14-Night French Alps & Bernese Oberland Guided Walking Holiday

Randonneur
Duration: 14 nights
Type: European Centre Based
Walking Grade: 2 & 4
from £2,449pp

Two fantastic holiday destinations in one holiday! Explore the French Alps: Bordered by Switzerland to the north and Italy to the east, Haute-Savoie is dominated by the high peaks of the French Alps and glistening lakes, Often referred to as the ‘Pearl of the Alps’ or ‘Venice of the Alps’, Annecy can trace its origins back to the time of the Romans. Explore Bernese Oberland, Switzerland: The village of Adelboden, located in the beautiful Bernese Oberland and surrounded by wonderful flower meadows, green valleys and snow-capped peaks, epitomises the perfect image of Switzerland. This picturesque Swiss village lies at the head of the Engstligen Valley, surrounded by a succession of alpine peaks.

Holiday Highlights

French Alps

  • Experience the rich culture of Haute-Savoie
  • Follow the footsteps of the French Resistance on the Glières Plateau
  • Visit the Massif des Brauges Natural Park

Bernese Oberland

  • High alpine meadows, tranquil valleys and spectacular waterfalls form this most picturesque of mountain landscapes
  • Walk the balcony paths above Oeschinensee where the lake changes colour from azure to emerald based on the cloud cover.
  • Have a go at playing the Alpine horn at the hotel.
  • Test your nerve - walk across one of the longest suspension bridges in Europe, the Hostalde
  • Enjoy warm hospitality and excellent meals at the family-run Hotel Waldhaus-Huldi

What’s included

  • A full programme of guided walks with 2 options every walking day
  • All transport to and from the walks
  • The services of experienced HF Holidays' leaders
  • "With flight" holidays include return flights from the UK and hotel transfers
  • 14 nights' accommodation in en-suite rooms
  • Transport between the two destinations
  • Half Board - continental breakfast and evening meal

Trip Notes

Trip notes are detailed, downloadable PDFs for each holiday.

Download Trip Notes

Welcome to Hotel Splendid. Unpack and settle in.


Our transport will take us to the start of our walks on the western shore of Lake Annecy. Both groups will return to the hotel using the Lake Annecy passenger ferry.

Option 1 - St Jorioz and Duingt

Distance: 6½ miles (10½km) 

Total ascent:  800 feet (240m)

In summary: Starting in St Jorioz we walk along the lake shore, past reedbeds sheltering birdlife and marinas full of boats before striking inland to climb to a Belvedere giving superb views over the whole of Lake Annecy. We finish our walk in Duingt where we should have time for refreshments before boarding our ferry back to town.

Highlight: A delightful boat trip to end the walk – great views of where we have walked today.

 

Option 2 - The Taillefer Ridge

Distance: 9½ miles (15km)

Total ascent: 1,700 feet (510m)

In summary: We also take the lakeshore path from St Jorioz, then climb to the Belvedere. From here we continue on a rougher path, clambering over rock steps to reach the full height of the Taillefer ridge before descending to the village of Entrevernes. A steep path then brings us back down to Duingt and the ferry home.

Highlight: Our first encounter with Annecy’s scrambly limestone ridges.

 


The Plateau des Glières was the site chosen as a command post by a Free French resistance group, who were eventually overrun by German forces in March 1944. There is a small museum and evocative memorial to the men of the Maquis.

Option 1 - Glières Plateau and Auges Mountain

Distance: 6 miles (9½km)

Total ascent: 1,600 feet (480m)

In summary: We explore the Glières Plateau to better understand the events of Winter 1944. Then heading uphill we reach alpine pastures surrounded by rocky peaks and take the “Wolf’s step” to a magnificent view before descending to a welcoming cafe. 

Highlight: Don't miss the stunning alpine flowers, both in Spring and late Summer.

 

Option 2 - Chalets des Auges and Col de la Buffaz

Distance: 9 miles (14½km)

Total ascent: 2,500 feet (750m)

In summary: Taking time to explore the memorial as we cross the Glières Plateau, we continue uphill, over the Pas du Loup to reach the Chalets des Augues, set on a high, remote ridge. Our route takes us on to Col de la Buffaz before climbing to Chalet de l’Ovine.

Highlight: Don't miss the magnificent views from Montagne des Auges to the Aravis Mountains and Mont Blanc beyond.

 


Today takes us to the beautiful Massif des Bauges in neighbouring Savoie. With its traditional farms and barns, and unhurried way of life, it feels like stepping back in time.

