Walks starting from Champex Lac
There are some lovely walks from the centre of Champex itself. The Tour de Mont Blanc passes through the village, so for the serious walker it is an ideal starting point. However if you fancy a more gentle stroll these are some of our favourites.
Note: Time are approximated for the return journey to Champex Lac
Walk to Le Belvedere
Time 1.5 hours approx
One of our favourite walks is up to the small cabin, Le Belvedere, perched on Catogne, overlooking the lake at Champex. At the southeastern end of Champex Lake take the left hand fork by the Grand Combin. Follow the road up and round to the left. The walk starts just behind the Alpina hotel and is signposted as a nature walk. The tiny path twists and turns up the side of the mountain, clearing every now and again to allow spectacular views, firstly down to Orsiers and then further round out towards Verbier.
The path gradually gets a little steeper and just before it starts to descend there is a sign to Le Belvedere, on your right. It is a bit of a clamber up, but the rewards at the top are well worth it. The views are spectacular. Just behind the cabin there is a promontory that you can walk out on to. From here you can see for miles in every direction. A great spot for a picnic or a glass of wine.
You can continue on with this walk but getting to the summit of Catogne is a tough climb
Walk to the Summit of Catogne
Time 3 hours approx - hard climb
If you would like to continue up you can clamber a lot higher up towards the summit of Catogne. It is a tricky and very steep climb up with a steep run back down to the village. If you reach the top of Catogne it commands fabulous views of the Rhone Valley and both sides of the 'elbow' at Martigny
Walk to Arpette
Time: 1.5 hours to the Relais d’Arpette.
This is a wonderful walk beside the mountain stream that feeds the lake itself. It takes you gently up to the mountain valley of Arpette. The walk starts from the bottom of the ski lift to La Breya. Take the higher path, the one that follows the stream, as it is much prettier. You also get some fantastic views down the Rhone Valley towards Martigny and beyond. It becomes a bit of a scramble for a very short distance towards the end but this walk is highly recommended for all ages and all levels of fitness. You can reward yourself with a beer or coffee at the small Swiss relais sitting in the valley or a lunchtime salad or barbecue at the weekend. It is also a lovely place to enjoy a picnic in the Alpine valley. There are benches to sit on.
This is also a lovely walk in the winter when you can take the path of the Ski Fond and see the valley draped in a blanket of snow.
Walk to the top of La Breya
Time: 3 - 3.5 hours approx
Due to the snow this can only be completed in late spring and summer. Follow the walk to Arpette and then continue into the valley and upwards. You will reach a fork where one path goes to the Fenetre d’Arpette and the other goes to the left and up to La Breya. It is not a steep path but climbs slowly upwards towards the top of La Breya. There is a lovely little restaurant at the top where you can sit and take in the views of the mountains all around. Fabulous vistas.
Champex to Sembrancher and return to Orsieres (high point 1480m)
Time: 5 hours
This route to Sembrancher is in the Walking in the Valais book (Route 106). There is a small café by the railway station in Sembrancher where you can wait for the train back to Orsieres if you wish. Seasoned walker can return to Champex on foot. However it is less tiring to take the bus back from Orsieres station, where there is also a hotel/café.
The complete walk is 14km with 320m up and 890m down: the initial descent from Champex is quite continuous (thus a bit hard to do the return to Champex). The route to Sembrancher begins behind the Hotel Alpina and goes through Souslalex and La Garde and the return route is the Route Napoleon and is lower: some road noise. There is an option to use the far side of the valley via Chamoille for the return, but longer: also some road noise at start. At the village after Chamoille, take the level road to the left (yellow dot): the signs point to road ahead only.
Walk to Plan de L'Au
Time: 2.5 hours approx
This can be done as a circular walk coming through Champex d'en Bas on the return. The walk begins just beyond the ski lift, you head down the road until you see the sign for Bovine. Take this left turn and continue to follow the signs, some will be marked TMB. You will follow a road for a while and then into the woods. Finally you will emerge in fields and the little farm of Plan de L'Au is ahead of you. This is a great place to sit and have a coffee or a beer with spectacular views down the valley towards Martigny.
This walk is part of the Tour de Mont Blanc and for those who wish to continue further you can begin the climb to Bovine. The climb is very hard, takes about 2 hours but you are rewarded with spectacular views at the top.
Te return from Plan de L'Au we favour the route through Champex d'en Bas. You drop down into the hamlet and then wander amongst the meadows, streams and houses before climbing back up to Champex
The Mushroom Walk
Time: 4.5 hours approx
This is a lovely walk following the mushroom trail down to Orsieres.
Full details can be found at The Mushroom Walk Website