Vallorcine to Finhaut Loop
Elevation + / -
1381m / 1381m
When to go
End May - Mid Oct
6.0 - 9.0 Hours
936m / 1720m
3.0 - 4.5 Hours
15+ Years old
Only in main towns
This is a long loop exploring the hamlets and points of interest between Vallorcine on the French side and Finhaut in Switzerland. The trail starts of in Vallorcine from where we climb up to the spectacular Les Saix Blancs view point with amazing views of the full lenght of the Vallorcine Valley and the peaks beyond. From there we continue to the Tete the Balme bottom lift station and descend to the Bassin des Esserts. Its a man-made water reservoir but its still spectacular and has good views and surroundings. From there we continue down hill and pass by the hamlets of Cretton and Le Taque before crossing the main road towards the spectacular Grotte et Cascade aux Nymphes. This is arguably the most beautiful waterfall within a one hour radius of Chamonix. The walk to the cave and waterfall is on wooden footbridges mounted on the cliff side. Its all pretty impressive. From there we do a steep ascend to the tourist town of Finhaut. If you want to cut it short then you could simply hop on the train back to Vallorcine. From Finhaut we make our way via the hamlet of Gietroz with two chapels along the way. We then cross the border back into France and visit the little hamlet of Barberine. There is a small museum which is open in July and August. We also visit the Petite Cascade de Barberine and the Grand Cascade de Barberine waterfalls. After that we take the historic Chemin des Diligences back to our starting point in Vallorcine.
It is a long route with a lot of variety. It also has a nice vertical profile where you are never doing too much uphill or downhill in a single stretch. The main points of interests are around Vallorcine and Barberine and then the other highlight is definitely the Grotte and Cascade aux Nymphes. The long stretches in between feature nice terrain and many little hamlets but it's nothing super spectacular. As such we would probably recommend picking a different long trail if you are looking for something that is consistently impressive and really blows your socks off. If you want to just visit the Gorge Mysterieuses and the Grotte aux Nymph then we have a much shorter, family friendly trail for visiting those highlights.
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
15+ Years old
We recommend to keep your dog on a leash
When to Go
End May - Mid Oct
Risk Considerations & Difficulty Assessment
The route stays relatively low and reaches a maximum altitude of 1720 meters. You can expect the trails to be snow free at the end of May or the start of June. The trails themselves are not technical. Take care when visiting the Grotte aux Nymphes. The wooden planks get very slippery when they are wet. The hardest part of the trail is the descent towards the border crossing at Le Chatelard from Gietroz. We found that path pretty steep and it doesnt seem a very popular route either. Navigating the trail is not hard and we had no problem finding trail markers at the main junctions.
Trail Starting Point
We start the trail at the Vallorcine train station. There is a large carpark right in front of the train station. If you don't have a car then taking the train is definitely the best option. The train runs through the entire Chamonix Valley starting at Saint-Gervais.
From the Vallorcine train station cross the tracks and turn left towards the Le Comptoir restaurant. Right across from it you, will go uphill through the grassy field and follow the trail markers for the Col des Posettes. Keep going uphill till you reach a trail marker for Les Saix Blancs. We will visit this view point. Afterwards we proceed uphill and follow the Col des Posettes markers. You will come out of the forest and reach the big open field and 4x4 track which in winter is a blue ski run. Turn left and proceed northwards towards the bottom station of the Tete de Balme chair. You will see the Esserts trail marker which will show you the direction for Switzerland (CH). Cross the bridge and you will now be in Switzerland. Follow the signs for Esserts and take the left road at the junction. This 4x4 track will take you to the Bassin des Esserts water reservoir. Pass the reservoir on the right side 4x4 track and continue on to the hamlet of Cretton. From there you will be following the paved road all the way down to the 203 Route Cantonale main road going to Trient. There are some trail short cuts on the section where the paved roads does a number of switch backs but you might as well just stay on the paved road. Cross the 203 main road and you will see information signs for the Grotte aux Nymphes. Follow the sign for Finhaut and the GorgesTete Noir. This will take you down a steep path with some staircase all the way down to the Grotte aux Nympes. After visiting the cave and waterfall, double back and then follow the signs for Finhaut. You will cross a couple of bridges and then start the steep ascend to the town. Take a left at the train station and visit the Notre Dame de l'Assomption church. From there use the Route du Village to climb up inside the town till you hit the Route du Paradis and the trail towards Gietroz. You will pass by the hamlet of Le Clou and the Chapelle Notre Dame des Cles. After that the trail will meet the paved road that runs between Finhaut and Gietroz. After passing Gietroz the road will turn into a trail. Follow the signs for Le Chatelard and you will soon start a steep descend all the way down to the valley floor. Follow the signs for Barberine. You will pass by the Petite Cascade de Barberine before reaching the hamlet of Barberine. You have an option here to travel less than 100 meters down the road towards the Maisson de Barberine museum. There are trail markers you can follow. After visiting the museum, you can opt out of the Grande Cascade de Barberine and just follow the valley trail back to Vallorcine. If you are still up for it, then turn back uphill from the Maisson de Barberine and follow the signs for the Cascade de Barberine. The trail follows the shape of the gorge till you reach the waterfall. From the waterfall take the westward trail that will take you back to down the mountain via de Chemin de la Cascade. Follow the signs for Vallorcine and La Villaz till you reach the big Eglise Notre Dame church. From there keep going westward on the historic Chemin des Diligences. Its up to you how far you want to continue down on the Chemin des Diligences and you can head back down and go to your starting point from Siseray or Le Crot or if you still have tons of energy left you can complete the Chemin des Diligences before heading back to the Vallorcine train station.
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.