Option 1 - Crêt du Char and Bellecombe valley

Distance: 7½ miles (12km)

Total ascent: 1,500 feet (450m)

Total descent: 2,500 (750m)

In summary: Starting at the head of the Bellecombe valley, we walk up through woods and high alpine farms to reach the Crêt du Char for great views in all directions. We then pick up a track which contours under the Montagne du Charbon before descending to Le Reposoir. Our walk ends by following the valley path down to the village of Bellecombe.

Highlight: Don't miss the traditional Savoyard Barns surrounded by lush green meadows.

 

Option 2 - Dent des Portes

Distance: 10 miles (16km)

Total ascent: 3,000 feet (900m)

In summary: From Reposoir we head south to a low col before striking uphill with the imposing Dent des Portes directly above us. A very steep path takes us up to the airy ridge of Montagne du Charbon. We descend via the Col de Bornette and continue down the valley to reach Bellecombe with its welcoming cafe.

Highlight: On a clear day with a good head for heights we can summit the “tooth”.

 


Each week there is a free day when no guided walks are offered. This is an ideal opportunity to relax around Annecy, walk independently or visit local places of interest.


Both groups will journey by coach to the start of these walks at Les Confins and finish at the Col des Annes. This area is dominated by the towering limestone peaks of the Aravis mountains.

Option 1 - Above the Borne valley

Distance: 6 miles (9½km)

Total ascent: 1,800 feet (540m)

In summary: Our walk contours high above the valley of the Borne river and beneath the great peaks of the Aravis Mountains to reach the head of the valley. From here we ascend to the popular Col des Annes where we can enjoy refreshments and perhaps see cheese being made by the “Alpagistes”.

Highlight: Don't miss the Reblochon Fermier and Tomme de Savoie cheeses made in the mountains.

 

Option 2 - Refuge Gramusset and Tête des Annes

Distance: 9 miles (14½km)

Total ascent: 3,600 feet (1,080m)

In summary: Our walk follows a similar, but higher route to the head of the valley. From here we strike uphill to reach the Refuge Gramusset, used by climbers to summit Pointe Percée high above us. Descending, we scramble over limestone rocks to reach Col de l’Oulettaz, before following a ridge to Tête des Annes and down to the cafes on the col.

Highlight: The path to Refuge Gramusset. It's marmot territory – keep your eyes peeled.

 


For our final walks of the week we visit the eastern shore of Lake Annecy. Our transport takes us to the Col de Bluffy to start – with the harder walk heading north and the easier walk south.

Option 1 - Cascade d’Angon and Talloires

Distance: 5½ miles (9km)

Total ascent: 1,400 feet (420m)

In summary: We head south through woodland to reach Planfait high above the lake, before descending through pastures and villages to reach the Cascade d’Angon. It’s possible to walk beneath the waterfall, but it can be very slippery. From here we descend a medieval track to the lake shore at the pretty village of Talloires.

Highlight: Don't miss Planfait. It's a favourite take-off area for paragliders – an option for your free day.

 

Option 2 - Mont Veyrier

Distance: 9½ miles (15km)

Total ascent: 2,800 feet (840m)

In summary: Heading north on the Tour du Lac d’Annecy path we climb almost continually to reach the high limestone ridge of Mont Baron and continue along the rocky crest of Mont Veyrier, before descending steeply to the lakeshore and stroll back to the hotel.

Highlight: The breathtaking views from Mont Veyrier ridge down to Annecy and beyond.

 


Transfers between hotels are via the airport.


These walks venture onto the high meadows of Tschentenegg above Adelboden, and both walks offer excellent views of the Engstligen valley, with Adelboden far below and the surrounding mountains, where many of the walks to be enjoyed later in the week, can be identified.

Option 1 - Tschentenegg, the Hörnliweg and Schermtanne

Distance: 8 miles (13km) with 1,200 feet (360m) of ascent and 1,400 feet (420m) of descent

Total ascent: 1,200 feet (360m)

Total descent: 1,400 feet (420m)

In summary: We take the Tschenten gondola to the upper slopes and, after soaking up the panoramic views, return to Adelboden ascending gradually through meadows to Hörnli Alpine Garden with its rich array of wild flowers. From here we traverse above the village through woodland before descending to follow the river back to the hotel in time for afternoon refreshments.

Highlight: Panoramic views above the Engstligen valley.

