Adventures / Wild Hikes

Hike to Wild Lakes in the French Alps

Hike the beautiful trails around Mont Blanc and take revitalising cold water dips in shimmering turquoise alpine lakes

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Trip Ref #10433

Adventures / Wild Hikes

Hike to Wild Lakes in the French Alps

Hike the beautiful trails around Mont Blanc and take revitalising cold water dips in shimmering turquoise alpine lakes

DURATION

3 nights

LOCATION

France

ANNUAL LEAVE

2 days off work

SEASON

Jun-Sep

GROUP SIZE

Up to 10 people

MEETING POINT

Chamonix, France

ACCOMMODATION

Hotel · Mountain hut

DIFFICULTY

Moderate

You'll need decent fitness for climbs and descents while hiking. For the swims, you just need a sense of fun! (and your swimmers)

Tackle a series of hikes beneath the giant peaks of the Chamonix Aiguilles and the Mont Blanc massif

Visit the shimmering Lac Bleu, Lac Blanc and Lacs de Cheserys

Bunk down in a lakeside alpine mountain hut and tuck into classic fondue and raclette

All our reviews are verified

We only invite travellers to leave a review if they have booked this trip with Much Better Adventures.

Nisha, July 2022

Absolutely brilliant, loved every minute of it. The views were amazing and the lakes were definitely a godsend after hiking in the heat - although we couldn’t swim the dip in was just as good. Our guide - Arantxa was an awesome guide, very knowledgeable about mountains and looked after all our needs. Probably one of my favourite trips I’ve done with mba

Alex, July 2022

This was by far one of the best adventure holidays I've been on which is an achievement in itself as they're all so good. Arantxa was an exceptional guide - full of knowledge, humour, passion for the area and she delivered so many little extras, even when things like the weather meant it wasn't wise to take a certain route, she ensured we had something comparable to do. Each day was full of varied activities and beautiful scenery - we hiked past glaciers and through lush valleys and mountains, we enjoyed local cuisine, we explored the town of Chamonix, we took a cable car to the peak of Auguille Du Midi, we visited hidden, crystal clear lakes and to top it off we spent a night in a mountain hut surrounded by truly breathtaking scenery. Everything was sustainable - the hotel gave us refillable bottles on arrival and we always had access to fresh, free-flowing water. Arantxa checked in on us regularly in the heat and made sure no-one was feeling pressured to walk beyond their comfortable pace. The accommodation - both the hotel and the mountain hut - exceeded expectations (there's single bunks in the mountain huts unlike some others I've stayed in previously). Thank you!

Included

Guides

Expert, qualified mountaineering guides

Accommodation

1 night in a mountain huts and 2 nights in a hotel in Chamonix

Meals

3 breakfasts, 2 dinners

Transfers

Transfers from Chamonix to trailheads and back each day

Not Included

Flights to and from the meeting point

Travel insurance

Personal expenses

Some meals as described

Some equipment

The Area

map

Logistics

Starts

Central Chamonix

18:00 on Day 1

Ends

Central Chamonix

12:00 on Day 4

Transfers

Your host will meet you at your hotel in Chamonix on Day 1. They can arrange a bus transfer from Geneva Airport (see Optional Extras section for prices). Alternatively, you can get a choice of buses from airport or central bus station to Chamonix.

Travel options

You can fly into Geneva Airport (GVA) which is approximately one hour from Chamonix. Alternatively, you can fly into Milan Airport (LIN) or Zurich Airport (ZRH) and travel on to Chamonix from there.

For those who wish to avoid flying, Chamonix is also accessible by train via the St. Gervais-les-Bains (Le Fayet) station at the base of the valley which connects to Chamonix Mont Blanc train station. For example, take the Eurostar from London to Paris and then connect to a number of direct lines or an overnight sleeper train from Paris to St. Gervais-les-Bains, then on to Chamonix Mont Blanc station.

You can also travel to Geneva by various train routes from other parts of Europe and travel on to Chamonix from there by bus. Geneva bus station is a 5 minute walk or short taxi ride from the central train station. There are various bus services from Geneva bus station to Chamonix, the quickest option taking 1 hour and 8 minutes.

Your return leg at the end of the trip can begin at Chamonix Mont Blanc train station for various onward train travel routes throughout Europe, or you can take the bus from Chamonix to Geneva and travel on by train from Geneva train station.

For those wanting to arrive a day early or extend their trip - your host is happy to help arrange pre or post trip accommodation on your behalf, with the price and style depending on availability and your budget.

Day 1

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 2

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 3

Mountain hut · Mixed dorm

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 4

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

What is the food like?

