Stay at the Heart of the Valdigne to ski in Courmayeur, La Thuile and Pila/Aosta

Il Cuore della Valdigne. Stay at the Heart of the Valdigne to ski in Courmayeur, La Thuile and Pila/Aosta.

Stay at the Heart of the Valdigne (Il Cuore della Valdigne) to ski in Courmayeur, La Thuile and Pila/Aosta for your ski or summer holiday.

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The Aosta Valley is magnificent from wherever you look at it. Great mountains, from the Mont Blanc, Monte Cervino (Matterhorn) and Monterosa, to glaciers, rivers, hot springs, lakes, you name it.

Living room at Il Cuore della Valdigne. Stay at the Heart of the Valdigne to ski in Courmayeur, La Thuile and Pila/Aosta.
Living room at Il Cuore della Valdigne. Stay at the Heart of the Valdigne to ski in Courmayeur, La Thuile and Pila/Aosta.

Having a holiday there is the best way to disconnect from everyday worries, the rat race and why all of us who love the mountains, want to at least, do once a year.

Il Cuore della Valdigne is a beautiful stone and wood apartment in the middle of the Valdigne, the valley of the Mont Blanc, what in my opinion, has the nicest vistas of the Aosta Valley and one of the nicest of the Alps.

Being in the middle of Morgex, just 10’ outside Courmayeur, 3 minutes from the Pré Saint Didier terme (natural hot springs) and 20’ from La Thuile, and to the other side, 25’ to Aosta and the gondola of Pila, the chalet is located in a great strategic location for going skiing, cross country skiing (in Arpy, Val Ferret or Cogne), mountain biking, snow shoeing, winter walking, white water rafting and relaxing in the hot springs.

Living room at Il Cuore della Valdigne. Stay at the Heart of the Valdigne to ski in Courmayeur, La Thuile and Pila/Aosta.
Living room at Il Cuore della Valdigne. Stay at the Heart of the Valdigne to ski in Courmayeur, La Thuile and Pila/Aosta.

The apartment has two bedrooms and two bathrooms with showers in two floors, a living room with a double-sided chimney that also opens to the dining room. The wooden kitchen with the slate kitchen top is a delight, with all you need if you fancy doing a big meal. If you don’t, no worries, you are a stone throw away from many bars and restaurants in Morgex: Mont Blanc Café, Café de l’Archet, La Locanda, Trattoria da Bepe, and if you fancy something much more deluxe, the renown Casa Quinson, all within two blocks from the apartment.

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Spot on: Gran Baita Hotel – Courmayeur

Gran Baita Executive room with outside pool with jacuzzi. Photo: Gran Baita Hotel Courmayeur. Spot on: Gran Baita Hotel – Courmayeur

Spot on: Gran Baita Hotel – Courmayeur

This article may contain affiliate/compensated links. For full information, please see our disclaimer here.

The Gran Baita Hotel is a four starts hotel, part of the Alpissima group of hotels in the Aosta Valley. It is located in Courmayeur, 15 minutes from the Armani funicular, 10 minutes from the Via Roma, the elegant pedestrianised shopping road in Courmayeur, and five minutes-drive with a free hotel transfer to the Dolonne gondola.

It is located in a quiet and elegant neighbourhood in Courmayeur, with amazing vistas of the Mont Blanc chain, and the characteristic Dent de Géant peak. I totally recommend it as a lovely hotel to go for your ski or summer holidays.

Restaurant of the Gran Baita. Spot on: Gran Baita Hotel – Courmayeur
Restaurant of the Gran Baita. Spot on: Gran Baita Hotel – Courmayeur

Decoration is all in the Valdostan style, with lots of wood and cosy interiors. The hotel has 54 well-appointed rooms, many of them with balconies offering magnificent views of the Alps, as Courmayeur is located just by the Mont Blanc and the views everywhere you look at, are amazing! From the regular rooms, many of which are being renovated for the next winter holiday, to the Executive Rooms, with a wooden rustic-chic feel and mini private outside pools with jacuzzi, you have a choice for your stay. Some of the rooms are connecting, to house families. I’ve recently stayed in Room 222, that does not look towards the pool, but has a lovely feeling, with two balconies, and you can see the Dent de Géant while in the balcony. Completely loved my room. Travelled with my mum and she said she wants to buy it!

The in-house restaurant is lovely decorated in wood with oozes cosiness and offers local and international dishes.  La Sapiniere, is their newest addition, a stübe, typical from the Alps, serving Valdostan cuisine in a super cozy ambiance. The American bar has a welcoming fireplace and a spacious terrace with amazing views of the Mont Blanc and the surrounding mountains.

