19.09
2011 Mountain activities

Imagine the view from above, gazing over a majestic valley with a panorama of Europe’s most spectacular peaks.  Contrary to popular belief, it is not only seasoned and serious hikers who can dream of this experience.  The French mountains offer a multitude of easy hikes to enjoy with friends or family.

Randos panoramiques

Le Plateau d’Emparis (Isère / Hautes-Alpes)

Imagine the view from above, gazing over a majestic valley with a panorama of Europe’s most spectacular peaks.  Contrary to popular belief, it is not only seasoned and serious hikers who can dream of this experience.  The French mountains offer a multitude of easy hikes to enjoy with friends or family.

Randos panoramiques

Le Plateau d’Emparis (Isère / Hautes-Alpes)

Accessible from Besse-en-Oisans (Isère side) and Le Chazelet (Hautes-Alpes side), this plateau, overlooking the village of La Grave, offers a breathtaking panorama over the the north faces of the Meije and the Râteau, the Girose Glacier and the dome of La Lauze.  The GR 54 leads you to the pristine waters of Lake Lérié (2460 m of altitude) and Lake Noir (2480 m).   Count on 2h30 and an elevation gain of 745 metres to reach the lakes from Chazelet, or 1h30 and an elevation gain of 250 metres if you take the dirt path (accessible for all vehicles) from Besse.   

Le Lac du Pys (Savoy)

This hike, with an elevation gain of 200 metres (3h30 total, climb 2 h) begins at the Ouliéta bridge (altitude 2476m), above Bonneval-sur-Arc.  An overhanging path winding around Arses point leads to the lakes Plan des Eaux at 2680m, then Pys at 2663m.  The views are truly exceptional : the summits of Lavenna and Albaron (3637m) are reflected in Plan des Eaux.  You can hear the whistle of marmots and see them stretched out in the sun.  Pys offers a superb view over the summits and the glaciers sparkling in the sun.  For a more relaxed hike, you can always stop at Plan des Eaux (a one hour climb, 1h45 round trip.)  

Le chalet du Curé (Haute-Savoie)

The superb view over the summit of Mont Blanc is the main attraction of this family hike (elevation gain 285m, climb 1h45, 3h15 round trip).  The trail begins at the Aravis pass, where you can leave your car.  At the Croix des Frêtes, the highest point of the hike, in addition to Mont Blanc, the Aiguille Verte, the Aiguille du Midi and the dôme de Miage,  you can see the Beaufortain massif, and, if the sky is clear, the Vanoise glaciers.  The Chalet du Curé (altitude 1711m) is in a picturesque pasture, surrounded by rhododendrons and wild blueberries. 

Le gîte de la Molière at Autrans (Isère)

Vercors, Belledonne, Oisans, Chartreuse, and, further in the background, the majestic Mont Blanc.  Take in these beautiful sights from a pastoral setting, accessible for families and even prams.  This hike to the gîte de la Molière is an easy 2.4 kilometres and an elevation gain of 60 metres, a total of 1h30 at a relaxed pace.  And, upon arrival at the gîte de la Molière, you can celebrate with a delicious tart.  To access the departure point, drive to the Col de la Croix Perrin, then take the Molière forest route, departing from the inn. 

Des Bioqués au Grouvelin (Vosges)

This hike over the ridges in the heart of the Gérardmer national forest will take you through a breathtaking landscape of open spaces and ariel views.  Ten kilometres with an elevation gain of 350 metres (3h15 total) from the parking lot at the Bas-Rupts cross-country ski centre, next to Gérardmer.  Culminating at 1090 metres, the Roche des Bioqués offers a splendid viewpoint overlooking the Chajoux valley.  The vertiginous Rothenbachkopf face, the gentle slopes of the Batteriekopf, and the round-topped  mountains of Servance and Alsace appear before your eyes.  Due east, your eyes will be drawn to the the Hautes Chaumes.  An exceptional experience. 

Le Puy de la Vache (Puy-de-Dôme)

This easy hike will take you across a volcanic terrain of basalt and igneous rock. Specially designed for families (2.7 km, approximate elevation gain 200m, total time 1h30) it allows you to discover one of the magnificent volcanoes of the Puys chain.  From the summit of the Puy de la Vache (1167 metres), enjoy a 360 degree view over the Puys, Sancy, Cézallier and Forez mountains.  Information panels have been installed along the marked trail for and educational family experience.

Randos panoramiques

Le Pic de Pan (Hautes-Pyrénées)

This small summit (1461 m) overlooking the Azun valley has perhaps the loveliest name of all of the mountains in the Pyrenees – making it a favourite destination for children (from 6 and up).  Note that reaching the summit requires an effort!   Kids and parents alike will be delighted by the stunning landscape with a view over the Pic du Midi d'Arrens, the Pics de Gabizos, the Pibeste, the Cabaliros, and the Arrens and Estaing valleys. Total walking time is 1h45.

Le Crêt Monniot (Doubs)

This hike, 10 km long, elevation gain 327 metres, (3h30 total, departing from Cordiers) leads you to the summit of the Crêt du Monniotat 1141m, the perfect place to take in the beautiful view over the department of Doubs.  The 360 degree panorama of Besançon, from the peaks to the plateaus of the Jura, the Lomont massif and the Loue valley, not to mention the unobstructed silhouette of the Vosges, the summits of the Bernese Alps and, on a clear day, Mont Blanc, never fails to impress.  If your time is limited, or if 3 hours is too long of a walk, you can drive to the inn at Crêt Monniot and take the interpretive trail to learn about the karstic relief and the life of the local inhabitants. 

Le Parmelan (Haute-Savoie)

Le Parmelan is one of the classic hikes in the Haute-Savoie.  Visible from the outskirts of Annecy, Le Parmelan is known for its imposing cliffs.  The climb, following the Grand Montoir route (elevation gain 660 metres, approximately 1h50) can be vertigo-inducing.  Naturally, the installation of chains and ramps means the trail is perfectly safe, and the incomparable view over Lake Annecy from the summit makes the effort well worthwhile.  For the descent, choose the Petit Montoir route, which is a bit longer but much easier.

Crêtes de l’Arpiha (Alpes-Maritimes)

This panoramic family hike will take you along the forest paths of the Col de Turini, alternating easy climbs and flat sections with descents through spruce and fir trees.  Enjoy the superb view over small neighbouring valleys including Planchette and Riou de la Bollène, as well as over the famous Route du Col de Turini, with its numerous peaks.  Count on 2h30 for this easy hike (elevation gain 160m) departing from La Bollène-Vésubie.

Randos panoramiques

Photos : JC. Poirot, Bernard, Yvann K, Yannick St André

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