Champorcher is perched at an altitude of 1427 metres and gives its name to the valley which starts at the very foot of the Bard Fortress, 14 km away. The town has retained all its ancient features and customs of feudal origin and is build around the crenellated tower, all that remains of an ancient castle. Its untouched, wild landscapes are perfect for countless walks: the main ones start in the Dondena Valley, which is located within the Mont Avic Park. In the town, you can watch hemp fabric being made by hand using a wooden loom: bed sheets, towels, tablecloths and bags, finished with delicate embroidery and hand-stitched hems by the Lou Dzeut Cooperative.
In winter, the Laris ski area, equipped with modern lift facilities, offers slopes for Alpine skiing that stretch out more than 12 kilometres, and trails of varying difficulty for cross-country skiing.
Points of interest
Hamlet of Château
It is the main hamlet of the town. Here you can admire the square-plan tower of the lords of Savoy, dating back to 1320, and the adjacent parish church, of Medieval origin, standing on the ruins of the castle’s chapel. The church has been extended on several occasions over the centuries and is adorned with splendid painted and gilded wooden altars, crafted between the 18th and 19th centuries by accomplished artists from the Valsesia area. The magnificent ceiling, embellished with frescoes in the late 19th century by the famous Artari brothers from Verrès, has recently been restored.
The Laris ski resort
This resort is the nearest for people coming from Piedmont or Lombardy. It belongs to the Monterosa ski area. A cable-car will take you up there from the hamlet of Chardonney. It offers 18 slopes (12 km overall), and is ideal for all types of skier. 2 teaching slopes equipped with ski treadmill are available, as well as a chair lift (“Laris”) and another chair lift with four places (“Cimetta Rossa”) that reaches an altitude of 2,500 metres above sea level, at a spectacular vantage point offering an extraordinary view of the Matterhorn (il Cervino) and Monte Rosa. There is also a ski lift (“Madeleine”) in the forest, for expert skiers. If you love Nordic skiing, there is also a wonderful cross-country skiing trail between the hamlets of Château and Chardonney.
Ecomuseo della Canapa (Hemp Ecomuseum)
Located in Chardonney in the stable of an ancient house called “Maison de Thomas”,partially restored and fitted out as a museum of itself, the ecomuseum offers a glimpse into the life of long ago and houses an archaic loom (the only one in the Alps), made completely of wood. In past centuries, many families processed the fibre of the plant grown in the fields on the valley floor, weaving hemp cloth (“Teila de Meison”) for local use. Much of it was also traded.
Set in the Mont Avic Natural Park, at the intersection of the valleys of Champorcher, Cogne, Fenis and Valsoana, it is one of the biggest lake basins in the Aosta Valley. It has always been visited by many, to admire its glorious landscape but also to visit the Madonna delle Nevi shrine, dedicated to Our Lady of the Snows, destination of the traditional procession on August 5. The refuge by the same name stands on its shores, offering 36 beds in 4 rooms and a bar-restaurant service.
Festival of “Lo Pan Ner”
In the first half of October. Each year, for the cross-border festival of Lo Pan Ner, celebrated throughout the entire Alpine area, the oven in the hamlet of Mont-Blanc is fired up, where traditional rye breads are baked, along with “micche”, breads enriched with chestnuts, raisins, figs and other sweet ingredients. For the occasion, it is the custom to offer the people at the event a few traditional local dishes, always containing bread.
Procession to the Madonna delle Nevi Shrine
Every year, for centuries, on August 5 at four o’clock in the morning, pilgrims have gathered on the parvis of the church with their torches lit. They set out for the Miserin Lakealong the historical Strada Realeroad, built on the request of King Victor Emmanuel II of Italy. The ritual requires that the cross and small bell lead the procession. After making a number of stops, the worshippers attend Mass in the chapel on arrival at the lake. Next is the traditional auction (enchère) to collect funds for the shrine’s upkeep and, last but not least, lunch all together near the refuge.