FAMILY HIKES: Bois de Fessy & les Blocs de La Pesse (Sallanches)

During confinement, we all had to find 🏡 walks within a 1km radius from home . . . though perhaps I was not able to go quite as far as I desired, this did encourage me to try out some of the 🏔 very local hikes, and one that we did en famille (though with much whining and shoulder support at times!) was this one: 🌳 Bois de Fessy & 🧗‍♀️ La Pesse boulders, which leaves from the centre of 🏛 Sallanches! I changed the walk slightly each time to stay within the allocated 1 hour time time restrictions, but here I shall detail the hike in its entirety.

This hike is well known to Sallanches locals, as it conveniently heads off and returns to the centre of town, to 🏛 La Place de la Grenette! In fact, so well known is this walk, that on one outing we crossed FIVE people that we knew! I can see why the hike – a boucle – is so popular, as it has something for everyone:

  • 🌳 forest paths;
  • 💦 a tiny stream running through the forest (after rainfall) and the sound of the nearby 💦 Torrent de la Croix;
  • 🌸 spring blossoms and 🌼 meadows with flowers (seasonal, evidently!);
  • 🐄 cows grazing in fields and local farms;
  • 🏔 sporadic mountain views (Les Quatre Têtes, Les Warens, Mont-Blanc);
  • 🧗‍♀️ erratic granite boulders (blocs)!

Hike Details

🅿️ parking: La Frasse (🆓) or Pré de Foire;

📌 start & finish point: sentier pédestre, next to 🏛 La Grenette in Sallanches;

🧭 distance: 6km;

duration: 2h30 (without stopping to play in woods!);

🏔 dénivelé: 310m (Sallanches: 560m ⇒ Mabert: 870m);

© Pays du Mont-Blanc maps

The hike – step-by-step guide

From 🅿️ La Frasse car park (🆓) or 🅿️ Pré de Foire car park, you take the sentier pédestre (chemin du Mont-Rosset) that heads up beside the Crédit Agricole bank . . . this tarmac road takes you up past private homes, to the Mont-Rosset residence at the top of the hill . . .

Chemin du Mont-Rosset (Sallanches) ©
Chemin du Mont-Rosset (Sallanches) ©
Chemin du Mont-Rosset (Sallanches) ©

Once you are at the top of the hill, you head off on a gravel path, and on your left-handside you will see farmland and, if you are lucky, 🐄 some cows grazing!

Bois de Fessy hike – wild alpine flowers (Sallanches) ©
Bois de Fessy hike (Sallanches) © David Machet (Sallanches Tourisme)
Bois de Fessy hike (Sallanches) ©

All the while, on your right-handside is the 💦 Torrent la Croix. There are some very, very steep drops at certain points – do NOT let children run ahead! (note: in the photo below, you will see how the erosion looks like an actual path; this is why children must be warned and must not run ahead – this is NOT a path, and there is NO barrier; and on the other side of this is a very steep drop, with nothing to break a fall!).

Bois de Fessy hike (Sallanches) ©
Bois de Fessy hike (Sallanches) ©

When you arrive at 🌳 the woods, you turn right onto a footpath, by a wooden railing, up to Chalet du Psot:

Bois de Fessy hike (Sallanches) – turn right here ©

🌳 Bois de Fessy – remember that Sallanches is at lower altitude than elsewhere in the 🏔 Pays du Mont-Blanc, so there is a superb mix of trees of different types: 🌲 résineux (spruce) and 🌳 feuillus (beech) /

  • 🌲 épicéas (spruce) – you’ll be able to smell the resin, and being so tall, these trees give sombre cover, and beneath will be fresh even in a canicule. They are stunning with ❄️ a dusting of winter snow;
  • 🌳 hêtres (beech) – these trees are enchanting; 🍃 so green in spring and summer, and in 🍂 autumn they lose their leaves – in springtime you’ll still find 🍁 the leaves underfoot on paths, cushioning your feet.
Bois de Fessy hike (Sallanches) ©
Bois de Fessy ©

Along the 🌳 Bois de Fessy path, you may find (depending on recent rainfall) 💦 a tiny stream running through the woods (during confinement, someone constructed some small wooden moulins, much to the delight of local kids!).

Emerging from the Bois de Fessy – a bench! ©
Bois de Fessy farms (Sallanches) © (Sallanches) ©
Bois de Fessy farms (Sallanches) © (Sallanches) ©
Cows grazing Bois de Fessy pâturages ©
Cows grazing Bois de Fessy pâturages ©

At the Psot junction (776m), you turn right . . . after this, you’ll find lots of log piles – these are the trees that have been cut down due to the damage in last summer’s ⛈ impressive storms! You’ll be on a wide path at this point.

Psot junction ©

You’ll also see some boulders on your left:

First boulders near Le Psot © 

note: if you need to cut your hike short at this point, then you can head left back down to chemin de Fessy!

