Aosta Valley: stress-free outdoor experiences among the highest peaks of the Alps
19 July 2022
In a hot air balloon in the fairy landscape of the Aosta Valley
A balloon flight in the Aosta Valley is an unforgettable experience for everyone, in all seasons. You don't even need special clothing, just the desire to feel unique sensations and not suffer from vertigo. As soon as dawns, the pilots of the Charbonnier family, professional instructors among the most experienced in the world and Italian champions of free balloon flight, begin to assemble their balloons to fly. The giant balloons are unrolled, fixed to the wicker basket that will contain the passengers, then a fan partially inflates them with air. At this point, with great flames coming out of the burner, the balloon gradually takes shape, rises and, straight into the sky, docilely waits for the passengers to climb into the basket. Only few people besides the pilot and the on-board instruments: the GPS that indicates speed, direction and position, the altimeter to know the altitude and the speed of ascent, the radio to get in touch with the airport control tower, with the off-road vehicles that follow the flight from the ground and with the other flying balloons. Only the skill of the pilot, taking advantage of the currents at different altitudes, allows you to change direction, but the landing point cannot be established in advance.
A flash of heat and in an instant you are 300 metres above the ground. The interesting city of Aosta can already be embraced by your gaze allowing you to discover the geometry of the streets, the buildings of different eras and important vestiges of the past: the Roman Theatre, the Porta Praetoria, the Arch of Augustus, the Cathedral...You go up again in a silence that you are no longer used to, rhythmically interrupted by the roar of the burner that takes you higher and higher. Around, the other balloons rise and fall, approach and move away.
Now, the whole of the Aosta Valley, enclosed by mountains of green velvet, crossed by the glittering snake of the Dora Baltea river in perpetual motion, surrounds you. You are at 1,800 metres, in the distance you can see the picturesque villages of the valley floor and many ancient castles.
Gas again: you surpass 2,200 metres and you are surrounded at 360 degrees by the famous "4,000s of the Aosta Valley", the highest peaks of the Alps. To the north the Grand Combin, to the west the summit of Mont Blanc flanked by the Grandes Jorasses, the Brenva glacier and the Giant’s Tooth, to the south-west the Rutor glacier, to the south the Gran Paradiso massif, to the east the Monte Rosa and to the north-east the unmistakable profile of the Matterhorn closes the circle.
Aosta Valley: mountain biking among the highest peaks of Europe
The choice is yours with over 1000 km of bike trails in the Aosta Valley. Breath-taking views and quiet country roads along the watercourses of the alpine valleys, unique experiences while riding near Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn and Monte Rosa along some of the best terrain in Europe. Once the snow melts it reveals a network of MTB trails and bike parks. You’ll find everything from easy and undemanding rides to challenging climbs. Anyway, in the Aosta Valley, the lifts take you up with your bike: Pila, La Thuile, Breuil-Cervinia and other tourist resorts offer itineraries for all bikers. In addition, some local sports associations provide a comfortable bike shuttle service. If you are not trained or used to regular mountain bike, take the opportunity to rent an e-MTB; specially designed for dirt and mountain trails, these bikes take you wherever you want! In case of very strenuous climbs just activate and increase the pedal-assist so as not to make excessive efforts. The e-MTB allow you to discover wonderful places that otherwise you would not have the opportunity to visit. After your ride, close excellently your outdoor experience enjoying the local food and the warm Italian hospitality.
Discover an unusual Aosta Valley, hiking away from commonplaces
Walk slowly to look for new perspectives, surprising views, scenarios that go beyond the imagination. Let yourself be seduced by the smells and colours of the wood, listen to the sounds of its shy inhabitants, seize the drops of dew on the grass in the morning, be amazed by the perfection of a spontaneous flower... You must move on tiptoe, with an attentive and respectful soul, while leisurely hiking to grasp the wonders of nature and to bring home indelible memories. Discover Valsavarenche, the heart of the Gran Paradiso National Park, a privileged home for fauna and an exceptional place to enjoy the spectacle of alpine nature. Explore the Valpelline, quiet and well-preserved, not invaded by large tourist flows. Walk along the paths of the By valley in Ollomont, but also in Bionaz, in the Montagnayes nature reserve, or again in the stunning area of Champillon, in Doues municipality. Finally, let yourself be tempted by the flavours of the local cuisine, genuine and simple, like the people who live here, in typical ancient villages, far from commonplaces.