Self Guided Walking Holidays & Cycling Holidays


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The Gr5: Lake Geneva to Chamonix
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Highlights

  • Walk the first Alpine section of the GR5 trail from Lake Geneva to Chamonix
  • Enjoy views of the Dents Blanches, Dents du Midi and the Mont Blanc massif
  • Summit Le Brévent for superlative views of Mont Blanc
  • Feast on rich cheese fondue, a hearty Savoyard speciality
  • Experience buzzing Chamonix, France’s mountaineering capital

Experience true Alpine hiking on this inn to inn walking holiday along the GR5 trail from the glistening shores of Lake Geneva to the foot of the Mont Blanc.

Start in the glamorous Swiss Riviera town of Montreux from where you will be transferred to the small hamlet of Novel, across the water to the French Alps, to start your hike. Ascend through peaceful Alpine meadows and through countless traditional dairy farms; the sound of cow bells never far away.

Take in the views of the jagged mountain ranges of the Dents Blanches, Dents du Midi and finally the mighty Mont Blanc Massif, as you criss-cross between France and Switzerland. Finish on the summit of Le Brévent at 2525m with the most stupendous views of the Mont Blanc, your reward for this challenging yet beautiful trek. Hop on the cable car and descend to Chamonix, a busy Alpine town, considered to be France’s outdoor capital.

Day 1: Arrive Montreux and overnight

Montreux is located on the north eastern shores of Lake Geneva, and is about 1 hr 15 mins scenic train journey from Geneva Airport.


Montreux is considered the capital of the Swiss Riviera due to its favourable micro-climate. Surrounded by vineyards, adjacent to the Lake and with views to the French Alps, it’s easy to see why it’s so popular with visitors. If you would like to explore the area further, we recommend an extra day here giving you time to visit the Château de Chillon or to take a cruise on the lake.


Overnight: Montreux


Day 2: Transfer to Novel and walk to La Chapelle d’Abondance

After a sumptuous breakfast, start the day with a transfer to the hamlet of Novel (45 mins), where you start your GR5 trek. Ascend through woodland before emerging into open fields, views of the lake accompany you all the way to Col de Bise at 1915m. Descend steeply to Chalets de Bise, the perfect place to stop for a break before another ascent to the second and final Col of the day, the Pas de Bosse at 1816m. On a clear day, you will see the ‘Dents Blanches’ (white teeth)  mountains  looming ahead. Descend to reach La Chapelle d’Abondance, an Alpine town well known for skiing, in Summer it is in full bloom and just as charming.


Walking: 16 km, ascent/descent: 1300m/1200m




Overnight: La Chapelle d’Abondance


Day 3: Walk from La Chapelle d’Abondance to Refuge de Chésery

A long yet rewarding day of walking awaits today. Enter the Mont de Grange nature reserve and start your first ascent for the day. Reach Col de Mattes; flanked by Alpine cows and views to the Dents du Midi, Dents Blanches and if you're lucky, Mont Blanc, it really is picture perfect! Your next objective is the Col de Bassachaux at 1778m, and not long after that, the Col de Chésery at 1972m which also marks the Swiss-Franco border. Reach the cosy Refuge de Chésery and enjoy a well deserved beer on their terrace, with views to the serene Lac Vert. Keep an eye (and an ear!) out for marmots.


Walking: 24km, ascent/descent: 1450/450m


Overnight and Dinner: Refuge de Chésery


Day 4: Walk from Refuge de Chésery to Samoëns

Today’s walk is long but on good tracks allowing for steady progress. Walk through  skiing areas which are wonderfully quiet in the Summer. Make a steady ascent to Col de Cou and cross the frontier from Switzerland back into France. Enjoy panoramic views to the ranges on both the French and Swiss side, an observation table will help you identify the mountains. From here it’s a steep descent to Samoëns through shaded woodland, open meadows and small hamlets. Samoëns is a vibrant small town popular with visitors and locals.