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Our Route des Grandes Alpes to cross from France into Italy

A stop for lunch at Notre Dame de Bellecombe. Our Route des Grandes Alpes to cross from France into Italy.

Our Route des Grandes Alpes to cross from France into Italy

This past summer we went to have a holiday in the mountains. From Chamonix we were off onto Courmayeur. But it was a Saturday – what is considered here in the mountains as a Samedi Noir or Sabato Nero, meaning very long queues to cross the Mont Blanc Tunnel.

This past summer was ridiculously hot – even in the mountains – with the temperature being 31 C in Chamonix in the morning – imagine staying a couple of hours in line to cross the Mont Blanc Tunnel did not seem too much fun at the time.

How adventures start - with a good map. The IGN Route des Grandes Alpes. Our Route des Grandes Alpes to cross from France into Italy.
How adventures start – with a good map. The IGN Route des Grandes Alpes. Our Route des Grandes Alpes to cross from France into Italy.

I’ve asked the evening before some friends I have in Chamonix on how other way we could go – and how about taking the Petit St Bernard Pass. Arnaud Jamson, the deputy director of the Chamonix Tourism Office suggested me to go all around and stop in Megève for lunch, then go to the Lac du Roselend and from there go up to La Rosière to cross into La Thuile through the Petit St Bernard. This is a typical road for motorcyclists and bikers alike – many of these roads have been used by the Tour de France!

As I have a memory of a mosquito, I’ve asked at the hotel’s reception where I could get a good map, and I was told to go into the main street in Chamonix. There is a wonderful books and magazine store – that I could stayed for hours just looking around, where I bought the IGN Map of Route des Grandes Alpes. I love maps and this one was a great addition to my collection.

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Our family hike in Pila during the past summer holiday

On the way to Lago Chamolé with the family. Our family hike in Pila during the past summer holiday.

Our family hike in Pila during the past summer holiday

Last season we’ve had a holiday in the mountains, staying in Courmayeur. We tend to go to the Aosta Valley every winter, and we’ve passed by Aosta coming back from Lake Como a couple of times, but we never went up the mountain up from Aosta. My kids are very keen of Pila, as it is the very first resort where my youngest learnt how to ski, and the first European resort where my oldest skied. Pila is just on top of the city of Aosta, the capital of the Aosta Valley, in the border of Italy with France to the West and Switzerland to the North.

On top of the gondola from Aosta parking lot to the base area of Pila. Our family hike in Pila during the past summer holiday.
On top of the gondola from Aosta parking lot to the base area of Pila. Our family hike in Pila during the past summer holiday.

This week we have chosen to stay in Courmayeur was a bit unsettled, you had nice weather in the morning and torrential rain in the afternoon, so we needed to choose the gap when to go up in order not to get soaked!

We went in the morning, Pila is 30’ through the motorway from Courmayeur, and 40-45’ if coming through the scenic national route. We went through the nice route and left the car in the parking lot of Pila by the train station in Aosta.

On top of the Chamolé chairlift. Our family hike in Pila during the past summer holiday.
On top of the Chamolé chairlift. Our family hike in Pila during the past summer holiday.

My kids were really excited, and so were my husband and myself, to get into the 18’ Leitner gondola ride up the mountain. It is weird to see all the mountain without snow, and weirder to see the landing of the gondola full of grass and nicely piquet fencing to direct the ‘pietons’ up or down the mountain.

We’ve started by going down to the start of the Chamolé chairlift. Walking down it seemed much shorter than going on skis – which I find weird, but I guess that not having to pass by all those ‘Interskiers’- (as we call the kids that come with Interski to Pila in the winter) who barricade the exit of the gondola, makes it a smoother walk down.

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Work is underway to open the Petit St Bernard Pass – up to 7 meters of snow.

Work is underway to open the Petit St Bernard Pass – up to 7 meters of snow. Ski Map of La Rosière and La Thuile.

Work is underway to open the Petit St Bernard Pass – up to 7 meters of snow.

From AostaSera.it

LA THUILE – The abundant snowfall on the Piccolo San Bernardo hill, at 2,200 meters above sea level, has led to the formation of a thick layer of snow along the highway that leads to the border crossing with the territory of Savoy, in France. In some sections the snow accumulations reach 7 meters in height. The reopening of the pass is scheduled for the end of May.

