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La Chapelle d'Abondance to Refuge de Chésery

Hiking trail · Rhône-Alpes
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  • The faint grassy path leading to Chalets de Torrenz
    / The faint grassy path leading to Chalets de Torrenz
    Photo: Sarah Stone, Macs Adventure
  • / The cow at 'La Fruitiere'. Turn right here.
    Photo: Sarah Stone, Macs Adventure
  • / Pleasant riverside path leaving La Chapelle
    Photo: Sarah Stone, Macs Adventure
  • / An example of waymarking. This means 'Turn Left
    Photo: Sarah Stone, Macs Adventure
  • / Scenic Waterfall
    Photo: Sarah Stone, Macs Adventure
  • / Chalets des Crottes
    Photo: Sarah Stone, Macs Adventure
  • / The path at 'Chalets des Crottes'
    Photo: Sarah Stone, Macs Adventure
  • / On the way to Col de Chésery
    Photo: Sarah Stone, Macs Adventure
  • / Views to mountain of the 'Roc d'Enfer' (2244m) and the picturesque Lac de Montriond
    Photo: Sarah Stone, Macs Adventure
  • / Refuge de Chésery
    Photo: Sarah Stone, Macs Adventure
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A long but beautiful day of walking from France into Switzerland and to the wonderfully located Refuge de Chésery.
Distance 24 km
8:00 h
1,540 m
585 m

Today is a long day so we recommend an early start, breakfast is available from 7.30am at your hotel. If possible, buy your lunch provisions the day before as the boulangerie and supermerket are about 10 minute round trip in the opposite directioin of the trail. Leave La Chapelle by way of an easy-going foopath adjacent to the river 'La Dranse d'Abondance'. Expect to see the locals out for a morning stroll to the boulangerie or out for a morning run. Turn into the Nature Reserve of Mont Grange and start a long and steep ascent through woodland to your first objective for the day, the Col de Mattes (1930m), the highest point of today's walk. Enjoy the panoramas from this peaceful col. Flanked by Alpine cows and views to the Dents du Midi, Dents Blanches and if you're lucky, Mont Blanc, it really is postcard perfect! Start a descent on rough path through flowery slopes (obviously frequently used by cows so many paths have been created, keep an eye out for markers which can be faint here). 

You will then start to steadily reascend on a wide rocky track, through even more dairy farms, before the trail flattens out for a good while, offering welcome respite from the ascent and descent. Enjoy views down to the valley of La Chapelle d'Abondance and various ski areas. 

An ascent to the second col of the day, the Col de Bassachaux (1778m), which is very different in character to the Col de Mattes, with a car park and large restaurant it can be busy. Continue on a wide track past the restaurant and enjoy views on your right of the mountain of the 'Roc d'Enfer' (2244m) and the picturesque Lac de Montriond. 

Arrive at the Col de Chesery and the Swiss-French border. Your crossing into Switzrland is without fanfare and is unfortunately unmarked, however you will notice a change in the signage to yellow arrows with black writing, which lets you know you are now in Switzerland. Arrive at the basic but cosy Refuge de Chésery. Enjoy a well - deserved beer on the terrace with views to the serene Lac Vert.


Author’s recommendation

Make sure to make an early start today as it is a long day with some significant ascent. Get to the breakfast buffet early and try not to linger too long, however tempting it may be! 
Profile picture of Sarah Stone
Sarah Stone
Update: July 30, 2019
Highest point
1,981 m
Lowest point
1,010 m
Best time of year

Safety information

Weather conditions can change quickly in the mountains - always be prepared and carry appropriate clothing; warm as well as waterproof layers, hat and gloves etc. Please see your information pack for a detailed packing list.

Today you will be walking past a few different areas where cows graze. Although generally very docile and used to walkers, keep your distance and never turn your back on a cow that is behaving strangely or aggresive. Be particularly vigilant around cows with calves. 

Tips and hints

Try to pick up your lunch the evening before from the supermarket or boulangerie in the town of La Chapelle. This will allow you to make an early and organised start the next morning. There is a restaurant at Col de Bassachaux in case refreshment is needed. 

Plenty of water refill points throughout the day.

This tour is available on the following itineraries:





Tourist Information Office, La Chapelle d'Abondance (1,025 m)
46.295322, 6.789051
46°17'43.2"N 6°47'20.6"E
32T 329715 5129236


Refuge de Chésery

Turn-by-turn directions

0.00km – with your back to the tourist office, TURN RIGHT and head along the  path adjacent to main road (Caution: this road is busy)

0.30km – Continue STRAIGHT AHEAD ignoring the road on left ascending. Follow sign for ‘La Panthiez’. The pavement ends, continue on gravel path beside road. Be careful as the road is very busy at times.

