Pralognan-la-Vanoise: Best Things to See

0

Pralognan-la-Vanoise is a small winter and summer resort situated at the heart of the Vanoise massif. Pralo (for those in the know) is a mountain paradise at the end of a long winding road. You’ll be surrounded by majestic mountain tops. This is “la Haute Montagne” (high mountain area) to its best… Let me describe this very attractive resort where I used to spend many Summer vacations as a child.  


Pralognan-la-Vanoise: an alpine village

French touristic writer Paul Joanne pointed it out perfectly in 1875: “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”.

Pralognan-la-Vanoise © French Moments

The village centre © French Moments

Pralognan-la-Vanoise is one of oldest resorts in the Tarentaise valley. It is home for a population of 750. The village enjoys an enviable position as being the capital of the beautiful Vanoise National Park.

You’ll reach it at the end of a rather long and windy road from Moûtiers via Brides-les-bains, Bozel and The Planay. At the end of the road suddenly appears Pralognan-la-Vanoise. This is a village that brings back lots of childhood souvenirs for me as my family went there on Summer vacation for many years.

Pralognan – what does it mean?

Pralognan derived from “pré éloigné” (far away meadows). It is an ancient site where shepherds led their herds through the green pastures that once covered the village’s area a long time ago.

Pralognan-la-Vanoise © French Moments

The meadows of Pralognan © French Moments

A Winter and Summer resort

Nowadays Pralognan-la-Vanoise has developed into one resort, characteristic of the French Alps, a place of entertainment for winter and summer alike.

However we discovered that 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 as 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.

A gateway to the Vanoise National Park

The main attraction of Pralognan is the Vanoise National Park. The village is by the way one of its official entrance points. It is therefore known under the coveted title of “Capital of the Vanoise” and houses the National Park’s Tourist Board.

Vanoise National Park © French Moments

Pralognan: gateway to the Vanoise National Park © French Moments

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 a succession of three iconic mountains depicted in tourist brochures:

  • the Moriond,
  • the Aiguille de la Vanoise, and
  • the Grande-Casse.
Pralognan-la-Vanoise © French Moments

The Three Iconic mountains above Pralognan: from right to left – Moriond, Aiguille de la Vanoise and Grande Casse © French Moments


Where to stay in Pralognan?

You can choose from a great range of accommodation in Pralognan, from hotels to B&B and campings! My recommendation is to book your accommodation near the village-centre. 

Also, when possible, don’t wait the last minute to book as finding hotel rooms can be a problem, especially on the busy weeks of Winter or Summer.

To book your accommodation in Pralognan, click on this affiliate link which will redirect you to our partner booking.com… or use the interactive map below:



Booking.com

Alrighty, let’s continue our visit of Pralo’…


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-la-Vanoise, hamlet of Les Bieux © French Moments

Walking through the hamlet of Les Bieux © French Moments

Pralognan used to be at the junction of a very strategic trade route: the Salt and Beaufort Road. This track 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. In other words, Barioz means ‘gate’ in the patois dialect of Savoyard.

Les Bieux hamlet, Pralognan-la-Vanoise © French Moments

The hamlet of Les Bieux seen from Chollières © French Moments

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.

Grande-Casse, Pralognan-la-Vanoise © French Moments

On the way to the Vanoise Pass with the Grande-Casse in the distance © French Moments

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

Did you know that Pralognan welcomed the curling competition at the 1992 Winter Olympic Games held in Albertville?

True to its tradition, Pralognan is a family-friendly Winter resort. Although not as gigantic as neighbouring Courchevel or La Plagne, the ski domain of Pralognan is ideal for those looking for a human scale resort.

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.

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Pralognan-la-Vanoise (@pralognanlavanoise) on

What After-Ski activities are there?

There’s snow shoeing, ice-skating, a swimming pool, fitness centre, signposted footpaths, as well as a cinema, nightclub and restaurants.

Check out all Winter activities on the Official Tourist Board website.


Summer in Pralognan-la-Vanoise

Let’s be honest, Pralo is a mountain paradise for walkers and hikers. Its perfect situation in the heart of the Vanoise massif makes it easy to reach the heights from the mountain pastures to the glaciers.

There are a number of must-do walks in the surroundings. A few examples:

Mont Bochor

Reach the summit by cable-car from the village-centre. Enjoy the views from the orientation table and walk down to Pralognan.

Col de la Vanoise

A classic walk that will lead you from the Fontanettes hamlet to the foot of the Grande-Casse mountain. You’ll love crossing the picturesque Lac des Vaches on a ford!

Cascade de la Fraîche

This is an easy walk from the Barioz hamlet. Your chance to admire one of the tallest waterfalls in the region.

The hamlet of Chollières

Enjoy the dramatic view of the Vanoise mountain peaks. One of my favourite sites for taking photos of the “Three Mountains”: Moriond, Aiguille de la Vanoise and Grande-Casse.

Pralognan-la-Vanoise and Grande Casse © French Moments

The hamlet of Chollières © French Moments

Péclet-Pelset Refuge

Quite a demanding walk. You don’t have to go all the way to the refuge as you’ll discover a beautiful scenic landscape along your path. Park you car at Les Prioux hamlet.

Of course, aside from the extraordinary walks that await, there’s a wide range of Summer activities to enjoy.

Vanoise National Park © French Moments

On the way to the Péclet-Polset refuge © French Moments


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 village at an altitude of 1,400 metres.

If you travel from overseas, take a flight to Lyon or 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.


More info!


Have you been to Pralognan? If so, share with us the highlights of your visit by commenting below!

Inspired? Pin it for later!

Explore the alpine village of Pralognan-la-Vanoise © French Moments


Some of the links above are affiliates so if you’re planning a trip, using these links helps me keep things running. There’s no extra cost to you. All you have to do is click the link and any booking you make is automatically tracked.


 

Share.

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.

Leave A Reply

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.