A quick guide to hiking the spectacular Tré le Champ to La Flégère trail in the French Alps. A perfect day hike from Chamonix, France.
The Tré le Champ to La Flégère leg of the famous ‘Tour Du Mont Blanc‘ (TMB) is renown as one of the most beautiful hikes in the region. This moderately difficult trail takes you through stunning scenery, around lovely lakes and past pretty alpine flora and fauna. It culminates with some of the most epic views of the Mont Blanc massif you could hope for. And best all it’s an easily achievable day hike from Chamonix.
The Tré le Champ to La Flégère Hike
The trail starts at the Tré-le-Champ car park, which is about 11km from Chamonix. Accessible via train or bus makes this an easy to reach start point. You can of course drive, but as the trail finishes in La Flégère you would then need to travel back to the car park to retrieve your car.
From the Tré-le-Champ car park follow the signage for Lac Blanc and TMB (white and red trail markers) heading into the forest. After a fairly long series of switchbacks, continue to follow the signs which take you towards the Aiguillette d’Argentière. Although not the most scenic section of the hike, as always I was easily distracted by butterflies and insects fluttering about along the way.
Coming out above the forest, the views open up in all directions. And from here you begin to get an idea of just how beautiful this hike is going to be. Right on the eastern fringe of the Aiguilles Rouges Nature Reserve, the area around this section lived up to its reputation as one of the best places to see Ibex. We saw several, with one male casually posing on the edge of perilous ledge, who certainly wasn’t camera shy. I don’t think I could have asked for a more scenic backdrop!
Hiking up along the edge of the Aiguilles Rouges massif, the pointy Aiguillette d’Argentière slowly materialises. And you can’t help but smile as the views of the snow-capped Mont Blanc massif on the opposite side of the valley get closer and more magnificent as you get higher.
From Aiguillette d’Argentière (1893m), the view over the valley floor and down to the village of Argentière is stunning. After about 1.5 hours of hiking, it’s the perfect spot for a quick refuel before you take on the infamous ladders. This area is a favourite for climbers and you’ll see lots them around. The needlelike rock spier looked like it would be good fun to climb!
Immediately from here it is ladder time. The ascent’s via a short series of vertical ladders attached to rock faces. For those without a fear of heights it’s a quick and easy climb, however for those with a fear of heights, I imagine this would be terrifying! But from this point, it’s the only option, apart from turning back. And trust me, it’s worth conquering those fears if you can. From the ladders, there are awesome vistas around you, so try to enjoy them! The views back the way you came are particularly nice. Can you see the climbers on top of the Aiguillette d’Argentière?
Once past the ladders, there are some chains and railings to assist you up the remaining steep sections. And once atop the ridge there’s more switchbacks as you walk along the ridge line to La Tete aux Vents. The views of the snow capped peaks of the Mont Blanc Massif towering over the Chamonix Valley below were mesmerising. And from late spring to early summer the Alpenrose (a Rhododendron, not actually a rose) puts on a floral show. This high-mountain shrub covers the slopes of the Alps in clusters of colourful pink flowers.
From the cairn at La Tete aux Vents (2130m), there’s several options. If you’re just wanting to stick on this trail, simply follow the signs to the left for ‘La Flégère’. If you want to head back towards Tré le Champ on an alternate route, head right and go back along on the ‘Col des Montets’. However if you want to see the lakes, head straight towards the “Red Peaks” of the Aiguilles Rouges on the ‘Lacs de Chéserys’ /’Lac Blanc’ path.
The Lacs de Chéserys of the Aiguilles Rouges Nature Reserve as the names suggests, is not just one lake, but several. There are actually six lakes dotted around this part of the reserve and the views from each were stunning. The higher you get, the more impressive they become. Blessed with beautiful summer weather and clear skies, the Drus and other snow-capped peaks of the Mont Blanc massif provided a stunning backdrop. They were my favourite views of the four day hikes I did in this part of France and Italy. It was a stunning area to explore and there was almost no one else around these lakes.
Running up and down the slopes, trying to capture the beauty of the partially cloud-covered snow capped mountain reflections was tiring work. But this area really was spectacular and I was so grateful for the near perfect hike conditions.
Having really enjoyed exploring the quiet Lacs de Chéserys, rather than following the trail onto what was described to us as the super touristy Lac Blanc, we headed back down to the La Flégère trail. Having since seen the pictures of Lac Blanc, I don’t know if that was the best decision. Still I guess it’s a great reason to return in the near future! After rejoining the trail and hiking down to La Flégère (1877m), we took the easy option of a cable car back to Chamonix. A steep and supposedly boring 90 minute descent on foot is the alternative. The cable car was a nice scenic way to get back down to the charming Chamonix for a cold beer or two.
The Tré le Champ to La Flégère trail was a beautiful hike. Easily completable as an un-rushed day trip from Chamonix, it was great way to spend the day! Detouring to the lakes is definitely worth the extra effort too. If you are only going to do one hike in the area, this one certainly won’t disappoint.
Best time to visit
The best time to hike the trails around the Mont Blanc Massif are from mid-June to mid-September. July and August are the most popular months and trails and accommodation are at their busiest. Avoid the weekends during these periods as it can get very crowded.
As with all Alpine regions, the weather is notoriously unpredictable and can change quickly. So make sure to check weather conditions prior to any hikes.
- A small waterproof day pack is all you should require for this day hike
- Wear good sturdy shoes with good grip. The scree path is slippery both when dry or wet
- Decent socks will make hiking more comfortable
- Pack wet weather gear and warm clothes as the weather can change quickly
- Use a refillable water bottle and do your bit to minimise plastic waste as well as saving the pennies
- Definitely take sunscreen, cap and sunnies. Reef-friendly sunscreen is the best for the environment, especially if you’re planning on taking a dip
- Charge you camera batteries/phone as you’ll want to take a lot of pictures
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