Le Chapeau

By Jess Clark

Chamonix

2.5 hours if power walking,
or 4 hours at a more comfortable pace.

Well trodden trail with
610m of elevation

Good footwear and
cash for the Buvette

Hiking key

Route:

The hike is 8.5km starting and finishing in Les Bois. You can take the free bus or a short train from the city centre to Les Praz. From there walk to the PGHM helipad, then turn left and follow signs for Le Chapeau. Where the trail leaves the forest you can look up left to see a waterfall and the red parasols of the Buvette. From here turn right and follow signs to the viewpoint. On a clear day you will see the tip of the glacier and the peaks of the Chamonix Aiguilles. The route home will take you back past the Buvette, then down via the Sources d’Arveyrons. Once back in Les Praz, be sure to stop at local café ‘Le Petit Social’ for a coffee and pastry.

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Field Notes:

This is my local hike, a stone’s throw from our cabin in the woods, with views over Mont Blanc and the Chamonix valley. The turning point is at the Mer de Glace viewpoint, the largest glacier in France. On the way down you will pass the Buvette du Chapeau, a cute refuge with amazing views (and the reason behind my name for this hike). Try the homemade tarte aux myrtilles made with locally foraged blueberries. The final stretch of the hike follows the Sources des Arveyrons, a river of glacial meltwater, perfect for a cold water swim!

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Good To Know


Dogs are permitted on leads and the nearest facilities are in Les Praz at the café or lift station.

The Look

The perfect shoe for this hike - with great grip for the more technical sections of the trail and descent, and a waterproof finish for crossing small streams along the way.

Moab Speed Gore-Tex®

Super lightweight; the perfect hiking piece for wet and windy conditions. I chose it in the gorgeous fall shade, Marron.

Whisper Rain Jacket

Great for carrying water, snacks and extra layers as well as a towel and hot drink for a post hike swim!

Trailhead Tote Bag

When To Visit


Unlike most hikes in Chamonix, Le Chapeau needs no lifts, making it a perfect option in low season. I chose to do the hike at sunrise to make the most of the beautiful views over Chamonix, with a fresh swim followed by a flat white to start the day.

"Hiking is the perfect way to slow down and reset, giving me both mental clarity and perspective."

Q&A:

Why do you hike?

Being in big beautiful open spaces often makes me realise the triviality of my problems. It is the perfect way to slow down and reset, giving me both mental clarity and perspective.

Top Tip:

Always bring a towel. You never know when you might want to go for a wild swim!

Why is it important to have the right shoes/gear?

Good hiking shoes will be comfortable, keep you safe on your feet in the trickiest of terrain and last longer than a standard trainer making them a great investment!

What do you like about MHC?

After a crazy two years I’ve come to realise the importance of community and time in the outdoors. I think we are creating something special here.

Safety Tip:

If you're hiking alone, text a friend to let them know your route and how long you plan to be gone.

Hiking Tips:

  • Be safe and plan your route ahead
  • Be weather wise, check the forecast
  • Take the correct clothing and provisions
  • Check if dogs/ camping/ BBQs etc are allowed
  • Take your litter with you
  • Leave gates as you find them
  • Have fun!