Option 2 - The Hörnliweg, Scwandfelspitz and Schermtanne

Distance: 9 miles (14½km)

Total ascent: 2,400 feet (720m) 

In summary: From the hotel we ascend through woodland before picking up the route of the easier group as we traverse above Adelboden to the Hörnli Alpine Garden. After enjoying the beautiful array of flowers, we ascend through meadows to the Tschenten restaurant and zigzag our way to the summit of Schwadfelspitz for superb panoramas. The great views continue as we make our descent into Adelboden.

Highlight: Reach the summit of Schwandfeldspitz, an impressive spur with views in all directions. 

 


The broad grassy saddle at the Hahnenmoospass is the historic route between Adelboden and the village of Lenk. The pass was once the site of a local festival where villagers from the two valleys met for trade and athletic contests. From Adelboden we take a long gondola ride of 3 miles to the upper station and restaurant at Sillerebühl, situated at an altitude of just under 2,000 metres.

Option 1 - Sillerenbühl, Flower Trail, Hahnenmoos Pass and Geils

Distance: 7 miles (11km)

Total ascent: 800 feet (240m)

Total descent: 2,500 feet (750m)

In summary: From Sillernbühl we follow a wonderful floral trail to the Hahnenmoos Pass where we will get great views and also spot some of the locals flying model gliders We continue through the Pommern Pass to descend to Berglager and our gondola back to Adelboden.

Highlight: Discover the profusion of wild flowers

 

Option 2 - Hahnenmoos Pass, Ridges Above Geils

Distance: 9 miles (14½km)

Total ascent: 2,100 feet (630m)

Total descent: 3,700 feet (1,110m)

In summary: We ascend to Laveygrat with views down to Lenk, before descending to the Hahnenmoos Pass. We follow a track towards the Pommern and bypass the prominent peak of Regenbolshore. We then follow a spectacular ridge down to Bütschi and up to Tronegg for more great views over to Engstilgen Falls before starting our descent to Berglager and our gondola back to Adelboden. 

Highlight: the path across the narrow ridge to Hundersattel with the precipices of the Rostock away to the right.

 


The village of Kandersteg lies in the adjacent valley to Adelboden, just a few miles away as the crow flies. The bus has to go via Frutigen and on the way we will stop to visit one of the longest pedestrian suspension bridges in Europe. Both walks take a gondola and head to Oeschinensee, a picture-postcard mountain lake in spectacular surroundings that change colour from azure to emerald depending on the cloud cover. 

Option 1 - Kandersteg and Oeschinensee

Distance: 5 miles (8km)

Total ascent: 600 feet (180m)

Total descent: 2,300 feet (690m)

In summary: Our route leads us to the Senn Hutte overlooking the beautiful Oeschinensee before heading around the northern side of the lake up to a lovely mountain hut at Unterbargli where we can enjoy a spot of lunch. We retrace our steps to the lake shore and continue to the Berghotel, a popular tourist spot, before descending down the valley to Kandersteg and well-earned refreshments.

Highlight: Enjoy lunch at a typical mountain hut.

 

Option 2 - Kandersteg, Oeschinensee and High Mountain Alps

Distance: 7 miles (11km)

Total ascent: 1,300 feet (390m)

Total descent: 2,700 feet (810m)

In summary: The harder route takes us along a spectacular path, traversing high above the lake to the huts at Oberbargli perched on a hanging valley. From here we descend to the hut at Unterbargli and on to the Berghotel where we follow a similar path to the easier group to Kandersteg to join them for refreshments.

Highlight: Spectacular views

 


Each week there is a free day when no guided walks are offered. This is an ideal opportunity to relax around the hotel, walk independently or visit local places of interest. On your free day you may wish to use the efficient Swiss transport system to visit the attractive lakeside resorts of Interlaken, Thun or Spiez.


The impressive Engstligen Waterfall is one of the area’s most impressive sights and is clearly visible from the hotel balcony. The falls drop around 600 metres making them the second highest in Switzerland. Above the waterfalls is the Engstligenalp, a vast expanse of alpine flowers and pastures that was once an ancient glacial lake. The lofty summits and glaciers of the Wildstrubel surround this impressive hanging valley.

Option 1 - Engstligen Valley, Engstligenalp and Falls

Distance: 7 miles (11km)

Total ascent: 1,000 feet (300m)

In summary: Today we take the cable car to ascend to Engstligenalp. We take a leisurely walk in the hanging valley taking time to admire the scenery and Alpine flowers. After lunch we descend using the cable car and continue our walk through woodland to the lower falls where we can appreciate their power. We continue on the path to the bus stop to catch the return bus to Adelboden. 

