Looking for ideas for family hikes in the French Alps? In this Hiking with Kids guide, I’ll share our top family-friendly hikes from our visits to Chamonix and Morzine over three summer holidays. Both areas are top destinations in the mountains for outdoor activities and there are plenty of alpine walking and hiking trails to discover that suit all ages and abilities.
While planning our summer trips to the Alps, I research hikes that are at the appropriate level of difficulty and distance for hiking with our young kids. We tend to look for half day hikes that ideally have a refuge or chalet restaurant along the way or at the destination for a break. I would definitely recommend bringing a baby carrier or a child carrier backpack, depending on age and weight, if you are hiking with children 3 years and under.
In this post, you’ll find our top family hikes in the French Alps from our summer holidays in Chamonix and Morzine through the years. These family-friendly hikes range from easy and relatively flat treks, to moderate hikes that include some challenging parts such as steep climbs or narrow rocky paths.
Family Hikes in Chamonix
Located at the foot of the Mont Blanc, the highest peak in the Alps, Chamonix is a top location for family hikes in the French Alps, offering breath-taking scenery, excellent facilities and well managed hiking trails. For free map routes and local guides to bring on your hikes, stop by one of the five tourist offices that are located around the Chamonix valley, including in Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, Argentière and Vallorcine. Another great resource in the Chamonix town centre is Maison de la Presse, a bookstore specialising in mountaineering literature which sells a comprehensive selection of maps and guidebooks.
During two summer holidays in the Chamonix valley, we have hiked with our kids in Chamonix, Les Houches, Vallorcine, Sallanches and even across the border, in Trient, Switzerland (40 minutes drive from Chamonix). You can read more tips about planning a summer holiday in the area in my Visiting Chamonix in the Summer post. In this list, I’ll share our top family hikes in the Chamonix valley.
Cascade de Bérard, Vallorcine
Duration: 2 – 3 hours. Difficulty: Moderate. Starting Point: Hotel du Buet
This popular hiking trail in the Bérard Valley in the village of Le Buet (20 minutes from Chamonix) near Vallorcine, starts from the Hotel du Buet. The hike first passes through a meadow before reaching the picturesque Cascade de Bérard. There is a café, Buvette de la Cascade de Bérard, overlooking the waterfall (shown below) which is open during the summer season. Continuing along the Bérard River, there are several options for trails of varying levels of difficulty, one being the 2 hour uphill hike to Refuge de la Pierre à Bérard which is open for lunch during the summer hiking season.
We took the trail heading back to Le Buet, which goes downhill through a steep larch forest, past the small stone chalets of Sur Les Rochers and then opens up in a scenic hamlet with charming houses. A short walk takes you past another waterfall before ending at the Le Poya fields behind Hotel Le Buet, the starting point of the hike.
Parc Animalier de Merlet, Les Houches
Duration: 1 -2 hours. Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
One of the highlights of visiting Chamonix with kids is seeing the local wildlife on a hike at Parc de Merlet in the nearby village of Les Houches. Eight animal species live here, including the ibex mountain goat, chamois and marmot, and you can watch the animals roam about their natural habitat.
Trails range from easy (stroller-friendly) to more challenging and steep, and you’re rewarded along the way with breath-taking panoramic views of the mountains and valley. You’ll also find a small play area and a café to relax at after exploring (no picnics allowed inside the park). Read more in our post about visiting the Merlet Animal Park.
Chalet la Floria, Chamonix-Mont-Blanc
Duration: 1 hour 15 minutes. Difficulty: Easy. Starting Point: Les Nants
The hike from Les Nants to Chalet la Floria is a steady uphill walk along a shady trail through a forest which eventually joins the Petit Balcon Sud footpath.
Follow the signs to Chalet la Floria (1240m), a lovely mountain refuge decorated with hundreds of flowering plants with a terrace overlooking the mountains. The restaurant serves snacks and lunches such as homemade omelettes, quiche, tarts and salads, along with hot and cold beverages.
