Great week snow shoeing in the alps with Big Smiles Adventures. Gary made it tough but rewarding and was constantly making sure that I was pushing myself without overdoing it. Fantastic views with the peaks we climbed and great fun doing it. If you want something different then make this it, excellent

Steve Ellis reviewed Big Smile Adventures5 star

Gary is one of the most knowledgeable and friendliest people you could wish to spend time on Exped with. “Big Smile” is Gary, “Adventures” are what he makes happen

David McGill reviewed Big Smile Adventures5 star

Thanks again for playing a key part in what’s been such an enjoyable and memorable holiday for us all. Sincere pleasure to meet you

Mark Coleman reviewed Big Smile Adventures5 star
Martin Bayliss reviewed Big Smile Adventures5 star

Spent a great week with Gary and 6 others doing the Tour Du Mont Blanc. Laughed, drank and joked throughout the entire week. The mountains were fantastic and the weather kind, and Gary chose the best times to avoid any dodgy weather. Excellent guiding throughout the week, made for some very special memories. Hope to be back soon!

Sue Purcell reviewed Big Smile Adventures5 star

Having spent most of the last 20 years living in the city, what a joy to spend an amazing time in the mountains with such a knowledgeable,warm and friendly man like Gary. He made me feel so at ease even when I thought I couldn’t do something he would push me with words of encouragement and gentle persuasion. His love and passion for the mountains is so very obvious and I highly recommend him as a guide as any time spent with Gary in the mountains will be a time you will never forget. Big love x

Elliott Blain reviewed Big Smile Adventures5 star

Having previously been snowshoeing with Gary, I’ve Just spent the last 4 days trekking in the Italian and French alps with Him. What an amazing time, the routes he showed had the most fantastic views. His knowledge on the areas we visited was exceptional and he took the time to explain so much about the mountains.
Would highly recommend Big Smiles if you truly want to see the alps

Gary is simply a legend.
I will always be grateful for the experiences I have had in the mountains being guided by such a brilliant person.

ADAM HARTLEY  – 18-30/12/18 – MOUNT MERU & KILIMANJARO (Machame route) 

Gary is the mountain guide that looked after me and Hannah on Kili.

I cannot recommend him highly enough.

Big Smile is his company. He organises amazing trips in amazing locations that inevitably puts a big smile on your face.

Anyone seeking adventure, please check out his website.

WILLIAM BACON – 18-30/12/18 MOUNT MERU & KILIMANJARO (Machame route) 

Gary led my expedition on Mount Meru and Kilimanjaro in December 2018. I can say with utter confidence that Gary added to the enjoyment of the trip. He successfully managed to balance a tremendous sense of fun whilst remaining highly professional. After suffering with altitude sickness on Meru, Gary helped me down safely and remained calm throughout. Gary was excellent also when it came to working with our in-country team of guides and porters. He united all as a team and this added to the atmosphere of the expedition. I would recommended Gary as an expedition leader to anybody.

ANDY FISHWICK – 18-30/12/18 MOUNT MERU & KILIMANJARO (Machame route) I have just returned from a trip to Mt Meru and Kilimanjaro led by Gary- it was fantastic. He assisted each member of our group in a personal and professional manner, offering advise on everything and anything mountain/altitude/kit/health related. He was great at dealing with each of our expectations and worries individually, monitoring and checking we were healthy, safe, and happy the whole time. He dealt with different abilities within the group superbly, I felt in safe hands the whole time we were on the mountains. Gary clearly has a passion for being in the hills, with an amazing amount of knowledge he loves to pass on. Unfortunately he also has a passion for remembering and passing on some absolutely terrible dad jokes!
10/10 would travel with Gary as a guide again!

Itinerary Les Massif des Albéres and the Vermeille Coast

Day 1 – Arrival day (Saturday)

Included Dinner

Settle into your hotel and meet with your guide in the evening for a glass of wine and to discuss your week.

Meeting at your hotel at 6pm with your guide for introductions and to find out the itinerary before you head out and find dinner for the evening.


Day 2 – (Sunday) -Tour de la Madeloc – 651 Mtrs.

Included Breakfast & Lunch

Distance 11.3 km     Ascent 532mtrs       Descent 521mtrs     Time 5hrs

This is a great walk to start the week, driving up to a view point we park the van and continue up the winding small road on foot for a couple of hairpins before starting on the main path. Climbing up steeply on rocky paths we find ourselves arriving at the old Batterie Taillefer, from here we ascend good paths up to the old Torres de Madeloc where we stop for our picnic lunch.

After lunch we head down past more ruins and make our way towards the Col del Gascons where we pick up and traverse a small part of the GR10 route and arriving at the col de Vallauna. From here we drop off to our right traversing underneath the Torre de la Madeloc with vineyards stretching down below us as we make our way back to our starting point.

