Notre Dame de la Gorge Discovery Tour
Elevation + / -
493m / 493m
When to go
Start May - Mid Oct
2.5 - 4.0 Hours
1183m / 1561m
Very Nice (4/5)
1.5 - 2.5 Hours
7+ Years old
With this route we are trying to combine the amazing points of interests and stunning scenery around the Notre Dame de la Gorge church at the southern end of the Montjoie Valley. The trail starts at the Notre Dame church which is an absolutely beautiful church at the start of the forest trails. As a quick detour we are adding the Sainte Chapel which is a small chapel built against the rockface along the river Bonnant. We then start our ascend on the Voie Romain, or Roman road, which takes us into beautiful forests. We then cross the beautiful Pont Romain, or Roman Bridge, which has a fantastic waterfall flowing through a deep gorge right below it. The forest then opens up as we approach Nant Borrant and we suddenly find ourselves in beautiful open pastures dotted by pictoresque farm houses. The Refuge de Nant Borrant makes the perfect stop over for a snack and drink before we make our way to the next waterfall, the Cascade de Combe Noir. This one is similar to the waterfall at the Pont Romain but it has a higher drop. From there we turn northwards towards La Sololieu. After that we start our descend and loop back to our starting point passing by the Oratoire St Antoine on the way.
Overall, this is really a gorgeous route. One of the best we have on our website with a great variety of scenery and that scenery is as pristine and beautiful as it gets. The trail is family friendly but definitely on the longer side and with nearly 500 meters of vertical gain we would probably recommend this for older kids. The main highlights are all in the two-thirds of the trail upto and including the Cascade de Combe Noir. If you don't feel like adding the additional climb up to La Sololieu then maybe just cut this out and head back the same way you came. This will reduce the vertical gain to a little less than 300 meters.
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
When to Go
Start May - Mid Oct
Risk Considerations & Difficulty Assessment
The trail reaches an altitude of 1561 right after La Sololieu. You can reasonably expect it to be snow free from early May to mid October.
The trails themselves start of quite easy although the trail up from the Notre Dame de la Gorge to the Pont Romain is pretty steep and its all rock which can be a bit slippery. The most technical part is the trail between the Combe Noir waterfall and La Sololieu. This is a minor path on the IGN maps connecting the two trails that run parallel in a northward direction. It has big drops and lots of roots and rocks and our kids were using their hands a lot. If you want to avoid this bit, then you could double back from the Combe Noir waterfall and take the trail from the Pont Romain to La Sololieu. The descend to the Parc Loisir du Pontet is also quite steep and not particularly pretty. So if you want to keep things easy or if your kids are younger then we would recommend doing the first part of the trail and turning back using the same route from either Refuge Nant Borrant or from the Cascade de Combe Noir. The last 40% of the trail we present here maybe adds 15% of its overall beauty and we found our kids to be less excited by that time. The river Bonnant has cut deep gulleys throught the rock and there are a number of view points along the trail that are spectacular but could be dangerous for kids. You will want to keep a good eye on them for these parts.
Navigating the trail is very easy with clear markers for the Sainte Chapel, Pont Romain, Nant Borrant and the Combe Noir. After La Sololieu you are basically just trying to get down to the valley floor as quickly as possible and you will see trail markers for the Parc Loisir du Pontet
Trail Starting Point
The trail starts at the Notre Dame de la Gorge church at the southern end of the Montjoie Valley. There is a very big car park a few hundred meters north from the Notre Dame. From the start of July to the middle of September there is a shuttle bus that runs from Les Contamines to the parking at the Notre Dame. More information can be found at the tourist office of Les Contamines. If you are visiting outside of those months then the nearest bus stop is Les Contamines - Le Lay which is roughly 3 km north from the Notre Dame so it does add quite a bit of distance at the start. If you will be using this bus stop then you should change the end of this trail and keep going north in the direction of La Cugnon and then get the bus from Le Lay instead of going south back to the Notre Dame.
We start of at the Notre Dame de la Gorge church. From there we stay on the right side of the river and continue south following the signs for the Sainte Chapel. After visiting the chapel we back track back to the Notre Dame and turn right and cross the bridge over the river Bonnant. There are a large number of information signs and trail markers there. Our main destination is Nant Borrant and you can easily follow the trail markers to the Refuge. This is basically just a straight line southwards. From the Refuge you turn eastwards and follow the trail marker for the Combe Noire. You will climb up a bit and pass the tiny hamlet of La Laya and then reach the Cascade de Combe Noir. From there follow the trail marker for La Sololieu which will take you past the Chalets de Combe Noir. Follow the signs for the Parc de Loisir and keep following those signs will you make your way down the slope and back to the valley floor. From there you simply navigate southwards back to the Notre Dame de la Gorge which will be on every trail marker you will across.
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.