Chamonix to Parc Merlet
Elevation + / -
645m / 163m
Point to point
When to go
Mid Apr - End Oct
2.0 - 3.0 Hours
1043m / 1524m
1.0 - 1.5 Hours
7+ Years old
Restaurant inside Park
Parc Merlet is one of the main attractions in the Chamonix valley. It is a beautiful animal park featuring all the local species in a spectacular setting overlooking the Chamonix Valley and the Mont Blanc. It also has a nice restaurant with great views. You can reach Parc Merlet by car and there is also a bus that can take you from the Les Houches train station up to the park. You can find more details on opening dates and parking and public transport options on the website of Parc Merlet.
The trail we are presenting here is the best option is you want to walk or run to Parc Merlet using the Petite Balcon Sud (PBS). On the way you will be passing by the Pierre a Ruskin monument with an option to take a slight detour to visit the Genevieve Bouvier memorial. One nice added bonus of walking to Parc Merlet is that you get a small discount on your park entrance ticket if you take the trail. They check this by putting a password along the trail which you will then need to share with the park ticket sales office to receive your discount. It is a nice trail but it is not short and it includes quite a bit of vertical gain. Plus the trail and statistics presented here are just for one way going from Chamonix to Merlet. If you plan to also walk back then you will need to double those statistics. The trail is nice enough with nice forest and some nice openings for views over the valley. The best views are still from within Park Merlet so just be aware that this trail does not add anything spectacular to match what you will experience inside the park. If you still want the discount and dont want to worry about parking or the bus then there are many alternative starting points between Chamonix and Les Houches that you could take to walk up to Parc Merlet.
Photos of this Trail
We have a large library of pictures from in and around the Chamonix Valley. All pictures are categorized and geo location tagged. These are the pictures we have for this trail. Click on any picture to view it's details and location.
Trail Directions & Safety Considerations
7+ Years old
We recommend to keep your dog on a leash. No dogs allowed inside Parc Merlet
When to Go
Mid Apr - End Oct
Risk Considerations & Difficulty Assessment
This route reaches an altitude of 1524m at Parc Merlet. The trail should be snow free from mid April to the end of October but check this ahead of time. Parc Merlet itself is open from late April to the end of September with occasional opening days in the off season. So if your goal is to enter the park you will need to check the park's website to make your reservation (required for Saturday and Sunday). The trail is easy to follow as you will be using the Petite Balcon Sud (PBS) which is clearly marked by a rectangular sign on top of each trail marker along the PBS. The trail itself is not technical. The hardest part is right before reaching the park but it is all very doable.
Trail Starting Point
The trail starts at the center of Chamonix at the Eglise St.Michel church . You can start anywhere between Chamonix and Taconnaz if your goal is to reach Parc Merlet via the Petite Balcon Sud (PBS).
From the Eglise St.Michel church in the center of Chamonix head west and at the big round about take the road up to the Brevent lift station. At the top of the road, right across from the lift station, you will see a path continuing steeply up the hill. Take this path up and take the road going to the right towards the Pierre a Ruskin. Take your time to dip into the forest and actually see the rock with the seal embedded into the rock. Its very nicely done. After the Piere a Ruskin follow the signs for the Petite Balcon Sud (PBS). From here on out you will stay on the PBS and follow the trail markers for Parc Merlet. After the Monument Henri Vallot you will come to a point where you wil need to dip down traverse again and go up. Your map is very likely to show a trail here that you could take to just cut across. It is possible but the path has officially been closed because of frequent rockfall. As such it is not maintained and we cannot encourage you to take it. After this part its just a matter of simply following the trail to Parc Merlet
Points of Interest for this Trail
We have a large database of all of the points of interests in and around Chamonix. These are the points of interest you will find along this trail:
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.