Refuge de Platé – Crazy Paving Walk!

With the Grand Massif ski lifts open for the summer we decided to drive round to Flaine and take the Grandes Platieres gondola up to 2,480m so that we could explore the Désert de Platé, a 15km2 limestone pavement scarred with numerous crevasses and fissures, created by acidic water run-off.

From the top of Grandes Platieres there is a guided walk of about an hour that describes a number of the geological features of the area including fault lines and numerous fossils. The landscape looks like something from another planet and certainly makes the walking a little tricky as you have to tip-toe along the jigsaw puzzle of remaining rock.

Limestone Plate at Flaine, Grand Massif, FranceHiking in the Grand Massif, France

We took a detour from the track and headed down Méphisto Supérieure (a red piste in the winter) across to the Col du Colonney before dropping down the valley in search of the Refuge de Platé and a well deserved spot of lunch!

We took a loop track back from the refuge towards Tête des Lindars and en route were rewarded with some of the most spectacular views of the Chamonix Valley and of the Mont Blanc mountain range.

As we headed back in the direction of the Col we were startled to find a herd of Bouquetin grazing on the rocky slopes below us.  Whilst they viewed us with caution I think they knew that from the precarious nature of the rocks we certainly weren’t going to pose any threat to them!

Bouquetin above Flaine, FranceFlaine Valley, Grand Massif, France

From the top of Grandes Platieres we had tremendous views back into the Flaine bowl – but how amazingly different and rugged it looks in summer!