A 1km confinement radius is a different surface area for each family . . . some will have access to 💦 a waterfall, others 💦 a river walk, hopefully all can find some 🌿 green space or 🌳🌲 woodland . . .
I realised last week that I had never written a full article about the 🌳🌲 Bois du Bouchet in Chamonix, which is certainly within many people’s 1km radius, and also worth knowing about in a bit more detail, for when the confinement ends and we can all roam a bit more freely again!
The 🌲 Bois du Bouchet is a young forest, witness to the retreat of ❄️ ancient glaciers, and with vestiges of the granite-workers from Italy of the 19th and 20th century . . . And this 🌳🌲 woodland it is also a window from which to gaze upon the majestic 🏔 Mont-Blanc and the other peaks of Chamonix.
This 🌳🌲 woodland is located just minutes from the centre of town, and is the perfect spot for a family outing: 🍂 an autumn stroll, ❄️ a winter stroll or ski de fond outing, 🚵♂️ a summer bike ride and picnic, a place to watch the parapentes land, 🗺 a spot to try out the parcours d’orientation . . .
« Le sentier du Bouchet » – an informative family stroll
🗺 « Le sentier du Bouchet » is a parcours pédagogique, set across 1km, and highlighting across 4 pannels « le monde de la montagne, de la forêt, de la faune ». The path, which is wide and ♿️ wheelchair and buggy friendly, leaves from the Foyer du Ski de Fond (La Maison Nordique), past the parapentes landing field, and then into the woods. In summertime, you’ll find some shade!
Bike routes through the Bois du Bouchet
The 🌳🌲 Bois du Bouchet is also the perfect training ground for 🚴♀️ small pedal bikes and draisiennes, as it is pretty flat and away from the traffic of main roads!
There is 🚵♂️ a family boucle (45mins; 6km; dénivelé: 75m), which will take you along 💦 the rive gauche of the Arveyron river, and then you’ll return via 💦 the rive droite, passing near 🚁 the hélistation du PGHM and back through the woods / see here for more details;
You could also hire 🛴 a trottinette electrique (electric scooter) from one of the local rental shops – this is a lot of fun! The 🌳🌲 Bois du Bouchet would be the perfect terrain for this!
Parcours d’Orientation in the Bois du Bouchet
You’ll know by now that MBFF members are huge fans of 🗺 treasure hunts and parcours d’orientation! We have only done a small segment of the one in the 🌳🌲 Bois du Bouchet, as the course is long (timing: 2h30; distance: 4km), and we could only muster energy for about a third of it! And with the 1km radius, you might only be able to do a part of the course anyway! Baby-Cham (a Chamonix nanny service) tried out the 🌳🌲 Bois du Bouchet orienteering circuit for us a couple of years ago, and they loved it! (see here to read about their experience).
The Chamonix Valley has developed 🧭 6 orienteering routes for you to enjoy, and one of these is located in the 🌳 Bois du Bouchet:
- 🌳 Le Bois du Bouchet (Chamonix);
- 💦🌳 Lac des Chavants and woods (Les Houches) – see here to read about MBFF’s experience;
- 🏰🌳 Le Château Saint-Michel & Le Lac and the Old Town (Servoz);
- 🏚🌳 La Poya (Vallorcine);
- and 🌳🧗♂️ La Moraine (Argentière) – see here to read about MBFF’s experience;
[ what is orienteering ? 🧭 Orienteering is a sport in which one follows a very precise route from 🗺 a given map. As it is a fun activity for the whole family, it can be a great pretext to get everyone outdoors and enjoying nature, and to develop navigational skills at the same time. To do orienteering, you will need to learn or understand the concept of 🗺 reading a map (to align it with the terrain, to understand a “legend”, to understand a map’s scale, and to pinpoint landmarks). ]
The Chamonix Valley orienteering routes are made up of balises (grey posts), planted at points on the terrain where they stand out (or not!), and which are outlined on the map; you need to stamp these au fur et à mesure (as you progress). The routes are available for FREE from the Chamonix Valley tourist offices, or you can print them out from the Chamonix Tourist Office website / 🗺 see here for the Bois du Bouchet map;
Winter Narnia in the Bois du Bouchet
My first memory of walking through the 🌳🌲 Bois du Bouchet was back in the winter of 2007, when I’d just arrived in Chamonix and had welcomed my first dog-sitting experience. Sisu was handed over to me by the previous week’s sitter in the woods, and it was just magical watching her stride through ❄️ the fresh deep snow, Narnia-esque, running back to me when I called. Sisu is no longer with us, she is in doggy heaven, but I have lovely memories of her playing in these woods!
Other ❄️ winter activities in the 🌳🌲 Bois du Bouchet?
- 🛷 luge (sledging) – there is a small, secure sledging hill at the entrance to the woods;
- 🎿 ski de fond (cross-country skiing) – there are various different routes to take;
- 🚵 fat bikes and fat trottinettes – these allow you to be on two wheels that are specially adapted to the snow!
Here is 🛷 the piste de luge:
You can even try out some sledging when it snows in on 1st May! 😉
❄️ Ski de fond routes:
- 💚 Le Bois du Bouchet: 3 km;
- 💙 Orthaz: 6,3 km;
- ❤️ Les Bois: 11,7 km;
Activities in and near the Bois du Bouchet
🪂 Terrain d’atterrisage parapentes du Bois du Bouchet – you can pause on your stroll through the Bois du Bouchet, to watch the parapentes coming in to land in the field:
Terrains de pétanque – you’ll find some terrains de pétanque near the main road at the entrance to the Bois du Bouchet,
🛹 Chamonix skatepark – this is is popular spot with Chamonix youngsters, and it is fun to go and watch them practise their skills!
