Found within the peaks of the French Alps, the Vanoise National Park is a protected natural reserve full of hiking trails, ancient glaciers, vegetation and animal life. It is here that the Col des Fours is located and is known as a relaxed hiking path for nature lovers looking for a lesser-known trail within unspoiled nature.

In this post, we will share all the ins and outs of visiting Col des Fours Bonneval-sur-Arc within the Vanoise National Park; including how to get there, what to expect, tips and also lodging recommendations for your perfect holiday within the French Alps.

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Where is Col des Fours and how to get there

Col des Fours is a mountain pass found within the Vanoise National Park, which is a protected natural area between the Tarentaise and Maurienne valleys in the French Alps. There are a few different ways to get to the pass, like a train and then coach bus services, however, the most convenient way is to hire a car. Drive along the D902 road from Bonneval-sur-Arc and park your car at the Pont de la Neige car park at an elevation of 2,530 metres. From that point, there is a well-marked trail that leads you onto a scenic ascent through the Illards stream coomb, where you will pass by the ancient Jave glacier before finally reaching the col at an elevation of 2,976 metres.

Hiking to Col des Fours gives you a very unique experience in the high altitudes of the French Alps. There is a wide variety of vegetation that is unique to the alpine environment, which has taken over parts of the land in the summer months when the glacier retreats. From the top peak of the Col des Fours, you have stunning panoramic views of the surrounding area, including the border with Italy.

There are other challenging routes in the area, such as the Tour of the Vanoise and the Tour des Glaciers de la Vanoise – which are multiday trekking excursions – but the Col des Fours is a more achievable hiking trip for most nature lovers.

What you can find at Col des Fours

Once you arrive at the Col des Fours, you will notice the stunning beauty of nature and realise just how big this area is. Although hiking trips are most commonly done in the summer months, you will still be able to see the snow-capped peaks of the surrounding mountains around you.

Be aware that the higher peaks of the trail will still be covered in snow during early summer. So make sure to plan accordingly and bring the proper equipment for the weather.

From here you can decide on the trail that you wish to follow, with easier options for walking and taking in the natural flora and fauna. It is a great starting point for exploring and if you prefer a more challenging excursion, then the Vanoise National Park includes many more hiking options.


The flora and fauna around Col des Fours

A standout feature of the Col des Fours is its biodiversity, with over 1,400 plant species (65 of which are protected) and is also home to France’s largest ibex colony. In the summer, naturally, the area is bursting with life as local alpine wildflowers and herbs, such as edelweiss, roses and gentians fill the meadows. For those who love to birdwatch or get a glimpse at the animals in the area, you can easily spot eagles, ibex and marmots.

This area is perfect for nature photography and observing wildlife. But, always keep in mind to be respectful of nature, clean up your trash and please, do not approach any animals as they are wild.


Key landmarks and unmissable sights at Col des Fours

While you are surrounded by natural beauty in Col des Fours, there are also many unmissable landmarks that you should visit while hiking in the area. Of course, perhaps one of the main attractions is the Vanoise National Park itself, which is France’s first national park that opened in 1963. The park covers 535 square kilometres and is connected to the Italian Gran Paradiso National Park, making it one of the largest protected areas in Western Europe. There are over 400 kilometres of marked trails, ranging in difficulty levels, and 40 refuges within the park.

Leading us to our next landmark, the Refuge du Fond des Fours, a traditional mountain cabin. It is managed by the French Alpine Club and is a necessary base for hikers to spend the night and rest during their multiday trekking trips. Located at 2,533 metres, the refuge is accessible at the beginning of the valley of Val d’Isère.

During the winter, the famous Alpine ski resorts of Val d’Isère and Tignes give adventure lovers a charming ski village atmosphere with over 300 kilometres of ski runs. In the summer the Val d’Isère area transforms into a place for adventure sports, with mountain biking, hiking, and rock climbing offered.

Tignes also provides year-round sporting activities. Perhaps best known for its Grand Motte glacier, Tignes provides skiing even in the summer months. You can also go paragliding and do other water activities on the nearby lake. Tignes is popular with the younger crowd since it has an exciting nightlife with plenty of bars, restaurants and clubs.

Discover Col des Flours with Alpvision Residences

Col des Fours is an absolute treasure, rich in natural beauty, biodiversity and adventure. You not only have the opportunity to take advantage of this unique landscape but also relax in the peace and tranquillity the area can give you. Whether you are an experienced hiker, looking to climb glaciers or mountain peaks, a wildlife enthusiast, or just simply someone trying to escape the busy life of a city, Col des Fours is a great escape out of the ordinary.

Don’t forget, when planning your trip to the French Alps consider the undeniable comfort of having great accommodations. Alpvision Residences is the perfect option, with a vast variety of lodging available, like chalets, cabins and apartments. The perfect unit is available for any party size, conveniently located in multiple towns throughout the French and Swiss Alps.