Alpine Lakes around the Mont Blanc Massif
No trip to the Alps in summer is complete without exploring the wonder of mountain lakes. Here is our top 12 from in, around and high above the Chamonix valley.
A hiker’s paradise, the iconic Lac Blanc is the stuff of picture postcards and an Instagram heaven. At 2,353 metres facing Mont Blanc and the Aiguilles (the needles that surround Europe’s highest mountain), the views are sublime. So is the colour of the water – generally cobalt due to the concentration of minerals that are accumulated there. It’s certainly an amazing place to cool off hot feet.
For Summer 2019 you will need to double-check your hiking route with the Chamonix Tourist Office before setting off. The work that’s taking place at Flegere to build the new lift system means there are deviations in place. So, either take the lift from Brevent to Plan Praz and then the high traverse or consider the routes available from the Col du Montets or Tre le Champ.
Other options accessible from the Brevent and Plan Praz lift stations are Lac Cornu and Lac Noir. Normally quieter than Lac Blanc. The setting is no less beautiful and made all the easier by lift access.
One of the Mont Blanc Massif’s lesser-known lakes can be found on a short diversion from the classic Grand Balcon Nord traverse between the Plan d’Aiguille and Montenvers. Another lake fed by glacial, mineral-rich waters it remains at a frigid temperature even in the height of summer.
If you prefer somewhere beautiful to sit and simply take in the mountain views, then Lac des Gaillands should appear on your hit-list. There’s no swimming here, but for those who like to fish, this is the local spot. Close to the famous les Gaillands climbing wall, you’ll find locals and visitors alike gathering here.
Lac Vert is another great destination. Sitting high above Passy, it offers a great introduction to hiking for those with young children. The two-kilometre route involves about 170 metres of climb and descent and takes about 1 hour and 45 minutes to complete. The reward is breath-taking views of Mont Blanc and Mont Jolly and of course ice-cream or other sweet treats at the Buvette.
If you prefer a lake experience that involves beaches and swimming, then there is no shortage of options to choose from.
Up in Combloux on the St Gervais side of the massif, the newly created, mountain bio lake offers water which has been naturally purified by more than 10,000 plants. It promises water temperatures in August, thanks to the sun’s continuous presence, of some 26°C.
Lake Passy is about a 30-minute drive from the centre of Chamonix. It has dedicated swimming areas, sandy beaches and water-based children’s play areas too. Lake Passy also has no shortage of stunning views to enjoy whilst soaking up the sun. You can also dingy sail, paddleboard and even windsurf here too.
Whilst, in Sallanches you’ll find a choice of three lakes, one for fishing, one for swimming and one for windsurfing together with all manner of activities surrounding them from picnic spaces to fitness trails.
Lac du Montriond is a little further away – approximately an hour by car – but rings the changes once again. Alpine and surrounded by trees, it is a family favourite. It comes with a great menu of different ways to relax and really does have something for everyone. You can stroll, run or bike along its trails. Or, take to the water with swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding and even yoga on water available.