🏀 Chamonix Stade Olympique & ⛸ Patinoire – there are always lots of youngsters and adults alike using this public sports terrain. You’ll find: basketball hoops and running tracks / the ice-skating rink is located right next to the Stade Olympique;
Further strolls from the Bois du Bouchet
You might want to continue your family stroll beyond the woods, especially if you have older and more experienced walkers in your group! Here are some ideas:
🗺 Sentier du Granit (Les Bois) – this is a themed and signposted walk (l’Espace Mont-Blanc) that explains the work of the granite workers (les tailleurs de pierre), the majority of whom arrived with their expertise from neighbouring Italy! The granite was cut and worked, and then used for: windows, stairs, fountains . . . / timing: 1h30; distance: 2km; dénivelé: 68m;
🧗♂️ Pierre d’Orthaz & 🚁 Helistation PGHM – after signs to le Sentier du Granit, you’ll come to la pierre d’Orthaz, an enormous granite boulder deposited during glacial retreat (this is a famous bouldering bloc!), on your right. About 200m after the electricity factory, you’ll cross the Arveyron river, towards 🚁 the Hélistation des Bois . . . from here you’ll return to the Bois du Bouchet!
💦 Arveyron and Arve rivers – if you hike all the way through the woods to Les Praz, then you can return via the Arve river, and have a moment taking photos of the iconic ⛪️ Chapelle des Praz – one of the most photographed spots in the Chamonix Valley! This is a granite chapel rich in patrimoine, built for the people of Les Praz. It was built between 1941 et 1960 by architect André Rostagnat.
💦 L’Arveyron (meaning « petit Arve ») or the Arveyron de la Mer de Glace is a torrent that originates at the Mer de Glace glacier. It later joins the Arve river in Les Praz. You can hike along this river toward 💦 the Source de l’Arveyron!
💦 Source de l’Arveyron & ☕️ Buvette Chapeau Lavancher – beyond the Source de l’Arveyron, you can hike up to the buvette Chapeau Lavancher, open in both summer and winter season! The 🧁 cakes and desserts are famous, and rightly so!
🌈 Paradis des Praz – you might get as far as this lovely spot on a longer walk (all flat!) . . . a gurgling brook in a forest with a playground!
[ ⇒ for more information, see MBFF article here ]
A little history: La Plage de Chamonix
Did you know that there was once 🏖 a beach in Chamonix?
🏖 La Plage de Chamonix came to be around 1930, installed on around 20 hectares next to the 🌲🌳 Bois du Bouchet and its lake, using the ruins of the old Casino du Bouchet (1905-1928) to store equipment. The lake itself was fed by an underground source, and there was a diving board (le pongeoir). The “beach” was made of grey sand. There were little wooden cabanes available for changing into swimwear, and there was a restaurant with a terrace and a buvette. For the children, there was a little paddling pool with a fountain (source: Jean-Phillippe GAUSSOT – www.gassot.eu);
[ ⇒ for more fabulous photos of La Plage de Chamonix, see here ]
QC Termes Chamonix Mont-Blanc: the new Chamonix spa
💦 QC Terme Chamonix Mont-Blanc opened a couple of years ago, and is run by the same company that owns QC Terme Pré Saint-Didier in Italy. It quotes the ancient Romans on its website: ” Salus per Aquam: the spa echoes the philosophy of ancient Imperial Rome, which placed water at the centre of satisfying body and spirit. As in the ancient Baths of Caracalla, Diocletian and Trajan, we also heat the aqueduct water to 34 – 36 °C, making the experience most enjoyable”. At this spa complex, you’ll get to combine the benefits of a spa with mountain scenery and nature! / features: pools, whirlpools, hydrojets, Vichy forest showers, salt room & halotherapy, saunas, steam baths, chromotherapy, a Japanese bath, a Kneipp path, relaxation rooms, an olfactory space, massages & treatments / check the website or FB page for more information . . .
🍁 MBC (Micro Brasserie de Chamonix) – just opposite the Foyer du Ski de Fond, this popular burger, chicken wings and Canadian beer-brewing restaurant puts on lots of evening concerts over the ski season, and screens big sporting events. During the earlier evening, it is calmer and popular with families;
address: 350 route du Bouchet, 74400, Chamonix; tel: 04 50 53 61 59 / FB page;
🥗 Le Robinson (Bois du Bouchet, Chamonix) – Le Robinson, which has a lovely location in 🌲 the Bois du Bouchet, changed hands again last ☀️ summer season. It offers: a covered outdoor terrace, a playground for children, a treehouse, pétanque, volley ball and other games. It also puts on concerts and other family events.
address: 309 promenades des Crèmeries, 74400, Chamonix; tel: 09 50 87 37 46 / FB page;
🥗 La Crèmerie la Montagne (Bois du Bouchet, Chamonix) – this restaurant, also located in the 🌲 Bois du Bouchet, has some individual tables with curtained shade, lounge chairs and plenty of green, green grass!
address: 789 promenade des Crèmeries, 74400, Chamonix; tel: 06 18 03 79 36 / FB page;
For access to the 🌳🌲 Bois du Bouchet, you can park:
- 🅿️ near the Centre Sportif Richard Bozon, in the Parking du Bouchet;
- 🅿️ or you may find FREE parking spots along the main road (chemin des Cristalliers) by the woods (note: be careful getting in and out of the car with children, as this is a busy through-road to Argentière and Switzerland!);