While their origin date back to the 19th century, it was only in the 1980s that via ferratas became a touristic activity in the mountains.
In France, the first via ferrata was established in the Hautes Alpes in 1988. Today there are over 200 routes in the country. This fun activity, which is a less technical and sportive alternative to rock climbing, is particularly popular during the warmer months. Practicing via ferrata in the French rocky walls offers spectacular panoramas over the surrounding summits and valleys. Keep reading to learn more about our top 10 via ferratas in France! Savoie, Haute-Savoie, Hautes Alpes, Isère and the Pyrénées are home to our favourite routes.
There are via ferratas for all levels: from easy, family friendly to sportive and aerial. As all mountain activities, it always has some risks. Therefore, it is always better to practice via ferrata with a guide. In addition, specific equipment is required, including helmet, harness, a cow’s tail with two locking carabiners and a shock absorber, a tape sling, specific shoes and a backpack.
Via ferrata routes are classified in levels. In France there are 6 categories:
Ready to discover our top 10 recommended routes in France? Check all the many options for via ferratas in France and start planning your next outdoor adventure!
The two routes available at Le Roc de la Tovière render this via ferrata attractive to all family members. With an easy access, the first part allows for a good introduction to via ferrata for children. In addition, the return path, going through a forest, is truly beautiful. The second section of the via ferrata is more technical and requires some experience, but it is still accessible. You can choose to link both parts so that the outing becomes more challenging. Furthermore, you can even combine it with the Plattes de la Daille via ferrata on the other side, which is more athletic and includes overhanging sections.
Located at the Arcs Paradiski domain, the Bettières via ferrata allows for a smooth progression of the discipline. It consists of three sections. The first one is not very aerial, while the second one is more vertical, and the last one is not apt for people with fear of heights! You can either opt to stop at the first section, continue to the second one or go for the full route. Therefore, it’s ideal if in your group not everyone has the same level. The Bettières via ferrata has a west / southwest exposure, so it’s best to plan the outing in the morning or late in the afternoon, to admire the sunset over the Tarentaise.
The Roc du Vent via ferrata is located between alpine meadows and the Roseland and Gittaz beautiful artificial lakes. It offers a breathtaking 360° panorama with Mont Blanc on one side and the Beaufortain’s calmed and conserved nature on the other side. The route is divided in four sections and, since it doesn’t have technical or physical difficulties, it welcomes a broad range of via ferrata enthusiasts. The Roc du Vent is a fun route with a monkey bridge and a tunnel, which are in fact remnants of the Route des Grands Alpes project. A tip: don’t forget to bring a headlamp to cross the tunnel!
The Croix du Verdon via ferrata (also known as Dent de Burgin) can be accessed either from Courchevel or from Méribel. The views over both valleys are splendid! It is considered one of the highest via ferratas in France, and at the summit the panorama is breathtaking. Due to its altitude, it is best to avoid the winter months when planning this outing. The route varies between long ledges and rocky portions, with impressive views over the Vanoise summits and glaciers. For this very aerial -even vertiginous- route, it’s better to have some prior via ferrata experience.
The Via du Diable via ferrata, located above Maurienne, is a great playground combining seven independent sections with different difficulties. There are easy sections ideal for children and beginners, but also challenging ones for advanced adventurers. If you go for the full route, you will be traversing 3760 meters in total! It will take you 6 to 8 hours to cover the whole Via du Diable, and you can consider dividing it in more than one day to maximize the fun. The two first sections, which are apt for beginners and children, encircle the Victor Emmanuel fort overhanging the Modane village. The five remaining sections are a combination of long traverses, steep descents and sporty ascents.
The Evettes via ferrata is located at the ski domain of La Flégère, in Chamonix. The views from this route over the Mont Blanc massif are exceptional. Moreover, this via ferrata is a beautiful way to discover the famous granite characteristic of Chamonix, popular among climbing lovers worldwide. The route is relatively easy and rather short, and it is possible to follow on via corda, with mandatory special equipment. The Evettes via ferrata can be accessed either by foot from the valley, with an 800 meters ascent, or with the La Flégère cablecar.
7| The Yves Pollet-Villard at La Clusaz (Aravis, Haute-Savoie)
If you are looking for scenic surroundings during your next via ferrata adventure, the Yves Pollet-Villard is the ideal option. This via ferrata is very aerial and it includes some quite impressive overhanging sections. The breathtaking panorama includes the Aravis massif with its thousand colours. This via ferrata is named after a renown alpinist and Mayor of La Clusaz who died in the mountains in the early 80’s. The Yves Pollet-Villard route is technical, but it is doable for beginners with a guide. The season starts in spring, it is beautiful during summer (although very sunny!) and it is closed during the winter.
The Mines du Grand Clôt via ferrata is definitely one of the most beautiful ones in Briançonnais. It has the unique feature of being both a sports and a cultural outing, as you will explore the history of the yesteryear miners. From the 14th century to the beginning of the 19th century, the Oisans mines were the main attraction of the region. They were exploited mainly for silver, iron and lead. Two centuries later, the Meije glacier has become the new Eldorado for mountaineers from all over the world. The Mines du Grand Clôt via ferrata offers magnificent views over the massif, and a memorable itinerary traversing the plateaus above the Chazelet village. Our tip: take two cars so you can leave one at the end point in Chazelet and drive in the other one to the starting point in Le Grand Clot.
Not far from Grenoble, more alpine and less crowded than the Bastille route, the Lacs Roberts via ferrata offers a peaceful mountain landscape. This route, located at Chamrousse, is surrounded by mountain lakes and wonderful, chaotic rocks. The route is technical and aerial, and there are no loopholes. It is therefore not recommended for beginners without a guide. On the way back, enjoy the 360° panorama from the Chamrousse cross over Vercors, Chartreuse, Grandes Rousses, Taillefer and Grenoble. A feast for the eyes! If you are in the area but you have no prior experience or if you come with children, we recommend you rather try the Trois Fontaines via ferrata.
The Alias via ferrata is located within a private land (equipment rental there is mandatory). It is a true playground, with five zip lines which are 45 to 250 meters long, natural holds and even a suspended picnic table! There are two routes with different levels to choose from, so it can be adjusted to your level. Keep in mind that the difficult route is physical and technical, so it is not recommended for children.
The stunning Alps and Pyrenees offer a vast playground for mountain lovers. Via ferratas make for an exhilarating adventure, which can be adapted to all levels, including families with kids!
Check out our selection of via ferratas trips in France and book your place for a rewarding experience in nature!
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