When the kids are small, we are often limited in the hikes that we undertake: not too far, not too high, not too much dénivelé . . . some of us can hike further, but some of us have problematic backs and knees, meaning that baby backpacks can be more of a challenge . . . or, perhaps we have toddlers that like to hike, but not too far!

Ideally, we search for a hike that will reward us with:

  • 🏔 wonderful views;
  • a bit of distance from towns;
  • perhaps 💦 a waterfall . . .
  • . . . and hopefully 🥤 a buvette, chalet or mountain refuge, to rest our weary feet (and backs and knees!) and enjoy 🥤 a lemonade 🍺 a fresh beer, 🥞 a crêpe, a slice of 🥧 tarte aux myrtilles, 🥓 local charcuterie and 🧀 cheese, 🥪 a croûte . . . maybe even 🥗 lunch!

And so, in this article, I have put together some 🗻 short hiking options, with a lovely refuge or mountain buvette as a goal, before the return trek back down to the valley floor! These are all short hikes, one or two involve 🚡 a télécabine, téléphérique or chairlift. This article concentrates on the Chamonix Valley . . . a second article will suggest some super options for the rest of the 🏔 Pays du Mont-Blanc!

[ note: be sure to take 💶 cash, as card payments are often not accepted in these summer huts (also, if you think that the prices are are a bit high, remember that this is because the produce has to be transported up to these more remote locations – either by 4×4, or by skidoo, or in some cases by 🚁 helicopter! And please book ahead (where possible) to avoid disappointment ! ]

🏔 mountain hut jargon:

  • 🏚 buvettes and chalets (normally fairly rustic buildings of wood or stone) – serve more basic snacks and lunches, as many do not have constant running water or electricity. Don’t expect 🍟 frites! Do expect super 🥧 homemade tartes!
  • crèmerie – this term originally referred to a dairy or a shop selling dairy produce, but now is used more generally for a mountain café too;
  • 🏔 mountain refuges – are usually situated at higher altitudes, and also offer overnight accommodation for people on longer adventures. The meals offered here are usually more robust, aimed at day or overnight hikers. Don’t expect 🍟frites here either!


Chalet de la Floria (1350m)

This is one of the 🏚 most iconic chalets in the Chamonix Valley, known as La Floria because of all of the 🌺 beautiful flowers adorning the chalet and its terraces . . . Do not underestimate the walk – it is fairly short (45mins), but a real uphill slog, through 🌲 the forest, and up to the Petit Balcon Sud. You’ll also be rewarded with beautiful views of the 🏔 Mont-Blanc massif, with the Aiguilles de Chamonix, perfect for photos with flowers in the foreground! You’ll find here basic lunch (omelettes) and 🥧 tartes . . .

more information here;

🗓 opening dates: ☀️ summer and 🍁 autumn season;

🚗 getting there: you can hike up to 🌺 La Floria from Les Nants, from Les Praz or Les Tines (or you can do a boucle) / 🅿️ parking at Les Nants, Brévent, or at Flégère (Les Praz);

⏱ length of hike: shortest hike 45mins to 1h uphill from Les Nants / 4.2km aller-retour / dénivelé: 307m;

La Floria © Chamonix Magazine
La Floria mountain chalet (Chamonix) © montblancfamilyfun.com
Buvette Paradis des Praz

A fairly flat hike (or bike ride) past the golf course and through 🌲 the forest, will bring you to this bucolic buvette, where kids can enjoy paddling in 💦 the shallow stream and play at the playground and in the sandpit. In the summertime, there are poney rides.

You are allowed to picnic here, as long as you buy drinks or 🍦 ice creams from the buvette.

more information here;

🗓 opening dates: ☀️ summer, autumn and ❄️ winter seasons (depending on snow cover!);

🚗 getting there: 🅿️ parking at Parking du Golf or La Flégère or at Les Tines;

⏱ length of hike: 30mins aller-retour from the 🅿️ Parking du Golf;

FB page
© Le Paradis des Praz
Refuge du Lac Blanc (2356m)

The iconic 💦 Lac Blanc is an incontournable hike for many on a visit to Chamonix, and really is perfect for families with good little hikers . . . set within the ⛰ Réserve Naturelle des Aiguilles Rouges, the views upon arrival at 💦 Lac Blanc are superb: les Aiguilles de Chamonix, Les Drus, L’Aiguille Verte, les Grandes Jorasses and the glaciers. The easiest hike can be done as a boucle, if using the 🚡 Télécabine de la Flégère and the Télésiège de l’Index (thus avoiding a steep ascent or descent from the valley floor). Your hiking route starts from the Télésiège de l’Index, mainly downhill, and then a short uphill, to 💦 the Lac Blanc, and then continue down to the 🚡 Télécabine de la Flégère, and take the bubble back.

