French Alps self guided hiking vacation, 8 days

“Hike the Alps in summer, with six high altitude self guided walks past lakes, falls and wildflower meadows, refuelling in welcoming refuges along the way.”


Airport transfers | six walks | maps, route notes and commentaries | Morzine | walk into Switzerland | ensuite accommodation | three course dinners | afternoon tea and cake | MultiPass to cable cars, chair lifts, local bus services and leisure complex

Description of French Alps self guided hiking vacation, 8 days

Lace up your boots and head to France on this French Alps self guided walking vacation, eight days. Enjoy magnificent high altitude walking with views of the Mont Blanc Massif throughout. The Alps are a sensory delight, with spectacular peaks, wide grassy meadows, tinkling cowbells, scented pine forests, sparkling rivers and lakes and tumbling waterfalls. The Alpine flora and fauna is beautiful, too, from gentians to marmots.

The walks are suitable for any reasonably fit, active person capable of walking for up to five hours with a break for lunch. As this is alpine walking, expect a number of ups and downs every day on uneven ground with long ascents and descents on some days. The longer walks are interspersed with shorter days. There are no steep drops or narrow ridges and there is nothing that is technically difficult. Since all the walks take place at high altitude, the paths are open for walking only between mid-June and end-August. You will have a comprehensive walk pack with a marked-up map, detailed route notes and accompanying commentaries.

You’ll be staying at the stylish Chalet Catherine in the heart of Morzine, with dinner, bed and breakfast included. Tuck into excellent locally sourced food and regional cuisine, take thrilling excursions by cable car and chair lift and stop off in welcoming alpine refuges for coffee and lunch breaks.

Day-by-day itinerary

Day 1:Arrival and minibus transfer to Morzine
Day 2:An introductory day to familiarise yourself with Morzine itself, your chalet and its surroundings. Today’s walk is gentle, starting from the chalet and taking you along the River Dranse. After joining the Sentier du Renard (Path of the Fox), you visit the impressive Nyon waterfall before lunch at an alpine chalet. Return to Morzine for tea, via meadows and the route of the Tour de France, learning a little of Morzine’s history on the way. (Grade easy: 4 miles/6.4 km)
Day 3:Avoriaz & Le Lac Vert. A more demanding walk today at high altitude in beautiful alpine meadows. Using cable cars and chairlifts for easy access, you reach Switzerland at 2277 metres above sea level, stopping for coffee at the Refuge de l’Abricotine next to the Swiss customs post. Having stopped to admire the Dents du Midi at 3,257 metres, and the Dents Blanches at 2576 metres, your path takes you to the beautiful Lac Vert just over the border. Enjoy lunch at the Col de Chéséry, breathing fresh mountain air with spectacular views for miles around. You may indulge in a fondu for lunch (always excellent - this is Switzerland after all!). Then a stretch of Grande Rondonée 5, with luck lined with vivid blue gentians, taking you finally to the Chaux Fleurie lift and Lindarets Express back down into the valley after an exhilarating day’s walking in magnificent alpine scenery. (Grade: moderate. 5 miles/8 km; 4-5 hours excluding refreshment breaks. A number of ascents and descents today).
Day 4:Le Pleney & Les Gets. A fairly short day but with a number of scenic ups and downs. Starting at the top station of the Pléney lift (just 5 minutes from your chalet), your walk begins with magnificent views down to Morzine and to the Vallee des l’Ardoisières as well as the Pointe de Ressachaux at 2173 metres and the limestone massif of Dents Blanches. Following a walk through wide meadows, break for coffee at the idyllically-situated Vaffier Restaurant, admiring fantastic vistas of Mont Blanc ahead. There is a steep descent on the route down to Les Gets which can be avoided by taking the lift down from Les Chavannes. There are options for lunch today, either by the lake or in Les Gets itself. In Les Gets you may wish to visit the Mechanical Music Museum (Le Musee de la Musique Mechanique) - allow about an hour. The museum is open daily from 10.15am - 7.15pm in July and August, the last visit being at 6pm. Entry is free with your MultiPass. (Grade: moderate. 4 miles/6.4 km; 3 hours excluding refreshment breaks. A number of ascents and descents today).
Day 5:Le Roc D’Enfer A linear walk from the hamlet of Graydon to the hamlet of Col de l’Encrenaz. This fairly strenuous walk in the heart of the Alps should only be attempted by confident walkers. There are a number of gradients, including an ascent across a rocky path. This is wild, high mountain terrain, providing superb walking. Here, in this UNESCO protected region of the Chablis Alps, you may well see and hear Marmots in the rocky grasslands encountered on this walk. Highlights include the Roc D’Enfer, wide, grassy meadows, grasslands and pastures with the famous Abundance cows with tinkling cowbells and above it all stunning mountain panoramas with the peaks of Mont Blanc ever present. Picnic lunch today at the Col Ratti. (Grade: moderate-strenuous. 5 miles/8 km; 4-5 hours excluding refreshment breaks. A number of ascents and descents today). If you would like to have a mountain guide accompany you on this walk, this can be arranged at extra cost. Alternative Suggestions: Visit Chamonix by bus or taxi and take the cable car up to Aiguille du Midi in the Mont Blanc Massif. Or walk along the river to the beautiful lake at Montriond.
Day 6:Mont Chery & Le Mont Caly. Another short route designed to give you an easier day’s walking. The route is circular, beginning and ending in Les Gets. From the Belvedere enjoy magnificent views of Mont Blanc to the south and also of the famous ‘needles’, the Aguilles du Midi and Aguilles Rouges, a crystalline mountainous massif of the French Pre-Alps, opposite the Mont Blanc Massif. Lunch today is at the Refuge at Mont Caly, a very pleasant spot to stop for rest and refreshment. In complete contrast of terrain, after lunch you take a delightful woodland walk on soft pine needles before you finally descend to the road and your bus back to Morzine. (Grade: easy. 4 miles/6.4 km; 3-4 hours. The cable car does the climbing today so the walk is relatively easy apart from a fairly steep descent to Le Mont Caly).
Day 7:Lac de Mines D’Or & Col de Cou. Following a morning coffee at the Lac de Mines D’Or, you set off on a delightful walk from the lake nestling in a bowl in the mountains. Climbing up through a pine forest you'll enjoy wonderful views of the Valley de la Manche, of the Roc d’Enfer and the Pointe de Nyon. Continue to climb up to the Col de Cou at 2,000 metres, the border between France and Switzerland. At one time this was a well-known smuggling area between the two countries, but now it is more renowned as one of the Alpine passes through which thousands of migrating birds fly in spring and autumn. You may even be lucky enough to see a golden eagle! You meet GR5 again on the path up to the Swiss border was that used by the French Resistance during World War II to cross into Switzerland. Picnic lunch at the border or, if there is time, it may be possible to continue to the Col de Bretolet in Switzerland with its ornithological observatory where 10,000 birds are caught, identified, weighed and ringed. On the way back down, you can stop for refreshments at the Chalets de Fréterolle. (Grade: moderate. 5 miles/8.4 km; 5 hours excluding refreshment breaks. Sustained ascending for around one hour but no very steep inclines).
Day 8:Farewell and Departure