Walking: 25 km, ascent/descent: 700/1900m


Overnight: Samoëns


Day 5: Transfer to Le Fay, walk to Refuge de Moëde d’Anterne

A short transfer (15 minutes) takes you out of Samoëns and shortens an otherwise very long day. Follow the track alongside a river to the ‘Cascade de Rouget’, the path then enters the Sixt-Passy nature reserve and into the Fiz mountains. Reach the Chalets d’Anterne where you can stop for a break before tackling the final ascents to the Col d’Anterne; a dramatically rocky Col marked with a large wooden cross from where you can take in views of the Mont Blanc massif. A short descent brings you to the Refuge de Moëde d’Anterne, your overnight for tonight.




Walking: 17 km, ascent/descent: 1550m/350m




Overnight and dinner: Refuge de Moëde d’Anterne


Day 6: Walk from Refuge de Moëde d’Anterne to Le Brévent. Cable car to Chamonix

Prepare for an exciting final day on the trail. Start with a gentle descent from the refuge followed by a constant but steady ascent to the Col du Brévent. You are now in the Aigulles Rouge Nature Reserve, where the GR5 meets the famous, and busier, Tour du Mont Blanc trail. Continue to follow the path as it ascends to the summit of Le Brévent.  This is Alpine hiking at its most exciting as you scramble, climb metal ladders and use metal footholds and handrails that are bolted into the rock face. Upon reaching the summit, enjoy the sense of achievement as you take in the finest views of Mont Blanc. Take the cable car to Chamonix where you can celebrate with a carafe of wine or a glass of locally brewed Mont Blanc beer.


Walking: 11.5 km, ascent/descent: 930m/450m


Overnight: Chamonix


Day 7: Free Day Chamonix or choice of walks

If you are still feeling energetic, choose from a couple of our favourite walks in the Chamonix area or simply enjoy a day relaxing.  


Take the cable car up to Plan de l’Aiguille, begin at 1200m and walk along the Grand Balcon Nord to the edge of the Mer de Glace. Take the train from Montenvers back down the valley into Chamonix.


Another option is one of the most iconic walks in the Alps. Take a local bus to Tre le Champ and then follow the Tour du Mont Blanc trail to Lac Blanc walking along the famous Grand Balcon Sud.  Take the cable car back down to Chamonix from Flégère.


Optional Walking: Plan de l’Aiguille to Montenvers: 6km, ascent/descent: 125m/495m


Tre-le-Champ to La Flégère via Lac Blanc: 9.5km, ascent/descent: 1350m/650m


Overnight: Chamonix


Day 8: Onward Travel

Check out of your hotel after breakfast for your onward travel. From Chamonix it is about 1 hour 10 minutes transfer time to Geneva airport. The best option is to take a pre-booked shuttle through a company such as Mountain Dropoffs. Your Destination Specialist will be happy to book this for you.


 

Accommodation

Stay 5 nights in comfortable 3* hotels, 1 night in a private room in a mountain hut (shared bathrooms) and 1 night in a mixed sex dorm in a mountain hut (shared bathrooms). This trip allows you to experience the atmosphere and camaraderie of a mountain hut while being interspersed with comfortable 3* hotels, which we believe is the perfect balance for fans of Alpine walking who are looking for a bit of added comfort!


Please be aware that twin & double rooms in Switzerland are typically 2 single mattresses side by side in one double bed frame with two separate duvet covers and pillows.


Single Rooms & Solo Walkers

This trip is not available to solo walkers as some of the walks are be remote. Single rooms are available in the hotels (not in the mountain huts) on request and a single room supplement is payable.


Alternate Accommodation

We will always try and accommodate you at the hotels listed. However, if those listed are unavailable, alternative accommodation of the same or better standard than those described will be provided.


Examples of accommodations we typically use are listed below.