A great day to warm up the legs for the week, have an understanding of the area we are in and then return in the middle of the afternoon for some beach time.


Day 3 – (Monday) -Tour de la Massane – 782 Mtrs.

Included Breakfast & Lunch

Distance 14.8 km       Ascent 826 mtrs       Descent 833 mtrs     Time 6hrs

Today we start at the chateau du Valmy, a centre for birds of prey. From the parking we drop down right along the vineyards for a couple of minutes before coming out of the trees and finding the main trail. From here we turn left and head up towards through cork forests and arrive at a small Dolmen; from here we carry on up leaving the cork forests behind and entering an area of oak and holly forests. This is a day of being in the forests passing outcrops of rocks projecting up through the trees. Finally we come out onto an open area with the tour de la Massane sitting above on a rocky outcrop. After climbing up to the tour we start descending back down through forests past the ruins of La Chapelle de St-Laurent and back into the cork forests and finally retuning to the parking at Valmy.


Day 4 – (Tuesday) -Tour des Cretes de Cerbère – 675Mtrs.

Included Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Distance 13.2 Km       Ascent 861 mtrs       Descent 857 mtrs   Time 5hrs

Todays hike has one of the bigger ascents and descents of the week and is a magnificent day out. Starting right on the sea, we wind up through the narrow streets of Cebère and arrive literally where the road finishes and the trail takes over up into the mountains. The trail starts steeply but gives great views of our day and where we started. At times the path is rocky under foot and we traverse small rock areas continuing to gain height and large birds of prey can sometimes be seen floating on the warm thermals above us. We gain the heights of Puig Joan and the Col de Cerbére and at times have views of the Massif des Albéres, the Mediterranean coastline and the mountains of southern Catalonia and Spain all at the same time. By the time we reach our highest point of the day the Peak and Torre de Querroig at 672 mtrs we are on the actual frontier with Spain. From there we descend on again sometimes rocky paths following the border all the way back down to Cerbère for a cold beer or glass of wine to finish our day.


Day 5 – (Wednesday) – Randonnée des deux Fontaines – 500 mtrs

Included Breakfast and Lunch

Distance 10.3 Km        Ascent 418 mtrs         Descent 433 mtrs     Time 3.5 hrs

The Randonnée des deux Fontaines is a great hike starting in the small village of Laroque-des-Albéres, following wonderful little trails up through the woods we come up and out into the open wider paths before heading up into the forested trails once again. The 2 fountains are non-working now and really just give their name more than their presence to this hike. It does supply though wonderful views and an easier day half way through the week. Arriving back to Laroque-des-Albéres we take our transport and go off to Collioure the beautiful and charming seaside village to sample the shops and cafes before return back to the hotel.


Day 6 – (Thursday) – Le Pic de Sallfort – 981 mtrs

Included Breakfast & Lunch

Distance 11 km             Ascent 594 mtrs           Descent 594 mtrs   Time 5hrs

Todays route ends up taking us up to a big metal cross on the summit of Le Pic de Sallfort. Starting at the col des Gascons, we head up and along the GR10 track to the col de Vallauria. This col is the same col we crossed on the first days trek but here is where the connection ends for instead of dropping down to our right we turn right and head up through wooded and shaded paths for a while before hitting the ridge line that becomes more rocky and open. The path winds steeply upwards passed and through some wooded areas and wonderful rock formations until we claim the open plateau. Here we can discover a small cabane/refuge tucked into the side of a tower of rocks. The refuge Tony as it is called is not even marked on the local maps and is a wonderful surprise to discover. Making our way over to the right we gain the summit cross and amazing views of the Spanish Catalonian mountains, the Mediterranean coastline and the Massif des Albéres. Depending on the weather and the group we can keep traversing along the frontier ridge following the GR10 track for as long as we like. If the group is fit enough and wants we can traverse all the way to the Puig de Quatre Thermes but this makes the day a 20 km day with double the ascent and descent. Either way today is a magnificent day with views and solitude to make you feel really good.


Day 7 – (Friday) – Port Vendres to Banyuls sur Mer – 74 mtrs

Included Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Distance 11.9 Km         Ascent 552 Mtrs           Descent 573 mtrs   Time 5hrs

This is a great coastal path hike, starting in Port Vendres we circumnavigate the port and start to climb up the hillside leaving Port Vendres stretched out below us. The trail takes us past the lighthouse at Cap Béar and then past some tiny beaches and hamlets before we traverse past Le site Paulilles (an old dynamite factory that has been transformed into a free and ecological park). Continuing on a long the rocky sea bashed coast line, we can stop at any of the beaches to eat our picnic lunch. We should arrive in Banyuls sur mer in time to have a glass of wine or a coffee before catching a bus back to our hotel.


Day 8 – (Saturday) – Departure day.

Included Breakfast

We have our breakfast, check out of the hotel and say goodbye to the beautiful Massif des Albéres and the Côte Vermeille.


