This Sallanches hike is ideal any time of year (except on an icy winter’s day!); in 🌸 early springtime, many of our 🗻 higher (and even mid-range) altitude mountain hikes are still snow-covered, but the paths on this trail should be snow-free; in autumn, the colours are just spectacular!
The hike (which is also 🚵♂️ a bike trail) is ideal for families for several reasons:
- 🗺 short distance – about 5km;
- relatively flat (except for ↗️ the slightly uphill 🌳 forest section after 💦 the Cascade de l’Arpenaz);
- varied: 💦 lakes, 💦 river, 💦 waterfall, 🌳 forest and pretty village;
- 🦆🐟 lake wildlife – ducks, couts, fish to spot at the lake and from the cabane d’observation;
- 🍏 picnic tables and grass at 💦 Lacs des Ilettes or at 💦 the Cascade de l’Arpenaz;
🗺 distance: about 5km boucle;
⏱ timing: 2h (or more, with time to explore);
👨👩👧👦 buggies: only around Lacs des Ilettes;
🅿️ parking: 3rd lake Lacs des Ilettes (Lac de Promenade et Navigation);
🗺 carte de randonnée: Les Belvédères du Mont-Blanc (Carte des Sentiers de Randonnées Pédestres au Pays du Mont-Blanc), for sale at tourist office for 6€ (with accompanying booklet);
The hike – step by step . . .
Lacs des Ilettes – parking and start of hike
You’ll need 🅿️ to park at the 3rd lake (the nature reserve) at 💦 Lacs des Ilettes.
Next to this car park, you’ll find the parcours santé, which you could save for your return journey:
You head along the lakeside path, and at the far end of the lake, you’ll come to the wooden cabane d’observation – here you can look out for 🦆 aquatic birdlife and 🐟 fish, and you’ll get a good view of 🗻 the Mont-Blanc massif, behind 🌾 the reed beds. This is a protected zone, and you can read about it on 🗺 the explanatory pannels.
The Arve river and across the fields
Once you reach the bout du lac, then you’ll see an observation point over 💦 the Arve river (currently being repaired). You follow the signs towards 💦 the Cascade de l’Arpenaz, through the woods. Look out for signs of beaver activity – mud slides down to the river or gnawed tree trunks).
Soon you’ll come to this little metal bridge, which will allow you to cross the stream without getting your feet wet!
After this, you cross the road leading to Luzier (⚠️ be careful crossing this road, as you are on a bend). From here, you head across the fields, and you’ll have a view of 💦 the Cascade de l’Arpenaz.
Cascade de l’Arpenaz
You’ll arrive at the beautiful 💦 Cascade de l’Arpenaz, the waterfall that you often spot from the main road!
Here, you’ll find plenty of green grass and picnic tables. In summertime, you’ll often find locals escaping the heat, some braving the water . . . and kids playing in the stream below (note: be careful on the rocks, as they are slippery, and DO NOT let children head off on the path above the waterfall, as this is DANGEROUS).
[ ⇒ for more information about the 💦 Cascade de l’Arpenaz , see separate MBFF article here ]
☀️ summertime in water . . .
Through the forest to Luzier
After taking the time to explore the waterfall, you’ll head off on a path into 🌳 the woods towards the village of Luzier. The beginning section is uphill, and then the path flattens out . . .
Take time to head into the pretty hamlet of Luzier – there is a fountain, a chapel (built in 1716), and plenty of cats roaming around the old farm buildings . . .
It is thought that the word Luzier comes from “leuze” or “louze“, meaning muddy terrain with puddles (which makes sense, as the hamlet is near the Arve river and the Cascade de l’Arpenaz!).
Luzier back to Lacs des Ilettes
After exploring Luzier, head back onto the forest path. You’ll pass 🧗♂️ the Ecole d’Escalade climbing rocks, and eventually, the path will lead back down to 💦 Lacs des Ilettes . . .
On this side of the lake (where there is occasional rockfall, so be careful), you’ll find some boulders to climb, and you can look out for 🦆 ducks (and sometimes sheep and goats!) . . .
Treasure Hunts and Geocaching
You’ll also find some géocaches . . .
Springtime and summertime – Le Transat restaurant and Le Parc en Folie softplay
From springtime (weather and Covid permitting), your’ll find 🌈 Le Parc en Folie at the beach end of the 2nd lake (swimming lake) of 💦 Lacs des Ilettes. My younger son celebrated his birthday there last summer, and had a blast.
🥗 Le Transat restaurant, friendly and with a great terrace, is normally open over the summer months, at the beach-end of the middle lake, open from May to September, where you can also get 🥤 drinks and 🍦 ice cream to take away (tel: +33 4 50 58 24 64);
Practical Information Lacs des Ilettes
🗺 map & leaflet – here;
🗺 Sallanches document Promenade au Fil du l’Eau – for more information about some of the sites on this walk (you can start a longer walk from Le Vieux Pont in Saint-Martin, though this bridge is currently being renovated), see here;
🚾 toilets – there are public toilets at the car parks of the 🎣 Lac de Pêche and the 💦 Lac de Baignade;
🅿️ parking – the most practical 🅿️ car park to start this hike is the one located between the 💦 Lac de Baignade & the 💦 Lac de Promenade ( Parking Nord);
address: ancienne route impériale, 74700, Sallanches;