Highlights of the Tour Du Mont Blanc: Val Ferret

Whilst every place along the Tour du Mont Blanc is visually stunning, the Val Ferret really does take some beating! Val Ferret is a valley in Italy which runs from Courmayeur to a tiny hamlet called Arnuva. Whilst it’s possible to walk this stage of the Tour du Mont Blanc along the valley bottom, the balcony trail is far more interesting. 

On Alpenwild’s Tour du Mont Blanc, we do this hike on the fifth day, after three days of hiking and a well-deserved rest day in Courmayeur. We hike straight from our hotel in Courmayeur to the trail head (stopping via the bakery for fresh bread for our pic nic lunch of course!)

Val Ferret above arnuva
Stunning views along the Val Ferret balcony trail. Photo by Jennifer Stretton

One of the best parts of the Val Ferret balcony trail is that most of the ascent is gained in the first couple of hours, leaving a more leisurely afternoon to enjoy the views. After two hours of hiking up a forest trail, the trees clear and the Bertone Refuge comes into sight. Here you can reward your efforts with a cappuccino on the sun deck.

With most of the hard work done, the afternoon is spent meandering along an undulating trail which affords spectacular views of the Italian side of Mont Blanc and the Grand Jorrasses. On this day of the Tour du Mont Blanc you are walking on the opposite side of the Mont Blanc Massif to Chamonix. Looking back towards Courmayeur, it’s possible to see the Col de la Seigne which divides France and Italy. And looking ahead, the Grand Col Ferret rises up, forming the natural border between Italy and Switzerland.

Val ferret mont blanc
An Alpenwild group posing for photos on the balcony trail above Val Ferret. The Italian side of Mont Blanc is visitble in the background, peaking out of the clouds. Photo by Jennifer Stretton
grand jorasses from val ferret
The Grand Jorasses hiding in the clouds. Some of the hardest climbs in the world are on the North face of the Grand Jorrasses and climbers typically descend the South face into Val Ferret. Staring up at the hanging glaciers of the South face of the Jorrasses, it’s hard to imagine a safe way down to the valley floor! Photo by Jennifer Stretton.

After a few more hours of hiking you will reach a junction. From here you can descend to the valley floor or continue along the balcony trail. If the weather is good, I like to stay high as the views are better and the trail goes past the cosy Bonatti refuge. I always stop here for another coffee (when in Italy!)

apollo butterfly in val ferret
The biodiversity in the Val Ferret is incredible and the variety of wildflowers and butterflies along the trail is outstanding. Keep an eye out for the distinctive Apollo butterfly. Photo by Jennifer Stretton

From the Bonatti refuge it’s just a couple more hours hiking to reach the tiny Arnuva hamlet at the end of Val Ferret. On Alpenwild tours we stay in Arnuva overnight in a beautiful rustic family owned hotel. The hotel only has 10 rooms and is nestled into the hill side to keep it safe from avalanches in winter. On a summers day it’s lovely to spend the afternoon sunbathing on the grassy terrace, gazing up at the glacial peaks. With so little light pollution in the valley, it’s worth staying up late as on a clear night, it’s possible to see the milky way.

chalet val ferret
Chalet Val Ferret sits nestled at the end of Val Ferret. An afternoon sunbathing on the grass outside and a hearty home cooked italian meal is the perfect end to a days hiking! Photo by Jennifer Stretton

From Val Ferret, the next stage of the Tour du Mont Blanc is to climb over the Grand Col Ferret and wave goodbye to Italy and hello to Switzerland. More on that in a future post!

Are you planning to hike the Tour du Mont Blanc?

If you’re planning to hike the Tour du Mont Blanc this summer and looking for a luxury guided trip – why not check out Alpenwild’s Tour du Mont Blanc?

You may also enjoy some of the other articles I’ve written on the Tour du Mont Blanc:

If you have any questions about the Tour du Mont Blanc, leave a comment below and I’ll be happy to answer. 

Jennifer Stretton
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