Your day begins with a bus (25 minutes) from the centre of Courmayeur to Arnuva, in the heart of the beautiful Val Ferret, in the Grandes Jorasses. Back on your own two feet you ascend Grand Col Ferret (2,537 m), you are in Switzerland! Descent to Ferret (1740 m) where you catch the local bus to the Swiss lakeside village of Champex.
The day begins with a short local bus to Arnuva where the climb of Grand Col Ferret begins. The top of the col brings up Switzerland. Descending through picture book scenes of chalets, grazing cattle and fabulous alpine views you soon reach La Fouly, an idyllic alpine village of wooden chalets overflowing with flowers. From La Fouly you catch the bus to the lakeside village of Champex. Although today includes three bus connections, the fantastic Swiss public transport system makes light work of this and runs very smoothly.
There are several river crossings. There are always stepping-stones available but these may be slippery, and especially when wet. Take extra caution on these crossings.
Some of the paths along the way have rocky steps; be careful as these may be slippery, especially when wet.
There are some exposed edges; be sure to read instructions carefully, stick to the main path, and don’t wander close to the edge. Use handrails where provided.
In early spring/summer there may still be patches of snow. Walk around where it is possible, and otherwise place your feet carefully and use walking poles if you have them.
This route is above 2,500 metres so bear in mind you may feel a shortness of breath and additional muscle fatigue associated with the altitude.
Such is the way of Alpine hiking that you need to be prepared for all seasons and weathers; sturdy hiking boots, warm clothes and a waterproof/wind-break layer are all required, as is plenty of sun-cream and a healthy respect for the sun.
Walking poles will be a big advantage on some of these ascents and descents.
Ensure your phone is fully charged; if you doubt the battery will last throughout the hike, it might be beneficial to bring a power bank.
This walk is isolated with few opportunities to buy food or water so be sure to bring enough with you.
There are three bus sections on this stage and although it may look a bit complicated at first there is nothing to worry about and the connections are easy.
1. Start by taking the Savda bus from Courmayeur to Arnuva. Walk over the Grand Col Ferret to La Fouly (or Ferret if you prefer). Catch the Post Bus to Osieres where you change for the bus to Champex.
2. Make sure you carry some Swiss Francs to pay for the bus journey from la Fouly to Champex.
3. The way marking on the ground now seems to take a higher route to Ferret as opposed to that marked on the map. All routes do eventually reach La Fouly.
Linea Courmayeur to Val Ferret - Operating daily from Courmayeur to Val Ferret from late June until the middle of September. Timetables are available at the beginning of the summer season and can be found here: http://www.savda.it/ -> click on Timetables and Prices - > Public Regional Line -> Val Ferret for Bonatti/Arnurva)
From La Fouly; take the the Swiss Post Bus via Orsières to Champex.
Timetables available at the bus stop in La Fouly or on-line below.
Timetables La Fouly – Orsières/Orsieres to Champex here: http://www.sbb.ch/fahrplan.html ->Search Orsières to Champex (Lac)
Points of Interest
Grand Col Ferret
The Grand Col Ferret (2,537 metres) separates Italy and Switzerland and also forms the boundary between the Mont Blanc massif and the Pennine Alps. If you are walking the traditional Tour du Mont Blanc without embarking on any of the high route variants then this pass is the highest elevation you will reach.
Refuge La Peule
As well as welcoming walkers with refreshments, this isolated refuge is still a working dairy farm (you may even hear the jangling cowbells to prove it!), which allows a fantastic opportunity to experience local farm life and even taste some of the local produce!
Food and Drink
Between Arnuva and La Fouly there are few opportunities to buy food or drink so be sure to bring enough provisions with you.
You will pass Chalet Val Ferret, Rifugio Elena and Rifugio La Peule and La Fouly has a modest supermarket and a variety of cafes and restaurants.