Work is underway to open the Petit St Bernard Pass – up to 7 meters of snow. Photo: AostaSera
Work is underway to open the Petit St Bernard Pass – up to 7 meters of snow. Photo: AostaSera

ANAS is at work at the Colle del piccolo San Bernardo (Petit St Bernard’s pass) for its reopening. The abundant rainfall on the Piccolo San Bernardo hill, at 2,200 meters, has led to the formation of a thick layer of snow along the highway that leads to the border crossing with the territory of Savoy, in France. In some sections the accumulations reach 7 meters in height.

“The activities are carried out with turbine blades able to cut the compact front, collecting and channelling the snow which is then ejected at a distance of several meters from the roadway using the ejector pipes”.

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The Half Term Family Ski Holiday that did not result as planned

My youngest son at Maison Vielle- with the majestic Mont Blanc behind. Photo: The-Ski-Guru. The Half Term Family Ski Holiday that did not result as planned.

The Half Term Family Ski Holiday that did not result as planned

Our Family Half Term ski holiday is always decided one year in advance. Pretty much we always go to the Aosta Valley, as my youngest boy does not want to change location. I see it with my family, and I’ve seen it with many people over the years (even with myself when I’ve started skiing while much younger!)

You go to one resort, you get familiarised with it, and you don’t want to change! All is easy, and just changing to another resort, makes it too challenging. I see it as using an old pair of jeans, that you don’t want to change for something else!

So, we were set to leave the Friday before the half term- as my husband is the sole driver (for me it was too difficult changing sides of the road when I’ve moved from Argentina to the UK, that I daren’t do it again!)

Getting up early pays off - usually. Photo: The-Ski-Guru. The Half Term Family Ski Holiday that did not result as planned.
Getting up early pays off – usually. Photo: The-Ski-Guru. The Half Term Family Ski Holiday that did not result as planned.

Our car has been acting funny since September, when the Turbo went off. Then it started revving between 2nd and 3rd gears and we’ve took it twice to the mechanics. The first time we were said it was solved, but it was not, and I’ve took the car back in the garage two weeks before leaving. I did not have the car until the Wednesday of the week we were leaving – we were leaving at 4 AM on the Friday of that week and I was already very nervous about it and seeing if we could rent a car in the UK to cross to the continent.

Apparently, you can do so with Hertz and Avis, but obviously these cars do not bring roof rack, nor winter tyres or chains. So, I was budgeting all that just in case. My husband was saying that if we did not have our car back, we were staying and cancelling the trip, and my kids and me were completely distraught at the thought of it.

The car came out off the garage so then we were going to be ready to go. The night after taking our dog to some friends to look after him, my husband told me that the revving was still there, but that I should not worry. He was sure that this was not going to be anything.

Off we went with our skis, helmets, ski boots, all the paraphernalia you take when you go skiing. We set out in good time and at the Eurotunnel we were given a crossing one hour earlier, so we had time only to go to the bathroom and pick up some coffee and croissants to eat in the car.

We had a very good driving. Last year there was snow from home all the way to Folkestone and from Calais all the way to Italy. This time all the roads were clean, and the weather was beautiful, pretty warm too. This was not the best snow year for the Alps – (Austria and Eastern Switzerland got lots of snow, as well as other Eastern European countries like Romania), but for France, Italy and Western Switzerland the snow was ok, but just.

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7 killed as helicopter and light aircraft crash over the Ruitor Glacier near La Thuile in the Italian Alps

7 killed as helicopter and light aircraft crash over the Ruitor Glacier near La Thuile in the Italian Alps

7 killed as helicopter and light aircraft crash over the Ruitor Glacier near La Thuile in the Italian Alps.

From CNN and AFP/NST

Emergency services on Saturday found the bodies of two people missing after a helicopter and a small plane collided above a glacier in the Italian Alps the previous day, taking the total number killed to seven.

The crash occurred over the Rutor glacier near La Thuile, in the Aosta Valley, close to northern Italy’s border with France and Switzerland.

7 killed as helicopter and light aircraft crash over the Ruitor Glacier near La Thuile in the Italian Alps. Photo: Corpo Nazionale Soccorso Alpino e Speleologico.
7 killed as helicopter and light aircraft crash over the Ruitor Glacier near La Thuile in the Italian Alps. Photo: Corpo Nazionale Soccorso Alpino e Speleologico.

Five people were confirmed dead and two injured on Friday.

The two people who remained missing were found after the search resumed Saturday morning.

Two helicopters were sent up carrying medical personnel and emergency rescue workers to scour the area, the officer said. All those on board the two aircraft are now accounted for.

The helicopter was carrying six people — the pilot, an alpine guide and four passengers who were heli-skiing. Three people were aboard the light aircraft, all of them pilots who were training in mountain flying.

