I still have to pinch myself when I look through the window at the magnificent landscape of the Alps. Snow-capped mountains tower the luxurious Tarentaise Valley. The smells of pine trees and the sound of cow bells in the distance. The tasteful Beaufort cheese and other delicious local produce. Cross-country skiing in the Winter and amazing hikes in the Beaufort massif. Welcome to Granier-sur-Aime, our home base in 2018 and 2019!
Arriving at Granier-sur-Aime
When driving from Moûtiers, you’ll first reach the little town of Aime. This is the last chance to get provisions in supermarkets and grocery stores before heading up to Granier. Aime is located 700 metres above sea level.
The ascent to Granier takes you to 1,250 m. Fortunately, driving up there is not too difficult. There aren’t as many hairpin bends as to reach La Plagne (5 compared to 22), and the road follows the mountain’s gentle slope.
You will cross the villages of Villaroland, Tessens and La Thuile before arriving in Granier-sur-Aime.
The village of Granier-sur-Aime in the ‘Versant du Soleil’
The village occupies a site that looks like a vintage terrace with views into the Tarentaise valley and over to the impressive peaks of the Vanoise massif. Opposite the village are the ski resorts of Les Arcs, Peisey-Vallandry and La Plagne, all situated on the southern slopes of the valley.
The villagers call this favourable exposure the Versant du Soleil (sunny mountain slope) as it is bathed in sunshine all day long.
Granier: the alpine attic!
With a population of about 350, Granier is an old village with houses built in wood and stone tightly packed together. The first written mention of the parish church dates back to 1344. The village name may derive from the old French Granier or Grenier, meaning Attic. It refers to the barns where fodder was once kept for cows.
The old alpine houses
You can still see many very old houses that are typical of that mountainous region. The harvest and fodder were kept just under the rafters in a huge attic room. People and cattle lived on the lower floors.
In 2016, Aime, Montgirod and Granier merged into becoming one commune: Aime-la-Plagne. Granier has since become a “commune déléguée” – a delegated municipality. The town hall (la mairie) is still here, easily recognisable with its pink-coloured façade. It also houses the primary school.
Granier’s parish church
The present village church was built in the 16th century on the site of a former sanctuary from the 14th century. The church is characteristic of Baroque architecture found in the Savoie province. It was first consecrated in 1538 and dedicated to St. Bartholomew (Saint-Barthélémy). The church was enlarged and restored in 1674 and again in 1729. The bell tower was topped with a spire made by Valsesian master mason Pierre Martinet in 1732 (Valsesia is an alpine region now in Italy).
If the church is open, have a peek inside. You’ll admire a fine altarpiece of the high altar in Baroque style. Created in 1677 by Valsesian sculptor Jacques Antoine Todesco, it is characterised by a profusion of ornaments and sculptures finely designed with colours and gold.
If you wander around the village, you’ll stumble upon several chapels and oratories.
Take the Route du Cormet in the direction of the Cormet d’Arêches (that is a mountain pass linking Granier to Arêches).
The orientation table (1308 m)
The small chapel of Notre-Dame du Foyer is only 300 metres from the village. The sanctuary dated from 1941 and was renovated in 2002.
The view from there is one of my favourites. It encompasses the Middle Tarentaise from the Cheval Noir (West, 2,832 m) to the Graian Alps (East), which marks the border with Italy.
Just opposite stretches the vast domain of the ski resort of La Plagne, from Les Coches to Aime 2000 and Montalbert.
An orientation table on the site will help you name the significant peaks and villages.
Prachanié and the grand Bief path
The next stage is the site of the former ski lift at the site known by locals as Prachanié. The mountain pastures alternate with pine forests. A little higher than the car park is a narrow path bordering a stream for more than a kilometre. It is known as ‘le sentier du grand Bief‘.
In Winter, the site of Prachanié hosts a sledge run and is also the starting point for many cross-skiing tracks.
Our friend Valérie who was employed by the local tourist office, ran the ‘buvette de Prachanié‘ on certain days.
The small chalet welcomes the visitors and skiers for coffee, crêpes and other snacks. The terrace of the chalet is exposed to sunlight and offers spectacular views over the surrounding mountains.
Plan Pichu in the Beaufortain
Passed the hamlet of Laval, the mountain road climbs up to Plan Pichu, passed a beautiful waterfall.
This is the land of Tarine cows, marmots and chamois.
The road is not paved all the way, and you may prefer to leave your car near the chalets of Laval.
Near the mountain pass, the refuge of La Coire (2,059 m) marks the limit between the Tarentaise and the Beaufortain.
What to see around Granier-sur-Aime
The village of Granier-sur-Aime makes a great base to explore the Middle Tarentaise between Moûtiers and Bourg-Saint-Maurice.
- In Winter, the village is close to the ski resorts of La Plagne, Peisey-Vallandry and Les Arcs.
- In Summer, you’ll enjoy walking in the Beaufortain and the Vanoise massifs.
At any season of the year, I love driving from Aime to Bourg-Saint-Maurice along the northern slopes of the Beaufortain. Locals call it the Versant du Soleil (sunny mountain slope) as it is bathed in sunshine all day long. You’ll cross charming altitude villages with Baroque churches: Tessens, Granier, La Côte d’Aime, Valezan, Les Chapelles and Vulmix. The scenic road offers spectacular views over the Vanoise massif and the Graian Alps on the Italian border.
More info about Granier-sur-Aime
- It takes 15 minutes to reach Granier from Aime at the bottom of the valley. Aime is situated at an equal distance between Moûtiers and Bourg-Saint-Maurice (15 km).
- The Syndicat d’Initiative (Tourist Office) is located next to the Town-Hall – Website.
- For British tourists, direct Eurostar train services link London and Ashford Int. to Moûtiers, Aime and Bourg-Saint-Maurice in Winter and Spring. Other regional express trains (TER) call at the many stations along the Tarentaise all year round.
- The closest international airports are Lyon and Geneva. The small airport of Chambéry offers winter low-cost services with British and Dutch airports.
- The website of Savoie-Mont-Blanc, the Tourist Information Board of Savoie and Haute-Savoie (in English)
Finding accommodation in Granier
There are several accommodation options in the village, including gites and B&Bs.
In October 2022, we stayed in the gîte L’Ormelune, which I recommend if you want to enjoy an unforgettable stay on the Versant du Soleil.
It is an upstairs gîte in the owners’ house with a separate entrance. The owners were very welcoming, and Marylene was very helpful.
This comfortable and well-equipped gite was perfect for us who love beautiful views. Indeed, the sheltered balcony offers a splendid panorama of the Vanoise massif (La Plagne and Les Arcs) and the Tarentaise valley.
Our daughter Aimée loved the chalet and hearing the bells of the goats and cows below!
Click here to see photos of the gite’s interior and book your stay at Granier.
Have you been to Aime and the Tarentaise Valley? Let us know where are your favourite sites by commenting below!