Grand Balcon Sud, Chamonix-Mont-Blanc
Duration: 2- 3 hours. Difficulty: Moderate. Starting Point: La Flégère
One of the most scenic trails in Chamonix is the Grand Balcon Sud, which goes above the western side of the valley at an altitude of around 2000m. We did the hike between the cable car stations at La Flégère and Planpraz, which has stunning views throughout, with the trail facing the Mont Blanc range and overlooking the valley. This hike is mostly relatively flat but there are more technical parts where you’re going along narrow trails with steep drops and clamboring over rocky paths and there is a steep uphill climb to Planpraz.
The halfway point of the hike is the wildflower meadow of La Charlanon which also makes a good picnic spot. The rest of the Grand Balcon Sud Chamonix hike continues through what during the winter are ski runs before heading uphill to Plan Praz where you can finish the hike with a meal at the terrace of La Bergerie de Plan Praz or take the cable car to Brévent for panoramic views of Chamonix valley. Read more about our experience hiking the Grand Balcon Sud Chamonix with kids.
Ilettes Lakes, Sallanches
Duration: 1 hour. Difficulty: Easy. Starting Point: Lac des Ilettes
Another excursion about a short drive from Chamonix-Mont-Blanc is to the beautiful Lac des Ilettes in Sallanches, which are three lakes that are popular for recreational activities and separated into designated areas for swimming, fishing and windsurfing. In addition to walking and cycling trails around the lakes, you’ll find plenty of facilities including free parking, a restaurant, toilets, picnic tables and a children’s play area.
About 2km from the Ilettes Lakes is the Cascade de l’Arpenaz, one of the tallest waterfalls in France which you can see from the freeway and can’t miss as you head into Sallanches. We made a quick stop separately as we were starting the long drive back, however, there is an easy trail to follow for a family hike from the lakes to the waterfalls.
Family Hikes in Morzine
Morzine is located in the heart of the Portes du Soleil area which encompasses thirteen ski resorts between Mont Blanc in France and Lake Geneva in Switzerland. While Morzine is best known as the #1 mountain biking destination in Europe, it is also an ideal destination for family hikes in the French Alps with over 200km of trails to suit all ages and abilities. With great restaurants and a wide range of outdoor activities to offer, Morzine makes a fantastic base for a summer holiday in the mountains. For free map routes and local guides to bring on your hikes, stop by the main tourist office in the Morzine town centre. In this post, I’ll share our top family hikes around Morzine.
La Bourgeoise, Sameons
Duration: 1 hour. Difficulty: Easy. Starting Point: Col de Joux Plane
One of our favourite family hikes near Morzine is the trek to La Bourgeoise in Sameons. We parked by the Lac de Joux Plane and the kids loved stopping by the lake first spotting little frogs along the water’s edge. There is a restaurant (Le Relais des Vallées) across the road from the lake along with more parking a short distance down the road on the right.
To start the hike to La Bourgeoise, look for the trailhead marked Joux Plane, alt. 1691m, which is a short walk from the lake on the left side of the road. The trail to La Bourgeoise takes 30 minutes and it is an easy one to follow, rocky and uneven at the beginning, and halfway along you are rewarded with stunning views of the surrounding valleys and mountain ranges including Mont Blanc.
Bring along a picnic to enjoy at the summit (1710m) while taking in the views and watching the paragliders at their launching site.
Les Lindarets to Cascades des Brochaux
Duration: 1 hour. Difficulty: Easy. Starting Point: Les Lindarets
One of our favourite excursions near Morzine was hiking from the Les Lindarets chair lift to Cascades des Brochaux. The trek is mostly flat, following a river through a forest then it opens up in a meadow before you reach the waterfall. There are two eateries just before Cascade des Brouchaux – a restaurant serving a selection of sandwiches, crepes and beverages and Refuge des Brouchaux, which offers omelettes, fish and steak dishes.
