Champex is in an excellent base for a walking holiday and is very popular. It is best known for being one of two places where people start the Tour of Mont Blanc. This circuit round the Mont Blanc Massif is not extremely high and takes 11 or 12 days. This includes links over to France and Italy, which are nearby. There are other tours in the nearby areas, such as the Tour of Grand St Bernard Pass and the Tour of Val de Bagnes.
For most people, normal day walks or even half-day walks are probably of more interest. The range of locations are excellent, with the choice of starting at Champex Lac, which has a chair lift, or going to adjacent valleys, such as the Val Ferret, the Grand St Bernard Pass and the Val de Bagnes.
Mountain walks in and around Champex Lac
The perfect base for a walking holiday
For some suggested walks please try the links below:
There are some other local walks not described in the links to the left. These are harder and do not connect to the valley areas. One of these is to start at the top of the Champex chair lift at La Breya and walk on to Cabane D’Orny, height 2825m (a bit exposed in places, but hand chains provided). Return direct to chair lift or walk down from La Breya to Val D’Arpette, 8km with 700m up and down or 14km via Val D’Arpette with 1400m down.
The walks are generally moderate (400m to 800m up and 600m to 1200m down) and can be completed in less than 6 hours including stops. None of these walks are difficult by normal alpine standards. As you would expect in Switzerland, there tend to be signs at all path starts and turns. The signs are generally yellow and there are some yellow marks on buildings, roads and rocks (TMB on signs is Tour of Mont Blanc). Yellow signs with a red arrow indicate a mountain route and blue signs (not for walks given) indicate hard walks, such as glaciers or difficult rock.
There are many day walks in the area, within an hour’s drive (most within 30 minutes) and some are briefly described in the links above, divided into valley areas. The walks avoid extreme options such as glaciers and the climb and descent metres include minor interim up and down walking, which are sometimes not included in book descriptions. There are a lot more walks than described here but those below give a good start and all of these are pleasant, with generally good views.
Books and Guides for Champex Lac and the Surrounding Area
The Champex tourist office sells a map, entitled Au Pays du Grand Saint-Bernard, which covers Grand Saint Bernard, Val Ferret and the Champex area, as well as a lot of Val de Bagnes which is near to Verbier. It also extends to La Forclaz, which is part of the Tour of Mont Blanc and the road between Martigny and Chamonix. This map comes with a booklet, which gives a lot of useful information on walking areas and villages in the area plus photographs.
Another way to explore the huge selection of walks is to buy a book such as Walking in the Valais by Kev Reynolds (A Cicerone Guide). This gives walks from an area beyond Zermatt through to Champex. Many of these are not circular but give a good guide, which can be modified or combined with public transport. The same people also have a good book for the Tour of Mont Blanc.
A further useful map for relatively local walks can be obtained from the Verbier or Le Chable tourist offices. The Le Chable tourist office is beside the chair lift and is easy to get to and to park. This map covers the are up to the top of Val de Bagnes, which is still within an hour’s drive of Champex. This tourist office can also supply a guide to local walks round Verbier. The cable car can be used for easy access via Verbier to the mountains and even connects to another valley at Siviez.
Local Public Transport
The public transport is well coordinated, as you might expect in Switzerland. There are buses from Champex to the railway station in Orsieres, where the Grand St Bernard Express train goes towards Martigny. The buses also go from Orsieres to the Val Ferret and the Grand St Bernard Pass, which gives a choice of destinations. The train is a good alternative with links via Sembrancher to Le Chable, that serves Verbier. It is also an easy option to drive to Orsieres in about 15 minutes and Le Chable in 25 minutes to link up with buses, or the cable car at Le Chable.
Walking in the area