A buffet breakfast is included each day, with local breads and croissants, cheeses and fresh coffee. The included dinner on day 2 is a traditional fondue evening. Dinner in the mountain hut on day 3 will be a three-course meal, including a Savoyarde main course. You'll buy your own lunch each morning to take out on the hikes with you. These can be bought from the hotel and mountain refuge (€8-12) or you can pick up a sandwich in a bakery in Chamonix for about €5.

Vegetarians can be catered for but please let your host know in advance. Vegan and other dietary requirements can also be catered for but it will be basic and we recommend that you bring snacks to bulk out the meals. Whilst in Chamonix, breakfasts can cater for vegan / gluten free and dairy free.

What is the accommodation like?

Chamonix

In Chamonix you'll stay at the Prieure Chamonix, a historical spot in central Chamonix with a bar, spa and a garden terrace with views across to Mont Blanc. A buffet breakfast is served each morning. You'll stay in a twin-share, en-suite room unless you request a private room upgrade.

Mountain refuge

On day 3 you'll stay at Refuge du Lac Blanc in a mixed dorm with bunk beds where you can expect a good atmosphere and a stunning view. Blankets & duvets are provided, so no sleeping bags are needed, but we recommend that you bring a thin sleeping liner. There is a toilet and showers are available for a small extra charge.

Upgrades

For solo travellers looking for their own space, an optional private room can be booked for the two nights in the hotel in Chamonix. See Optional Extras for the price. Please request this at the time of booking (this is subject to availability). It is not possible to have private accommodation in the mountain hut.

Day 1

Chamonix

Arrive at Chamonix and check in to your hotel at your own pace. Meet up with your guides and fellow adventurers in the early evening, get briefed on the adventure ahead and head out in search of dinner.

Day 2

Hike to your first alpine dip

Hiking

4hrs · 11km · 1300m up · 1300m down

Venture straight out the door of your accommodation, hiking through the valley and up into the mountains in search of your first wild lake. A steady climb along the trails, surrounded by the peaks of the Chamonix Aiguilles until you reach the small Lac Bleu. Tuck into lunch at the Refuge Plan de l’Aiguille for some traditional Savoyard bites before hiking back down the valley towards Chamonix - with the option for a cable car back if you want to take it easy on your first day. End the day with a traditional fondue and raclette.

Day 3

Lac Blanc and Lacs de Cheserys

Hiking

5hrs · 14km · 900m up · 1400m down

Grab a big breakfast at the hotel to fuel up for today as you up the ante with enjoying multiple alpine lakes and their incredible backdrops. Hike up the other side of the valley towards the famous Lac Blanc and Lacs de Cheserys. These lakes are stunning in turquoise colour with ‘mirror reflections’ of the mountains in the water. Later you'll immerse yourself deeper in mountain life with a night in a nearby mountain refuge. The sunset from this spot is magical.

Day 4

Return to Chamonix

Hiking

3hrs · 7km · 1400m down

Waking up in your mountain refuge, enjoy breakfast and take in the fresh morning mountain air before hiking back down to Chamonix. This signals the end of the trip as you bid your guides and fellow adventurers farewell as you return to Geneva for the train or plane home.

15% Off Outdoor Gear

In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 15% discount on us to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock and Runner's Need.

What do I need to bring?

BAGS

  • Main pack
  • Day/overnight rucksack 25-35l for the hikes and refuge stay

CLOTHES

  • Waterproof jacket
  • Waterproof trousers
  • Fleece jacket or similar
  • Buff or neck scarf
  • Lightweight gloves (good to put on after the lake swims)
  • Warm hat
  • Lightweight trousers/shorts/skirts
  • T-shirts, underwear & socks
  • Swimwear
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunhat
  • Something to sleep in
  • Sandals for the huts and for around the lakes

OTHER

  • Quick dry travel towel or changing robe
  • Universal travel plug adapter
  • Power bank or solar charger
  • Passports (and visas)
  • Travel insurance documents
  • Earplugs
  • Suncream
  • Personal first-aid kit (inc. blister treatment)
  • Personal items (biodegradable toiletries, sanitary wear etc)
  • Alcohol hand-gel
  • Reusable water bottles (x1.5 litres total)
  • Biodegradable wet-wipes
  • Energy bars and snacks

Optional Private Room Upgrade in Chamonix

Payable Before Departure

Optional Private Room Upgrade in Chamonix

Transfer to / from Geneva Airport to Chamonix. Each way price

Payable Before Departure

Transfer to / from Geneva Airport to Chamonix. Each way price

Per Person

We've crunched the numbers to work out the total carbon footprint of this trip, and plant enough trees to suck 2x as much back out the atmosphere.

What's the number?
It works out on average at 145kg of CO2 emissions per person, including all local transport, accommodation, food, activities, guides, staff and office operations.