 




Hotel Splendid - Montreux

Having one of the best locations in Montreux being a 5 minute walk to the train station, it also boasts wonderful views of the lake. An historical family run hotel, it was built in 1904 and is still a firm favourite with visitors. Breakfast is plentiful with yoghurt, fruit, croissants, rolls, meat and chesses as well as freshly cooked eggs. Perfect for filling up before a long day of hiking!


 

 

 


 

 

 




Hotel Les Cornettes – La Chapelle d’Abondance

The Trincaz family have been welcoming guests for 5 generations and they really have perfected the art of hospitality! The hotel is decorated in traditional Alpine style, yet has all the modern amenities you may need. Relax your muscles in the indoor pool before warming them up in the heated whirlpool; a dressing gown and slippers are provided free of charge. They have two on-site restaurants; a casual brasserie and a restaurant that has been mentioned in the 2017 Michelin guide, so why not treat yourself to some haute-cuisine?


 

 

 


 

 

 



Refuge de Chésery



Refuge de Chésery

Located at 1985m and at the picturesque Lac Vert, this family-run and cosy refuge is a treat and a real taste of traditional Alpine life. Dorms are basic but comfortable, and are well-ventilated. Hot showers are available and the bathroom facilities are impeccably clean. Other convenient facilities include washing lines and plenty of electrical sockets for charging phones. Enjoy a communal dinner and get to know your fellow walkers over a glass or two of Swiss wine.


 

 

 


 

 

 




Hotel Roc et Neige - Samoëns

A warm welcome awaits you from the owners Francoise and Olivier and their friendly team at the Hotel Roc & Neige. Located on the peaceful edge of Samoens, yet still a short walk to the centre, this hotel has all the amenities needed for a perfect stay. Take advantage of the indoor swimming pool, sauna, steam room and hot tub. There’s also an on-site restaurant, or wander into the town centre for a selection of restaurants.


 

 

 


 

 

 



 Refuge de Moëde d’Anterne



Refuge de Moëde d’Anterne

Originally built in 1898, the refuge has an interesting history, having in the past been base camp for chamois hunters and a hideout for WW2 resistance fighters. It is now a basic but popular mountain hut with a total of 90 beds. A family-run establishment, the lovely Arlette and her son Lionel are waiting to welcome you. The dining area has wonderful panoramic views of the Mont Blanc massif, and Arlette likes to give a commentary of the mountains on view after dinner. Hot showers are available for 2 euros and there is a drying room available for use.


 

 

 


 

 

 




Hotel l’Arve - Chamonix

One of our favourite hotels in Chamonix, located just on the edge of the town centre away from the hustle and bustle. Emilie and her friendly team and always happy to help with any questions you may have about Chamonix. Boasting a lovely bar and lounge area, the hotel quickly feels homely. There is also a relaxation area including a sauna, the perfect way to unwind after a day on the trails.


 

 

 

Time of Year & Availability

This trip is available to start any day of the week, from the end of June to mid September, subject to availability. Any time during this period is ideal for hiking, in late June/early July you can experience Alpine flowers at their finest while in bloom. August can be busy as this is the main holiday making month for the French and indeed many other European countries.


At the start of the season and towards the end, there may still be some lying snow at the highest passes. This won't normally require specialist equipment like crampons, but we will always keep you informed of any unusual weather conditions.  


Availability in Montreux can be tricky around the time of the Montreux Jazz festival (usually in July). Availability in Chamonix can be scarce around the time of the famous UTMB races which are usually during the last week of August. 


Grade & Terrain

This trip is graded moderate to strenuous with average daily distance being  18km. Each day has significant ascent and descent and the paths are a mixture of woodland trails, rocky mountain paths, gravel tracks and some tarmac country road walking (going into La Chapelle and Samoëns).  The last day of walking involves some light scrambling, metal ladders (2 with 11 rungs each) and footholds secured to the rock face so you should be sure footed and have a head for heights. To get the most of this trip, you should be in good physical shape and be an experienced walker, ideally having already done some Alpine walking.


