Time to dust off the walking boots

With temperatures in the Grand Massif now in the late 20s it’s time to pack away the skis and dust off your walking boots!

Today we did just that and headed along the Giffre Valley from Samoëns to Sixt Fer a Cheval, famous for its National Reserve, to explore the Cirque du Fer a Cheval and the Fond de la Combe.

View of Fond de la Combe - Sixt, Grand Massif

 The Cirque is listed as one of only 25 major national sites in France and with the impressive 2,000 m high cliff faces and numerous waterfalls plunging into the depths below, it’s easy to see why.

The initial walking trail was quite gentle along the valley floor but half way along we decided to take a detour straight up the side of the Cirque (or at least it felt like that!) to the Chalet Buvette du Boret, a small retreat set up on the upper pastures.  The walk took us up the rocky outcrop of the cliff face, where holding onto the cable is highly recommended for the fainthearted or those suffering vertigo, through the beech forest and into the upper alpine meadows of Boret. 

Upper alpine meadow at Boret

Up in the meadows the alpine flowers were starting to emerge from their winter slumber with pretty hues of yellow, pink and purple. There we found the pretty Chalet Buvette du Boret serving much needed refreshments and with views to die for back across the cirque!  It just left us wondering how they get their produce up there!  Surely they don’t bring it up the path we’ve just come up!

Alpine flowers loving the early sun

The trail down was far easier than the journey up and brought us out at the Fond de la Combe where the River Giffre is born, stemming from the numerous waterfalls and the glacial waters of the Ruan and Prazon glaciers.  The views from the rear of the cirque are breath-taking as you gaze down the length of valley.

View of the head of the Giffre Valley

You really get the sense of being in an enormous natural amphitheatre with the steep sided cliff walls of the cirque loaming above.

Waterfall at-Fond de la Combe, Sixt Fer a Cheval

The trail back along the Giffre Valley takes you past the base of multiple waterfalls and you can feel and hear the power of the water tumbling from above.  From this point it’s a fairly easy walk back to the car with a couple of restaurants/bars along the way if you’re feeling a bit weary – which we were given our detour added a couple of hours to our trek!