Jenny and Christina have gone snowshoeing in the sunshine…
It’s a sunny Thursday morning in March and we are waiting with great anticipation for our guide, Marzia, and her energetic dog, Majul. Marzia arrives and starts by orientating us in the valley, driving us through the old villages, pointing out the boundaries of Ayas and describing the other municipalities that make up this beautiful area.
We arrive at the pretty patterned town hall of Antagnod and Marzia shows us how to kit ourselves up with snow shoes and poles. Off we go!
Ascending up through the trees, we feel invincible as we glide across the top of snow that would thwart the everyday snow boot. We emerge amongst attractive stone houses, which Marzia explains would have been used in the summer. Only houses with wooden parts were used in the winter, as the wooden sections were where fodder for livestock was stored.
Continuing on upwards, we are greeted with spectacular views as we wind our way up to the Barmasc area, known for summer hiking and mountain biking and once frequented by Pope Jean Paul II.
Diving back into the woods, we walk along the banks of a 600-year-old hand built aqueduct, constructed in a time of drought to provide locals with the necessary water supply to survive in this mountainous environment.
Excited for the descent, Marzia explains that the best method is to walk like Bill and Ben the Flowerpot Men, adding a touch of dynamism to our steps and forging our own tracks through the fresh snow so as not to sink. It feels like a good bum workout and makes for a very attractive gait!
After a wonderful morning of exploring, we remove our snow shoes to find our feet feel as light as feathers. At Marzia’s recommendation, we take a short stroll through Antagnod and have a delicious bowl of Valle d’Aostan soup, followed by a well-earned ice cream. A morning well spent and a great alternative to skiing or snowboarding.
If you’d like us to help you organise an excursion, please let us know when you arrive in Champoluc. It is not possible to pre-book outings as we have found guests have the best time when we discuss the possible routes and weather/snow conditions together in resort.
This week Christina and Jenny, part of our resort team in Champoluc, went on a little mission to check out the Monterosa Terme Spa and report back to you. If you’ve chosen to stay in Champoluc with Ski 2 you too will have access to Monterosa Terme – a luxurious spa with heated pools and relaxation rooms nestled in the valley at the end of the village.
Entering through the reception area, the girls’ first impression was of the local contemporary art hung around the walls. The reception staff are all multi-lingual and ready to help you to hire a towel, robe and slippers for just five euros or you can bring your own from your hotel.
Once inside, Christina and Jenny began with the thermal pool journey, dipping their toes in the salt water pool, then they stretched out in the large heated pool and dived under the water to emerge outside surrounded by snow and ice.
Next to the pools is a relaxation lounge where you can curl up with a good book and enjoy a view of the snowy mountains. There is a café/bar too, where you and your family can enjoy the complementary buffet or purchase something special with a tap of your wristband and pay later.
For just 12 euros, Ski 2 customers can escape the children and venture into the adults only ‘wellness suite’, where two wood-lined saunas, a Turkish aromatherapy steam room and a Hamman with salt scrub await you. Not to mention a circular hot tub with a domed ceiling, monsoon showers and hot and cold therapy pools. The girls would particularly recommend the second cosy relaxation room, which offers you a further quiet space with unbeatable views, free tea and fruit, loungers and swinging egg chairs to while away a few more hours in.
Tea Room and Wellness Area
Jenny and Christina loved it so much that they treated themselves to membership for the season! So if you’d like to give the Monterosa Terme Spa a try, just pop into the office in Champoluc where the team will sort you out with your spa voucher.
At just 2 miles long this lovely flat circular walk can easily be done in under an hour even with little ones. Plus, if you are staying at Hotel California, Le Petit Tournalin or Le Campagnol it’s right on your doorstep. If you are starting from Champoluc centre we recommend starting by heading up the private road next to the Penguin Club as this way around you get the sun on your back at the start of the walk and save the magical sculptures, which are usually in a bit of shade, until last.
The directions here start and end at the Thermal Spa by the main carpark at the end of the village as it’s nice and easy for everyone to find:
Facing the spa look left and cross over the road bridge, on your right you’ll see a private road, ‘strada privata’, at the top of it there is a large stone house with a pretty garden, this is our Ski 2 Penguin Club for the tots during your stay. Head straight up the road and keep going up the valley with the River Ayasse on your right. After 10-15 minutes you’ll see Frachey over the river and the funicular going up the mountain. A few minutes later cross the wooden bridge, don’t forget to pause and look at the view up the valley!
Take the path back down the river and through the woods on the other side (behind the bus stop), you can’t miss it and the sunlight through the trees is enchanting. Here you’ll pass behind the Hotel California and Le Petit Tournalin, and start to spot the wooden sculptures.
More sculptures appear every year and the woodland creatures, cheeky faces and fairies are sure to capture the imagination of children and adults alike. You’ll pop out next to the thermal spa, and from here you can walk straight down the road, which takes you back to Ski 2 office, where you can tell us what fun you’ve had. If you have really young kids with you, you could always just do a short there and back through the sculptures!
As you strap your boots on, load your skis into the back and hop into Bertha the bus in the morning, winding your way out of Champoluc a few minutes up the valley to Frachey, have you ever stopped to wonder what else is in this small village, other than the funicular that takes you up the mountain towards Bettaforca? Have you ever noticed, for example, the small chapel on the right as you pull into the Frachey funicular car park?
This area is popular with walkers and if you look around you will see why. Numerous sign posts point you in the direction of paths along, across, up and down the sides of the valley. From here, you can make your way back through the forest to Champoluc (beware the weird and wonderful wooden woodland creatures that greet you along the way) or further up the valley to the village of Saint-Jacques.
What you may not have noticed, however, is the modest chapel building inscribed with Saint Roch (San Rocco, in Italian). Originally dedicated to San Claudio by Jean-Claude Frachey, the chapel was built in 1653. By 1820, it had fallen into a state of disrepair and was restored in 1837.
In September 1860 the Ayas Valley was hit by an unexpected and catastrophic glacier melt, caused by hot torrential rain, swelling the river Evençon, destroying the road in 12 places and turning the fields into glaciers. In 1888, Frachey was once again hit, this time by an avalanche, which flattened four houses, but left the Saint Roch chapel standing.
Having survived all of this, the chapel made it to 1978, when it witnessed the construction of a chairlift next door. It then went on to outlive the chairlift when, in 2009, it was taken down and replaced by the funicular that carries you up the mountain today. The first funicular in the Valle D’Aosta dedicated to skiing, each of its two cabins can carry up to 110 people (but are rarely full).
Give us a call and we’ll happily drive you up there so that you can hop on the funicular and be on your way to a fantastic day of Monterosa skiing.
Whilst Easter is a very popular time for many of our regular guests, we do still have a few rooms available for short breaks and week-long holidays between now and the middle of April. If you are looking for last minute availability, do please contact us and we’ll see if we can offer you something suitable. For those travelling with children, we do still have space in our British Ski School for the last 3 weeks of the winter.
Just a reminder that, subject to availability, you can arrive on any day of the week that suits you and to stay for any number of nights – perfect for a cheeky short break before the snow disappears in the spring!