Ayas lies at the head of the valley crossed by the Evançon river in a wide area dominated by the Monte Rosa massif and its high peaks. The landscape is very varied, where glaciers, rugged cliffs, meadows and pastures set on gentle slopes blend together. This district covers numerous villages, each with its own scenery and architectural features.
The most known hamlet is Champoluc, set at an altitude of 1568 metres, a holiday destination both in winter and summer. Antagnod, where the Municipality of Ayas is located, is instead situated at an altitude of 1710 metres and enjoys a magnificent view over the surrounding mountains. Characteristic are the hamlets of Frachey and Saint-Jacques and the charming villages of Crest and Mascognaz, where the old houses, the traditional rascards, have been wisely preserved.
It is worth recalling the importance of local handcraft and the typical production of sabots, hand-made wooden clogs used by the inhabitants of the valley all year round.
WHAT TO SEE
● The Parish Church of Saint Martin: noteworthy is the marvelous baroque altar, the most imposing one in the valley. In the parish museum of sacred art, a very rare Vierge ouvrante is held.
● The permanent exhibition of traditional handcrafts: it is located in the historical centre of Antagnod at the Maison Fournier, marked by a long wooden balcony and flanked by a cylindrical tower.
● The shrine of Notre-Dame du Bon Secours: located in the hamlet of Barmasc, at an altitude of 1828 metres, it attracted many pilgrims also thanks to the supposedly miraculous water that flows from a spring from the foundations of the chapel.
NATURE AND SPORT
The region is a well-known centre for winter sports, from the small downhill ski resort of Antagnod, to the most famous Monterosa Ski area of Frachey and Champoluc which, with over 100 km of slopes, connects the valleys of Ayas, Gressoney and the Valsesia. Ski mountaineers find several itineraries, while the more adventuresome can try heliskiing and enjoy the thrill of an off-piste descent using a helicopter as a ski-lift.
In summer, the territory of Ayas offers countless hiking routes, towards lakes, such as the beautiful Lago Blu, refuges or panoramic passes, including Col Portola: along its path unique Stations of the Cross consisting of stone bas-reliefs have been set. This district is also an ideal starting point for ascents to the Monte Rosa massif, and mountain bikers will find many marked trails, too.
EVENTS AND TRADITIONS
● Mountain Guides’ Festival: it takes place every summer on August 15th. For the occasion, in various villages of the region, the local mountain guide societies organize parades in full dress uniforms and displays of mountain activities.
● Torchlight procession of the ski instructors: traditional end-of-year event with the procession of the ski instructors, who light up the Crest slopes with their torches.
FOR THE LITTLE ONES
Ayas offers many fun activities for the little guests: in summer, families can walk, also with a stroller, along the Ru Courtod, or they can have fun in the Pian Villy Wood, where unique wooden sculptures have been set and where there is a well-equipped picnic area. Intrepid children can instead climb rock and trees in the adventure park.
During the winter season, kids can have fun in the beautiful baby snow parks in the hamlets of Antagnod and Crest and meet new friends at the Fiocco di Neve mini club.
● Altitude: 1710 m
● Inhabitants: 1380
● How to get there by public transport: Ayas is reachable by bus with the line “Verrès – Saint-Jacques”. For timetables and further information, please visit the website of the VITA Group company.
● Download the map of the village