Grand Saint Bernard Pass & Val Ferret
This page describes a number of walks between Grand Saint Bernard Pass and Val Ferret. Our thanks go to Andy and Joan Tetley who have provided the content. They are both keen walkers and have explored most of the trails around this area.
Champex to La Fouly via Tour of Mont Blanc (high point 1600m)
This route follows the Tour of Mont Blanc and to Val Ferret and up the valley to La Fouly (cafés) via Issert (café) and Prax de Fort (café, closed on Mon). A bus can be taken back from La Fouly via Orsieres. It is 15km with 630m up and 530m down. An alternative is to start at La Fouly and return to Champex after taking the bus at the start. This reduces the up, but most of the 530m up is steeper and more continuous than the 630m. A further alternative is to take the bus or car to Issert and walk up to La Fouly with 630m up and 100m down and bus back. This is shorter and easier for those who find descents hard. The route in reverse from Ferret is in the Walking in the Valais book (105), a bit longer.
Col du Grand Saint Bernard to Ferret (high point 2698m)
The start is to take a bus from Orsieres station to Col du Grand St Bernard and there is a return bus from Ferret. The first us is seaonal so check with the timetables. At the Col du Grand St Bernard, there is an interesting museum, including the St Bernard dogs as well as the church and cafés. The route starts over the border via the lake into Italy. Look out for a farmhouse with a car park below. You will also see signs like the one shown in the photograph on the Italian side. Follow path 13A. The path returns over the border, at the highest point, to Ferret in Switzerland. At the top you will get amazing views of Mont Blanc and also the Lacs de Fenetre(view of Mont Blanc). The route between the Lacs de Fenetre and Ferret (café) is in the Walking in the Valais book (Route 104). It is 12km with 350m up and 1100m down. It can be extended down the Val Ferret to La Fouly etc. but it is approaching the ‘bit harder level’.
Champex to Praz de Fort via La Deuve and Return (high point 1466m)
This route starts on the Tour of Mont Blanc Route to Val Ferret, on the way down to Issert, but there is a diversion to the right (near 1 hr from Champex) to go up to La Deuve. It then descends by road to Praz de Fort (café, closed on Mon) and then return to Champex via the Tour of Mont Blanc, which goes through Issert (café). It is 11km with 720m up and down. It can be shortened by stopping at Issert and taking buses back via Orsieres, 7.5km with 270m up and 720m down.
La Fouly to Ferret and Return (Easier and high point 1710m)
From the centre of La Fouly, walk up road opposite tourist office and then turnright over grass above top of ski tow, to join path (chemin pedestre). The path later joins a track: go up track until path to Ferret goes straight ahead beside a farm (marmots in the path area). Take lower path on approaching Ferret (café) and
then return on the other side of the river to La Fouly (cafés). It is 6km and 250m up and down. On the return, an alternative path nearer to La Lechere would give an extra 60m up and down as well as passing a hut (café).
Vicheres to Valley Combe de L’A and Return (high point 2,393m, altv. 2010m)
The start is above Vicheres, just before reaching the parking area for the chair lift (not open in summer). The track/path goes up to the Combe de L’A valley, which is an environmental area. You can drive up part of the track to a car no entry sign and park. Walking is mainly on track to La Tsissette but there is a path on the right after crossing the stream and rejoins track. There is a hut (café) at La Tsissette, which is open June to early November. You can walk on and Vouasse is probably the furthest to avoid a long climb. It is 15km and 840m up and down (near to a bit harder) but the route can be discontinued at any point and La Tsissette is 9km with 440m up and down.
Orsieres to Liddes and Return (Bit Harder as 6.5hrs and high point 1450m, altv. 1275m)
There is a track up the SW side of the Grand St Bernard pass via Fornex: this part gets some road noise. The easiest route is to descend from Fornex via path and cross the river to follow near it to Liddes (cafés). The alternative higher path on the same side of the river as Fornex is a bit narrow. From Liddes, return via Chandonne and Fontaine Dessus to Reppaz (via bisse) and then descend to Orsieres (cafés). It is 16km and 680m up and down.An alternative is to cut across to Rive Haute (café closed on Tue pm and Wed), after descending from Fornex, to reduce to 13.5km and 450m up and down.
Liddes to Bourg-St-Pierre and Return (Easier but see alternative and high point 1632m, altv. 1680m)
Park near church at south end of Liddes and take road down opposite and then take higher road, which becomes track/path to Bourg-St-Pierre (section of path goes left of ski tow near Bourg-St-Pierre). Bourg-St-Pierre (cafés) has an interesting picture on the street, showing Napoleon’s crossing over to Italy. Return by taking road (signed) to reach other side of river and follow lower track (later becomes path/parcourvita) with another cross over river before dam/lake to return to Liddes. It is 10.5km and 380m up and down. An alternative is to climb, after crossing the river from Bourg-St-Pierre, to go up towards La Niord (track initially and cut right at a path on a Z bend; good views). Just before La Niord take track down to return to river. It is 11.5km and 520m up and down.
La Fouly to Valley Combe de L’A and Return round Mont Ferret (Bit Harder and high point 2765m )
Leave La Fouly via chair lift. Then take relatively steep path up towards Combe de L’A. This path has some beautiful flowers. At the top, go left and descend to low point of ridge before descending towards Combe de L’A valley. There is no path after initial descent (perhaps because valley is environmental). Go towards right after initial descent and go past a small lake to cut across to join the ascending Combe de L’A path without having to go down too much (going to Vouasse adds 150m up and down). This path then goes fairly steeply up a rock area to Col du Neve de la Rouse and take path down via Dessus to Ferret (café) before returning to La Fouly (cafés). The return to La Fouly is easier close to the west side of the river (turn right after crossing a long footbridge). It is 12km and 990m up and 1380m down.
Ferret to Grand Col Ferret and Return (Bit Harder and high point 2537m)
This route is in the Walking in the Valais book (103) and is part of the tour of Mont Blanc. Walk up the valley, using the road from Ferret and take a track on the right to the river crossing. Then continue the track via La Peule to Grand Col Ferret. The route up can give good view of Val Ferret if you take an unsigned path right to a small col, approx. 30m above path, about an hour after passing Alpage de la Peule (café). Return is the same but, after descent to the café, a path to the north gives a nicer alternative route back but is a bit harder and gives another 80m up and down. It is 12km and 870m up and down.
Vicheres to Plan Monnay and Return (high point 2111m)
Start above Vicheres at the far end of the car park for the chair lift (not open in summer). Take the path/track towards Bavon up round houses and sharp left at next track to continue up: then diverting right on grass track. Just before going under chair lift, go ahead left on path. At Bavon (near another ski lift) take track/path up to Plan Monnay (good views to Champex). There is a path that continues in the north direction and descends through trees. When reaching a track, follow it gradually down to the car park. It is 11km and 550m up and down.
Vicheres to La Tessure and Return (high point 2267m)
This is similar to 11 in the initial path to Bavon and the track towards Plan Monnay. Before reaching Plan Monnay at Plan de la Vuardette, turn left to ridge and return up hill towards La Tressure (good views to Val Ferret). There is no path for some of the route along the ridge but the flowers are lovely. At La Tressure, continue on path and turn left down valley back to Bavon. Return to car park on same path as up but you can turn right half way down to use another path. It is 10km and 710m up and down.