Highlight: View the impressive Engstligen waterfalls

 

Option 2 - Engstligen Valley, Hinterberg, Engstligenalp and Falls

Distance: 9 miles (14½km)

Total ascent: 2,600 feet (780m)

In summary: We ascend through the dramatic Hinterberg corrie over a spur to the beautiful pastures of Engstligenalp. We spend some time walking on the high valley before descending, we cross the foot of the upper falls continuing to the lower falls and our bus back to Adelboden.

Highlight: Potentially spot marmots, ibex or chamois

 


The Elsighorn is the northernmost significant summit on the high ridge that separates the Engstligen and Kander Valleys. We go to Elsigbach by minibus and take a cable car to the slopes above.

Option 1 - Elsigenalp, Bonderalp and Lohnerfalls

Distance: 7 miles (11km)

Total ascent: 1,000ft (300m)

Total descent: 2,800ft (840m)

In summary: Our walk uses a traversing route that heads across the mountainside to the Bunder Hutte for lunch and then to the foot of Lohner Falls by rougher paths. The return to Adelboden is then by good tracks through Alpine forests and valley meadows.

Highlight: Visit the impressive Lohner Falls. 

 

Option 2 - Elsighore, Golitschenpass and Stand

Distance: 8 miles (13km)

Total ascent: 2,800 feet (840m)

In summary: We ascend to the summit of Elsighorn, at 2,341m the highest point of the week, which goes on to the Golitschepass and another summit, Stand, with spectacular views all the way. The descent is via Elsigsee and the friendly Elsighutte taking the cable car part way down, before walking a little further down to catch the bus back.

Highlight: Spectacular views from the summit of Elsighorn.

 


We hope to see you again soon.


French Alps Itinerary Map

Hotel Splendid - Annecy

This 3-star hotel is conveniently located overlooking the Canal du Vasse and a short walk from the medieval centre of Annecy as well as the lake, which is access via a large and pleasant public park.

Hotel Steinmattli - Bernese Oberland

The 4 star Hotel Steinmattli is a modern chalet style property located in a peaceful part of this charming village.  All 63 comfortable bedrooms offer a balcony or terrace, ensuite bathroom and beautiful views.  A delicious 4 course evening meal is served each day in the hotel’s Alpen Chic Restaurant.  The shops and bars of Adelboden are just a short walk away.

What to Bring

Essential Equipment

To enjoy walking/hiking comfortably and safely, footwear, clothing and equipment needs to be suitable for the conditions. Safety and comfort are our priorities, so our advice is to come prepared for all eventualities.

  • Footwear with a good grip on the sole (e.g.Vibram sole) is the key to avoiding accidents.
  • Walking/hiking boots providing ankle support and good grip are recommended (ideally worn in), and specialist walking socks to avoid blisters.
  • Several layers of clothing, which can be added or removed, are better than a single layer (include spares).
  • Fabrics (lightweight and fast drying) designed for the outdoors are recommended.
  • Waterproof jacket and waterproof over trousers.
  • Warm hat and gloves. Gaiters are an optional but useful extra.
  • Denim jeans and capes are not suitable on any walks.
  • Rucksack with a waterproof liner.
  • Thermos flask for hot drink.
  • Water bottle (at least 2 litre).
  • Spare high-energy food such as a chocolate bar.
  • Small torch.
  • First aid kit – your leader’s first aid kit doesn’t contain any medication or blister kits (such as Compeed).
  • Sun hat and sunglasses
  • Sun cream.

Optional Equipment

  • Walking poles are useful, particularly for descents.
  • Insect repellent.
  • Sunglasses.
  • Camera.

Guest Reviews

All holidays are subject to availability and prices are subject to change.
Non-member associate fee: £10 per person.

Holiday Prices

Date (Start - End) Version Price Status Trip Notes Book
2020
30 May - 13 Jun 2020 Itinerary £2,449 Available Book Now

Important Information

  • With flight holidays include flights from London Heathrow. Flight supplement from Manchester: £60

French Alps

  • Double room for sole occupancy: £55 per night
  • Independent travellers can join our transfer from Geneva Airport: £37 single

Transfers between hotels via Geneva airport are included

Bernese Oberland

  • Premium room: price on request
  • Single room £9.00 per night
  • Independent travellers can join our transfer to Geneva Airport: £48 single
Duration:
14 nights
Type:
European Centre Based
Walking Grade:
2

14 nights from £2,449pp

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