We had our first ☀️ summer visit to the 💦 Lac de l’Etape in Les Contamines-Montjoie back in 2015, with a four and a half year old and an 18 month old . . . I remember that it was the last August weekend of the holidays before La Rentrée, and I wanted to spend a special time en famille . . . and as there is a hotel and restaurant at the lake, we decided to spend the night (we were not quite ready for a refuge visit en famille at this stage!).
You can equally, of course, just head up for a great day! The location works tremendously well for a group of friends or family composed of several generations as there is something for everyone – chairs for relaxing at the restaurant, swimming in the lake, paddling in the lake, small boats and pedalos, playgrounds, hiking, VTT park . . .
Le Lac de l’Étape
Situated at the top of the 🚡 Télécabine de la Gorge bubble lift, at an altitude of 1470m and with a view of the 🏔 majestic mountains, a visit to the 💦 Lac de l’Étape makes a wonderful summer visit (the small lake is cleaned and re-filled at the start of each summer season).
You can 🏊♀️ swim in the lake, children can paddle in the shallow water or play with the pebbles, or you can take out the 🚣♂️ mini boats and pedalos.
Don’t forget to pack towels!
There is plenty of grass and shade for relaxing around the lake, so don’t forget a picnic blanket.
Restaurant & Hotel
The ☕️ restaurant has plenty of shaded tables on the terrace, as well as lounging chairs . . . see Hôtel Bar Restaurant de l’Etape for more details.
good to know: if you book ahead to stay overnight at the Hôtel Bar Restaurant de l’Etape, then you can take the 🚡Télécabine de la Gorge for free!
There are two playgrounds next to the lake – one for smaller children, and one a parcours made of wood.
There are also some great rocks for scrambling (be vigilant with children).
There are several hikes leaving from the 💦 Lac de l’Étape, some leading to refuges where you can stop for lunch or drinks . . . so equip yourselves with a 🗺 map if you plan on 🥾 hiking . . . (available from Les Contamines-Montjoie Tourisme.
On our overnight stay a few years back, we had a (then) young boy and toddler in our walking group, so we decided to keep our hike short – we took the 🚡 Télécabine du Signal and then walked a loop up to the Col du Joly (rest) and then back past the Refuge de la Roselette (another rest) and then back to the bubble lift and back for another play and dip at 💦 Lac de l’Étape.
Downhill Bike Trail « Les Clarines »
« Les Clarines » is a downhill VTT (mountain bike) trail, which runs between mountain meadows and forest between the 🚡 Le Signal and l’Étape télécabines. 4 wooden fun zones are located along the trail, and there is a small fun zone located at the Foyères (near the 🚡 Télécabine du Montjoie) – all this makes it ideal for families. See here for more details.
length : 3200m
altitude departure : 1875m
altitude arrival : 1420m
🗓 opening dates : July to September;
You can either hike up to the 💦 Lac de l’Étape with older children (or take a 4×4 for non-walkers), or you can take the 🚡Télécabine de la Gorge (opening hours).
parking : free car park at departure point of 🚡Télécabine de la Gorge;
Also in the area . . .
A visit to this small lake can also combine nicely with the activites on offer in the Parc de Loisirs du Pontet, or a little overnight camp at the 🏕 campsite Camping le Pontet (this would give you more time to enjoy the parc de loisirs, or to head off on a hike from Notre Dame de la Gorge up the old Roman road or up to Lacs des Jovets).