Tag Archives: walks

Hike to Lac Gers in Flaine Summer 2016

Summer Hike to Lac Gers in Flaine

During our holiday in Les Carroz d’Araches in the French Alps in July 2016, primarily for the Tour de France where stages 18, 19 and 20 were a short drive from Les Carroz d’Araches; I took the opportunity to do a walk in Flaine and further my stages of the Tour of Mont Blanc. I drove towards Flaine on the D106 Route de Flaine and parked at the bottom of Flaine at 1600 m altitude, catching the DMC telecabine to the peak at Flaine. It was a hot day with temperatures of 25C in Les Carroz d’Araches and 21 C in Flaine; the views of Mont Blanc from the summit were as spectacular as ever. I was surprised by the amount of snow at the summit for July. I have walked here in previous years and this is the most I had ever seen. There was a very good snow base winter 15-16 so I guess the depth of snow ensured it lasted through to summer.

Mont Blanc Summer 2016

Mont Blanc Summer 2016

Summer snow at Flaine summit

Summer snow at Flaine summit

Walking down from the summit to the whale-back ridge. A short walk along this narrow ridge gave some spectacular views of the Grand Massif and down the valley to Sixt Fer a Cheval, although the path to the peaks looked to precarious to go any further so returned to the serpentine piste and walked towards the Combe de Gers bowl.

View from Whale Back in Flaine

View from Whale Back in Flaine

Narrow path on Whaleback summit

Narrow path on Whaleback summit

The walk down to Lac Gers passes close to the Gers drag lift, a very steep drag, not for beginners. The view of the lake and valley down to Sixt Fer a Cheval opens up to wonderful views. The winding trail down was relatively straightforward, but the return on the other side of the valley virtually climbs straight, with no switchbacks, so it is very tiring and slow if you are not accustomed to alpine walking.

Combe de Gers bowl in summer

Combe de Gers bowl in summer

Signage at climb up from Lac Gers

Signage at climb up from Lac Gers

The signage throughout the hike was clear, as shown on the climb out from Lac Gers it suggests the distance to Flaine is 2 hr 30 min and 50 min back to Lac Gers. In practice I find that adding about 20% to the times gives a more realistic estimate allowing for rest breaks. We walked back to the Flaine bowl at 1600 m and car park. Total time on the hike was approximately 7 hours.

Chateau d’ Yvoire on Lake Geneva

A day in Yvoire on Lake Geneva (Lake Leman)

Chateau d’ Yvoire on Lake Geneva

Chateau d’ Yvoire on Lake Geneva

We had not visited Yvoire since 2004, so in August 2011 we decided to drive from Les Carroz dAraches to Yvoire on Lake Geneva. I took the D6 route through Marignier, then the D907 through Bonne. There was very little traffic and was free flowing all the way, some 40 miles took just over an hour of driving. Yvoire is a medieval village, believed to have existed since 1306 and retains many of the fortifications from the 14th century, including ramparts and entry gates. It is also a Village Fleuris and prides itself on displays of flowers, in hanging baskets, pots, window displays, climbing wisteria, climbing roses and other vivid colorful displays seen overhanging balconies in the narrow streets. The unmissable Chateau d’Yvoire, a typical Savoie castle, sits overlooking Lake Geneva and can be seen from just about anywhere in the medieval town. A pity that it is in private hands and not open to public viewing.

There is a small harbour and many cruises regularly depart from here across the lake to Nyon, or various other less frequent round trips to Thonon. Evian, Montreux and Lausanne. Usually one boat per day is on an historic, pre-First World War Belle Époque paddle steamer.

There is also the Garden of the Five Senses (Le Jardin des Cinq Sens), the garden is the former kitchen garden of Chateau d’Yvoire and takes its inspiration from the middle ages, with an abundance of flowers, a maze and quiet spots to sit and relax. Entry is 10  Euro, more detail is available at this link.

If hungry there are plenty of restaurants to chose from, or even snack places where freshly made filled french bread rolls will be prepared as you wait.

I’ve included a selection of photos as we walked around Yvoire, illustrating the sights and features of this beautiful medieval town.