Navigation, Route Notes & Maps

The GR5 trail is generally well way-marked, although some sections more so than others. You will be provided with a map and route notes and  you will also have access to the Macs Adventure Smartphone App enabling you to follow the route using your phone's GPS so you will have no problems finding the way


Baggage Transfers

Bag transfer is included in this trip. We ask that you limit your baggage to one bag per person with a maximum weight of 20kg per person. Your bags cannot be transferred to Refuge de Chésery or Refuge de Moëde d’Anterne due to the remoteness of the huts. You will need to carry your overnight things on these days and you will be reunited with your main bag the following day.



Meals



Breakfasts are included each day.
Breakfast in the hotels is a buffet selection with lots of sweet treats
like pastries, home made jams fruit and cereals. Savoury tastes are
also catered for with bread, cheese, ham and eggs available.



Breakfasts in the huts tend to be very basic; bread, butter, jams,
coffee, tea and orange juice.  If you prefer something more substantial
before walking, we recommend carrying a few energy bars with you each
day and supplement your breakfast with one of these.





Packed lunch items can be bought locally from supermarkets or the local
boulangerie. If you are staying in a hut, order a packed lunch with them
upon arrival. 



In the mountain huts, dinner is included. These tend to be a convivial
affair, and you will be seated with the other guests. Meal times are a
real highlight in the huts, and you can enjoy the company of people from
all over the world while you dine on good honest home cooked food.
Dinner is typically soup with bread, a main course consisting of meat
and rice or pasta, a side salad or vegetables, followed by dessert or
cheese. If you have any dietary requirements, please tell us upon
booking and we can arrange this with the huts.




On other nights dinner is not included so you are free to choose from
the available options. Savoyard specialities are mostly based on cheese.
Dishes which shouldn’t be missed include fondue, tartiflette and
raclette.


Travel Insurance

It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity, emergency evacuation and hospital care.


General Information

The distances and ascents/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example, proper rain gear (jacket and trousers), sun hat and sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which ncludes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for summer, and a day pack.

Getting to Montreux

The closest and most convenient airport to fly into is Geneva. From here you can catch a direct train to Montreux which takes about 1 hour 20 mins. For more information please check www.sbb.ch


Getting from Chamonix

From Chamonix it is about 1 hour 10 minutes transfer time to Geneva airport. The best option is to take a pre-booked shuttle through a company such as Mountain Dropoffs for which we can provide you with a promo code to receive a small discount on booking with them.

 

Included

  • 5 nights in 3* hotels, 1 night in a mountain hut in a private room and 1 night in a mountain hut in a dorm
  • 7 Breakfasts
  • 2 Dinners
  • Transfers and bag transfers as per the itinerary
  • Detailed information pack, route notes and maps
  • GPX tracks and access to our GPS Macs Adventure smartphone app
  • 24/7 telephone support from our UK office

Excluded

  • Travel insurance (required)
  • Travel to Montreux and from Chamonix
  • Lunches & 5 Dinners
  • Drinks and snacks
  • Personal equipment

Extras

  • Additional nights before, during or after the walk
  • Single Room Supplement(s)

How fit do I need to be?

This trip is graded ‘moderate to strenuous’ with average daily distance being  18km. Each day has significant ascent and descent and the paths are a mixture of woodland trails, rocky mountain paths, gravel tracks and some tarmac country road walking (going into La Chapelle and Samoëns).  The last day of walking involves some light scrambling, metal ladders and footholds secured to the rock face so you should be sure footed and have a head for heights. To get the most of this trip, you should be in good physical shape and be an experienced walker, having already done some Alpine walking.

Which is the best airport to fly to?

The closest airport is Geneva which is served by flights from throughout Europe and around the world.

How far in advance do I need to book?

We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalised. This is a very popular hiking area with quite a short season.

What personal equipment do I need?

You will need good walking shoes/boots (ideally waterproof), comfortable walking clothes, waterproof jacket and trousers a day pack and hats/gloves etc. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes and a day pack. A detailed kit list is included in your information pack.

