High Routes at Les Contamines
French Alps, France
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Difficulty is measured on many factors such as distance, ascent/descent, terrain, weather and more. There's no magic formula, but from our experience we use yellow for easy, orange for medium and red for hard. Challenger holidays require a high level of fitness and stamina.
Relish the challenge of exhilarating high level walks that venture to high summits and cols that are normally ‘off-limits’ on our Guided Walking holidays. Using cable-cars and then rough and steep paths, that may be exposed or have fixed ropes, we’ll aim for some of the area’s best summits. Most holidays have opportunities to bag some 3,000m (10,000ft) peaks; a memorable achievement that you’ll want to savour.
- High mountain walks each day
- Challenge and adventure a plenty
- Either walk high on Mont Blanc's slopes or gaze across at the dramatic white glaciers from the Aiguille Rouge Massif or the Mont Joly ridge.
- A full programme of guided walks
- All transport to and from walks
- The services of an experienced HF Holidays' leader
- ‘With flight’ holidays include return flights from the UK and hotel transfers
- 7 nights' accommodation in en-suite rooms
- Half Board - continental breakfast and evening meal
Hotel La Chemenaz
A warm welcome is assured from Francois Gauthier and his family at the attractive 3-star chalet style Hotel La Chemenaz. Nestled in a valley surrounded by high mountain ranges, the hotel is just 20 minutes' walk along a riverside path from the centre of Les Contamines. A short walk into the village leads to shops, bank and the tourist office. The hotel is conveniently located near the local cable car, and many of the walks start or finish at the front door.
The hotel has 38 spacious bedrooms decorated in a cosy Savoyard style, many with balconies and magnificent mountain views.
All bedrooms are en-suite with a shower over the bath, and have telephone, satellite television, safe and hairdryer.
There's a large open plan lounge and bar area. In front of the hotel is a garden, with tables and chairs for guests’ use. A sauna, spa pool, drying and boot room are in the basement.
Internet access is available and WiFi is free to our guests on the ground floor public areas.
Our holidays at Hotel La Chemenaz are on a Half Board basis and include breakfast and evening meal.
There is an extensive selection of hot and cold options for breakfast from a self-select buffet.
Dinner is served in the dining room, which is set around a superb fireplace creating a cosy ambience in which to enjoy your 5 course meal. The set menu comprises traditional Savoyard dishes: a starter, main course, cheese and dessert. Alternatives for vegetarians are always available if requested in advance. Guests with special dietary requirements are asked to discuss their needs with the manager on arrival.
The hotel has a well-stocked bar serving wine and spirits.
You can buy picnic lunches from the hotel (order the night before). Alternatively it is possible to buy ingredients from local shops or on some days to eat at one of the mountain cafés; your leaders will advise you of the options.
Each evening your walking leaders will tell you about the choice of walks for the next day and answer any questions you may have. During the evening you may like to join in an optional organised activity, such as a quiz, or just relax in the lounge with a drink.
High Routes: 8 to 13 miles (13-21km) with some rough, exposed, scrambly passages, scree sections, steep descents and up to 4,500ft (1,350m) of ascent in a day.
Our High Routes holidays offer challenging high-level walks. We aim to reach high summits and ridges that are usually out of reach on our Guided Walking holidays, these may be exposed or have sections of fixed ropes or ladders. Whilst high levels of fitness and stamina are required, the rewards will be a bird’s eye mountain panorama and an immense sense of achievement.
Some of the possible walks include:
Lacs Blanc and Noirs above Chamonix
An iconic journey among the spires of the Aiguilles Rouges, first heading to la Tête aux Vents before passing the Lacs de Cheserys on the way to Lac Blanc, a famous beauty spot with its popular café/refuge and stunning views. We then take a high traversing path past L’Index to Col de la Glière and the Lacs Noirs, before descending to Plan Praz and Chamonix. 9 miles (14.5km) with 4,100ft (1,230m) of ascent.
Tête de la Cicle
We use the local cable car to reach Le Signal at 1,870m. We head south through the Grande Pierrière before turning east and north to emerge at the Col de la Cicle. Here, a magnificent view of the Mont Blanc massif greets us. A steep ascent will take us to the Tête de la Cicle and a wonderful 360° viewpoint. 12 miles (19km) with 2,800ft (840m) of ascent and 5,000ft (1,540m) of descent.
Côte 2000 to Plan de la Croix via the Mont Joly Ridge
Our initial ascent is as far as Pré Rosset; from here the path ascends steeply to reach the Mont Joly ridge 2km west of Aiguille Croche. We then have 8km of walking with a precipitous drop on one side or the other, over the summit of Mont Joly (2,525m). 10 miles (16km) with 4,000ft (1,200m) of ascent.