Itinerary Queyras.

We always aim to complete the itinerary as outlined below, however, the following itinerary will be followed only when conditions and weather make it appropriate, both in terms of safety and enjoyment. Your guide will make a decision on your route based on those conditions.

Day 1 Arrival

We meet at 7pm at our accommodation when your guide will be available to discuss the itinerary and answer any questions about the week ahead. Please note that for those arriving into Turin airport a transfer is included, departing at approx. 1630 hrs to allow us to arrive in Aiguilles in time for dinner.

Day 2 La Croix de Curlet

We ease into the week by heading for an excellent view point which gives a good introduction to the area. This is one of the best belvederes of Saint Veran and the cirque of Clausis. There is the possibility of doing a loop on our descent to vary the terrain and views. We will aim to also do some training looking at the snowpack and considering mountain safety in winter. We will stop at the gorgeous village of St Veran for a well earned ‘refreshment’ before heading back to our hotel. Ascent 670m. 7.5km. 5.5 hrs.

Day 3 The Alpages du Sommet Bucher

We begin by heading up a narrow valley towards the highest village in Europe at St Veran. It claims this title as the only village inhabited all year round at this altitude of 2050m. We wander through the pine forests zig zagging our way up the mountain side till we reach our destination at Sommet Bucher. It is a good place to view the Col Agnel, the frontier with the Piemont are of Italy. A visit to St Veran for a coffee after climb is an excellent end to the day. Ascent 554m. 6km. 5hrs.

Day 4 Col de la Creche

A view of the picturesque village of Chateau Queyras is on offer this morning as we head for the Col de la Creche which rises above the village. We drive up a steep mountainroad to the community of Les Meyries which is our starting point. A gorgeous climb follows through the pine forests until we rise above the tree line and the impressive ridge leading to the Pic de Agrenier, comes into view. We swing round to the Col de la Creche which gives an excellent view point over the region, we then claim the summit ridge! Ascent 640m. 9km. 6hrs.

Day 5 Alpage de Fontantie

We start at the trailhead at Montbardon with the high alpages of Fontantie as our goal. This is a superb mountain pasture, and we should get a great view over the Ecrins National Park from the top at 2,500m. The pastures are home to the cow herds during the summer months, but in winter they are a silent snowcovered landscape with all the cattle safely ‘tucked up’ in the barns in the valley. Ascent 743. 5km. 5 hrs.

Day 6 Crete de Gardiole

This is one of the classic winter peaks of the area and will be our highest summit, sitting as it does at 2656m. We drive to the lovely old village of Abries, before taking a stunning side valley to the hamlet of Le Roux. Here we begin our hike up a mountain that offers incredible views of the range. Definitely, one of our favourite snowshoe trips! A fine summit awaits, and if the weather is kind you will without doubt be impressed be the photo opportunitites. Ascent 910m. 8km. 6hrs.

Day 7 Col de Longet

The Col sits at 2,701m and is an excellent goal for a great day out. We have some choices here as to whether we do a circuit from St Veran, and over the Col and down to Fontgillarde, the last inhabited village before we reach the Italian frontiere, or whether we do a smaller loop from Fontgillarde, and then back to the village. Either way it will be a good end to the week. Facing north we can be guaranteed some powder, or we hope so! Ascent 800m. 10km. 7hrs.

Day 8 Departure

Departure Day and morning transfer to Turin airport, Italy. Please ensure that any departure flight is after 1300 hrs. The journey to Turin will take approx 2.45 hrs.

Queyras week in a nutshell

← Back to the list

Just on the French side of the border between France and Italy, the Regional Parc of Queyras has all the caracteristic to be consider the Paradise of snowshoeing.

Based in the small village of Aiguilles (with its 400 habitants) you will discover the  pleasure of a silent nature, walking around the Alpages, arriving on the top of a small mountain from where admire the beautiful scenery.

  • Remote wild valleys
  • Spectacular mountain views
  • Away from the crowds
  • Gorgeous village base
  • Return airport transfer included
  • Excellent auberge accommodatio
  • Guided with highly professional and qualified International Mountain Leaders


Things to consider: intermidiate fitness level.  We have a set itinerary but we could change it considering the snow condition.

Price: €1446
Included: the price is based on shared twin room accommodation with half board in a 2** Hotel or similar. A single room supplement may be available in the hotel if you do not wish to share, £170. The price includes the professional guiding services of a qualified International Mountain Leader,all necessary snowshoe equipment, including poles, snow shovel, avalanche probe, and in resort transport. A transfer from Turin airport at a time to suit the majority of the group is included. This will be no later than 1630 hrs to allow time to reach our accommodation before dinner.
Not included: lunches are not included. Flights are not included, nor transport to our base in Aiguilles, apart from the above mentioned airport transfer from Turin.