This hike is part of the GR5 route that runs from the Netherlands all the way to Nice. This section, between Lac Leman (Lake Geneva) and Nice is called the Grande Traversée des Alpes. Experienced mountain hikers can complete the route from St Gingolph to La Chapelle D’Abondance in a day, where we will happily pick you up for your stay at Chalet Cannelle.
A 45 minutes drive to the start of the adventure at Lake Geneva. After being dropped directly on the lake front we make our way through the small, classic lake side town of St Gingolph. After passing the charming houses, we lead directly onto the loosely maintained (watch out for fallen trees) forest trail up to the very beautiful but slightly mysterious village of Novel where half of the properties seem to be for sale…but not one sign of a single soul. Moving quickly onwards further into the mountains a steeper climb awaits, but we are always looking back at the beautiful lake views we are slowly leaving behind. You really get the sense of being completely alone in the mountains with this hike. You pass a few mountain huts but nothing more, just single track paths running up and over the cols.
There is no real summit on this hike but with 1700m + of elevation, you have definitely earnt your lunch! Passing a few small beautiful lakes you finally have sight of the quaint, but bustling during peak season, mountain valley floor village of Bise. This is an excellent place to enjoy a true Savoyard lunch or just a refreshing beverage. Surrounded by mountain peaks you could easily spend an hour here planning your next few hikes and naming all the surrounding mountains.
If you find the energy I can highly recommend continuing another 40 minutes through some beautiful fields into the next valley village of Ubine, where you can find a typical mountain café to finish the trek and celebrate your achievements. 18km of ‘up’, it’s certainly a preferable route for those of us with bad ‘downhill’ knees.