Loop around Roc des Tours and Lessy Lake

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- Departure/Arrival
- Point of interest
Circuit n° 1
Annecy – Le Grand Bornand: 32 km.From Annecy, take the D909 to Thônes. Go through Thônes and continue to Saint-Jean-de-Sixt. From Saint-Jean-de-Sixt, follow the D4 to Le Grand Bornand. Go through Le Grand Bornand on the D4 towards the Col de la Colombière. Park in the old village of Chinaillon: echelon parking possible next to a pretty stone pool. If there is no space here, continue to the junction with the main road – several possible parking spaces.
An outing for strong hikers that includes several ascents and descents. The itinerary almost always stays “up high;” enjoy wide open spaces, incredible panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, and Lessy Lake located in the heart of a beautiful alpine pasture.
Starting point: Le Grand Bornand / Chinaillon, 1280m
Tourism zone: Aravis
High point: 1960m

Legend has it that during severe droughts, a rock emerges from the decrease lake surface level and bears the inscription, “if you can read this, tough times are ahead.” Proof that the lake is an essential part of life in this alpine pasture. Another legend states that a newlywed couple drowned in the lake, and several years later the bride’s veil was found in the Borne River.

The Aravis Mountains are the home and birthplace of Reblochon cheese. This famous cheese has fraudulent origins; the word “Reblochon” comes from the local expression “reblocher” or “to steal.” To avoid paying taxes on milk, farmers from the Middle Ages did not fully milk their cows, waiting for the authorities to leave before milking their cows a second time. The milk from the second milking was much thicker and fattier. The cheese made from this milk was used for a farmer’s own personal consumption.

Go to La Chapelle and then take the small road that heads towards “Lac de Lessy via the Chalets de Mayse.” Continue in this direction all the way to the lake. The road transitions to gravel, and on the right is the trail you will use on the hike out. At La Bouvardière, stay to the left and follow the well-marked trail. Just a little further, at La Frasse, take the trail on the right that starts ascending through the forest, and then, at the beginning of a large field, start hiking up another trail to the right, lined by stones. After traversing above the small hamlet of La Culaz (45 min), and after ascending through a forest and pasture, you will reach the pass above the Le Planay chalet (1hr 35min).
Cross over the pass and follow the comfortable and well-marked trail (caution, there is a short cliff drop off to your right) that takes you, via a sustained descent to the Chalets de Mayse (2hrs). Snack bar, café, a nice place to stop and eat. At this point you join up with the main GR96 trail.
At the entrance to the small hamlet, head right on the dirt road/trail. Take the time to look up and observe your surroundings, a marmot colony lives among the large boulders above the chalets to the right. The ascent, steep and sustained, takes you to Col de la Forclaz Pass. Right below you, Lessy Lake nestled within a rocky cirque formed by the lower ramparts of Jalouvre Peak and Chinaillon’s very own Aiguille Verte. Hike down to the small hamlet of Lessy and to the lake (3hrs 20 min).
From the hamlet head right following the signs that indicate ''Le Chinaillon par l'Aiguille Verte.'' The trail goes around the lake, follows along the slopes beneath Le Buclon and, after a short steep section, joins the ridgeline beneath the Aiguille Verte. From this vantage point enjoy fantastic views of the Aravis Mountains and the Mont Blanc Range. Head right, following the ridgeline trail, and as it gets steeper, traverse left (trail markings) to meet up with the Aiguille Verte’s other summit ridge.
In front of you lies the Roc des Tours’ vast limestone pavement. Take 15 minutes to hike to the tope and back from the summit of the Aiguille Verte.
On your left start the descent towards the well-marked and distinct pass between the Roc des Tours and the Aiguille Verte (4hrs 15min).
Descend left towards Chinaillon via the switchback trail that winds through the gully. The trail stays left to go around a series of rocky outcroppings (that are located to your right) and then passes through the upper section of Samance’s alpine pastures to bring you to “intersection 1530m” of the interpretive trail (4hrs 50min).
Continue heading straight towards ''La Gaudinière'' by hiking on a section of the interpretive trail, and then at the chalets in La Gaudinière, descend left towards Chinaillon. You will reach the road following a pleasant descent. Turn left to return to Chinaillon’s historic village.
Opening day(s)

From 15 May to 01 November (every year)

Every day

  • Lac de Lessy 1
  • Lac de Lessy 2
  • Lac de Lessy 3
  • Lac de Lessy 5
  • Lac de Lessy 6
  • Lac de Lessy 8
Lac de Lessy 1Lac de Lessy 2Lac de Lessy 3Lac de Lessy 5Lac de Lessy 6Lac de Lessy 8
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Loop around Roc des Tours and Lessy Lake