TOP 3 HIKES NEAR GENEVA – LESS THAN 3 HOURS AWAY
by Chantal from Chantal & Max Experience Agency
(To find out more about Chantal, read our article about Chantal & Max Experience Agency)
I’m one of those people whose New Year’s resolution is always to do more exercise. But running isn’t my cup of tea, you can only ski 4 months of the year and the gym membership isn’t always enough motivation.
But I LOVE hiking, a fantastic pastime to do on weekends with your other half, alone or with friends. The best part is that you’re taking in incredible views and getting to know your country better without wasting time or gaining calories. And let’s face it, we’re in just about one of the top countries for it, especially at this time of the year with the bright autumn colors.
Here are three of my top picks just under 3 hours from Geneva:
CRYSTAL CLEAR WATERS
LAC DE TANEY (1h40)
I’ve never known the Valais region very well, even though it’s just an hour from Geneva. But it really is a hikers’ paradise, with turquoise lakes, stunning mountains, hidden trails, hospitable locals, and the jewel of Lac de Taney is no exception. You can either park at Flon and hike up a pretty steep route through the beautiful forest (approx. 1 hour hike) or drive all the way up the Lac de Taney. If you choose the first option, I definitely recommend taking walking sticks with you.
Once you’re up there, it’s worth walking around the lake to take in the 360° views, and if it’s warm enough, take a swim in the crystal-clear waters!
LAC DE LOUVIE (2h08)
Verbier is well known for its glitz and glamour, beautiful chalets, mountain biking and of course, fantastic skiing. But this autumn we discovered a lesser known side of the resort – its hiking. Lake Louvie is a great place to start! About 20 minutes up from Fionnay which you can easily reach by car from Verbier, we meet a lovely local couple, who tell us that we’ve come to the right place if we’re looking for wildlife, which can apparently be spotted all year round if we don’t make too much noise.
Needless to say, the two hour hike up turned into three hours, as we stopped wherever we could not only to take in the fabulous vistas, but to try to spot animals roaming about. We arrived to the top, surprised by a remarkable plunge in temperature, at the famous Lac de Louvie, surrounded by rocky cliffs, rough nature reminiscent of our last trip to Scotland. We enjoyed lunch in the warmth of the “chalet d’alpage”.
It’s on the way down that the magic began; first with a Chamois grazing peacefully right in front of us and then one ibex appears… the second is on the cliff looking down at us … the third next to him… and then the fourth! What a sight, just 5 meters away from us! We sit down and enjoy this sight that is so unique, Ibex only very rarely appear before humans. We continue our way back down, with the marmots also showing their fluffy bodies. Bring your camera and your patience. It’s well worth the trip!
The perfect postcard picture of Switzerland would most likely include a traditional wooden chalet with cows and a Swiss flag in the backyard, surrounded by green valleys and striking mountain peaks. That’s pretty much the setting you’ll find in most of the Bernese Oberland, a great place to discover some of the best things Switzerland has to offer.
If you were to do just one hike in this area, I would recommend the Oeschensee – a turquoise-blue lake 1578 metre above sea level surrounded by the steep, rugged cliffs of the Blüemlisalp (“flower mountain” in German). You can either take the cable car from Kandersteg and then walk down to the lake or hike up yourself from Kandersteg. A great spot for a picnic with friends and family!
If you don’t feel like bringing your own sandwich, there’s a delicious restaurant overlooking the lake or you can wait to come back down to Kandersteg and go to one of my very favourite places for Swiss food – the historic Ruedihus. The chalet, built more than 240 years ago, is absolutely gorgeous and worth the detour (one of the most beautiful ones I’ve ever seen). In the summer, you can eat outside near their very own Ricola garden, overlooking the alps and the meadows.