“Pax intratibus, salus exentibus” (come in peace, enjoy the quiet): according to the tradition this sentence is addressed to those who enter the territory of Valtournenche and it is written on 15th century chapel front dedicated to San Michele situated in the locality of Ussin (1.310 m) at the threshold of the basin where Valtournenche (1.524 m) finds itself, last district of the Valtournenche valley. Here the valley broadens around a wide plain where you can find an artificial lake. It is bordered by a pedestrian path, sports facilities and playgrounds of Tzan, Fiollet and Palet which are traditional sports.
To the north the basin is closed on one side by Mountain Gorbeillon and on the other side by the promontory which rises at the foot of Becca d’Aran Mountain. On this promontory, exposed to south, there is Valtournenche with its hamlets.
“Barmasse” is the oldest hamlet, name “Barma” is a synonym of cavern, shelter and its location explains its name: big “barma”. A house shows a 1743 fresco, on top of the village some Neolithic ruins and rock engraving are visible.
The administrative center, Paquier, takes its name from Latin Pascua, because at a previous time it was covered by grazing land. Touristic development has altered this situation but even today traces of the past and old atmosphere come to light. Two examples are the church yard or “piazzetta delle Guide” (Guides’ Square) where people can admire memorial plaques in honor of Valtournenche mountain guides who have contributed to write important pages in the history of climbing worldwide.
The “Piazzetta” (little square), at the end of 17th century, experienced dreams and projects of many mountaineers mainly English (Edward Wimper) who wanted to conquer Mountain Cervino. It was in the “Piazzetta” that the expedition of 1865, leaded by J.A. Carrel, was promoted and in which Italians obtain a victory for the first time.
A few kilometers northward there is an altiplane on which Mountain Cervino (4478 m) overcomes, one of the most beautiful and peculiar mountain worldwide and where Cervinia (2006 m) appears. It’s a breathtaking view: between a range of dark mountains and sparkling glaciers it rises Matterhorn, a magnificent multifaceted pyramid which dominates the Valtournenche valley.
Before arriving to Cervinia there is a little lake where the giant Cervino reflects itself: it is the “Lac Bleu”, blue because of a seaweed that lives at the bottom of the lake.
Valtournenche and Cervinia are today an important and up-to-date ski area internationally renowned which witnessed the birth of numerous first class hotel establishments.
The ski area which outreaches Zermatt (CH) is one of the most important and beautiful ski area of the Alpes, varied and incomparable. It enlarges upon three valleys of two nations, Italy and Switzerland, from 3.883 m of “Piccolo Cervino” to 1.524 m of Valtournenche. 360 km of ski slopes allow you to ski for the entire day never repeating the same slope and toggle between simple and more demanding routes.
During the summer Valtournenche offers you the possibility to practice some sports such as hiking and climbing, all alone or accompanied by the famous “Guide del Cervino”( Cervino’s mountain guides) or enjoy modern sports such as trekking, golf and tennis. In alternative, you can also enjoy a walk on snowfield or in meadows in bloom, where to smell flowers and plants; you can also sit down on the bank of a lake, where to catch sight of a groundhog, chamois or steinbock and extend your sight beyond the mountains in order to benefit from a special feeling of peace and serenity.