Walk through the beautiful Vallorcine Valley, from Le Buet to Refuge de la Pierre à Bérard, a perfect place to have a picnic or enjoy a Plat du Jour, before heading back down the valley to Le Buet.
Your walk starts in front of Le Buet Train Station, at the base of the valley. Well established and maintained footpaths take you through a peaceful meadow before entering a forested area and beginning a casual ascent up the valley. Along the way you will have the opportunity to marvel at the Cascade Bérard, a towering waterfall which has several unique lookout points, all great for photographs. The walk will continue upstream, following the river as you ascend towards the Refuge de la Pierre à Bérard. Once at the top, it is the perfect opportunity to relax, enjoy the view, have a snack, and maybe even enjoy a ‘Plat du Jour’ at the infamous Refuge.
The walk is not too strenuous, but does include some segments of prolonged climbing, but all the climbing you do to get to the top will be all downhill on the way back! The way back is a relaxed walk down, with great views of the valley, back to your starting point at Le Buet Train Station.
Seeing as the the Refuge is your target for this walk, the only other thing you simply cannot miss is the infamous Cascade Bérard – you can even stop and see it again on your walk back!
When you start and finish your walk, you will have to cross a busy road to get to the train station. Be careful – even though there are two pedestrian crossings cars drive very fast here.
As for the walk itself, if you are walking in the beginning of the season, remember that, as you near the Refuge, there could still be snow in the higher parts of the valley. Be careful if there is snow on the path and make sure to walk with extra care.
Also remember that the lookout points next to the waterfall are slippery and covered with water. Always hold the hand rails and watch out when taking photos.
Bring a warm jacket, as even on a warm day it can get quite windy at the top of the valley, especially when the sun disappears. Walking boots are appropriate for this walk, and walking poles will help with the ascending and descending.
Le Buet is relatively small, so to make sure you get your ideal pack lunch, we suggest picking something up from the supermarket in Chamonix before you head off. However, there are some possibilities on the way, like La Cascade, right above the Waterfall, which does light refreshments and the Refuge. The latter is a great moment to sample some of traditional Mountain Food, and will keep you fortified for the rest of your walk. Bring plenty of water as there are no other places for getting water between La Cascade and the Refuge.
Points of Interest:
This waterfall is a stunning testament to what nature can accomplish simply on its own. With several viewing platforms and even a café, the new set-up around the Cascade is both safe and accessible.
Located just a short 15 minute walk from Le Buet, the Cascade Bérard is one of the valley’s most prized sights, and is the perfect place to stop to enjoy the view and capture some great photographs. With a great accessible viewing platform, you can get great views of the waterfall as it comes crashing down. With the amount of snowfall and the volumes of water that pour through the waterfall each year, this newly renovated platform is certainly unique in the area. There’s even a small building attached called La Cascade, which sells some drinks when opened.
Refuge de la Pierre à Bérard
As the symbolic midway point in your walk, the imposing Refuge de la Pierre à Bérard is a wonderful place to have lunch, or to treat yourself to some typical French ‘Mountain Food.’
The refuge is built below an enormous boulder, which protects it during heavy avalanches during the snow. As a result, this Refuge has a unique character and look that definitely makes it a worthwhile place to take a break. Whether it’s a hot cup of tea, a cool glass of juice, or an ice cold beer – the Refuge will be able to provide you with a great mid-walk treat as you prepare yourself for the second half of your trip!
Remember to bring cash if you are planning on buying food or drink at the Refuge, as they won’t have a card reader on site.
This walk is included in the following itineraries: