As far as the eye can see
With winter in the rearview mirror and summer just around the corner, the longer, sunnier days tend to awaken our need to venture outdoors for a rejuvenating escape. With its steep cliffs rising high above Lake Annecy, the Parmelan is a familiar sight in the area, and offers several moderate hikes for everyone to enjoy amazing views of the mountains. Once on the summit, marvel at the almost lunar feel of the landscape across the vast limestone plateau.
Several trails lead to the just-over 1800 meter summit: from Villaz or Aviernoz, take the Petit Montoir or Grand Montoir trails.
Once at the summit, marvel at the extraordinary karst landscape: the vast limestone pavement, a natural phenomenon that formed due to erosion, consists of cracks and vertical shafts formed by water sculpting the rock. The area has a similar look and feel to Désert de Platé plateau near Flaine, one of the largest limestone pavements in Europe.
Marvel at the amazing views all around you: the lake and Annecy in one direction, the Bornes Mountains, Glières Plateau, Aravis Mountains, and even the Mont-Blanc Range (in clear weather) in the other.
© Alain Dujardin – photoslahaut.com / The view from the Parmelan towards Mont Blanc
Tête du Parmelan Peak
The summit is the most iconic of area referred to as the “Parmelan.” Not a surprise, as you can see Tête du Parmelan Peak from just about everywhere in Annecy. From Aviernoz, the relatively easy hike to the top of the peak has very little vertical gain. At the actual high point, you will find a paragliding takeoff area and the Camille Durant Hut. At the hut, you can take a break for a refreshing drink or delicious bite to eat. You will be rewarded with breathtaking views of Lake Annecy, the Bornes and Bauges mountains, the Vuache, and Lake Geneva. For an easy descent, we recommend taking Petit Montoir trail, longer but on much smoother terrain.
This abrupt, sometimes exposed, trail is along the cliffside and ascends steep terrain to the Grand Montoir. Even though the trail is equipped with cables when needed, we do not recommend taking young children on this hike. Petit Montoir trail is a better option in this case.
© Alain Dujardin – photoslahaut.com / On the way to Parmelan
- The ViAnnecy app, which you can download on your smartphone for free, provides all of the detailed information you need about the many hikes and walks in the area surrounding Lake Annecy, including the Parmelan.
- For just €5, in one of the area’s many tourist information centers and the Annecy Tourism Office, you can also purchase a map of the 58 hikes and walks in the area.
A few words of wisdom to stay safe
We recommend wearing a good pair of hiking boots to handle the rocky, sometimes slippery, trails of the Parmelan. Once at the top of the plateau, the steep cliffs and limestone pavement can be dangerous if you are not careful (chasms, cracks); it is important to stay on
the marked trails and hold your child’s hand when necessary. Always bring a windbreaker, water, and food with you when you venture into the mountains, as well as check the weather before heading out.
The hiker responsibility code
In general, when hiking, you should:
- Remain on marked, designated trails and avoid taking shortcuts
- Respect the natural environment; it is more fragile than you might think
- Carry your garbage out with you
- Always be polite to other people you encounter
- Close all gates or enclosures behind you
© Alain Dujardin – photoslahaut.com / Good shoes for walking on the Parmelan lapiaz
Did extraterrestrials really visit the Parmelan?
On the night of November 20-21, 1996, at approximately five in the morning, several witnesses claim to have heard a loud noise and seen a bright white or red light (depending on the person) on the Parmelan. Some say it was lightning, others an explosion. When they heard about it, journalists, UFO specialists, and other curious individuals flocked to the area. In spite of a thorough search and investigation, the mystery has yet to be solved.
- © Alain Dujardin / photoslahaut.com
Journalist: Aude Pollet Thiollier
Translation: Darin Reisman