⇒ more information here or here;

🗓 opening dates: ☀️ summer and autumn season from mid-June;

🚗 getting there: 🅿️ parking at La Flégère;

⏱ length of hike: 3h boucle from the top of the Index chairlift / 6,5km boucle;

website & FB page

Buvette des Mottets (1638m)

The 🏚 Buvette des Mottets is a small mountain hut on one of the paths leading back down to Chamonix from ❄️ La Mer de Glace and Montenvers. It is a couple of hours to hike up from Chamonix, but another option is to take the 🚂 Montenvers train up the mountain, and to hike down via the buvette (30mins down to the buvette, and a further 1h to Chamonix). If you are 🧗‍♂️ a climbing family with gear, you can also have a stop here after the Via Corda Alpina, a mix of hiking and easy climbing (more information here) . . . you can also book to stay overnight in 🏕 one of the see-through tents (bulles)!

more information here;

🗓 opening dates: ☀️ summer and ❄️ winter seasons (depending on snow cover!);

🚗 getting there: 🅿️ parking at Les Planards or Les Bois (via la Ferme d’Orthaz);

⏱ length of hike: 1h30 downhill from Montenvers, or 4h aller-retour from Chamonix;

FB page & website
© Buvette des Mottets
© Buvette des Mottets
Buvette de la Cascade du Dard (1238m)

You get 💦 a local waterfall AND a buvette on this short hike from the centre of town! A winding path through 🌲 the forest will bring you 200m up to this buvette, with views of the ⛰ Aiguilles Rouges across the valley . . .

more information about the hike here;

🗓 opening dates: summer and autumn opening;

🚗 getting there: you can hike up to 🌺 La Cascade du Dard from 🅿️ le parking du Grépon (for non-hikers, there is a car park just off the road up to the Mont-Blanc tunnel, leaving you a 5mins walk – see photo below);

⏱ length of hike: 1h30 aller-retour from 🅿️ le parking du Grépon / 6,6km aller-retour / dénivelé: 400m;

FB page

address: route du tunnel du Mt Blanc, 74400, Chamonix / tel: 06 30 87 95 89;
Cascade du Dard © Chamonix Tourisme
Cascade du Dard (Chamonix) © montblancfamilyfun.com
La Cabane du Cerro (1360m)

A hike to this charming buvette is great en famille (and you can get up close and personal with the ❄️ Glacier des Bossons!). This is a welcoming spot, with its own 🥬 little vegetable patch and hence colourful dishes. It is a short walk to get here, 🌲 through the forest, with some refreshing streams along the way. As well as snacks, you can book lunch or dinner (check opening hours).

for more information about our hike there en famille (and Jonty’s with small children), see MBFF article here;

more information about the hike here;

🗓 opening dates: ☀️ summer and autumn season;

🚗 getting there: you can hike up to from the 🅿️ parking du Mont-Blanc (you can also combine the hike with 💦 La Cascade du Dard);

⏱ length of hike: 30minutes uphill from the 🅿️ parking du Mont-Blanc;

FB page

address: 410 chemin du Cerro, 74400, Chamonix / tel: 06 44 27 22 41;
Chalet du Caillet (1590m)

This 🏚 cosy chalet is nestled on the path between Chamonix and Montenvers, and you can enjoy 🍺 craft beer and dishes cooked in the wood stove . . . all the while, we great views of ⛰ the Aiguilles Rouges. There is also a play are set up for little ones and you can also spend the night! 🏚 Le Chalet du Caillet has been ” a historic halfway point between Chamonix and the Mer de Glace for over 100 years “. You can get lunch and snacks in the daytime and apéritifs and appetisers in the evening (locally-sourced ingredients and outdoor wood-fire for BBQs at the weekend). You can also privatise this little gem! There is also a transparent bulle nature to rent, if you’d like to spend the night!