As you head off onto a smaller path, on your right you’ll glimpse ⛰ Les Quatre Têtes!

Views of Les Quatre Têtes ©

And on your left, you’ll see 🐄 cows grazing in a field:

Field of cows up to Mabert ©

Mabert (870m) is a cute cluster of 🏚 farm buildings, with some sweet messages to read on the doors!

Mabert ©

As you come off the sentier piéton onto the road, you will see a cross and you’ll have reached the 🏔 highest point of your hike; from now on it is all DOWNHILL!

Mabert cross ©

Now, you will head LEFT down towards Le Biolley (830m) on 🌳 forest paths and along the roads, and sometimes crossing roads, until eventually coming to the sentier La Pesse-Les Viberts.

Down to BiolleyMarin and La Pesse ©
Le Biolley ©
Down to Le Marin and La Pesse ©
Down to Le Marin and La Pesse ©
Le Marin ©
View of Les Warens ©
Down towards La Pesse sentier piétons ©
La Pesse footpath ©

From the sentier La Pesse, you can veer off the footpath and head into 🌲 the ethereal, magical woods on your right, dotted with erratic granite boulders . . . you can make a cabane or climb the boulders (with due care!). You veer off the path just after 🏚 an abandoned hut on your left.

[ terminology: 🌲 pesse = pessière = forêt d’épicéas ]

If you look very carefully, then you will find the cabane that MBFF have been adding to for the last two years! It is pretty robust. Do feel free to add to it! (I am rather proud of it!).

Grange at Viberts ©
La Pesse – Les Viberts boulders ©
La Pesse – Les Viberts boulders ©
Cabane-making at La Pesse boulders ©
La Pesse – Les Viberts boulders ©
La Pesse – Les Viberts boulders ©
La Pesse boulders – end of wintertime ©
La Pesse boulders ©
La Pesse – Les Viberts boulders ©

When you continue down this 🌳 forest path, then you will come to a junction, with a cross marking the spot: La Croix de la Mission 1880 – here you turn LEFT and you head towards La Fley.

Croix de la Mission 1880 ©
Sign to La Fley ©
Bois de Fessy hike ©

You’ll now walk along a paved road and past the Hameau de la Fley – when we walked there it was especially lovely, as it was 🌸springtime, and we could smell the sweet blossoms along along this flat stretch . . .

Along route de la Fley ©
Along route de la Fley ©
Along route de la Fley ©
Along route de la Fley ©

It was a flat stretch, but the little one still needed shoulders! 😉

Along route de Fley (shoulders!) ©
Along route de Fley – woodpile ©

As you come to the end of route de la Fley, you’ll find yourself on the ancienne route de Combloux – be careful here, as you are on a bend, and 🚙 cars come quite quickly up and down this road! You’ll need to climb 100m up this road and then turn RIGHT onto the chemin de Fessy (sign-posted)!

Chemin de Fessy ©

From here you’ll follow the signs back to 🏛 Sallanches, and at the end of the boucle, you could spend some time exploring the quais of 🏛 Sallanches?

[ good to know: chemin du Mont-Rosset is located just opposite 🏛 La Grenette, the old grain store of 🏛 Sallanches, made of local Combloux granite! ]

La Grenette, Sallanches ©
Old doorway of the capucins convent ©

Further activites in the area

🏛 Sallanches is especially lovely in springtime and in summer, with flowers adorning the bridges of 💦 La Sallanche river and the central squares.

[ see separate MBFF article 💦 The beautiful Quais of the Sallanche river for more details ]

The Sallanche river in Sallanches © montblancfamilyfun

You can head down to 💦 the river, and sit on a bench or even let children wade in the shallow water (note: take due care).

Enjoying a crêpe down by the Sallanche River ©
River splash in Sallanches ©

Or you could sit and have 🥤 refreshments in one of the riverside cafés or restaurants:

© La Cabane à Glaces

In the summer months, you’ll find 🖼 a photo exhibition along the quais: Les Montagn’Arts.

In May and early June, you can enjoy the blossoms on the tree 🌳🌰 châtaignes (chestnut trees)- they are stunning!

Springtime is delightful  in Sallanches –  see separate MBFF article BUGGY WALKS : a springtime stroll in Sallanches (you’ll also find information about playgrounds).

The 🍏 Saturday morning market in Sallanches is lovely and would be the perfect place to to buy 🍏 picnic supplies for this walk – the walk starts next to the market!

Sallanches Saturday market ©

And there is also the Château des Rubins – Observatoire des Alpes to visit (see MBFF article here) – it is fabulous !

Château des Rubins and médiathèque as seen from church playground Sallanches ©

[ bibliography: Guide de randonnée pédestre: 60 promenades en famille au Pays du Mont-Blanc (Communauté de Communes Pays du Mont-Blanc, 5è édition, Bonneville, 2015) ]

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