High-altitude calcareous environments of the valley of Rhêmes

Over a soft and level valley rises a high-altitude setting with stunning moraines and glaciers which encircle the Rhêmes valley-head and borders on its eastern slope with the Gran Paradiso National Park. The landscape, modeled through time by the slow movement of glaciers, yields a particular series of converging circles, which culminate in the vast plain from which emerges the Benevolo Refuge. An environment which shelters geological rarities on its white vertical slopes, such as limestone, dolomite rocks and marble, as well as the unexpected gneiss, mica schists, quartzite and other treasure finds. The exceptional singularity of this area is evident also by its fauna: the valley is in fact a crucial spot for the migration of stein-bocks, from the Gran Paradiso National Park to the French Park of La Vanoise. The valley of Rhêmes houses ?a very interesting flora, , such as the Veronica allioni or the Sesleria ovata and other extremely rare species. An open-sky display which also involves the world of birds, with the Golden Eagle, the Chough, the Bearded Vulture, the White Grouse and the Greek Partridge. A truly all-encompassing experience.


  • Hiking

    All itineraries are described in the TRAILS section.

  • Mountain Biking

    Mountain bikes can be used to travel along the dirt road which leaves from Thumel and reaches the Fond alp; it is compulsory to stay on the marked trail.

  • Horseback Riding

    The site can be reached on horseback, using the dirt road which leads to the Fond alp. The use of mules, which carry backpacks, is a more popular and characteristic means of transportation to climb along the valley.

  • Snowshoe Trekking

    The itinerary which takes you from Thumel to the Benevolo Refuge can be undertaken with snowshoes, preferably in late spring. It is nevertheless recommended to consult the regional weather and snow forecasts before your departure, as the site is subject to avalanches.

Discover the site

The high valley of Rhêmes, as all high-altitude locations, is at its maximum splendour during the months of July and August, when the environment is filled with colourful blossoming. The vastness of the area yields many itineraries which satisfy all levels of hikers, from experts to school groups and families. For the latter, it is recommended to set base at the Benevolo Refuge, at the foot of the Granta Parey massif; from here, they can choose from an incredible variety of itineraries, which can also be undertaken on mountain bikes or on the backs of a mules/horses.

Behavioural conduct rules

We remind you that you can contribute to the preservation of these sites by following these simple rules:

visit the site on foot, with skis or snowshoes; avoid using motorized vehicles, boating equipment, hang-gliders, para-gliders or similar; mountain bikes and horseback riding are permitted only in specific authorized areas (external to the site): please respect hikers;

please stay within the marked trails, as trampling can ruin the fragile grass and undergrowth areas; in winter, please follow the recommended trails so as not to disturb animals which are fighting against hunger and cold;

please observe wild animals from a distance, do not capture them, do not disturb them nor feed them, and do not photograph occupied nests;

keep your dog on a leash and on the marked trails;

do not pick minerals or flowers;

do not make fires;

please bring your garbage back to the villages, where you will find many recyclable waste-collection points;

camping is permitted only for nightly bivouacs at an altitude of over 2500 meters; take care not to wash your dishware in springs or stagnant ponds of water; campers and trailers must be parked outside of the park, in specific authorized areas.

How to get there

By car

From the A5 autoroute exit of Aosta Ovest (West), take the S.S. 26 state road towards Courmayeur until Villeneuve, where you must leave the state road and follow directions for Rhêmes-Notre-Dame. Once you have reached and passed the chieftown, continue towards Thumel where you can leave your car in an ample parking area.

By train and bus

The site is difficult to reach with public transportation: the closest train station is located in Villeneuve and a bus service reaches the chieftown of Rhêmes-Notre-Dame with approximately 3 daily trips departing from Aosta.

Accessibility codification of sites

VIVA has chosen to supply everyone – youngsters, adults, the elderly and the disabled – with all the sites’ information so as to allow the visitor to choose a destination in an autonomous way.
An “Accessibility Codification”has thus been defined.

High-altitude calcareous environments of the valley of Rhêmes

Information to reach the site 2
Accessibility from main roads 3
Parking for the disabled 2
Accessible restrooms 0
Information panels 0
Slopes (max 8%) 0
Trail width (min 90cm) 0
Road surface 0
Resting areas approx every 10 m 0
Safety and protection of trails 1
Periodic maintenance 2

0 corresponds to ABSENCE of the indicated parameter;
3 corresponds to the PRESENCE of the indicated parameter, in optimal condition;
1 – 2 are INTERMEDIATE VALUES: in general, they indicate the presence of the parameter which must however be improved (1 = sufficient, 2 = close to optimal)


More paths :

VIVA suggests:

Average path

Lac de Golette

  • Elevation gain : 854 m
  • Travel time: 4h-4h30
  • Signposting: 12-13-13D

What to see:


Easy trails: routes that present no major technical difficulties or too challenging slopes. They can be covered in full or in small sections, allowing in both cases to come into contact with unspoilt nature, discovering its pace and balance …

Medium difficult trails: routes that can be covered in a day, varying considerably in terms of height differences and technical difficulty; the benefit is in being able to reach wildlife destinations of great impact.

Long trails: excursions lasting several days which provide for stopover places and catering along the route.

cartina High-altitude calcareous environments of the valley of Rhêmes

SIC ZPS IT1201010

Municipality: Rhêmes-Notre-Dame

Surface: 1.593 ha

Altitude: 2.090 ÷ 3.097 m s.l.m.

Responsible forest station:


Two days in Paradise

Two days in Paradise
A spectacular crossing between two valleys within the Gran Paradiso national Park, offering breathtaking views.

VIVA recommends the premises belonging to the network “Saveurs du Val d’Aoste

Saveurs du Val d'Aoste