🗓 opening dates: summer and winter season (for skiers on the Vallée Blanche);

🚗 getting there: you can hike up to from 🅿️ le parking des Planards;

⏱ length of hike: from 🅿️ le parking des Planards, 600m dénivelé, 2h up;

website / bookings  

tel: +33 6 52 58 69 12 or +33 6 30 70 59 42;
Path from Les Planards to Buvette du Caillet © montblancfamilyfun.com
La Buvette du Chapeau (Le Lavancher) – 1576m

If you are searching for the 🍰 best cakes, tarts and pastries on your hike to a buvette, then this is the hike for you!

a little history:

In 1855, a 🏚 refuge was created for the many tourists and guides doing the crossing of la Mer de Glace from Montenvers; within a century, a stop at the 🏚 Refuge du Chapeau was de rigueur, just before le chemin du Mauvais Pas, a welcome reward with its warming food and wonderful view! However, in 1953, there was a huge landslide (these are still quite regular; you must be on your guard and check updates on the FB page!), and it was decided that the refuge was too exposed to falling rocks. In 1954, Gilberte and Luc Couttet took over the running of the 🏚 Buvette du Chapeau for the next 20 years, with the aim of having it close to the original refuge, but sheltered from landslides; Luc and his sons Freddy and Michel got to work building the new buvette, next to the rock, the one that we see today! The 🏚 Buvette du Chapeau Le Lavancher has stayed in the family, and since 2011 it is managed by Thierry Couttet, son of Michel . . . and he just happens to be Michelin-starred pastry chef!

good to know: on Saturdays over the summer, you can book the buffet brunch !

Be sure to walk on 15mins past the buvette to the viewing platform – « Point de Vue » – of the retreating tongue of the Mer de Glace glacier!

🗓 opening dates: summer and winter season;

🚗 getting there: you can hike up to from 🅿️ Les Tines or a shorter walk from the village of Le Lavancher;

⏱ length of hike: 40mins from 🅿️ village du Lavancher or 1h40 from Les Tines;

website & FB page
Refuge du Plan de l’Aiguille (2207m)

This little stone refuge is located near ⛰ the Plan de l’Aiguille (15mins walk away), the mid-station of the 🚠 Aiguille du Midi . . . It is famous for its 🥧 tarte aux myrtilles (blueberry tart) and other savoyard specialities: 🧀 cheese and 🥓 charcuterie platters, homemade farcement savoyard (see full menu here) . . . You’ll be rewarded with views of the majestic ⛰ Aiguilles Rouges across the valley! Built in 1869, today 🏚 the Refuge du Plan de l’Aiguille still looks much like it did 150 years ago: a rustic mountain refuge (for more history, read the leaflet here).

A visit here is also a great stop if you are planning to walk across to Montenvers from the Plan de l’Aiguille, along the Grand Balcon Nord, which is a great family hike (especially as you can take 🚠 a cable car on the way up and 🚂 a cog train on the way down, so essentially leaving you with a fairly easy 6km traverse!).

You can also spend the night – in dortoirs or family rooms – which would make a fun overnight after a hike from Montenvers!

🗓 opening dates: ☀️ summer and autumn season;

getting there: a short 15mins walk from the Plan de l’Aiguille (which you get to either by cable car or by hiking up from the valley floor);

FB page & website

tel:+33 6 65 64 27 53 / reservations
© Refuge Plan de l’Aiguille
Lac Bleu © Chamonix Tourisme
Le Refuge Bellachat (2152m)

The 🏚 Refuge Bellachat is located on the Tour du Mont Blanc and it is a quiet, calm spot to admire the 🏚 Mont-Blanc massif. The easiest access is via the top of the 🚡 Télécabine du Brevent, but you can also head up through 🌲 the forest, up, up and up, from Les Gaillands (or from the Parc Merlet). Located on the borders of the Réserve naturelle des Aiguilles Rouges and the Réserve de Carlaveyron, on the way you can admire 🌺 the alpine flora and fauna – perhaps some marmots or ibex amid the flowers.

a little history: built in the ruins of an 🏚 old alpage de montagne (you can still see some in the surrounding area), by 1920 the chalet was being used by hikers and muletiers. It was completely destroyed by fire in the 1940s and 1950s, and then by a violent storm in 1962! In 1977, Georges Balmat decided to build another wooden hut in the same location, and this was finished by 1983 . . . additions since then have included a cellar for storage and a terrace. A snow coulée in 2014 damaged the cellar and it had to be rebuilt, and in 2016 four solar pannels were installed on the roof!

🗓 opening dates: ☀️ summer season;

getting there: a 2h30 walk from the arrival station of the 🚡 Télécabine du Brevent or a longer walk from the valley floor or Parc Merlet;

FB page & website

tel: +33 (0)7 89 03 30 38
Refuge de Belachat © montblancfamilyfun.com
Lac du Brévent © montblancfamilyfun.com


Chalet du Glacier des Bossons (1425m)

There are several different hikes to the ❄️ Glacier des Bossons and the short hike to the colourful ☕️ Chalet du Glacier des Bossons is a popular hike for families . . . partly because this chalet is located a short distance (5mins) from the top of the Bossons chairlift, which is a real highlight for kids (read more about MBFF’s experience here).

