woods and villages on both sides of the valley and Valsavarenche with snow-sure high-altitude tracks up at 2000 meters in the heart of the Gran Paradiso National Park.
Bionaz has a track equipped with a shooting range for practising the exciting sport of biathlon, which sees athletes race on cross-country skis with a rifle on their backs, then stop with their pulses racing and try to hold the gun straight enough to hit tiny targets on the range.
Other well-known cross-country ski centres in the Aosta Valley include Champorcher in the Mont Avic Park and Saint-Nicolas which benefits from an illuminated trail, offering the possibility of cross-country skiing at night on certain days of the week.
Alongside the most famous centres, there are also other locations in Aosta Valley with beautiful cross-country skiing trails that have always been popular with enthusiasts, these include Fontainemore, Valgrisenche, Antey-Saint- André, Verrayes, La Thuile, Ayas, Valtournenche and Ollomont.
We have a regular Podcast called The White Out where we review the latest gear, talk about the latest snow forecast and updates on where is best to ski now, as well interviews with absolute ski legends AND we spotlight a resort every week and so much more. You can check out our regular podcast here Apple | Spotify | Podcasts or search The White Out on your chosen podcast directory.