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Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: French Alps self guided hiking vacation, 8 days


Walking is the least carbon intensive way to travel, keeping the environmental impact of this vacation to a minimum. Where it is necessary to travel by means other than on foot, we use cable cars and chairlifts and by selecting Morzine as our base we have an excellent bus system available literally on the doorstep. We aim to balance the environmental impact of traveling with the benefits sustainable tourism can bring to local economies. The small chalets we use in Morzine are family owned, employing wherever possible local staff.

In our small home office we recycle paper, cardboard, ink cartridges and printed material to reduce the waste in landfill sites. We purchase recycled printer cartridges, paper, envelopes, labels, pens, toilet tissue, bin liners. We turn off printers, photocopiers, computers, battery chargers and transformers at the end of each day and avoid ‘screen savers’, use energy-efficient bulbs and low-energy appliances. We cut CO2 emissions by maintaining heating thermostats at the lowest comfortable setting. We do not use tumble dryers nor take disposable plastic bottles to the countryside, instead promoting the use of water bottles manufactured by companies like Sigg.

We do not print brochures, keeping customers informed electronically via email, electronic newsletters and our website. We encourage clients to remit their payments electronically via PayPal or by bank transfer.


We support local projects, craftsmen and artisans; for example, on this vacation, visitors can visit the local cheese factory. People invariably buy local products as gifts or souvenirs. We introduce our clients to the local liqueurs and other local specialities.

We employ a local guide and promote establishments preparing their menus from locally grown produce purchased from local farming families who have worked the land for centuries. When packed lunches are required, we use local bakeries, delicatessens and fruiterers for our supplies.

We use local transport companies and their drivers for airport transfers, the nearby bus company for local journeys. We liaise with local tourist offices to ensure our clients benefit from specialist local knowledge. We believe that we have made valuable economic contributions to local rural businesses, bringing them repeat business, and it is our aim to continue to do so.

We place much emphasis on the local culture and history of the area and our clients are provided with comprehensive commentary notes in their walks pack. They learn about transhumance and other traditions of alpine areas such as this. We encourage our clients to visit local markets and make use of the great variety of local activity providers in the area.

1 Reviews of French Alps self guided hiking vacation, 8 days

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 26 Aug 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Walking on my own in the mountains of the French Alps

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Be prepared for changes of plan due to weather affecting the chair lifts

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

A little

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

A great time walking in the country side seeing beautiful views and wildlife.

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