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Bellevue to Prarion, Les Houches

An easy hike through the alpine meadows of Les Houches

This hike is a pleasant stroll through the bucolic high alpine meadows of Les Houches, making life easy by using the lift system at either end.

Stepping out of the Bellevue cable car, it becomes immediately obvious where the area gets its name from - glaciers rise above you to your left, meadows stretch out to your right and straight ahead lies the Col de Tricot and the neighbouring valley of Les Contamines.

To reach Prarion we turn right and head towards the Col de Voza on a dirt track that runs parallel to the old rail tracks. After a couple of hundred metres we cross the tracks and continue in the same direction, going down a rocky path lined with ferns and wildflowers until we come to the wide open plateau of Col de Voza.

This is one of the stops for the Tramway du Mont Blanc and is a beautiful scenic place to pause for a drink at Le Courant de l’Air, the charming little chalet-restaurant right beside the station.

Crossing the tram tracks, we pick up the Chemin du Delevret on the other side and start to climb gently uphill. The field on the left often has sheep and horses grazing in it. The route continues steadily but not steeply uphill, passing through grassy meadows lined with pine trees.

Les Houches is a little lower down than the other hiking areas in the Chamonix valley, so the vegetation seems to be a bit more lush and colourful. Spring is a riot of pink, blue and yellow wildflowers, in summer everything fades to mellow shades of mauve and purple, while autumn is a glorious palette of gold and bronze.

Looking overhead you’ll see the cables of ski lifts and most of the wider tracks are in fact ski runs in winter. There are many variations on this route, but Prarion is well-signposted so even if you deviate from the main route you’ll easily find your way back again.

The trail is almost at an end when you reach the Hotel-Restaurant Le Prarion; they have a sunny panoramic terrace which is the perfect spot to stop and enjoy a drink before you take the Prarion gondola back down to the town.

Worth knowing...

If you want to turn this into a full day trip, we recommend that you take the Tramway du Mont Blanc from Saint Gervais up to the Nid d'Aigle. Once you've seen the Bionnassay Glacier you can ride the tram back down to Bellevue, where you can get off to do this hike.

Watch out for...

The Bellevue and Prarion lifts are not open all year round, please check the schedules to be sure that they are open.

Who should go...

Anyone can manage this hike, it is mostly flat and poses no technical sections or potential dangers. This is a great hike for keeping children entertained, they'll enjoy watching the tram go past and there are usually some goats, horses or other animals to see.

What to bring

This hike requires no special equipment, just your usual hiking boots and maybe poles if you are used to using them. The route is very exposed with no shade or shelter, so check the weather forecast and dress appropriately. You won't need a map, as it is so well-signposted, but if you prefer to have one then you'll need IGN 3531ET.

Where to lunch

There are numerous dining options from start to finish; Bellevue itself has a small café at the top of the cable car station, the Hotel Bellevue and Le Courant de l'Air on the Col de Voza are both pleasant places to stop, and Hotel Le Prarion at the end of the route has a lovely sunny terrace where you can enjoy food and drinks. The Kitsch Inn at the bottom of the Bellevue cable car is also a good option for homemade cakes and daily specials.

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Directions

The Bellevue cable car is in the centre of Les Houches; there is a car park at the bottom of it, or there is a bus stop right outside. Once you've come down the Prarion gondola at the end of your hike, you can either pick the bus up from there or walk the short distance along the road back to the Bellevue car park.

Also see: Maps of Chamonix, France


Location: Chamonix - Les Houches


Style

Level: Beginner | Family Friendly


Stats

Typical Duration: 1.5 hours

Distance

3km

Highest Point

1850m

Vertical Gain

230m



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