The MBFF tribe is a huge fan of 🌳 woodland . . . for me personally, entering a forest immediately brings back memories of childhood visits en famille to 🌳 Fontainebleau, and other magical worlds inhabited by fairies and elves – with 🧗♀️ bouldering, 🍏 picnics all year-round, and cabane-making on the agenda . . .
We are so lucky 🏔 au Pays du Mont-Blanc to have 🌳 woodland all around, some spots more well-known and frequented than other little magical places.
A couple of summers ago, a friend opened for us a door to the 🌳 ethereal woods of La Pesse, just below the ancienne route de Combloux. She had discovered this magical world quite by chance one day, when she spotted from her car a huge boulder and decided to go and investigate . . . after my first visit, I did a little research and it transpired that the 🧗♀️ La Pesse boulders, and those of 🧗♀️ Médonnet just above, were well known to 🧗♀️ climbers and boulderers and also to local families (as you can access the woods directly from chemins piétons leaving from the centre of Sallanches).
After that first visit, we returned en famille numerous times over the ☀️ summer and 🍁 autumn; a memorable visit being with friends and their 🐶 new puppy! Sometimes we’ve encountered boulderers and sometimes we’ve had the 🌲 woods and rocks to ourselves! Each visit is different, each equally magical: we’ve collected wood and made cabanes (and even imprisoned Grandpa in one!), 🧗♀️ we’ve clambered on the rocks, and even been inspired to draw and produce some 🎨 LandArt . . . on some visits, we have spent HOURS . . .
The boulders ( les blocs ) and the woods
What strikes you as you enter the 🌲 La Pesse and Médonnet woods are the 🧗♀️ huge granite boulders, many covered in a thin layer of moss. Some of these boulders hide little passageways and shelters, perfect for hide-and-seek.
On closer inspection of the boulders, you can detect some of the climbing routes written on the rock, and even the odd metal fixture for ropes (I’m doubtful this is correct behaviour in these woods!).
[ DISCLAIMER – 🧗♂️ bouldering and clambering on the rocks can be dangerous, and if you and your family do so, it is at your own risk. NEVER leave small children unattended; many have no sense of fear, and some of these boulders are several metres high. If you intend to do some bouldering, go properly equipped and make sure that the rock is not slippery due to wet weather. In addition, the ⛈ July 2019 storms have left their mark: there are some uprooted and fallen trees, and some not yet secure, so be cautious! ]
🌳🧗♀️ La Pesse forest and boulders . . .
🌲🧗♀️ Médonnet forest and boulders . . .
On a more recent visit, after dropping older brother at a birthday party nearby, we took little brother for 🌲 a Médonnet exploration (his first visit!). He ABSOLUTELY loved it! We let him guide the way (spotting him on some boulder clambers), we bumped into the Ski Club Combloux having a training session (and lots of fun!) and saw some boulderers and their kids (who were doing some chalk paintings on one of the bigger boulders!).
🌲 Cabane-making 🌲
Another activity in the 🌲 Médonnet and La Pesse woods that my boys enjoy (and I must also admit that I have real penchant for this myself!) is cabane-making. There are many twigs and branches lying about (especially since the storms), asking to be made into a hut.
On a visit ☀️ last summer, to escape the heat, our cabane was still extant, but it was looking a bit worse for wear and needed a little renovation, so we added some solid branches and bits of wood . . . and then poor Grandpa was imprisoned!
. . . but he seemed quite happy about this (perhaps as he had a husky for company?) . . .
⇒ checking up on our cabane at the end of wintertime 2020: still looking good! We added a few branches to make it more solid!
. . . and May 2020: still looking good!
A combination of factors make these 🌲 woods so magical . . . perhaps the fact that you often have them to yourself and can just sit and listen to the sounds, reflect in silence . . . the light streaming through the trees . . . the huge blocks of granite sitting in the woods, waiting to be discovered . . . the infinite opportunities for games and creativity . . . On my last visit, on my own, I heard a woodpecker at work!
As well as a great family destination, I would also recommend a visit amongst grown-up friends, as these magical spots allow for quiet relaxation, reflection and thoughtful chats . . . or just head along with a picnic mat and a good book!
There are plenty of opportunities to get 🎨🍁 creative in the 🌲 woods . . . you could take paper and pencils or dabble in some on-site 🍂 LandArt . . . I would recommend taking a picnic blanket, otherwise you’ll end up covered in leaves and branches!
Le Sentier des Graniteurs (Combloux)
If you’d like to learn more about how these scattered granite blocks (deposited by glacial movement) were moved, polished and made into table tops, fountains and more, then MBFF highly recommends the fascinating ⛰ Sentier des Graniteurs in Combloux . . . this path takes you on the trail of the old granite workers, many who came from 🇮🇹 Piedmont in Italy. It will take you from 1h30 to 2h to stroll this trail, leaving time to read the informative panels and discover some of the old rusty machinery! (NB – this family walk was closed after the ⛈ July 2019 storms, as many trees were damaged and it was deemed unsafe until further notice; please check with Combloux Tourisme for current details).
La Chapelle de Médonnet
The ⛪️ Chapelle de Médonnet is worth a visit if you are visiting the Médonnet boulders. This pretty little chapel was built in 1637 and at times it served as a 🐺 refuge for locals to escape the infamous wolves that were so prevalent during this era! You can only visit the inside of this chapel with a guide du patrimoine des Pays de Savoie.
Getting to Médonnet and La Pesse woods & boulders
There is no official car park for access to the 🌲 Médonnet or La Pesse boulders; just lay-byes with room for a handful of cars.
🌲 La Pesse boulders: the easiest route is to head up the route de Megève (this main road up to Combloux starts close to La Grenette in the centre of Sallanches). You drive for a couple of kilometres and then you’ll see a signpost on your RIGHT to Nant-Cruy; on this road, the route de Nant-Cruy, you will park. You’ll pass signs to the 🍺 beer brewery Brasserie Bacchante on your right, and soon after you’ll see signposted the chemin piéton La Pesse. You need to 🚙 park about 100m after this, in a lay-by on the LEFT. Be careful walking down to the chemin piéton, as you’ll be on the road, and cars use this road to cut through to the ancienne route de Combloux. The footpath leads past a newly-built house on your right and then a deserted barn on your left. Just after this, you head into the woodland on the RIGHT (🗺 you can also access La Pesse footpath directly from the centre of Sallanches – about 2h30 aller-retour walk).
🌲 Médonnet boulders: you need to 🚙 park on the ancienne route de Combloux (which becomes the route du Médonnet), near the intersection with the chemin du Pierre Croche . . .
Google map :
A huge thank you to Nicky B and the intrepid Alfie for introducing us to 🌳 La Pesse woods and boulders! Our adventures are all the richer because of you!