Outside Chamonix Valley, Chamonix-Mont-Blanc
Honestly, compared to the Chamonix region, the Aosta region is totally different.
The back side of the Mont Blanc chain was a bit dissapointing to me. No snow at all...
Aosta is a nice and cosy town (taste the famous Aosta ham), but don't expect special discoveries.
Compared to other famous Italian or Fench cities, this one has few Roman remains.
Still, for whom never saw any Roman city before, Aosta will certainly be a fantastic experience to begin with.
The Emosson Dam is located up in the mountains, at only 19 km from Chamonix, over the border, In Switzerland.
To get there, there are 2 possibilities: either, you take the road, or you cross the mountains in 2 funiculars, and over narrow gauge railroad. We chose the second option.
The steepest historic funicular in the world, (1920) who was initially built to bring the workers to the dam location, is now integrated in the Parc du Châtelard. Next ride is a 15 minutes railway ride in a splendid scenery, followed by another, smaller funicular to the dam and the lake.
On the top is a restaurant and a visitors center where you can buy tickets to visit the dam. The dam can be crossed on foot too. This is free of charge, of course.
Lots of people hike around the lake. There is a spot where once can see footprints of dinosaurs.
The site has a good website, with lots of things to do in the area.
1st photo: le barrage d'Emosson
2nd photo: the historic funicular
3rd photo: the narrow gauge railroad station
Although this mountain is just off the beaten path, an insider told me that the Col du Grand St Bernard is actually on the Italian/Swiss border (near Martigny), thus in another country.
The road to the top is excellent and loved by bikers.
If you travel in the Alps in the Fall, keep a look-out for signs advertising "Bataille des Reines" (Battle of the Queens). These are cow fights, where naturally agressive and territorial cows (yes, cows - not bulls) are brought together to see who is the 'queen of the fields'.
Late September-October is the time to look for these contests advertised on posters or in the local papers.
The gatherings are festive contests, going on all day with local food and wine, often yodellers and other cultural activites are featured.
The locations change each year and several smaller 'qualifying' contests are held before the larger regional competitions take place.
On the top of the Grand St. Bernard, there is a nice view of the little summit lake backed by a beautiful mountain panorama.