The Giffre Valley and the Haut Giffre are a walker’s paradise with trails ranging from gentle strolls along the Giffre river valley to challenging multi-day hikes in the Haut Giffre taking in peaks in excess of 2,500m.
Below is a small selection of local walks that we consider offer great introductions to the Giffre Valley and the Sixt Fer à Cheval National Reserve.
Le Cirque du Fer à Cheval and the Fond de la Combe
A few minutes drive beyond the village of Sixt the road ends at the car park for the Cirque du Fer à Cheval.
A loop track taking about 2 hours starts from the cirque, where the sheer limestone rock walls, glistening with waterfalls, rise to over 2,000m.
The track is initially accompanied by thematic signs providing walkers with details of the surrounding geology as well as the local flora and fauna. The track then follows the Giffre River into the heart of the steep-sided valley where water, originating from the Ruan and Prazon glaciers, forms a series of waterfalls that appear directly from the rock walls. The path leads onto the Fond de la Combe from where the end of the valley starts to rise to the Bout du Monde (End of the World). It is worth following the path up-hill for a few minutes before turning around and admiring the views of the valley from a slightly elevated position.
The return track follows the opposite river bank and takes you past the remains of old avalanches and, depending on how brave you are feeling, the opportunity to take a dip in the cool waters of a waterfall pool.
In terms of views this walk is one of the best for gaining an orientation of the Haut Giffre landscape without having to exert too much effort!
The 1 hour 15 minute return walk starts from the parking area at the Col de Joux Plane, about a 20 minute scenic drive out of Samoëns village.
The walk climbs initially from the parking area before levelling out on to a wide plateau, Le Plan des Vacherets, which was historically farmed as upper alpine pastures. The path ultimately brings you to La Bourgeoise from where there are stunning views across the Giffre Valley and both of the Grand Massif and Mont Blanc mountain ranges. The recent installation of a map depicting all the surrounding peaks helps with orientation.
On a warm evening La Bourgeoise makes an ideal spot to enjoy a glass of something bubbly and watch paragligers take-off as the sun sets over Pointe de Marcelly to the west.
Samoëns and Vallon
If you are looking for a gentle amble along the Giffre Valley, then take the path from the Grand Massif Express lift station in the direction of Sixt following the northern bank of the River Giffre, until it crosses the road at the village of Le Perret. The walk then takes you through the historic old farming villages of Vallon d’en Haut and Vallon d’en Bas before returning back to Samoëns where a seat in the medieval square and a refreshing demi-pression are your reward!