Pralognan-la-Vanoise is a little winter and summer resort situated at the heart of the Vanoise massif. “Facing the beautiful glacier of the Sonnailles, Pralognan will certainly become one of those favourised sites which attract and house a multitude of tourists during the summer season. Positioned in a marvelous setting of glaciers, a best choice among the best for mountain hiking, forests, streams and magnificent meadows, this admirable site lacks nothing”. (French touristic writer Paul Joanne, 1875)
The village of Pralognan-la-Vanoise
At the end of the road from Moûtiers through the villages of Brides-les-bains, Bozel and The Planay, lies Pralognan-la-Vanoise, a charming alpine resort, at the heart of the Vanoise.
Pralognan derived from “pré éloigné” (far away meadows), an ancient site where shepherds led their herds through the green pastures that used to cover the village’s area a long time ago.
Now, Pralognan-la-Vanoise has developed into one resort, characteristic of the French Alps, a place of entertainment for winter and summer alike.
But what we discovered in Pralognan-la-Vanoise, was actually an accessible resort, miles away from the populated Courchevel or Val d’Isère. It is an ideal place to stay with a family, unless you prefer to ski on Europe’s largest ski domain in the nearby resort of Courchevel-Les 3 Vallées!
The resort is extremely attractive and offers pedestrian access to wonderful valley views with the Mont Bochor cable car. Sporting facilities abound with a climbing wall, ice skating, curling, swimming pool with water slides, fitness centre, tennis, pool tables and bowling.
The main attraction of Pralognan is the Vanoise National Park, of which the village is one of the entrance points. It is therefore known under the coveted title of “Capital of the Vanoise” and houses the National Park’s Tourist Office.
The Vanoise National Park in Savoie was the first national park created in France in 1963. It has an exceptional flora (more than 1,000 different species are indexed) and includes 28 villages from the area.
Pralognan-la-Vanoise with its famous and majestic views is certainly one of the best places to visit (especially if you’re going there as a family with children). The village is towered by 3 iconic mountains that are usually depicted in tourist brochures: the Moriond, the Aiguille de la Vanoise and the Grande-Casse.
Pralognan-la-Vanoise through history
In the Middle-Ages, monks cleared the area to make pastures for their animals and cut hay for the long winter months. Some chalets with their cellars, hay barns and tracks are still witnesses of this era.
Pralognan used to be at the junction of a very strategic trade route: the Salt and Beaufort Road, which was followed by peddlers and smugglers alike. It linked Savoie to Turin and Piedmont in Italy. The little hamlet (hameau) of Barioz, a few hundred metres from the centre of the village used to serve as a customs point along the route. Barioz means ‘gate’ in the patois dialect of Savoyard.
But Pralognan met its destiny when English climber Matthews reached the top of Vanoise’s highest mountain, the Grande-Casse in 1860 for the first time in history.
In 1897, the village welcomed French President Félix Faure, inspecting his Alpine troops and walked up to the Col de la Vanoise (Vanoise Pass).
Winter in Pralognan-la-Vanoise
Skiing in a family environment
The village is particularly good for beginners.
But more advanced skiers can enjoy the powder slopes of Les Glières and Les Pariettes. Pralognan also attracts many cross country enthusiasts. There are 7 green, 5 blue, 6 red and 4 black runs with 25 km of cross country.
What activities for the “Après-Ski”?
There’s snow shoeing, ice-skating, a swimming pool, fitness centre, signposted footpaths, as well as a cinema, nightclub and restaurants.
How to get to Pralognan-la-Vanoise
Pralognan-la-Vanoise is easily reached by car thanks to France’s excellent system of motorways and expressways.
From Paris, Lyon, Strasbourg or Marseille, all the roads lead to Albertville where the dual carriage-way to Moutiers brings you closer to the village. From Moutiers, it will take you only 30-45 minutes to reach the altitude of 1,400 metres, to the “far away meadows” of Pralognan-la-Vanoise!
If you travel from America or Australia, take a flight to the Swiss airport of Zurich or Geneva and rent a car from there! Geneva is actually one of the closest airports to the Savoie region.
If you wish to visit this village from Paris on a 4-5 nights stay, take a TGV train to Moutiers and a coach from the little town’s station (www.altibus.com) that will take you directly to the resort.