Bay to Lachat and Varan Loop
Elevation + / -
1023m / 1023m
When to go
Mid May - End Oct
5.0 - 8.0 Hours
1007m / 1680m
3.0 - 5.0 Hours
15+ Years old
When traveling in and out of Chamonix, you will be struck by the big cliffs of the Pointe de Plate and the Tete du Colonney behind Servoz and Passy. And from the valley floor it looks like there are nice plateaus and rock structures along that entire ridge. Plaine Joux is a great starting point for exploring the eastern side of this area and its a starting point for the Tour des Fiz and many other popular trails. I was curious about the western side of this ridge though and the areas above Passy. So I took this trail to finally see what is up there. It did not disappoint. The plateaus above Passy and St Martin sur Arve are beautiful. They give nice views over the Sallanches valley up to Mont Blanc on one side and over to Megeve and the Chaine des Aravis on the other sides. And the trails on those plateaus also have their own dramatic backdrops with the towering cliffs of the Aiguille de Varan and the Pointe de Barmerousse. If this full loop is too long for you then I would recommend parking your car at Bay and going straight to Chalets de Varan effectively cutting the loop in half. You could then explore the other half of this trail another day. You could also do a similar loop starting from Plaine Joux but that adds quite a bit of distance unless you cut out the western section that takes you to Lachat d'en haut.
UPDATE: Unfortunately it seems that the Refuge de Varan itself has closed. This is according to their facebook page.
Photos of this Trail
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Trail Directions & Safety Considerations
15+ Years old
We recommend to keep your dog on a leash
When to Go
Mid May - End Oct
Risk Considerations & Difficulty Assessment
This route reaches an altitude of 1680m. It is likely to be snow free from the middle of May to the end of October. You need to check this for the dates you are planning to go. The trail is well marked but definitely not as popular as the main trails inside the Chamonix valley. There are trail markers to guide you to the main navigation points and I had no problem following my chosen route. The trails themselves are not very technical and a large part of it will be on 4x4 tracks used by the farmers around the pastures I am guessing.
Trail Starting Point
The trail starts at the village of Bay near Passy. The town has two main parking areas and there are probably public transport options for reaching Bay but I could not figure it out.
You can take this loop in either direction but my suggestion is to first move north west in the direction of Lachat d'en bas. You need your map and GPS here as there are a couple of roads and trails heading in that direction. The one you want to take takes you from Bay to Hauteville and then there is a 4x4 track thats leads you to Lachat d'en bas on the far end of this trail. This is where you climb up on the GRP Tour du Pays du Mont-Blanc towards Lachat d'en haut. From here you will start your long traverse along the plateau and this is the nicest part of the trail. From Lachat d'en haut you make your way in a south eastern direction and follow signs for Varan. The trail will split in an upper and lower route for meeting the 4x4 track traveling up from Bay to Varan. The higher route is nicer but I could not get my GPS application to accept it so the GPX file on our website takes you on the slightly lower route. You will then zigzag your way up towards Varan. There is a little extra loop that you can add by taking a left turn towards the paragliding launch area above le Pertuis. I did this extra loop but I did not add it to this trail description and GPX file. You will then reach the Chalets de Varan which offer a nice view and its a really nicely perched position. You will then continue on the trail and at the split take your way down the hill to the Chalets de Curalla and down the forest towards the town of Plateau d'Assy. Stay on the higher ground and take the traverse back to Bay and the starting point of this trail.
Points of Interest for this Trail
Sorry, there are no Points of Interests currently linked to this Trail. Contact us to suggest one.
3D Map & GPS
Trail Route Map & GPS
You can download the GPX file and load this route into your own GPS enabled device or application. If you are on Strava, then you can open this route in Strava and save it to your account.
3D Map of this Trail
FATMAP in an incredible website and mobile application that you can use to view the trail in full 3D, do a fly over of the route and get a detailed vertical profile. You can view the FATMAP of this trail below and use the 'View larger map' link to visit the trail on the FATMAP website.