Just above the buvette is a 📷 photo exhibition, recounting the life and history of the ❄️ Glacier des Bossons, that commences at the chalet and guides you a short distance up to a panoramic viewing platform of the glacier. Each panel along the path presents a particular story about the glacier: you’ll learn about the mini ice-age and the ice grotto that was carved into the glacier for tourists back in the 19th century, and plenty of other fascinating facts. And you will learn about the air crashes on Mont-Blanc decades ago (there are even parts of the 1960 Air India Malabar Princesse aeroplane which crashed into an arête of Mont Blanc – these aeroplane parts have been retrieved from the glacier over the years!).

For those wanting a longer hike, you can leave from Le Mont (40mins) or Les Bossons.

opening dates buvette: ☀️ summer season;

opening dates of télésiège: mid-June until mid-September, 8h30 until 18h30;

price of télésiège: for current prices, see Mont-Blanc Natural Resort here;

address of télésiège : route des Tissières, Les Bossons, 74400, Chamonix-Mont-Blanc;
Chalet du Glacier des Bossons © montblancfamilyfun.com

and further along the path up to la Jonction . . .

Le Chalet des Pyramides (1895m)

A bit further along the path to La Jonction, and you can get even more up close and personal with the ice formations of the ❄️ Glacier des Bossons at the Chalet des Pyramides.

opening dates: summer season;

length of hike: about 4h allerretour (shorter if you take the chairlift) / 8,2km aller-retour / dénivelé: 841m;

Crèmerie du Glacier (Les Bossons)

Located just below the glacier des Bossons, the Crèmerie du Glacier is a hotel and restaurant . . . you could stop here after a hike to the Glacier des Bossons?

FB page
© Crèmerie du Glacier (Les Bossons)


Chalets & Buvette de Chailloux (1913m)

[ summer 2022 : currently SHUT ! ]

The Chalets de Chailloux are part of an 🏚 old mountain farmstead located above Le Coupeau in Les Houches. Situated in an alpage, from there you’ll have a super view of the massif du Mont Blanc and the glacier des Bossons. In the summertime, there is normally a buvette operating on-site.

🗓 opening dates: ☀️ summer season;

getting there: a 3h walk from 🅿️ Le Bettey (1340m), where you can park . . . you start by following the signs to Plan de la Cry;

⏱ length of hike: 6.2km and 3h45 aller-retour / dénivelé: 583m;

⇒ more information on hike: here;

FB page

address: Alpage de Chailloux, 74310, Les Houches / tel: +33 (0)6 10 95 39 47;


La Crèmerie du Glacier (Argentière)

The easiest access to the 🥤 La Crèmerie du Glacier is up the 4×4 road that leads to 🚁 the Hélicoptères de Chamonix from 🅿️ the Grands Montets car park, but you can also approatch from the other side of the torrent, from the woods . . . there is plenty for familes to do nearby, as well as hikes to the Gorge du Glacier or up to Lognan: playground in the woods, a tadpole stream, a parcours d’orientation – see MBFF article here for some ideas;

a little history – in 1926, Georges Ravanel was carving ❄️ ice from the Glacier d’Argentière, and then transporting it to sell on to hotels and restaurants in the valley. . . he decided to build 🏚 a little hut, which became a place for thirsty and hungry hikers to stop . . . the “little hut” grew and was passed down through the family, the menu was expanded and it began to open in wintertime too, and now it serves an extensive menu: 🥤 lemonade, 🧀 croûtes, 🥧 homemade tartes . . . 

🗓 opening dates: summer season and winter season (access with raquettes or boots);

good to know: there are lots of summer activities on offer here: concerts, meditation & yoga . . .

website & Google Maps

address: 766 chemin de la Glacière / tel: +33 (0) 4 50 54 07 52;

old pics of the Argentière glacier:

Refuge Albert 1er (2702m)

[ summer 2022: the 🚡 Télécabine de Charamillon, which shortens this hike considerably, is currently being renovated! ]

NOT to be confused with the upmarket restaurant on valley floor, this mountain refuge is located next to ❄️ the Le Tour glacier, and was renovated by h&b architectes a few years back.

