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Fitness
Hiking trail

Les Chapieux/Refuge des Mottets to La Visaille

Hiking trail · Rhône-Alpes
Responsible for this content
Macs Adventure Verified partner  Explorers Choice 
  • Climbing From Vallée des Glacieres
    / Climbing From Vallée des Glacieres
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / Alpine Backdrops
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / Peering over Col de la Seigne into Italy
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / View to Mont Blanc
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / La Casermetta
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / Reflections in Val Veni
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
m 2800 2600 2400 2200 2000 1800 1600 1400 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 km Ville Des Glaciers Col de la Seige La Visaille

Just across the Col de la Seigne lies Italy. Today is an easy day compared to the last two; a short climb to the Col is followed by a gentle descent through the valley with sensational views throughout. Catch a bus from La Visaille to Courmayeur for your overnight accommodation.
moderate
14.2 km
5:00 h
646 m
850 m

As you ascend a series of switchbacks from Refuge des Mottets, the verdant pastoral slopes of the Vallée des Glacieres, which echo to the sound of cowbells and the shrill whistles of marmots, demand your attention with every twist and turn of the trail revealing something new. On almost any other day this climb would be the highlight of the walk, but today that prize goes to the Col de la Seigne.

The Col de la Seigne forms the Alpine frontier between France and Italy. As you straddle this border with a foot in each country, the panorama of mountains that greets you will leave an unfading image in your memory of the Tour du Mont Blanc. You are on the southern fringes of the Mont Blanc massif, so looking north reveals a jagged assortment of peaks, glaciers that cling to the steep and rocky slopes and waterfalls that plunge into the valley. It is from this dramatic viewpoint that you must tear yourself away to descend into Italy.

... but don’t fret, the descent remains spectacular. Those craggy peaks you looked at from afar will soon loom directly over you as you wander beside an icy stream that threads through the valley in fractured channels and collects in still pools and lakes to provide a crystal reflection of the surrounding mountains.

We have split the Refuge des Mottets to Courmayeur section into two days to avoid a long one, so this track goes to La Visaille from where you can take a bus to Courmayeur. You can return to this majestic valley tomorrow, re-energised and ready to appreciate it in full.

 

Author’s recommendation

Check out La Casermetta museum. You will pass this isolated hut on the descent from Col de la Seigne.
outdooractive.com User
Author
Josiah Skeats
Updated: February 13, 2020

Difficulty
moderate
Technique
Stamina
Experience
Landscape
Highest point
2521 m
Lowest point
1667 m

Rest Stop

Rifugio Elisabetta

Safety information

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 path is along 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.

Tips, hints and links

Points of Interest

La Casermetta

Just below Col de la Seigne on the Italian side you will pass La Casermetta Museum. Inside is a scale model of the Mont Blanc massif and information panels which explore the environmental, historical and cultural significance of the Mont Blanc region.

More information available here: http://www.autourdumontblanc.com/en/index.cfm/casermetta-espace-mont-blanc.html

 

Monument to the November 1st Plane Crash

Plaques, flags, and an information board close to Refuge des Mottets remember an incident from November 1946, when an American bomber plane crashed into the Aiguille des Glaciers just below the summit. 8 crew members were lost, and were only repatriated to the United States in the 1970’s when they emerged from the ice.

More information available here: http://www.b17montblanc.org/en/historical-facts/overview.html

 

Transport 

Shuttle bus from Les Chapieux to Les Mottets

If you are staying in Les Chapieux you can take a shuttle bus to Mottets. The shuttle from Les Chapieux to Mottets operates from approx. beginning of July to the end of August. Specific timetables are not available until the start of the summer season. For more information, please visit the following website closer to the time of departure: https://en.lesarcs.com/move-around/bourg-saint-maurice.html 

 June/September: When the shuttle is not operating, you should plan on walking. Alternatively, Taxi Besson are now offering a shuttle service between Les Chapieux and Les Mottets, by reservation. Call them the night before or ask your accommodation to do this. Places are limited and payment is direct to the driver: Taxi Besson: http://www.taxi-montblanc.com/  Tel : +0033450936207

Bus from La Visaille to Courmayeur

From the beginning of July until the beginning of September, a bus operates between La Visaille and Courmayeur.

Buses leave about every hour and operate approximately between 8:00 and 21:00. You can purchase a ticket from the driver which will cost a few euros.

 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 -> Courmayeur/Val Veny

 

Food and Drink

Between Refuge des Mottets and La Visaille there are few opportunities to buy food or drink, so be sure to bring enough provisions with you. Refuge des Mottets can prepare a packed lunch for you. You will pass Refuge Elisabetta and Caban du Combal after 7.9 and 11.5 kilometres, respectively.

Start

Refuge des Mottets (1875 m)
Coordinates:
Geographic
45.736981, 6.779115
UTM
32T 327219 5067223

Destination

La Visaille (Val Veni) Bus Stop

Turn-by-turn directions

Start climbing the switchback path that heads uphill from Refuge des Mottets and away from the river coursing through the valley. At 1.2 kilometres you must bear left to cross a stream, following the sign to Col de la Seigne, and at 1.8 kilometres there is a second stream to cross; bear in mind that the stepping stones may be slippery when wet.

As you near the top of Col de la Seigne (2,516m), a startling view to the Mont Blanc summit will appear, framed by the craggy Pyramides Calcaires. Straddle the col with one foot in France and the other in Italy, and then begin your descent into the valley. At 5.2 kilometres you will pass La Casermetta (see ‘Points of Interest’ section). You descend all the way to the river that threads through the valley in fractured channels, while the mountains appear to grow in stature around you. At 7.9 kilometres you will pass Refugio Elisabetta on your left, set against the backdrop of a glacier.

At 11.2 kilometres the path will fork with the TMB and Courmayeur signposted on the right footpath that heads uphill. Continue along the road if you wish to take the bus to Courmayeur. After 150 metres, having crossed a bridge over the river, you can visit the refuge on your left, but turn right to walk along the mostly-paved road that heads downhill with the river on your right. At 13.5 kilometres you can bear right from the road to walk through the woodland for a short section.

At 14.2 kilometres the road crosses a bridge over the river. Once across, there will the La Visaille bus stop on your right with buses to Courmayeur running 1 – 2 times per hour throughout summer. The full schedule is available here: http://www.savda.it/public/documenti/352.pdf

If you wish to walk the final 5km into Courmayeur, continue along the path following the signs to Courmayeur

 

Note


all notes on protected areas

Arrival by train, car, foot or bike

Equipment

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.


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Difficulty
moderate
Distance
14.2 km
Duration
5:00h
Ascent
646 m
Descent
850 m

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