Label Terre d'alpinisme

In the Bessans and Bonneval sur Arc areas, people have always 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 listed as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by Unesco 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 that was alive and well through its traditions, and an anchorage ... 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".

The assets of a territory

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.

Jean-Joseph Blanc, known as "Le Pape", guide from Bonneval sur Arc, and his sons... A strong local history of mountaineering
Label Terre d'alpinisme... Bessans and Bonneval sur Arc, natural assets

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 territory, 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 the mountain guides of Bessans and Bonneval sur Arc.

Year-round activities

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

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. In Bonneval sur Arc, icefalls remain formed until March on the Ecot side. Professional ice climbers are on hand to offer introductory courses and supervision on major routes.

Mountaineering and climbing. In 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 to discover this sport in complete safety, offering a different approach to the mountains.

Year-round activities. Discover ski touring with the Bessans and Bonneval sur Arc ski schools.

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

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 guides from Bessans or Bonneval sur Arc as they take you to the Pointe des Fours, Albaron, Charbonnel or Aiguille Rousse.
  4. Meet a mountain guide
    In love with his "Territory", with a weather-beaten face and a diploma from the Ecole Nationale de Ski et d'Alpinisme (ENSA), he inspires confidence: he's the 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 up, cramponing, ice axe handling...) and also 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 Nordic soul

Recently labeled "Land of Mountaineering", the people of Bessans continue to commit themselves to help as many people as possible discover the assets of this beautiful mountain.
The Nordic soul

Averole and hamlets of Bessans

The valley of Averole is an important valley that you can discover on the right side at the exit of Bessans in the direction of Bonneval sur Arc.
Hamlet and Refuge of Avérole

The devil of Bessans

Country of altitude and legends, it is said that Bessans is the country of the Devil! Do you know why ? Let us tell you the story...
The devil of Bessans

The International Biathlon Stadium

Thanks to the advantages of the altitude and snow cover of the Bessans plateau, the inter-communal project for an international biathlon stadium, supported by the Community of Communes of Haute Maurienne, was born in 1998, with the help of the medal-winning athlete Hervé Flandin, a native of the valley.