0.60km – Come to ‘La Fruitiere’, TURN RIGHT here (at the large metal cow statue), leaving the main road behind you, take a stoney descending path in the direction of the river.

1.20km – Come to Pont du Banfin (1000m). TURN LEFT here following signs for ‘Col de Bassachaux’. The river will now be on your right-hand side. Ignore the bridge on your right and continue to follow signs for ‘La Panthiez’. You will start to see signs for ‘Reserve du Mont Grange’ which you will soon be walking in.

1.80km – Arrive at ‘La Panthiez’ (1010). Continue STRAIGHT AHEAD following the gravel path and keeping the river on your right. Follow signs for ‘Col de Bassachaux’ (5 hr 50mins)

2.70km – Arrive at ‘Pont du Moulin’ (1018m). TURN RIGHT crossing the bridge and joining a narrow tarmac road.

2.90km – BEAR LEFT following red and white markers and signs for ‘Refuge de Trebentaz’ (2 hrs 50mins), follow the stoney path as it ascends through trees.

3.40km – Come to bench and water point on your right. Just after there is a bridge from which you get great views of a waterfall. Continue STRAIGHT AHEAD crossing the bridge and follow the path as it ascends steeply. This is the start of a more or less constant ascent until you reach Col de Mattes.

4.00km – Leave the stoney path and continue STRAIGHT AHEAD on a shaded forest path following the red and white markers intermittently painted on trees. The path can become narrow at parts with a drop. Take care, especially if wet underfoot.

4.50km – Come to a small gate and BEAR LEFT following the grassy path and a sign for ‘Les Crottes’. There is a fence on your left hand side, running adjacent to the path. Come to sign for ‘Sur Bayard’ (1220m)

4.80km – BEAR LEFT through gate ignoring the path veering right. Immediately after the gate, TURN RIGHT following sign for ‘Les Crottes’

4.85km – A few meters after, TURN LEFT following the red and white markers on the tree. Ignore the narrow gate and path on right. The path here can be muddy and narrow at parts, do take care. Continue to follow for about 2km, keeping an eye out for waymarkers and following the path.

6.80km – Arrive at ‘Chalets des Crottes’ (1550m). TURN LEFT following marker and faint grassy path. After a few meters, TURN RIGHT and follow the narrow path toward the chalet on your left.

7.30km – Come to another, more modern, sign for ‘Chalet des Crottes’ (1529m) and continue STRAIGHT AHEAD following signs for ‘Chalet de la Torrens’ (45mins). Ascend on the grassy path.

8.00km – Continue to follow the path as it opens up. Knee high bracken flanks the path.

8.20km – BEAR RIGHT following the path as it crosses a small stream and then continue to follow the path as it ascends. Come to an open field and continue on the faint grassy path as it heads towards the chalet in the distance.

8.60km – Arrive at ‘Chalet de Torrenz’ where you can fill up your water bottle. BEAR RIGHT past the Chalet following signs for ‘Les Mattes’ (40mins) and red and white markers on the chalet itself.

9.50km – Come to a wire fence, continue STRAIGHT AHEAD through the gap in the fence, on the rocky path.

9.80km – Arrive at Col de Mattes (1930m). Enjoy panoramic views to ‘Les Dents Blanches’ in front of you. When you are ready to move on, continue STRAIGHT AHEAD across the field following the faint grassy path and the sign for ‘Col de Bassachaux’ (2 hr 50 mins). Stay right of the dairy farm, then BEAR RIGHT on the wide grassy path as it descends and zig zags down the hill.

11.10km – Path becomes quite indistinct here as it goes through a cow field which has been well trodden by said cows. Continue STRAIGHT AHEAD keeping an eye out for the distinct path on the other side.

11.50km – Come to ‘Le Pron’ (1741m). The path here is quite damaged with many different small paths being created by walkers, but most likely by cows as the ascend and descend the hillside. BEAR RIGHT following signs for ‘Lenlevay’ (1hr 5mins). Keep the chalets to your left.

11.80km – Come to a gate with a large coil. Go through it and continue STRAIGHT AHEAD ignoring the path which is turning at a sharp left angle. The path is rugged and can be muddy in places.

