Les Houches is one of the most idyllic parts of the Chamonix valley in summer; not so steep or dramatic as some of the other areas, it has a more gentle landscape filled with meadows and forests.
Starting from the top of the Prarion gondola, take a sharp right out of the lift station and follow a narrow path signposted “Tête du Prarion” that goes up through a forest to bring you out onto a ridge. The ridge twists and turns over rocky ground for about 20-30 minutes until you come to an exceptional viewpoint at 1969m. From here you can see for miles all around - not only can you see Mont Blanc but also the Aravis and the Fiz mountains as well as down into the Chamonix valley and the neighbouring Contamines-Montjoie valley. There is an orientation table so that you can get your bearings and put names to the multitude of peaks that surround you.
Retrace your steps and once back at the lift station turn in the direction of the Le Prarion Hotel-Restaurant and follow the signposts for Alpage de la Charme. An easy stroll of about 20 minutes will bring you to a traditional alpine goat farm, where fresh cheese is made on-site. You can take a seat on a wonderful plateau, looking out over Saint-Gervais, while you feast on local cheeses and charcuterie.
Once you’ve had your fill of cheese and scenery, you can continue past the farm and take the next path on the right. This heads briefly uphill before flattening out into a meadow, which is part of the ski area in winter - look up and you’ll see the lift cables overhead.
Bear left and follow a trail which will take you over a small hill then back down to the Prarion Hotel-Restaurant. From here you can either stop for more refreshments on their sunny terrace or take the gondola back down to the car park.
- Distance: 6km
- Highest Point: 1969m
- Vertical Gain: 130m