It is normally a fairly easy (though exposed!) hike to get to the refuge, easy enough for families, but at the moment 🚡 the Charamillon bubbles are being renovated, so the walk is much further! Normally, one can take out the biggest uphill part of the hike by taking the télécabine, followed by the chairlift.

🗓 opening dates: summer season (winter season: open to ski randonneur, but not guarded);

Refuge Alber 1er © Seb Montaz photographe
Chalet Refuge de Lognan (2032m)

The Refuge de Lognan is located just below ❄️ the glacier d’Argentière, and is a great place to pause en-route to the glacier’s point de vue, from which you’ll see the impressive seracs and you’ll have an incredible panorama of the Aiguilles du Chardonnet, Aiguille d’Argentière, le Mont-Dolent, les Courtes, les Droites et la Verte. To the refuge can be a fairly short hike (30mins), if you take the 🚠 Téléphérique de Lognan (note: this is still being repaired after the fire, and still shut for summer 2022). For now, you can take the 🚡 Télécabine de Plan Joran (1923 m), with a longer hike to the refuge.

note: do not venture onto the glacier without a guide or protective gear !

opening dates: summer season and winter ski season;

length of hike: from Plan Joran, expect to take about 4h for an aller-retour to the refuge and the glacier; 5.6km, 4h, 370m dénivelé;

FB page
© Refuge du Lognan
Glacier d’Argentière © chamonix.com


Chalet Tête de la Fontaine (1206m)

The Chalet de la Tête de la Fontaine is nestled in 🌲 the forest, under the Pormenaz, with a view of the Fiz and Aravis mountains, as well as Servoz, Cordon, Combloux and Domancy.

If you head up for an evening meal and 🌄 sunset on the Pointe Percée, then remember to take a head torch for the descent !

opening dates: summer season;

getting there: leave from the 🅿️ parking du pont de Souay (25mins) or from 🅿️ le parking des Moulins (45mins);

length of hike: from les Moulins d’en Haut, 1,8km and 2h aller-retour / dénivelé:  347m;

Tête de la Fontaine © fr.restaurantguru.com


Buvette de la Cascade de Bérard (Le Buet) 

The hike up to the Cascade de Bérard is through the forest from the hamlet of La Poya, and you’ll be rewarded with lovely rosy rhododendrons in early summertime!

⇒ see MBFF article here;

opening dates: summer season and winter season (snow shoe route);

getting there: leave from the 🅿️ parking du Buet;

length of hike: a short 30mins hike;

good to know: there is a parcours d’orientation that you can do on the way!

good to know: be sure to visit the Grotte à Farinet on your visit – you ‘ll learn all about this hidey hole cave!

. . . and further up the Vallon de Bérard . . .

Refuge de la Pierre à Bérard (1924m)

This old refug, hidden at the far end of the vallon de Bérard, is located below an enormous rock, a protection from avalanches. Hikers use this refuge for an overnight before embarking on a final slog up le Mont Buet (3099 mètres) or the Col de Bérard or the Col de Salenton, and plenty of families head up here for a drink too.

opening dates: summer season and winter season (snow shoe routes);

getting there: parking at 🅿️ Le Buet;

length of hike: 2h from 🅿️ Le Buet;

Refuge de la Pierre Bérard © Savoie Mont-Blanc
Refuge de Loriaz (2020m)

Above Vallorcine is the lovely Refuge de Loriaz, which is lovely either for a break on a day hike or for an overnight.

Located on the alpage de Loriaz, the stone buildings date from 1922! Originally, the farm was producing cheese from cow milk, but this prouction ceased in 1963. In 1976, the building was transformed into a refuge.

There are several hikes possible to access this refuge, but the easiest is a 2h uphill hike through the forest from Le Couterey. My favourite hike, and a great one to do with older kids is via the Barrage d’Emosson: either the more direct traverse across from the dam, or the longer hike up over the Col de la Terrasse and down.

opening dates: summer season and winter season (snow shoe routes);

getting there: 🅿️ parking at Le Couteray;

length of hike: 2h from 🅿️ Le Couteray, with a dénivelé of 600m;

website & FB page

Switzerland (Trient)

Worth a mention, as it’s just across the border, is the short hike to the lovely Buvette du Trient:

Buvette du Trient (Glacier du Trient)

The hike to this buvette is fairly flat and easy from the Col de Forclaz, so very accessible for families. The trail follows the old bisse irrigation chanel, and the walk is dotted with informative panels and games. Cosmojazz kicks off its season every year with a gorgeous concert here.

⇒ for more information, see MBFF article here;

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