12.20km – Come to another coiled gate and go through it leaving the narrow stoney path behind. TURN RIGHT and join the rocky single track road as it ascends. This is ‘Ruisseau de l’Etrye’ 1660m. Follow sign for Lenlevay (55mins)

12.60km – Follow the rough road into a dairy farm (buildings on your left). Continue STRAIGHT AHEAD following the sign for Levenay and ascend. There are views to your left of the town of La Ravine and to your right is the Mont de Grange, at the foot of which you are walking. If you look behind you, on a clear day you will see the dairy farm at Col de Mattes, from where you have descended.

13.90km – Come to a sign for alt.1840m. Continue STRAIGHT AHEAD following sign for Lenlevay (15 mins). Views to ski resorts on your left.

14.70km – Come to a dairy farm (this is Lenlevay but there is no signpost for it yet!) There is a water point to your left. Otherwise, BEAR RIGHT and descend on rocky path to continue.

14.90km – Come to a sign for Lenlevay (1733m). Continue STRAIGHT AHEAD ascending gently and follow signs for ‘Col de Bassachaux (1 hour 5mins). For the next 2.5 km, the path is very easy going and flat for the most part, enjoy!

17.40km – Arrive at ‘Les Grands Plan Haut’ (1664m). Continue STRAIGHT AHEAD but leave the wide rocky path and join the faint grassy path. Be careful as this path may be easy to miss! The path gently ascends however can be boggy in places.

18.50km – Reach a tarmac road and sign for Col de Bassachaux (1775m). TURN RIGHT following the sign for ‘Col de Bassachaux – 5 mins’ and follow the tarmac road. After a few meters, pass through a car park following a sign for ‘Le Lac Vert’ (1 hr 30mins). The restaurant Haute Bise is on your left. Continue STRAIGHT AHEAD on gravel path into trees.

20.30km- Arrive at ‘La Lambe’ (1820m). Continue STRAIGHT AHEAD following sign for ‘Col de Chesery’ (50mins)

20.50km – Ignore the path veering left and continue STRAIGHT AHEAD, passing a dairy farm and ski lift station on your left.

21.2km – Come to Chaux Fleurie (1800m). Continue STRAIGHT AHEAD carefully crossing the mountain bike path.

22.30km – Ignore the path on your left which is for mountain bikers. Continue STRAIGHT AHEAD on path and keeping an eye out for red and white markers.

22.90km- Don’t worry! The hut you can see high up on the mountain in front of you is not your overnight location. It belongs to the ski lift. This ski area stretches over to Switzerland too and it is one of the biggest ski areas in the Alps.

23.40km – Arrive at some signage which you may notice has changed in appearance. This is the very understated French/Swiss border! Swiss signage is yellow with black writing. Continue STRAIGHT AHEAD following the sign for Refuge de Chesery.

24.00km- FINISH: Arrive at your overnight location, the wonderfully located ‘Refuge de Chesery’


all notes on protected areas

Getting there

If you can't walk today due to illness, injury or weather, please contact us and we can advise you on the best way to proceed. Refuge de Chésery is quite remote and although there is road access to it, the road is narrow and rough and only suitable for certain vehicles. Finding a taxi to take you there would be very difficult and expensive. The best option would be to travel to Samoëns a day early and have a rest day there.


46.295322, 6.789051
46°17'43.2"N 6°47'20.6"E
32T 329715 5129236
Arrival by train, car, foot or bike


Good waterproof boots are a must and walking poles are highly recommended. Make sure to bring plenty of water and a snack or packed lunch.

This walk is quite exposed so be sure to bring a hat and sunscreen on hot days. 

Basic Equipment for Hiking

  • Sturdy, comfortable and waterproof hiking boots or approach shoes
  • Layered, moisture wicking clothing
  • Hiking socks  
  • Rucksack (with rain cover)
  • Protection against sun, rain and wind (hat, sunscreen, water- and windproof jacket and suitable legwear)
  • Sunglasses
  • Hiking poles
  • Ample supply of drinking water and snacks
  • First aid kit
  • Blister kit
  • Bivy / survival bag  
  • Survival blanket
  • Headlamp
  • Pocket knife
  • Whistle
  • Cell phone
  • Cash
  • Navigation equipment / map and compass
  • Emergency contact details
  • ID
  • The 'basic' and 'technical' equipment lists are generated based on the selected activity. They are not exhaustive and only serve as suggestions for what you should consider packing.
  • For your safety, you should carefully read all instructions on how to properly use and maintain your equipment.
  • Please ensure that the equipment you bring complies with local laws and does not include restricted items.

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24 km
8:00 h
1,540 m
585 m
Linear route


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