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Spring hikes in Chamonix

Walks in Spring – many that don’t need lifts

Some of the valley’s loveliest walks don’t need lifts. Here’s a selection of  favourites: some can be started directly from the chalet. Always check accessibility with the Office de Haute Montagne for current conditions – packed snow can linger on some paths well into June. Sometimes they have an update on their site, sometimes it’s best to call or visit.

Office de Haute Montagne next to the church in Chamonix.

Le Chapeau
A beautiful route which can be done as a short walk of around total 1.5 hours out and back, from the hamlet of Le Lavancher. Or go direct from the chalet via the Sources d’Arveyron for longer walk an extra lookout over  the gorge (about  2.5 to 4 hrs out and back). Details and directions here. Short but very high quality menu at the refuge, I recommend the Croute and the excellent cakes! Cash only, check Facebook “Chapeau Le Lavancher” for current mobile number, opening and closing etc. Usually open all through spring.

La Floria

A beautiful view from the cafe, normally opens late May until early November, mainly according to the weather. If not bring a flask and  sandwiches! Straightforward 45 minute ascent, visible from the chalet. Start from beside ‘Rabbit On The Roof” ski makers in Les Praz, on the side of the valley facing us (quickest way, about an hour from the chalet), or from near the “Paradis des Praz” just past the Golf Club. Can be made into a nice loop by combining these two routes. I recommend up from Rabbit On The Roof through the forest in the shade, continue through the cafe, then descend towards the golf club for the Mont Blanc views.

Details and route here.

Cascade de Dard
A very easy 10 minute walk from near the Mont Blanc Tunnel (so check traffic first if you do this on Saturday!). A good little expedition to stretch legs in bad weather as the waterfall can be spectacular in the rain. The lovely little buvette usually opens mid-June.

15-20 minute walk to the chalets, and you can happily spend an hour just wandering around the meadow here, especially in June when the lupins are in full flower! Details and link to map.

Lac Vert / Plaine Joux
Drive up to this lovely spot for classic views of Mont Blanc reflected in the water. You can drive right up to the lake making it ideal with limited mobility or small children. Walk around the lake and then up behind it (take the fire road, signed to Chalets d’Ayeres, and then double back to the lake) for a different perspective. There’s a whole network of well signed paths round here. Plaine Joux is about 2 kilometre away and you can check their webcam for visibility.

Plaine Joux, a 2km walk or drive from Lac Vert, often has a couple of restaurants open in summer, with beautiful views! (call Passy Tourist Office to confirm on 04 50 58 80 52). Or try l’Auberge des Gorges de la Diosaz in Servoz which has a very good restaurant. This whole area has lots to explore –  More details here

Parapente in front of Mont Blanc
Paragliders launching from Plaine Joux

Rochers des Mottets
A lovely little cafe, usually open from the end of May with an amazing view: it is right in front of the Dru. About an hour and a half from the chalet, about 600m ascent – walk up behind the Bergerie d’Orthaz. If you’re feeling fit you can walk up to Montenvers from here. (NB wood felling in summer 2022 may restrict access so check first with the OHM).

Forbes Signal (from Montenvers railway)
You can see this viewpoint from the chalet garden or balcony. The 45 minute walk up from Montenvers is really worth the extra effort, with a stunning panorama over the glacier at an atmospheric, cairn-strewn point. This was where the Scottish Dr Forbes, assisted by the artist Ruskin, discovered principles that govern the movement of glaciers. Take the Montenvers Railway up, then walk to the hotel. The path to Forbes Signal is signed from beside the hotel and goes up from there. About 45 minutes to the top. If conditions allow, you can continue down the other side and make a really nice loop back to the Montenvers station, returning along the last part of the Grand Balcon Nord. Allow at least 1.5 hours for this walk as an out and back, and at least 2.5 hours for the loop, you really do not want to miss the last train down!

Forbes Signal in early winter
Forbes signal with light snow

Col des Montets 
You go through here on the drive to Vallorcine, and it’s well worth a stop. Lots of short pretty out and back walks around the Col – walk to Vallorcine in one direction or there is a little lake and nature trail the other way. Also a great road biking destination!

Aiguillette des Posettes
A few hundred metres from the Col Des Montets (between the Col and Tre-le-Champ), you’ll see a parking place which is the best point to access the Aiguillette des Posettes. A big, beautiful walk, about four hours as a round trip. Check conditions before setting off as it is not always clear to the top until July.

Le Berard
A good choice in wetter or cloudy weather as it’s not so much about the views, but very pretty in its own right, winding through a gorge. Conversely, it’s also good in very hot weather as it’s mostly shaded.

20 minutes walk from Le Buet is the very charming buvette over a waterfall. Below it, a steel walkway takes you directly beneath the cascade – spectacular. Carry on past the buvette into the nature reserve, a very pretty walk by the river which opens out into a beautiful valley with a big  colony of ibex. NB Dogs are tolerated in this section of the nature reserve but must be on leads. The cascade is very dangerous for them  and also the ibex too so please do respect this. Map and more info and pics here.

For the fit (or hire E-bikes! It is a long but straightforward trail) you can ascend the 800m to the glorious high meadows of Loriaz. Details here.

Lac Emosson (Switzerland)
Drive up past the Swiss border (obligatory to stop for Rivella, chocolate and Swiss wine!) and take the road signed to Lac Emosson. Plenty of parking at the top. Lots of walks up here including a remarkable fossilised beach with dinosaur footprints. If you want to do the walk to the footprints, get a good map as it’s quite a walk, 4/5 hours round trip. But just to walk over the impressive sweep of the dam and around the lake is lovely too, the turquoise water is spectacular. Webcam here to check visibility.