close
MOST BEAUTIFUL HIKES IN NORTHERN FRENCH ALPS

MOST BEAUTIFUL HIKES IN NORTHERN FRENCH ALPS

Here some ideas among my favourite hikes in Northern Alps in Haute Savoie and Savoie, where I live for now.
See also very soon an article about easy hikes in the area.

Be careful, some of the hikes described below can be dangerous with snow!

You’ll find more details, practical informations or maps on websites like Altitude Rando or Visiorando (in French).

CHEVAL BLANC PEAK (2831m) – CHAMONIX

Maybe the most beautiful hike I did this summer! From the summit, border between France and Switzerland, the view over Mont Blanc mountain range and Emosson lakes is breathtaking! The day I hiked there, I’m lucky to see a sea of clouds covering the valleys! Magnificent! A bonus on this hike are the dinosaurs’ footprints carved on a rock on the way: a very unique sight!

D+1800m from Chamonix (le Buet) via les chalets de Loriaz, le col de la terrasse and back down via Emosson dam. I chose this itinerary but I wildcamped on the way, close to the dinosaurs’ footprints before ascending, otherwise it is quite a big day for me. The final stage to the summit is quite challenging and very steep, with chains and ropes to help hiking up but no climbing skill is required.

D+1000m from Emosson dam.

CIRQUE DE SIXT FER A CHEVAL, VOGEALLE LAKE (2001m) – SAMOENS

This place is like arriving in paradise! Especially during spring when the snow melts and dozens of waterfalls are covering the green walls of the cirque.

D+ 150m, 1h15 one way to Bout du Monde
D+ 1000m to Vogealle lake

I made it to the hut of Vogealle only. By the end of may, there’s still a lot of snow covering the lake and around the hut. The view is amazing all the way up, and you can see a lot of ibex as you go above 1500m.
I spent the night in the well-equipped hut, a surprise for me as I expected to wildcamp! 5 euros for the night.
Mind the descent via Pas du Boret, it is very steep and slippery!

LA JONCTION (2589m) – CHAMONIX

Beautiful hike where you arrive at the feet of the glaciers of Mont Blanc.
It’s not a very difficult hike, only a lot of elevation gain for one day.

D+1500m from Chamonix, Les Bossons

ROCHE PARSTIRE (2100m), MONT COIN (2539m), LAC D’AMOUR (2248m), LAC DE PRESSET (2504m), COL DE GRAND FOND (2671m), CORMET DE ROSELEND (1968m) – BEAUFORTAIN

Nice hike in Beaufortain, from Col du Pré (1750m) to Cormet de Roselend (1968m). You can do only the 1st part if you prefer. I did the whole hike in 2 days with a night wildcamping in Lake Amour!
The 1st leg is going up to Roche Parstire and along the ridge then down to Lake Amour and up again to Presset lake and Col du Grand Fond. The wildcamping close to Lake Amour is nice, with the best view for the night on the half frozen lake at this time of the year. A lot of snow is still remaining at Presset hut and lake which is frozen too (early July)!

Day 1
D+ 900 D- 400m
Day 2
11 km, 5h00
D+ 700m D- 800m

AIGUILLE VERTE (2045m) – LAC DE LESSY (1733m) – ARAVIS

Beautiful and easy hike from Chinaillon, Samance in Grand Bornand village. From the top, you can see the Aravis mountain range and the postcard-picture lake Lessy below. You can also go down to the lake shore and around. Beautiful green colour and flowers in early summer!

D+ 850m

LE ROCHER DU VENT (2360m) – BEAUFORTAIN

Nice hike with an awesome view of Roselend lake and the surrounding mountains of Beaufortain. It is quite a steep but short hike.

D+ 500m from the hut Plan de la Laie (1813m)

AIGUILLE DE LA GRANDE SASSIERE (3751m) – TIGNES

This is the highest peak in France that you can hike with no climbing equipment. The peak is often covered by snow or frost so you can hike it only a few weeks a year, generally from mid-august to mid-september.
The peak is frozen when I hiked there, early in the morning mid-august and I was freezing at the top. Plan to bring warm clothes and better hike during the day when the sun will warm you up!
The final ascent is very steep and strenous… I arrived exhausted at the top but so worth the effort if the weather is good!

