An Insider’s Guide to Hiking the Valtournenche, Cheneil and Chamois Loop — Italian Alps (Includes a Live Map)

BeginnerHikingComfort

By Zuzanna from Millefiorion

Hiking in Cheneil, Valtournenche

There are numerous hiking maps you can find online using various apps but most aren't built by local people. Usually with these, you'll wing it and hope it'll be a good one. But this one is built by us. We want to show you the most popular route in Valtournenche, at least if you are new to the valley. We'll also help you navigate how to find the best places to eat, sleep and where to get the best ice cream. Essential stuff like that.

Check out the map you'll be following here. We've mapped out all the sights for you along with appropriate water stations. Just be aware, this is not a hike for advanced hikers looking for a challenge but is appropriate for beginners and intermediates.

Distance (full loop): 17 km / 6-7 hours (Valtournenche - Cheneil - Lago Di Lod - Chamois - Valtournenche)

Full map here: Valtournenche loop (remember to use it while your are navigating to see where you are)

Valtournenche: The Starting Line

The tale begins in the Alpine commune of Valtournenche. It's here, amidst a bustling mountain town framed by the imposing Pennine Alps, that our hiking boots first touch the trail. First you do though need to get on the hiking trail. Here you can walk to Servaz or Cretaz to start the journey. If you’ll look at the map, you’ll also see a red line going up from Cretaz up to Promindoz, this is the standard path to Cheneil. We have the green line mapped out for you, but you can use either. The green line will be faster but a bit more steep.

If you're scouting for a pre-hike basecamp, Hotel Millefiori often has welcoming rooms, a charming ambiance, and panoramic mountain views that will leave you gazing out of your window in awe. They also offer 4-course dinners from 35€ per person which is such a steal.

Valtournenche, Italian Alps.

But let's get back to business, remember to open up the map here so you can follow it live whilst you are walking. Be warned though, the trail from Valtournenche to Chaneil can be a bit steep so do remember to take breaks. It is a touch more challenging compared to the direct route to Chamois. The first part of this is finding the correct hiking trail.

Servaz: Where the Hiking Starts

Before the trails and inclines, you'll have to get to the start line. We'll go via Servaz this time around as it is close to Millefiori. This leisurely walk serves as a gentle warm-up before the real hiking begins.

Servaz will also gift you with the chance to fill your water bottles with its crisp, pure mountain water. Try to find the water station marker on the map to find it. It is perfectly fine to drink directly from these sources as you walk along your trekk, compared to the rest of Italy, the Alps has one of the purest sources of water.

A place to fill water bottles in Servaz.

Continue past the village to the starting point marked as route 32 to Champléve. This is where the trailhead lies. Look at your map to see if you're on the right path. There are several ways to hike up to Cheneil. You are welcome to choose another and then come back to the path as you go along. The map itself should have all the hiking trails mapped out.

Finding the right trail via Servaz

If you are starting in Servaz, you are going via route 32 Champléve.

Finding the right trail via Servaz

The first part of this route goes through dense forest before you reach Promindoz.

Midway to Cheneil, about 40 minutes in, you'll come across Promindoz, a charming cluster of houses nestled against the mountain. Here, a patch of grass unveils the mighty Matterhorn. Great place to grab some pictures and take a breather, soak in the view, then re-immerse yourself in the surrounding woodland.

Promindoz, Valtournenche

The charming cluster of houses nestled against the mountain in Promindoz

In Promidoz, you can also fill your water bottle if needed be. From here you have about 30 to 40 minutes more of hiking until you arrive at Cheneil.

Cheneil

After a 1.5-hour trek from Valtournenche, you'll arrive at Cheneil. Now you've managed to hiking up more than 500m from 1,500m in Valtournenche to 2,100m in Cheneil. It's totally worth it. This serene little alp village whispers of times gone by, with wooden chalets dotted around like silent storytellers, each one filled with the echoes of past explorers.

Cheneil, Valtournenche

To get to Cheneil (2,105m), you also have the option to drive up and then walk or take a cable car up the rest of the way.

If you find yourself here during summer or winter's peak, the local restaurant and refugio open their doors. Look out for Bar ristorante albergo Panorama al Bich, which should also be marked on your map. This 1-star refugio is very popular with the locals and turists alike. Here is where most come for a beer or a coffee to enjoy the view during the summer months.

Hotel Panorma Al Bich

The refugio is owned by a local family so the food provided is home cooked with locally sourced ingredients. As this is a hotel you can also rent a room for the night with half or full board. Unfortunately they do not have a website of their own but you can reach them at +39016692019. Ask your hotel to reach out to them to book for you if needed be.

During the quieter months of May, October, November, and December, this refugio take a breather, and it's wise to carry your own food and coffee. However, during these months you'll also get to experience a more quiet Valtournenche. We can definitely say that this can be a cool experience as well.

Remember to take some pictures in Cheneil before continuing on.

Staff at Hotel Millefiori enjoying Cheneil

Guests and staff from Millefiori enjoying the view from Cheneil.

Cheneil to Lago di Lod

From Cheneil, set your sights on Chamois, the next destination on your hiking itinerary. This part of the trail is a slightly longer trek, roughly two hours, with a magical stopover at Lago di Lod.