Le Dérochoir and the Désert de Platé
Our ascent is initially on good, increasingly rocky tracks as we ascend the Passage de Dérochoir. The final section involves some fixed cables and a short ladder. Behind us the Mont Blanc massif can be seen, whilst ahead the limestone pavements of the Désert de Platé. After a short descent, we ascend to the Col de la Portette at 2,354m. 8 miles (13km) with 3,600ft (1,100m) of ascent.
A magical experience: we ascend to the top of the rocky ridge and then progress is barred by a mass of ice, heavily crevassed, reaching right to the top of Mont Blanc. This is the route that was taken for the first successful ascent of the mountain in 1786, marked by a plaque on Gite a Balmat. 7 miles (11km) with 4,400ft (1,320m) of ascent.
Passage du Saix and Pointe d’Areu
Northwest of Sallanches, the Chaine des Aravis range descends steeply to the Arve valley. At the end of this range is a narrow path, the Passage du Saix. This ascends steeply across the cliff-face to reach the high meadows above and the high point of the day, Pointe d’Areu. 8 miles (13km) with 4,400ft (1,320m) of ascent.
Please note that the itinerary outlined below is provisional and could be subject to change. A finalised itinerary will be available at the resort and your leader will brief you every evening about the next day’s walks.
The free day is an opportunity to visit the mountain resort of Chamonix and perhaps ascend the famous Aiguille du Midi by cable car.
An introduction to the area
The village of Les Contamines nestles in the French Alps at an altitude of 1,164 metres. The only road along the valley ends at Notre Dame de la Gorge, a tiny church 2 miles beyond the village. To the west lie the more rounded slopes of Mont Joly. In summer the area is very popular with walkers and the famous ‘Tour du Mont Blanc’ passes through the village.
Les Contamines: The village has a large leisure area at the Parc de Loisirs (Leisure Park). Activities and attractions here include tennis, archery, golf-driving range, skatepark, boating and pedalos, mini-golf, pétanque (boules), bathing in the outdoor lake, arctic dog park, volleyball, Go-Ape course and horse-riding.
Other activities can be booked through the hotel, and include rock-climbing, via ferrata, river rafting, paragliding (parapente) and mountain-biking.
St Gervais: Easily reached by local bus is the small town of St Gervais. The main attraction here is the Mont Blanc tramway which will transport you high onto the slopes of the mountain.
Chamonix - The bustling alpine resort of Chamonix attracts climbers, mountaineers and walkers from all over the world and is usually the most popular destination for the free day. If there is sufficient interest then your leaders will organise a hired coach for the day. Alternatively, Chamonix can be reached by first taking a taxi to Le Fayet, and then continuing by narrow gauge railway (an enjoyable activity in its own right) to Chamonix.
The cable cars surrounding the town make skiing possible even in summer, and take the hard work out of gaining height for a number of walks with spectacular views. Chamonix itself is an interesting town and rewards exploration with the possibility of visits to the alpine museum or crystal museum.
Thermal baths at Le Fayet - Down the valley at Le Fayet is the Parc Thermal, reputed to be the second best thermal spa in France. A range of therapies are available, including beauty treatments and massages. See www.thermes-saint-gervais.com for more information.
Shops & facilities:
On the main street you will find a good range of small shops: an ‘8 to 8’ supermarket, a bank, post office, outdoor shops, café / bars and the tourist office. Closer to the hotel (just over the road) there is a ‘superette’ (like a village shop in the UK), and a Produit Regionaux. Sports available locally include tennis, mini-golf, driving range, horse riding, cycle hire, pedalos and an aerial walkways through the trees. Each week there is usually an evening concert in the church and an open-air concert in the village square starting at 9 pm.
We recognise that everyone’s travel arrangements are unique, so all our holidays to Europe can be booked ‘with flight’ or ‘without flight’, giving you more flexibility and choice.
‘With flight’ holidays – the hassle-free option
Book your holiday ‘with flight’ and choose between Heathrow and Manchester flights to Geneva airport. For flight times and prices please see the Dates & Prices tab.
If you choose this option we automatically include return transfers between the airport and the hotel. The coach transfer takes approx 1 hour 30 minutes to the Hotel La Chemenaz.
‘Without flight’ holidays – the flexible travel option
Alternatively, tailor your journey to suit you by booking your holiday ‘without flight’ allowing you the freedom to book your own flights from your local airport.If you choose this option, transfers are not included in the price. However, we can book you a seat on the HF Holidays’ transfer coach from Geneva airport. This is timed to meet the HF Holidays’ flights* (provisional flight times can be found on the dates and prices tab or you can call us on 020 8732 1220 for more information). Cost per single journey is £32.50.
Transfers must be pre-booked. Please call 020 8732 1220 for more details
* Please note that HF Holidays is not responsible for your onward travel if you fail to meet the transfer coach
Dates & Prices
We're sorry, there are no dates available for this holiday at the moment. Please check out our other tours and breaks or call our team on 0345 470 8558 to be notified of new dates as soon as they become available.
Prices are per person
- Single room: £15 per night
- All transport to walks is included in the price of the holiday
- Non-member associate fee: £10 per person