This section of the Grand Balcon Sud can be done in either direction and has the benefit of lifts at either end, saving your calves on the way up and your knees on the way down.
Starting from Chamonix centre, head up behind the tourist office and take the Brevent-Planpraz lift up to the mid-station at 2000m. When you come out of the lift station you’ll see a restaurant directly ahead of you, follow the path that goes to the left of it and you’ll soon pick up signs for the Grand Balcon Sud and La Flegere.
The trail drops downhill first of all, twisting through boulders covered in thick bracken and wildflowers. Listen out for the whooping sound of marmots, they’re well camouflaged but you’re never far away from them up here.
Although there is a bit of up and down to contend with, this hike ambles fairly gently along a path that once passed through old grazing pastures - you’ll still come across the ruins of old cottages and shepherds huts from time to time. Small streams run alongside the path in places and there are countless places to take the perfect photo, or to stop for a leisurely picnic.
On the sunnier side of the valley and above the treeline, this is a great hike for admiring the spectacular views across to the Mont Blanc Massif and the Aiguilles Rouges.
It doesn’t take long at all, maybe only a couple of hours, but it can easily be extended at either end by hiking up to Lac Brevent from Planpraz or Lac Blanc from Flegere.
Who should go...
What to do
What to bring
What to see
Where to lunch
Location: Chamonix / Mont Blanc Valley
Level: Beginner | Intermediate | Family Friendly
Typical Duration: 2 hours