You can also combine this hike with a visit to the Les Lindarets goat village, which is a short walk or drive from the chair lift car park in the opposite direction heading back to Morzine. The kids loved seeing the goats that roam around the village!
Also just before reaching the Cascades des Brochaux, you’ll find the chair lift for Pointe des Mossettes which is across the border in Switzerland. Riding the chair lift to the top of Mossettes and taking in breath-taking mountain views was a highlight for us on this hike – click the arrow on the Instagram image below for a video.
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Lac Montriond to Cascade d’Ardent
Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes. Difficulty: Easy. Starting Point: Lac Montriond
Lac Montriond is one of the best places near Morzine to cool down and enjoy a summer picnic. In addition to recreational water sports, such as paddle boarding and kayaking, the lake offers several options for a hiking excursion, from an easy circular walk around the lake, to uphill climbs through the forests to see the waterfalls. There is also a secure swimming area (with lifeguards on duty from 11am to 6pm in July and August) that’s great for little ones.
We took the trail from Lac Montriond to Cascade d’Ardent. The starting point is at the car park near the restaurant, Auberge du Bout du Lac. The hike is an easy uphill climb through the forest that takes about an hour round trip. There’s a small footbridge at Cascade d’Ardent to take in the view of the long drop, then the trail heads back down to the lake through meadows with charming chalets.
Mont Chery to Mont Caly, Les Gets
Duration: 2 hours. Difficulty: Easy. Starting Point: Les Gets
One of the top family-friendly hikes in Les Gets is the trek between Mont Chery to Mont Caly. We took the gondola to Mont Chery from Les Gets, then followed the dirt road trail up to Les Chevrelles, a restaurant located on Mont Caly at an altitude of 1490m which takes about an hour to get to.
We enjoyed having lunch at Les Chevrelles as a halfway stop on our hike. The charming restaurant offers stunning views of Les Gets and, on a clear day, Mont Blanc in the distance. The restaurant serves traditional dishes such as tartiflettes, raclette, fondue and omelettes. Little T and Miss A had a blast playing with other children, looking for grasshoppers in the area behind the restaurant.
Col de la Ramaz to Lac de Roy, Praz de Lys Sommand
Duration: 2 hours. Difficulty: Easy. Starting Point: Col de la Ramaz
The hike from Col de la Ramaz, located in the Praz de Lys Sommand resort, makes for an ideal family walk and offers panoramic views of the Grandes Alpes. The trailhead is right across from the car park at Col de la Ramaz, and a wide trail takes you slightly uphill to Lac de Roy, which faces Mont Blanc.
This trek goes through mountain pastures and offers beautiful panoramic mountain views along the way.
Lac Mines d’Or to Chalet de Freterolles
Duration: 1 hour. Difficulty: Easy. Starting Point: Lac Mines d’Or
There are several hiking trails that start from the car park at Lac Mines d’Or. We took a trail heading uphill to Ferme Auberge de Fréterolles or Chalet de Freterolles, a family-run restaurant with a terrace overlooking the mountains. We enjoyed the panoramic views along this hike, spotting cows resting in the grass along the way and seeing the goats at the farm next to the restaurant.
We headed back down to have lunch at the restaurant at the lake, Les Mines d’Or. The kids loved spending time in the restaurant’s play area while we waited for the food and we relaxed taking in the views. It’s a lovely spot to enjoy a beautiful summer’s day.
I hope you found some inspiration and ideas from our list of family hikes in the French Alps. Hiking is one of the top things to do with kids when staying in Chamonix or Morzine, and there are plenty of options around these areas to enjoy outdoor adventures in the mountains.
Do let us know in the comments if you have any questions about visiting Chamonix or Morzine in the summer, and if you have any other recommendations for family hikes in the French Alps!
This post was updated on 19 August 2021 with more family hike recommendations.
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