Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval (Vallée du Giffre) is known as the land of 30 waterfalls, and la Cascade du Rouget figures prominently on that list; in 2009 was voted the most beautiful waterfall in France! It is affectionately referred to as « la reine des Alpes » (the Queen of the Alps).
Located at an altitude of 960m, and with its +80m of height set across two levels of flowing water, the La Cascade du Rouget flows all year round (though parts freeze in winter). The water comes from the Torrent de Salles upstream, joining with the Giffre des Fonds downstream, and eventually running into the the larger Giffre river.
La Cascade du Rouget impressive to watch, and it is especially powerful during the spring melt (la fonte des neiges). It is also incredible to visit on a rainy day – such raw energy and roaring sound! MBFF chose to visit last year on a rainy day – we got absolutely soaked (see photo below), but it was INCREDIBLE!
La Cascade du Rouget on a fresh autumn day:
According to folk legend, this powerful waterfall is associated with virility and fertility, and a bottle of its water is sometimes offered to newlyweds!
La Cascade du Rouget is very accessible for families, as you can get to it directly from the road, where there is space to park (do be careful crossing the road).
Do note that it is very DANGEROUS to climb on the rocks surrounding the waterfall, as they are very slippery; you should be especially vigilant with small children – actually, ALL children (do not let them wander off alone, or they could end up downstream!).
Where to eat
La Cascade du Rouget is a lovely spot to picnic . . . but there are also some restaurant options nearby.
Conveniently located, right next to the waterfall, is the Auberge de la Cascade du Rouget (address: route du Lignon , 74740, Sixt-Fer-À-Cheval / tel: +33 4 50 34 19 94). In summertime, you can sit on the terrace and just take in the sights and sounds of the powerful cascade:
Auberge de la Feuille d’Erable – address: Chef-Lieu, 74740, Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval / tel: 04 50 34 44 47 / FB page;
Nunabar – a river café, with concerts / address: Le Bellavista, 50 route du Fer à Cheval, 74740, Sixt-Fer-À-Cheval / tel: 04 50 93 86 74 / FB page;
Restaurant du Fer à Cheval – located within the cirque, with a stunning terrace! / tel: 04 50 89 13 88 / FB page;
Le Rouet – address: Salvagny, 74740, Sixt-Fer-À-Cheval / tel: 04 50 34 40 89 / FB page;
You’ll also find plenty of restaurants in nearby Samoëns.
You can park right by the La Cascade du Rouget (not in wintertime though!); or alternatively you can do a hike to the waterfall or a hike nearby . . . here are some options:
Balade de la Cascade du Rouget – a short walk (1h30; dénivelé 210m), leaving from the Parking du Nant Sec (after Salvagny, turn right after the bridge) / ⇒ more information here;
Balade raquettes de la Cascade du Rouget (snowshoe) – a winter option, leaving from the Office de Tourisme / ⇒ more information here;
Les Anciennes Gorges des Tines – if approaching the Vallée du Giffre from the Arve Valley, then you’ll pass through Samoëns on the way, and between there and Sixt, you’ll pass this superb walk. We did it a few summers ago, and it is one of my favourite family hikes! A 1 hour boucle, it is the perfect length for families, and you’ll pass through the old gorges, with stunning rock forms, forest and metal stairways. You’ll also pass the Gorges des Tines, and you may be lucky to spot rafters passing through / ⇒ more information here;
parking: you park just beyond the village of Salvagny, 6km from Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval. In winter, the road is shut after Salvagny, and so you’ll have to use snowshoes to get to the waterfall;
address: route de Lignon, 74740, Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval;