Things to do in LaThuile in the Summer
LaThuile has the most beautiful walks. You can find a map at the Tourist Information but this is relatively unhelpful as the walks are miles and miles long, and are more serious hikes for serious hikers than the sort of walk that’s actually enjoyable. However, it is possible to cheat, and drive part of the way.
I write this after a beautiful 2-hour walk through a valley, a short drive from the town.
- Leave LaThuile on the SS26 towards San Bernardo pass. After passing Ristorante Lo Riondet, start to look for a parking place on the right—it’s at the next big corner.
- Follow the track through pine trees, catching brief glimpses of the most beautiful valley in the world (see previous blog).
- When you see a bridge over the river on your left, turn off the main track and cross the river. If you look up, you will see a cave above you. (If you venture up there, let me know what was inside.)
- Follow the track to the left. It goes uphill slightly, but nothing scary. You will pass some derelict houses and some cows, and depending on where the farmer has laid his electric fence, you might need to cross it. (Note on electric fences: If you touch the wire, it hurts. A lot. However, the stick securing it to the ground is not usually electrified—so test this theory by touching it with a blade of grass, then you can lift the stick, shimmy under the wire, replace the stick in the ground.)
- When the path forks, take the left fork, which heads down towards the river.
- Cross the river on the footbridge.
- Either turn left, and follow the track back to the car, or continue right for a while until you reach the farmhouse/viewpoint, then retrace your steps.
Another good walk, that’s slightly shorter, is to Lake Arpy. Take the SR39 from LaThuile, and park at the top of the mountain, where there’s a pub and a couple of car parks. (The car parks are easy to find, a space is less easy, so you might need to abandon your car on the road somewhere.) The footpaths up are clearly marked, and relatively easy (though slightly steep in places). The lake is very pretty, and in the summer people sit up there, reading or chatting. Some (silly ones?) even swim in the icy water (but not for long!) There are good views of Mont Blanc as you walk back down. It takes about 30 minutes to reach the lake from the car park.
If you fancy a drive rather than a walk, then going to look at the glacier in Courayeur is fun. You never manage to get especially near to it (unless you’re a climber) but the road, Via Val Veny, rises above the town to opposite the glacier. You have a good view of the Mont Blanc tunnel.
There is a little church on the hillside: Notre Dame de Guerison. Inside are lots of votives left by climbers who are thankful to still be alive. There have been icons there since 1753, and a chapel since 1781. When we visited, there was a service, and a surprising number of people had driven up the mountain to attend it. Opposite is a small gift shop, for people who want to buy a fridge magnet with a saint on it.
You might enjoy Courmayeur itself. I didn’t. It was okay for a quick stroll, but there were too many designer shops and designer people (the sort of people with matching socks and weekly pedicures and a touch of plastic surgery). I enjoyed our first visit (see previous blog) but was disappointed when we went back. Perhaps it’s better in the rain, when you just want a cosy café and a decent coffee (those, it has).
Hope you have some fun days this week. Thanks for reading.
Love, Anne x
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