The Grand Balcon Sud in Chamonix is a hiking trail which goes above the western side of the valley at an altitude of around 2000m. Hiking the Grand Balcon Sud between the cable car stations of La Flégère and Planpraz is a moderate half day hike (one way about 6km) which offers stunning, unobstructed views of the Mont Blanc range and overlooks the valley throughout the way.
The Grand Balcon Sud Chamonix hiking trail is relatively flat for most of the way except for a steep uphill climb to Planpraz. There are more technical parts that require going down steep stairs with uneven steps, going along narrow trails with steep drops and clambouring over rocky paths.
The estimated time for hiking between La Flégère and Planpraz is 2 to 3 hours. Remember to bring a hat, sun protection and plenty of water since you will only be walking through a forest at the beginning for a short time and then there is no shade for the rest of the hike.
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Starting Point: Télécabine de la Flégère
You can start this hike from either Planpraz or La Flégère, however, La Flégère makes a good starting point because the hiking trail heading towards Planpraz faces the Mont Blanc mountain range the whole way. Find the latest information on weather, pricing and timetables for La Flégère telecabin on the Mont Blanc Natural Resort website.
Since this hike is one way, the best option is use the Chamonix bus system which runs up and down the valley for getting to your starting point and then to your destination after the hike. The bus stop for La Flegere is Les Praz / Flégère, while the bus stop for Planpraz is Le Brévent.
Below is a map showing the Grand Balcon Sud, where you can see the trail between Planpraz (where the “You are Here” pin is pointing) and La Flégère towards the righthand side of the map. Click the map for a larger image.
After taking the telecabin to La Flégère (alt 1877 m) and soaking up the mountain views, look for a signpost for the various hiking trails that start from this location. Follow the sign to Planpraz (2 hours). The hiking trail begins along a path heading into a forest, and the halfway point of the hike is La Charlanon, about one hour from La Flégère.
As you start making your way into the forest, you’ll capture wonderful views of the Mont Blanc mountain range peeking through the pine trees. My son loved picking blueberries from the bushes that line this part of the Grand Balcon Sud.
The trail then continues down steep steps and along rocky paths with steep drops, which are the more technical parts of the hike.
Halfway Point: La Charlanon
The halfway point of the hike is the wildflower meadow of La Charlanon, which is also a lovely spot to take a break for a picnic.
From there, the rest of the Grand Balcon Sud hike continues through what during the winter are ski runs before heading uphill to Plan Praz.
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End Point: Planpraz
Finish the hike with a meal at the terrace of La Bergerie de Plan Praz or Restaurant Altitude 2000, enjoying the views and watching the paragliders take off (see video clip below), or take the cable car to the top of Le Brévent for panoramic views of the Chamonix valley.
Grand Balcon Sud Chamonix Hike Map
For more hiking inspiration, have a look at my post on Family Hikes in the French Alps, which includes other family-friendly hiking trails in Chamonix as well as Morzine. For more tips on planning a summer holiday in the Chamonix valley, check out my post on Visiting Chamonix in the Summer.
Pin for Later – Family Hike at Grand Balcon Sud Chamonix