Italian & French in Aosta Valley, Italy

For those who love both Italian and French, I recommend a trip to the Aosta Valley of Italy. It is an autonomous region in the northwestern corner of Italy, bordering France and Switzerland. Both Italian and French are official languages, though the majority of the inhabitants speak Italian as a first language. Valdôtain, a dialect of Franco-Provençal, and a dialect of Walser German are also spoken in certain areas.  In main tourist towns, such as Courmayeur and Aosta, French and English are widely spoken as well as some German.

I went to Courmayeur this past weekend because I had never been to Val d’Aosta even though it is quite close to where I live. Courmayeur is located on the Italian side of Mont Blanc, opposite Chamonix on the French side. The easiest way to get there from France is to drive through the tunnel under Mont Blanc. It’s about 11 km / 7 miles long and costs 45.90€ for the roundtrip toll. The only other options would be to take a SAVDA bus from Chambéry/Annecy, or a train to Chamonix, then switch to a bus there. It is also possible to take a train from Chambéry to Turin and head north towards Aosta, but it is much longer and the train actually stops in Pré-Saint-Didier so you will still need to take a bus to Courmayeur.

Surrounded by huge mountains

The weather is actually colder in this part of the Alps and there is plenty of snow in winter for skiing – yet there is plenty of sunshine and hiking opportunities in summer.  Courmayeur is touristy like Chamonix, but it also felt smaller and even a bit cheaper (at least for meals.) The food was similar to what you find in the French Alps: fromage (cheese) and charcuterie (meats). Their fonduta/fondue is made with fontina cheese and accompanies polenta and gnocchi. Mocetta, dried beef, is also common, and tegole, cookies shaped in the form of Alpine roof tiles, are a typical dessert.  The architecture is also similar with lots of beautiful wood chalets.

Snow above my waist

Besides skiing and hiking, the region is known for its thermal baths and spas. I hope to return for longer than a weekend next time so I can take advantage of them, such as the Terme di Pré Saint Didier.  Even if you can’t make it to the Aosta Valley, you can still go on a virtual roadtrip and check out the beautiful scenery thanks to Google Street View.

Can you spot the télécabine going up the mountain?

I’ve uploaded the rest of my Courmayeur photos to the Gallery and Flickr.

  • I love this area of Italy, while I was living near Chamonix in France we would go and spend a week in Cervinia and do beautiful skiing on the borders or France, Italy and Switzerland – breath-takingly gorgeous!

    • It really is – and I love how multicultural and multilingual the area is. I wish I lived on that side of Mont Blanc!

  • That’s two near misses in one month! You were in Michigan and I didn’t know it, and now you were in Val d’Aosta on the same weekend I was in Milan and I didn’t know it. It would be cool if one of these times we could manage to meet up for an afternoon. 🙂

    • Yes, we will have to be coordinated with our travels one of these times! Courmayeur was actually David’s birthday gift and we weren’t there for long since it’s hard to get him away from his family sometimes… I don’t know how long you’re staying in Europe but I still have lots of trips to plan for this year so I’ll let you know.

  • It’s absolutely beautiful AND they give you melted cheese and stuff to dip in it??! That’s definitely a must-visit location then 😀

    So you didn’t go skiing then? Have you ever been snowboarding, you seem like the snowboarding type?

    • I have actually never skied in Europe. One time in Michigan was enough for me. I like skating, sledding, snowmobiling and just playing in snow, but I am not a fan of skiing and I’ve never tried snowshoeing or snowboarding. Everyone is so surprised when I tell them that since I live near the Alps, but I just prefer water sports I guess!

  • Gorgeous pics!! I’m salivating (despite hating the cold)! But it just looks so pretty and picturesque there!

  • Ah sigh. It looks too good. Far better than New York dirt snow.

  • Elijah

    Wow, what an interesting blog. I, like the rest of you, an very interested in foreign languages and travel and I stumbled upon this by chance. What a godsend!

    And PS: I’m also from Michigan.

  • poonam soni.

    bonjour, je m’appelle poonam soni. from bhandara (maharashtra).. i can’t explane bacause i am not go there….. i am a student in a french language.. i am doing a diploma in french language….. and i want to go there in france & other countries allso……i am wrighting & speaking allso verywll french language…..see you later !

    • Duke Mcqueen

      Courmayeur is not France, it’s ITALY.

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  • Adam Hovey

    I am learning French at this moment and I do speak some Italian so I kind of want to go there