A visit to Les Gorges de la Diosaz natural site makes for a wonderful visit en famille, come rain or shine (we have visited during both weather forecasts here at MBFF!). You are in the shade for most of the walk, so this is a great option during a summer heatwave, as well as on a slightly drizzly day! It is quite the experience to walk along the footpath, and occasionally cross the footbridges over the torrent, admiring the white froth that accumulates at the foot of the multiple waterfalls along the way, and to admire the way that the force of the water has shaped the rock below. The walk allows you to observe the natural erosion of la Diosaz and the particular features of the gorges: the black and green schist, the grey and red oxidised rock and the yellow lichen. The roar of the water is all around and will leave you breathless at times! There are also information boards along the way explaining the history and geology of the gorges.
A little history
Taken by the sheer beauty of the gorges, Achille Cazin (1832-1877), a physics and maths professor and specialist in thermodynamics, decided that he wanted to make them accessible to the public back in the 19th century. In 1871, he created a company with the sole aim of constructing a passage through the gorges. The building project was highly ambitious: local workers used hemp ropes to suspend themselves from the steep cliffs above, in order to attach all the metal supports needed to build the wooden footpath! After 5 years, the project saw fruition, and with no loss of human life! Les Gorges de la Diosaz opened to the public in 1875 and 1500 tourists visited the site – “the new Alpine attraction” – that summer.
Les Gorges de la Diosaz today
Nowadays, Les Gorges de la Diosaz continue Achille Cazin’s legacy and philosophy, and work hard to keep the site open for all to visit; the aim is to sustain the site and keep it secure – three months of maintenance work are required each year when the gorges are shut to the public, in order to check and re-construct parts of the path that have been destroyed by mother nature, and to secure the cliffs.
The total length of the walk along the footpath is 2,6km, with a 130m height gain.
EDF is in operation in the gorges upstream of the walk, and hence the flow of the Diosaz is tied in with this; the flow of the Diosaz is only influenced by weather conditions during heavy rain and dry periods. The flow of the water is generally as follows:
- June and September – low flow; an ideal time to see the clearness of the water and admire the emerald colour (high flow on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 14h to 16h in June);
- July and August – natural flow as the rain and high temperatures in early summer increase the amount of water in the torrent. Following a storm, the flow can be highly impressive!
Your family visit
Having visited the Gorges de la Diosaz a couple of times en famille (with small children in tow), here is a list of advice for your visit from MBFF:
- wear good walking shoes/boots and do be careful as there are slippery sections along the way;
- buggies are not allowed on the footpath; come with a baby carrier (and do make sure your child is securely strapped in!);
- there are some narrow stretches, so do be careful not to knock your head (or that of your child in the baby carrier!);
- there are many sections where you’ll have to allow people coming the other way to pass; be patient!
- dogs are permitted on a leash;
- it will take you about 1h30 to do a leisurely allez retour en famille, reading the information panels along the way! (remember this is an allez-retour!);
- there is a great gift shop at the entrance!
- there is a snack bar with a terrace at the entrance, selling refreshments, paninis, and ice-cream;
- you are allowed your own picnic on the terrace of the gift shop (you are requested to purchase refreshments);
- bring a warm top, as the walk can be very fresh!
Les Gorges de la Diosaz will re-open for the 2018 season at the end of May (please check website) and will remain open until late September/early October.
*NB – the opening hours of the gorges are subject to change, depending on the weather! You are strongly advised to check the météo and opening schedule before arrival!*
*NB – since 2012, the last 50m of the footpath have been shut; this does not affect the view at the end of the walk.*
Reduced price: 5,50€
Children (5 to 12 years): 4€
under 5s: FREE!
Gorges de la Diosaz
181 allée des Gorges
74310, Servoz, Les Houches
Tel: +33(0)4 50 47 2113
Parking: free parking nearby
Getting there: see here
*Good to know – Bab Pizza sets up his pizza hut in spring/summer/early autumn, near the carpark for Les Gorges de la Diosaz. His pizzas are great and he is a cheerful, chatty man! For more information, check out his Facebook page*