Label Terre d'alpinisme

Since time immemorial in the Bessans and Bonneval sur Arc areas, people have crossed mountain passes, climbed to the top of mountains and explored the surrounding glaciers. The peaks here are often over 3000m high, with 50 peaks over 3000m and 19 glaciers! Recently awarded the "Land of Mountaineering" label, the people of Bessans and Bonneval sur Arc are continuing their commitment to helping as many people as possible discover the assets of this high mountain region.



Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
Many people think of mountaineering and ski touring as the sport of climbing high mountains using a variety of techniques: climbing, crampons, skiing, rope climbing... But there's more to mountaineering than sport.

It is on the basis of these elements that mountaineering has been inscribed on Unesco's list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity at the end of 2019; a project supported by the Town of Chamonix, Courmayeur (Italy) and Orsières (Switzerland).

In order to defend and promote the values espoused by Unesco for mountaineering, the Comité Alpinisme UNESCO France has created the "Terre d'Alpinisme" label for territories committed to defending, promoting and animating the values espoused by Unesco for mountaineering. To date, 4 regions have obtained this label: Chamonix, Bessans / Bonneval-sur-Arc, 2nd region (Savoie), Cauterets (Hautes Pyrénées), Pralognan / Le Planay / Champagny La Vanoise (Savoie).

To qualify for the "Terre d'Alpinisme" label, awarded by the Comité Alpinisme Unesco France, Bessans and Bonneval sur Arc had to demonstrate a history, alive through its traditions, an anchoring ... Bessans and Bonneval sur Arc ticked all these boxes.

"Mountaineering is the art of climbing mountains, using one's own physical, technical and mental resources, each person progressing at his or her own level in the face of natural obstacles, with full responsibility and respect for the environment in which he or she practices".
"It's a traditional physical practice that's also characterized by a shared culture, an art made up of knowledge, know-how and the indispensable acquisition of varied knowledge about the exercise environment and its surroundings".

A region's assets

A strong local history of mountaineering

Local guides contributed to the birth and development of mountaineering in France in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Notable among them was Jean Joseph Blanc (1842 - 1914), known as "Le Greffier". His son Pierre Blanc (1881 - 1966), known as "Le Pape", not only contributed to a better understanding of the peaks of the upper valley, but also led expeditions to the Himalayas. Great names in mountaineering have also traversed the peaks of Haute Maurienne Vanoise, such as William Auguste Coolidge and Lionel Terray, helping to raise the profile of mountaineering in the valley.


Natural assets

  • A territory surrounded by more than 50 peaks over 3,000 metres and numerous glaciers.
  • An excellent area for discovering, learning and perfecting "soft" mountaineering for the whole family. Bessans and Bonneval sur Arc , the home of world ski mountaineering champion Thibault Anselmet, also offer exceptional terrain for ski touring and ski mountaineering, from beginner to expert. In particular, the Avérole valley is "one of the most beautiful spots for ski touring", according to French explorer and mountaineer Jean Louis Bernezat.
  • Villages that have preserved their authenticity and protected their natural environment.
  • Guaranteed snow cover for the next 50 years according to the latest Météo France models, enabling winter mountaineering, ski mountaineering and ski touring.
  • Guides and mountain leaders: year-round professionals. Take advantage of this exceptional area, certified by the Comité Alpinisme Unesco France and the Fédération Française des Clubs Alpins et de Montagne, to discover mountaineering, summer and winter alike, with Bessans and its mountain guides. Bonneval sur Arc.

Year-round activities

Ski touring. Discover ski touring with the Bessans and Bessans ski schools. Bonneval sur Arc

Ice climbing. Bessans and Bonneval sur Arc offer a wealth of ice climbing opportunities in winter. Initiations open to all are available at La Barmette in Bessans, right next to the Biathlon stadium. A Bonneval sur Arcn the Ecot area, icefalls remain in place until March. Professional ice climbers offer introductory courses or supervision on major routes.

Mountaineering and climbing. At Bessans and Bonneval sur Arc, climbing is second nature. There are plenty of climbing routes to suit all levels, from beginner to advanced. Qualified climbing guides and instructors invite you in complete safety to discover this activity, which offers a different approach to the mountains.