D+ 1500m from lac du Saut car park, difficult hike

Sommet de la Grande Aiguille de la Sassière

LA TOURNETTE (2353m) – ANNECY

Very popular hike, it seems to be THE hike to do while on holidays around Annecy. You’ll understand why. Indeed it’s lovely all the way up and the view on Annecy lake is fantastic! It’s definitely best to avoid during the peak season of July and August. I choose to go by the end of september when there’s far less people and no snow yet this year. I hiked up from the lake, Verthier, so the elevation gain is huge, 1900m positive with my big backpack and wildcamped at the top! I’m all alone almost all the way and alone at the top to enjoy sunset and a good sleep! Wildlife lovers will like the many ibex spotted on the way.

D+ 1900m from Verthier, via Col de la Forclaz and le chalet de l’Aulp
Possible to start higher, from Chalet de l’Aulp

Col de la Forclaz
Chalet de l’Aulp

Bivouac au sommet de la Tournette

COL DE LA VANOISE (2522m) – TOUR DES GLACIERS DE LA VANOISE – PRALOGNAN EN VANOISE

A 3 to 7 day-tour of the glaciers of Vanoise NP is also very popular in summer but the countrysides are stunning, especially in early summer when it’s covered by flowers. I do a loop Pralognan – Col de La Vanoise and back via Cirque de l’Arcelin early june with quite a lot of snow still and no snowshoes… and a half tour of the glaciers from Pralo to Modane mid september.

Pictures of early june: Lac des Vaches, Col de la Vanoise and cirque de l’Arcelin

Bivouac au refuge des Barmettes

Le Lac des Vaches, recouvert par la neige début juin

descente par le cirque de l’Arcelin

Pictures of mid september: Barmettes, Lac des Vaches, Col de la Vanoise, Arpont hut and lake, Dent parrachée to Modane

Refuge des Barmettes en automne
La Grande Casse en automne et le Lac Long

Lac de l’Arpont en automne

LAC BLANC (2434m) – COL DU SOUFFRE (2819m)- VANOISE

From Pralognan via the hamlet of Les Prioux, you reach lake Blanc (White lake) by a long 4×4 dirt road and a few hours of an easy walk. It’s a nice surprise when I arrive at the lake viewpoint, the crystal clear water is shining at the sun, I have the place for myself and there’s a big herd of chamois grazing on the shore the opposite side of the lake. The water of the lake changes colour as you come closer and as the sun is going down from clear blue to dark blue or green.
I hike up to Col du Soufre to see the lake and mountains from another viewpoint. The countryside up there looks like the moon and I discover 2 small lakes frozen in the shade.
I spent the night all alone at the Peclet Polset hut, which has a room for winter hikers, very well equipped with a full kitchen, heater, firewoods, beds and blankets.

D+ 1500m from Pralognan to Col du Soufre, D+ 1100m to Lac Blanc

Petits lacs au col du Soufre

LAC DES CHESERYS – LAC BLANC (2352m) – CHAMONIX

This hike is very popular also in Chamonix area. I chose to go by the end of october when the path is already covered by the snow the last hour’s walk. I begin hiking by midday to arrive at the top before sunset and wildcamp close to the lake even if it forbbiden (I’ll know for next time…).
Beautiful light at sunset and impressive sunrise with a sea of clouds when I wake up! The light is blue before sunrise on the frozen lake. I leave by mid morning when the flow of tourists starts coming.

Mer de nuages au lac Blanc

MONT VEYRIER (1291m) MONT BARON (1298m) – ANNECY

Easy and nice hike from Annecy, with a lot of people anytime. I hiked there in winter when it has just snowed. The trees in the forest and on the ridge are all white. Magical!
With the lake on one side and Mont Blanc on the other side you can understand why this hike is so popular.

D+ 900m the loop via col des Contrebandiers from Annecy

LE CRET DES MOUCHES (2039m) – BORNES

Beautiful hike with far less people than elsewhere in the area. You have a 360 view over Mont Blanc and Mont Charvin, la Tournette closeby, les Bauges and Annecy lake in the background.
I hiked there in autumn, the sea of clouds is really impressive in the valleys. I start in the mist and find the sun above 1400m. A plus on this hike is the wilderness and possibility to see ibex and chamois! I leave from the village of Saint Ferreol, from the hamlet of Le Fontany (750m) but there’s different ways to get there.

D+ 1300m, 4h30

LAC DE LA TEMPETE (2131m) – BEAUFORTAIN

Beautiful hike where you’ll have the place for yourself most of the time. I hike up from Saint Guerin dam lake (1565m) and go down via a very wild path towards Lac Vert and Chalet de Chiseraz to reach Benetant a hamlet close to Cevins, on the Albertville side.

D+ 600m
Path down (doing the loop) a bit dangerous on rainy days as it is steep and slippery

EVEREST BASE CAMP, GOKYO VALLEY AND RENJOLA PASS SOLO TREKKING