We are currently considering a family holiday involving some Via Ferrata-ing, walking, climbing and general lazing around with a a book! We are currently considering the Vallouise area near the Ecrin's National park in the Savoie (Haute Savoie ?) area of southern France. Since we will all be complete novices in the art of Via Ferrata I was hoping that the UKC collective could shed some light on the pitfalls and advantages of this particular area and even recommend any particular routes to tackle or useful resources, online or otherwise that might be helpful.
The Children are both fairly competent rock climbers and are used to being dragged out on the hill and hopefully we will be able to borrow some proper VF kit but some first hand experience of the area would be really helpful in our decision making process ;-)
The only thing I can think of is will you end up driving every day up to Ailefroide ? if so maybe look for accomodation up their instead.
You can hire VF kit from a shop just before you get into Valloiuse.
There is VF there, there is also a big zip wire at the bottom of the valley. There is also rafting on the river at the bottom of the valley.
Up in Ailefroide there is bouldering and sports climbing. THe sports climbing is on all sides so there should be something in the shade most of the day. THere are also walks up to the refuge via one glacier and then there is a walk upto another glacier as well.
THere is also an outdoor swimming pool on the way to Ailefroide from Vallouise. Not sure if it would be your thing, but maybe your kids might like it if it's hot on a rest day.
Briancon isn't far and I would suggest that you stock up on food in the carrefour on the valloise side of Briancon before going ot vallouise. There are some small mini marts in Vallouise and Ailefroide but not much choice. The old town of Briancon is worth a stroll around.
If you are into MTBing there is some around Vallouise but it is much better at montgenevre which is just the other side of Briancon to Vallouise.
We have been there a few times and think it is a great place for outdoorsy families.
In reply to CharlieBrown: I took my kids on various via ferrata when they were 6 and 9 - I took Sam on some quite tough ones. I found it very reassuring to use a short rope as well as VF kits, the VFs are fixed with pig tails which you can easily loop the rope through as you move together. You can just about make it out here:
> will you end up driving every day up to Ailefroide?
Why would you? Shedloads to do without going up to ailefroide every day (or at all in fact, although you would definitely be missing out).
> You can hire VF kit from a shop just before you get into Valloiuse.
King's at La Casse for example.
> There is VF there, there is also a big zip wire at the bottom of the valley.
Easy ones in Vallouise and Briancon, more difficult one in Les Vigneaux, big one at Tournoux, long one at Fresinieres, new one just past the tunnel at Pelvoux etc etc.
> Up in Ailefroide there is bouldering and sports climbing.
As there is throughout the whole region
> THere is also an outdoor swimming pool on the way to Ailefroide from Vallouise. Not sure if it would be your thing, but maybe your kids might like it if it's hot on a rest day.
Plus the natural lakes at Roche de Rame and beside the river south of Argentiere
> Briancon isn't far and I would suggest that you stock up on food in the carrefour on the valloise side of Briancon before going ot vallouise. There are some small mini marts in Vallouise and Ailefroide but not much choice.
The Intermarche (formerly Shoppi) in Argentire is really good and has loads of choice - or you could always support the local shops of course!
The old town of Briancon is worth a stroll around.
As is the park below the ramparts, which also has an "Adventure Park"
> If you are into MTBing there is some around Vallouise but it is much better at montgenevre which is just the other side of Briancon to Vallouise.
Nice little track with jumps etc. at La Casse to practice on.
> We have been there a few times and think it is a great place for outdoorsy families.
In reply to CharlieBrown: Why are there no decent VF guidebooks for this region of France?!? (Or am I missing something?) I was there a year ago and had to go by word of mouth & drove around for aaages trying to find them!!
I recommend asking for a map when the guys in the shops try describing where a VF is to you En Francais! They explained it again En Anglais and I still couldn't find it - take your IGN map and get them to point you to where it starts & access for parking!
Loads of cool stuff to do there. If you have never VF'd before then I would highly recommend doing the one literally just after the tunnel on the RHS from Vallouise - Ailefroide. Its very easy but great to get used to VF stuff.
In reply to CharlieBrown: Try the Tourist information office - they had a guide (free) to the local ones but said there would be no more printed. They were able to point us to all the local ones (La Combe, Tournoux, Pelvoux etc..
In reply to Tim Sparrow: just remembering, think it was the pelvoux VF, some of the steep banks next to the river which are not protected by VF wire were in bad shape and when muddy it was a nasty slip hazard ( mud slide into fast running water), this was about 3 to 4 years ago. I would check if it is being maintained before using it.
In reply to alexcollins123: > Why are there no decent VF guidebooks for this region of France?!? (Or am I missing something?) I was there a year ago and had to go by word of mouth & drove around for aaages trying to find them!!
In reply to John W: Ah, not that one. The one by the tunnel is fairly new and really nice. THough if taking kids there are 1 or 2 bits that they might need an extra hand just because they can not physically reach.
It's an older one that is up a gully that I was thinking of.
I just found it bizzarre that it was protected by VF for the most part but where is wasn't protected in places could have people ending up in fast flowing water. could have done with a bit more VF protection esp as it was billed as an easy one for fairly young kids.
I totally understand that there is risk in everything we do, but it was more the VF covering parts that were definately less risky than bits that it didn't cover. I think this was due to not being maintained at the time and so bits that didn't have VF were worn and so had a higher risk than when the VF was 1st put in place.
We had a nice family holiday in Vallouise last summer. There are quite a few VFs nearby (including a couple of very easy ones which tend to be crowded).
Lots of other stuff to do. Here are some contacts you might find useful:
The Vallouise area is a great choice for everything you describe.
There are several VFs within a short distance, including one just down the road from Vallouise, in Les Vigneaux. My favourite though is 'L'Aiguillette du Lauzet', between Briancon and La Grave - not especially difficult and a fine long mountain day out with great scenery and a lovely walk back to the car.
I would give VF des Neyzets a miss. The rock is extremely loose and sections of cable were missing the last time I was there. It's a nice area for a walk though.
As already mentioned, you can hire VF gear locally. There is an outdoor shop in a small parade, on the right between Les Vigneaux and Vallouise, which rents everything you need. Sorry, can't remember the name.
There is a huge amount of sport climbing. My personal favourite is Rocher Baron, which is ideal for a family climbing day as you can park the car right by the crag, climb a bit then break off for a picnic. A good guidebook for the area is 'Escalade en Brianconnais, Haut Val Durance, Queyras' by Yann Martine and Jacques Rolland, which has descriptions in French and English. You can get it from Sport 2000 in the square at L'Argentiere-La-Besse (costs about 30 euros). There is also a large supermarket about a mile or so through the town on the left.
In reply to Bob kate bob: Did it last year with my children and there were no unprotected sections - at least on the first part. Section 2 (and 3?) are apparently a lot more sporting. Signs up warning of this. Section 1 was ace for the kids though.