Terre d'Alpinisme Bessans Bonneval-sur-Arc

To find out more about events, races and mountaineering offers in Bessans and Bonneval sur Arc, go to :

5 good reasons for mountaineering

  1. Contemplating and surpassing yourself
    The peaks catch your eye, so why not go for it? Mountaineering calls on your mental and physical capacities to progress and contemplate landscapes you thought inaccessible, and to discover new sensations. Mountaineering is the school of self-transcendence and commitment.
  2. Showing humility
    In the high mountains, nothing is easy or taken for granted. In winter, the immaculate expanses call for contemplation. The mountain is king, and mountaineering also teaches you to listen to it. When safety conditions are not met, you have to know how to give up on the summit or the initial objective, out of humility.
  3. Relive the thrills of great mountaineers
    Premier de cordée, Alpes magazine... stories that make you dream of the summits. If you're dreaming of climbing, join the Bessans or Bonneval sur Arc guides as they take you to the Pointe des Fours, the Albaron, the Charbonnel or the Aiguille Rousse.
  4. Meet a mountain guide
    In love with his "Territory", with a chiselled face and a diploma from the Ecole Nationale de Ski et d'Alpinisme (ENSA), he inspires confidence: he's the high-mountain guide. Starting mountaineering with a guide is the best way to become a mountaineering "adept". He'll teach you all the different techniques (roping, cramponing, ice axe handling...) and will also teach you how to handle the high mountains with respect.
  5. Sharing a human adventure
    Nature, sharing, sensations and human adventure: mountaineering, which is above all a story of solidarity and human relationships, meets these expectations. The expression "rope companion" carries with it all the weight of the importance of the other in the practice.

The nugget resort-village

Twinned with Les Baux de Provence, a pearl in a jewel case, a village at the end of the world, a postcard. Nestled at an altitude of 1,800 m at the foot of the Col de l'Iseran, the highest road pass in the Alps at 2,770 m, which can be crossed from June to October, Bonneval sur Arc was elected 6th favorite village of the French in 2015.
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L'Ecot in winter, a must-see in the resort of Bonneval sur Arc

The hamlet of Ecot

Hamlet perched at 2000 m altitude, 4 km up the Arc from Bonneval sur Arc . It's a lovely place to take a stroll. The Ecot chalets, built of stone and slate, overlook the valley below. You'll be amazed by the simple, austere architecture of this hamlet at the end of the world, which reflects the harshness of human life at high altitude!
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Meet Thibault Anselmet, The star of French ski mountaineering

Thibault Anselmet, world champion in ski mountaineering

Thibault Anselmet, leader of the French ski mountaineering team, the competition version of ski touring, is flying the colors of his village, Bonneval sur Arc.
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The blue of Bonneval sur Arc, a must in the resort!

The Bonneval blue

This cheese is a treasure, just like the village that bears its name, Bonneval sur Arc. Tasty as can be, it's found on the best tables!
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The Col de l'Iseran, a must-see for Bonneval sur Arc

The Iseran pass

At 2,770 m, it marks the boundary between Haute Maurienne Vanoise and Tarentaise, two high-altitude valleys in Savoie. In the Northern Alps, the road over the Col de l'Iseran is the only road crossing within the Vanoise National Park, and the highest point on the Route des Grandes Alpes. Open from June to September, it's a must for your vacation at Bonneval sur Arc.
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The Glacier des Évettes, a must-see in the Alps Bonneval sur Arc

The Evettes circus

The Evettes cirque above Bonneval sur Arc is an exceptional and majestic site. Easily accessible via a hiking trail, let yourself be tempted to approach the Evettes, Albaron and Grand Méan glaciers and discover the atmosphere of the high mountains and their pure air.
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The Glacier du Grand Méan, a must-see in the Alps Bonneval sur Arc

The Grand Méan glacier

The Grand Méan glacier is a must-see in Bonneval sur Arc, Haute Maurienne and Savoie. Exaggerated? It's up to you: discovering this glacier, which ends in an ice cliff dropping steeply into a lake filled with floating icebergs, is an unforgettable experience. A must-see.
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