Hike to the Lac Vert (Chésery)
Panoramic hike to the idyllic Lac Vert («Green Lake») near the mountain pass that gave this international holiday region its name: the Portes du Soleil.
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Most people know the Portes du Soleil as a vast international holiday playground spanning the border between France and Switzerland. In winter, the «Gateway to the Sun» is one of the world’s largest ski areas; in summer, a paradise for hikers and nature lovers. In fact the region takes its name from a mountain pass on the Swiss side of the border. The Portes du Soleil (1,950 m) links the Val de Morgins to the Val d’Illiez; our hike includes the pass as part of a sweeping loop to the Lac Vert, one of the most magical spots in the region. Our trail begins at the top station of the cable car from Champéry to Croix de Culet. The restaurant with its panoramic terrace offers breathtaking views of the serrated Dents du Midi opposite and the whole of the upper Val d’Illiez. From here, the trail climbs steadily northwards to reach a col just to the west of the Portes du Soleil: the Portes de l’Hiver («Gateway to Winter»). Beyond, walkers find a high, suspended plateau, and at its heart, the sparkling waters of the Lac Vert (1,973 m). For centuries, shepherds have passed the summer with their flocks at this tranquil spot; the tinkling of the sheep’s bells and the shimmering reflections of the sky’s colours on the lake have a wonderfully soothing effect. Beside the lake, the Refuge de Chésery is a converted 19th-century stable that serves delicious local produce – and sells permits to fish for rainbow trout. Interested hikers need to bring their own rod and line. Our trail completes a circuit of the lake before returning to the Portes de l’Hiver and dropping down the ridge to the Portes du Soleil. The path traces a high loop across the mountain bowl overlooking the small resort of Les Crosets before the final descent via Planachaux to Champéry, via lush pastures and fragrant forests. Highlights: Panoramic, mostly high-level hike, accessed by cable car Peaceful mountain lake, magical atmosphere, friendly refuge restaurant Flexible itinerary, various options