Grande Casse, Savoie’s highest peak

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The Grande Casse is a mountain situated in the French Alps. At an altitude reaching 3,855 m (12,648 ft) above sea-level, it is the highest peak of the Vanoise massif and the département of Savoie.


The Grande Casse, Savoie’s highest peak

The Grande-Casse from the Vanoise Pass © French Moments

The Grande-Casse from the Vanoise Pass © French Moments

The Grande Casse is situated between the communes of Pralognan-la-Vanoise, Champagny-en-Vanoise and Termignon.

The mountain is connected to the Grande Motte by a 2km long ridge which is the watershed between the Tarentaise Valley (North) and the Maurienne Valley (South).

The summit of the Grande Casse was first reached by William Mathews with guides Michel Croz and Etienne Favre on 8th August 1860.

The ridge that links the Grande Casse to the Grande Motte was crossed for the first time in August 1942 by Abbot Louis Pellicier (priest of Tignes), Michel Barrault and Jean Quelin.

Unlike the Mont Blanc or Mont Pourri, the Grande-Casse cannot be seen from the road. To have a peek at the mountain, you’ll need to walk up to high places above the valleys. Or, if you don’t fancy the physical effort, get to the Mont Bochor, La Saulire or La Roche de Mio by cable-car.

Actually the Grande-Casse can be seen from one road only! Drive the narrow road that links Pralognan-la-Vanoise to the hamlet of Les Prioux. You’ll be spoilt with a beautiful view of the Grande-Casse.

The Great alignment of the Vanoise peaks

Grande Casse Pralognan © French Moments

The view of the Grande-Casse from the road to Les Prioux © French Moments

It is from the road leading to Les Prioux or from the top of the Petit Mont-Blanc that the ‘great alignment‘ of the mountains of Pralognan can be admired.

The mountain landscape above the village of Pralognan is one of the most spectacular of the Alps.

You will see three mountains aligned:

  1. First the rounded dome of the Moriond (2,298m).
  2. Then behind it the pointed peak of the Aiguille de la Vanoise (2,796m).
  3. Followed by the two peaks of the Grande Casse and its glaciers (3,855m).

The faces of the three mountains are all different, which amplifies the grand vista of this amphitheatre.

Why the name of Grande Casse?

The Grande-Casse from the Vanoise Pass © French Moments

The glaciers of the Grande-Casse from the Vanoise Pass © French Moments

The Grande Casse (French for the Great Cracking) owes its name from the people of Termignon, village of the Maurienne Valley. When coming from Termignon, the mountain face is characterised by massive scree slopes which are devoid of vegetation. It looks like the mountain has broken into parts… hence its name!


The North and West Faces

The Grande Casse has two main faces: 

The North face

This mountain face shows a rocky part 800-900 m high. It is recognisable by the vertical ravines that striate the its rock face. The North face is the most important ice route South of the Mont Blanc massif.

You can see it from the valley of Champagny-en-Vanoise, the domain of La Plagne and the Beaufortain mountains.

North Face of Grande Casse © French Moments

The North Face of the Grande-Casse. View from the Beaufortain © French Moments

Vanoise, Roche de Mio, La Plagne © French Moments

The Grande-Casse (left) and the Grand Bec (right) from the Roche de Mio (La Plagne) © French Moments

Mont Saint-Jacques, La Plagne in Autumn © French Moments

The Grande Casse from Mont Saint-Jacques © French Moments

The West Face

The West face is the most elegant of the mountain. It has become famous for its picture-perfect postcard view from Pralognan. It takes the shape of a M with its two pointed peaks linked by glaciers (Pointe de la Grande-Casse [3,855m] and Pointe Mathews [3,783m]).

One of the best views of the Grande Casse’s West face is from the road leading to the hamlet of Les Prioux, from Mont-Bochor, from the Lac des Vaches, and – further away – from La Saulire (domain of Courchevel).

The Grande-Casse from Mont Bochor © French Moments

The Grande-Casse from Mont Bochor © French Moments

Lac des Vaches Vanoise © French Moments

The Lac des Vaches on the way to the Vanoise Pass © French Moments

Grande Casse from Saulire, Courchevel © French Moments

Grande-Casse from La Saulire (Courchevel) © French Moments 

And this view of the Grande-Casse was taken from the summit of the Semnoz mountain near Annecy:

Grande Casse, Vanoise © French Moments

The Grande-Casse seen from the Semnoz mountain © French Moments

 

Where to find the Grande-Casse?

 
For more info about the province of Savoie, check out the Tourist Board of Savoie-Mont-Blanc.

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Inspired by the Vanoise massif? Pin it for later: 

Discover the Grande-Casse, the highest peak of Vanoise © French Moments


 

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About Author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. In 2014 he moved back to Europe from Sydney with his wife and daughter to be closer to their families and to France. He has a background teaching French and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations and a degree of Economics and Management.

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