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Spot on Cervino Ski Paradise for the 2018-19 ski season

A skier with the Monte Cervino in its background. Spot on Cervino Ski Paradise for the 2018-19 ski season. Photo: Enrico Romanzi. Cervinia Ski Paradise.

What is new in the Cervino Ski Paradise for the 2018-19 ski season. Cervino Ski Paradise is comprised of 5 resorts, 3 districts and 2 nations (counting Cervinia, Zermatt and Valtournenche)

The ski lifts open early in Cervinia- by mid-October for the weekends and then they started on 27th October opening daily and they will remain opened until 5th May. This network of trails from both sides of the Monte Cervino -(or Matterhorn) allows you to never take your skis to admire the Cervino from both the Italian and Swiss sides, while being ‘captured’ to stop at any of the many rifugios for a quick warm up and to admire the views – people on both sides like to stop in Cervinia due to the rates being much cheaper in EUR than in CHF.

Fireworks with the Monte Cervino in the background. Photo Cervino Ski Paradise. Spot on Cervino Ski Paradise for the 2018-19 ski season.
Fireworks with the Monte Cervino in the background. Photo Cervino Ski Paradise. Spot on Cervino Ski Paradise for the 2018-19 ski season.

On top of Cervinia, Valtournenche and Zermatt, there are two other locations – Chamois, a magnificent village reached only by cable-car, and Torngon- a village that dominates the valley and is affectionately known as “pays du soleil” – or sun village. Both hamlets are more quiet, great places for families to stay and experience nature at first hand.

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A trekking day with the family in Cervinia.

The sky allowed us to see for a bit the Monte Cervino, later the clouds covered it. Photo by The-Ski-Guru.

We were lucky this summer to stay for a week in Courmayeur, and we had a couple of days out going on different trekkings. I’ll write about our week in Courmayeur later. We decided to visit Cervinia one day with the family. From Courmayeur to Aosta, you have 40’ through the national route or 30’ through the A5, and then you continue to the east and for half an hour to the north through a windy road you arrive to Cervinia. All in all is about 1 ½ hours away.

 

Arriving into Cervinia through the last tunnel. Photo: The-Ski-Guru. Family day in Cervinia
Arriving into Cervinia through the last tunnel. Photo: The-Ski-Guru. Family day in Cervinia

Arriving in Cervinia

The first thing you start seeing on the road is the majestic Matterhorn, which is called Monte Cervino in the Italian side. The Matterhorn/Cervino is surely the most photographed and known mountain in Europe, not the tallest- that is the mighty Mont Blanc (just between Courmayeur and Chamonix)

I have been a couple of times in Zermatt now (and will write a must-read guide soon), but the first thing that called my attention, is that the Cervino’s peak seems much bigger on this side. This is, I was told, because you are at a higher altitude in Cervinia than in Zermatt, so you are just more near the peak.

The boys with the Monte Cervino in the backdrop. A trekking day with the family in Cervinia.
The boys with the Monte Cervino in the backdrop. A trekking day with the family in Cervinia.

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Last part of our family half term trip – Picture-perfect Courmayeur Mont Blanc.

Waiting for the funicular to go down into Courmayeur- Courmayeur Mont Blanc- Picture perfect Courmayeur. Photo by The-Ski-Guru

So we left Pila that afternoon, came down the gondola to Aosta, drove to our house in Charvensod and packed the car. Off we left when the sun was setting down and said goodbye to Aosta, ready for our next adventure on our family half term trip– Courmayeur Mont Blanc.

Picture perfect Courmayeur - Plan Chécrouit. Photo by The-Ski-Guru. Last part of our family half term trip – Picture-perfect Courmayeur Mont Blanc.
Picture perfect Courmayeur – Plan Chécrouit. Photo by The-Ski-Guru

We were not going to be long in Courmayeur, only a couple of nights. I have been there previously with the family every year having breakfast the last Saturday of the week, and recently visiting in November for a couple of nights during a working trip.



Booking.com

But I wanted to be feeling what is to be there, staying overnight and sharing it with my family. We arrived in Courmayeur and we had a reservation in the Edelweiss hotel, a 2* hotel right in the middle of town. As this was carnival week, it was extremely difficult to find a place where to sleep, more for only two nights, when the hotel owners could sell the full week. But thanks to some contacts within Courmayeur, I’ve got this hotel, which is very simple, but really nice. I would say it is more a 3*. Maybe the breakfast is simple and that gets it down to a 2*, plus the restaurant does not open for lunch and dinner (it opens for all meals only in the summer), and that might affect the star count.

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