The only thing it doesn’t include right now is flights and travel to the destination. We do make an overall estimate across all our customers separately, but as we don’t book flights, have customers from all corners of the world, and no way of reliably knowing their travel plans, we simply can’t include an individual number in the figure on display here. We’ve got a goal for 2022 to fix that, so that when you book, there is a way to measure and mitigate the carbon emitted by your flight too.

But what does the number mean?
Yep, hard to picture eh? To give you an idea:

  • Driving 1000miles/1609km would be approx. 281kg of CO2 in an average car (or 140.5kg per person if there was 2 of you in it).
  • A return economy class flight London - New York would be approx. 1,619kg (1.66 tonnes) per person.
  • 10 trees in a temperate forest are estimated to remove approx. 250kg of CO2 from the air in a period of 5-10 years.

What are we doing about it?
Our trips are relatively low-carbon by design, and we're working with all our hosts to develop long term carbon reduction plans. For every person booked with us since 2016 we’re planting enough trees to suck at least 2x more carbon out the atmosphere than is emitted by their trips. All native trees, as part of amazing projects that are re-foresting degraded land, tackling the biodiversity crisis and supporting local communities at the same time. We go further than that too, also funding re-wilding projects worldwide to help protect important keystone species from extinction. See the reforestation and re-wilding schemes we support. See our carbon action plan.

Want to know more?
Amazingly, no international travel company has ever publicly published their carbon measurements before, as far as we know. We believe that must change, quickly. So we’re openly sharing the method we used in the hope that other companies will be able to more easily follow suit and build on what we've done so far. You'll find it all here.

Yes, the swims are indeed quite cold! The water temperature can get as low as 3 degrees in the lakes early in the season, rising to a maximum of around 6 degrees at the height of summer. This is very cold water swimming, so the swims are more like a cold water dip challenge rather than a proper swim covering some distance. It’s all about cooling down and refreshing yourself after a hike, and having a fun new perspective on these beautiful alpine lakes while the mountains reflect off the water around you. The swims will last 5-10 minutes, with guides assisting with suitable entry and exit points of the lakes as well as overseeing the swims and ensuring you don't stay in too long. Cold water immersion is increasingly understood to achieve a range of health benefits, and the tingly skin feeling as you warm up while sipping a hot drink in the mountain hut makes for a great way to end an epic French Alps hike each day.

The swims are optional. Feel free to pull up a pew and simply be entertained by those who do take the plunge at each lake. That said, we are big believers in the camaraderie that comes from a bunch of great people swimming in cold water together in a wild landscape, so we encourage you to test your limits and see how well you can get on with the chilly waters.

The hikes themselves are moderate, there is a decent amount of elevation gain to be made; 1300m on day 2, but the going is steady and you won't be carrying anything bigger than a small daypack with your lunch and a towel inside.

No previous cold water or wild swimming experience is needed. You're in the company of trained mountaineering guides who also have a lot of experience wild swimming in various spots around France. They will keep you prepared and safe for the cold temperatures in the water. The swims are more like dips to cool down from the hikes as it is quite hot hiking in the French alps in summer.

Sure can! Over 50% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

Summer in the Alps is usually fair and quite warm weather. It is often sunny and the temperatures can reach 30° Celsius, although it is a dry heat. The weather in the mountains can be sometimes quite unpredictable and weather situations can change very quickly. Therefore, it is necessary to be always prepared for such a change. You will be hiking in different altitude levels so there will be a change between the valley ground and the high mountain passes. Water temperature can be as low as 3 degrees, so the swims are more like cold dips since hiking in the alps in summer can be quite hot during the day.

Yes there will be a place to leave excess luggage at the hotel.

For current advice about travelling in France, have a read of the UK Foreign Office pages here.

Our recommended travel insurance provider is Campbell Irvine.

Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our adventures. Your insurance should include adequate protection for overseas medical treatment, evacuation/repatriation, your baggage and equipment and the specific activities involved on your adventure.

Your insurance policy should also include specific Covid-19 cover, including cancellation and curtailment cover if you, your travel companion or a close relative are diagnosed with Covid-19.

We fully endorse Campbell Irvine as their insurance offers all of the above, so get in touch with them or call on 020 7938 1734 to get your insurance sorted. We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book your adventure, just to cover you for any last minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!

We automatically convert prices from the local currency that a host receives to your chosen currency. We update our exchange rates on a daily basis so this does mean that prices displayed on the site are subject to currency fluctuations, which is why you may see them change over time.

If you wish to change the currency you pay in, head to the bottom of the page.

All of our group adventures are specially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded. Children can be accommodated on some private departures.

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