How do the baggage transfers work?

Bag transfer is included in this trip. We ask that you limit your baggage to one bag per person with a maximum weight of 20kg per person. Your bags cannot be transferred to Refuge de Chésery or Refuge de Moëde d’Anterne due to the remoteness of the huts. You will need to carry your overnight things on these days and you will be reunited with your main bag the following day.

When is the best time of year?

This trip is available to start any day of the week, from the end of June to mid September, subject to availability. Any time during this period is ideal for hiking, in late June/early July you can experience Alpine flowers at their finest while in bloom. August can be busy as this is the main holiday making month for the French and indeed many other European countries.

Please note that availability in Montreux can be tricky around the time of the Montreux Jazz festival (usually in July). Availability in Chamonix can be scarce around the time of the famous UTMB races which are usually during the last week of August. 

Over the Top

5

A wonderful adventure and challenging. Not for a first time experience or a novice.j

Joe the pro

Vancouver, BC

true

A tough but awesome walk

5

I really enjoyed this walk. we had good weather every day - and I would not have enjoyed some of the descents in bad weather. The overnight stay were very good, the scenery was amazing.

Just me

Woodbridge

true

Challenging but rewarding hiking each day. loved each day!!!

5

Amazing experience. Really challenging hiking but very rewarding and great accommodations to relax in after a great day of hiking!

Mike D

Colorado

true

GR5 IN ALL IT'S SPLENDOR

4

Fantastic trip. Remote hiking with stunning scenery. The hiking days are long but with waterfalls and incredible views you are holding your breath for what will be next.

Avid hiker

Canada

true

Wonderful Hike

5

The planning from Macs Adventure was terrific. All of the accommodations were wonderful. The specific daily route maps with turn by turn directions and tips were invaluable. They saved us from getting off course many times over! Communication during the trip to solve some real time agenda adjustments was easy and handled efficiently.

Two 50 somethings

Connecticut

true

Wonderful GR5 trip with Macs!

5

Very well organized and executed. Great hotels. Awesomely me GPS tracker. Only negative is that the 2 refuges were more primitive than we expected. Chesery advertised shared to but y'all was almost a shared bed with 1 bathroom for the 16 beds/2 rooms. Moede had private bedroom which was basic but fine. But 1 toilet working in that building and it requires gymnastics to close the door to use the toilet. breakfast for both refuges was bread and butter/jam.

Stefan and Katherine

Florida

true

Wonderful Adventure with Spectacular Views

5

Hiking the GR5 was a beloved and memorable experience that we would do again in a heartbeat. The hiking intensity was moderate-significant, with splendid accommodations at which to rest and recharge. We were highly impressed with the bed and breakfast selections with the best rooms. Waterproof and rain gear was a must with appropriate shoe wear to stay comfortable. The delicious cuisine, fine wine, and astounding views left us filled with wanderlust. Waterfalls, marmots, lakes, peaks, alpine terrain, and quaint towns everyday!

Josh & Maggie

Lansing, MI

true

Fantastic hiking adventure

5

Fantastic trip, very well organised by Macs Adventures, meaning all we had to do was enjoy the experience!

SueOC

Melbourne, Australia

true

Beyond Amazing!

5

The feel of backpacking with the luxury of showers, comfortable beds, and being able to change your clothes! The well laid out itinerary was amazing, and any hiking we did afterward we wished we had the maps and suggestions/directions that Macs provided!

Katherine

New Hampshire, USA

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Amazing trip!

5

Trip was extremely well run. All hotels and refuges were great. Hotel restaurants were delicious. Transfers and baggage were always prompt. Hikes were challenging and beautiful. The directions are generally quite good and let you know what mountains you are looking at and what animals to look out for! Good comfortable hiking shoes are important especially early in the season when there is a lot of snow.

LizBott

New Jersey

true

The GR5: Lake Geneva to Chamonix

4.9 10

100.0

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