Remember to fill your water bottles in Cheneil or to wait until you arrive to Lago di Lod as there won't be any on this path. The hike to Lago di Lod is around 1.5 hours if you follow the green path we have marked for you.

Although the hiking trail will be slightly steep for the first hour, the views won't disappoint.

Hiking from Cheneil to Lago di Lod

Guests and staff treking from Cheneil to Chamois.

Lago di Lod: Serenity amidst the Peaks

Leaving Cheneil, another 1.5 hours of hiking brings you to Lago di Lod. This alpine lake is like something out of a fairytale, with its crystal-clear waters reflecting the snow-capped peaks that cradle it. Take a moment here to fill your water bottles with the crisp, clean mountain water, and maybe sit a while, letting the tranquility of the place seep into your bones.

Picknick in Lago di Lod by Hotel Millefiori

Hotel Millefiori's yearly summer picknick at Lago di Lod.

Hotel Millefiori often organises yearly picknicks during the summer months at Lago di Lod. Be sure to ask them for the next one to join in. Otherwise you can do like the rest of us, bring a coffee thermos and enjoy the view.

We don't usually stop here to eat but we want to suggest a restaurant if you do feel like a break, Da Bruna. Da Bruna is a quaint hut restaurant at 2000m and offers the local regional polenta concia with stew and sausage. This is the local food that you have to try if you're around. Da Bruna, is often open during the winter season but will be open during the popular summer months of July and August as well.

Chamois: The Mountain Jewel

The last leg of the journey is a mere 30-minute hike to Chamois from Lago di Lod. This mountain village, one of the highest in the region, boasts views that seem to stretch into eternity.

Chamois

Chamois is only reachable by cable car from Buisson but is quite busy during the season as the ski lifts open.

Here, you can choose to end your hike, or take the cable car down to Buisson for a different perspective on the valley. The cable car will cost you about 3.5€ on way. From Buisson you can ask for a ride from your hotel or take the bus back to Valtournenche. The 2023 timetable for the bus to Valtournenche you can find here. Chamois is a mostly car-free village so the local people use the cable car to get to and from the main road. Always bring cash!

Chamois cable car to Buisson

We've mapped out where you can find the cable car on your map. It usually goes every 30 minutes and you buy tickets there.

We do want to recommend quite a few places here as well before you leave. Our favorite restaurant is Chez Pierina. Usually open from June 15th through September. It's the perfect pause point on your journey to sit back and soak in the surroundings.

Chez Perina in Chamois

With both indoor and outdoor seating, you can choose the comfort of the indoors or enjoy the fresh alpine air. If you are hiking in the middle of the summer be sure to call ahead and book a table with them at +39016647126. Your hotel should be able to help you out here as well. Count at least 4 hours from Valtournenche, so if you left at 9 AM you would book a table to 1 PM. Chamois usually isn't the best place to use your credit card, so do be sure to bring cash.

The second place we'll recommend is the refugio Ermitage. This place may not always be open but can be a great place to grab a beer, a glas of wine or some coffee. Check your map to find it.

If you want to spend the night in Chamois, you can chose between the refugio for something simpler or to check in at Maison Cly. Maison Cly is a 4-star hotel that is usually very occupied during the winter season but may have rooms during the summer. We recommend! Use booking.com to resevere a room.

The Return to Valtournenche

If you're keen to continue on before returning to Valtournenche, check out our Cheneil Routes map here. This map has several routes from Cheneil and one of them goes through Chamois, via La Magdeleine to Antey-Saint-Andres. La Magdeleine and Antey both have good places to get some ice cream and coffee. From Antey you can grab the bus back to Valtournenche. Remember to check the timetable here.

But if you're ready to head back, we'll start on a different route to go back. This one is just as well-trodden and cherished by locals and visitors alike. This path is probably the most notorious route from Valtournenche to Chamois and a bit easier on the knees. Remember to look at the map to see how you should continue your journey.

Belvedere: The Ghostly Mansion

After about 40 minutes of hiking, you arrive at Belvedere. Right on the main trail, an old abandoned house stands solitary and striking against the alpine backdrop. Adding a touch of mystery to your journey, this once grand home now stands abandoned. Stories swirl around Belvedere, telling of a friendly mountaineer who vanished mysteriously, his spirit said to remain within the house. If you dare to venture inside, tread carefully among the remnants of his existence - discarded furniture and forgotten belongings. Here, you might find an intriguing story to take with you. We implore you to take every precaution when entering the house, as it is in a state of disrepair.

The house of Belvedere in Valtournenche

End of the Trail

To go back you can go the same way you came or go through Cretaz. See your map and follow the green lines. We would recommend via Cretaz so you can see some of the Valtournenche village.

Back in Valtournenche you can enjoy a well deserved break or head up to the local gelateria, located at the bottom floor of the hotel L'Ancien Paquier. Just click on the link to see it on Google maps. Also be sure to get some cheese at La Maison Des Gourmands and some souvenirs at Loisirs de Montagne Artigianato.

Be sure to check out a few different maps for next time, such as the slightly more difficult loop from Valtournenche, to Lago di Cignana, via Mont Pancherot (2,630m) to Perreres here. This one will be slightly longer and may take you up to 8-9 hours to complete.

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