Glières PlateauIN SUMMER
Glières, historic roads through the great outdoors
Perched at 1440 meters elevation, Glières Plateau figures among the must-visit natural and cultural sites to see when visiting Lake Annecy and the surrounding area.
The road to remembrance
A place to remember, to reminisce, to never forget, Glières Plateau played a major role in the French Resistance during one of history’s darkest hours. Here, during an extremely brutal winter, 465 maquisards (resistance fighters) amassed their forces between January 31 and March 26, 1944, to fight under the command of Lieutenant Tom Morel and Captain Maurice Anjot.
Bunkered down in unoccupied summer shepherds’ cabins, their mission was to recover parachute drops from Allied forces for resistance fighters all throughout Haute-Savoie. Already fighting cold, hunger, and pro-Vichy militiamen, on March 26, 1944, a combined Vichy–Wehrmacht attack killed 129 maquisards and forced the rest to retreat.
© Gilles Piel
“Here, men chose to die in order to remain men…” are words that still resonate today on Glières Plateau where the National Resistance Monument stands, a work of art designed by sculptor Emile Gilioli. A symbol of this momentous location, it became a designated National Historic Monument in 2020.
Down in the valley, another saying embodies one of the founding principles and protects the 105 gravestones at Morette National Cemetery, “Live free or die.” In this sacred place, in the town of La Balme-de-Thuy, the memorial lists the names of those who fought for everyone else’s freedom.
A short, accessible, historic interpretive trail offers visitors the opportunity to immersive themselves in one of local history’s most important places. Starting in the town of Fillière, it takes approximately 2.5 hours to walk the 7 km to 9 km and 234 vertical meters. On a trail through the forest, with several information signs along the way, you will slowly but surely make your way to Glières Monument.
Natural heritage a national treasure
A local natural wonder, as a designated a Sensitive Natural Area (ENS) and Natura 2000 natural protected area, Glières Plateau provides a protected natural habitat for a wide variety of wild plants and animals. Several mountain farming and herding traditions also continue to thrive there today.
During the entire summer season, nature walks and talks on flowers, butterflies, nocturnal animals, birds, insects, and even spiders are organized, offering the chance to closely and carefully observe the forest’s smallest inhabitants.
© Gilles Piel
Astronomy is another of the plateau’s favorite pastimes. Enjoy viewing the star-filled sky from a different angle. Staring at the planets and the moon, sign up for a workshop or spend three evenings learning all about the heavens and the stories that the constellations tell. By day, after nightfall, or both, you choose.
Landscapes shaped by pastoral farming
Alpine farms and traditional restaurants dot Glières Plateau, offering so many different places to stop for a delicious snack or meal. Learn all about how alpine farmers work and enjoy a tasting of local cheeses and meats as part of your day spent exploring the plateau.
Up here, the herds graze all summer long in the plateau’s lush alpine meadows where the grasses and flowers provide their milk with that extra special something that makes local cheeses taste so incredibly delicious: Reblochon, Abondace, Tomme, and Raclette figure among the more well-known cheeses from Haute-Savoie. Enjoy a tasting in the bucolic setting of the plateau for an even more delightfully delectable experience.
© Gilles Piel
From meadows, to bogs, to creeks and forests, cows, sheep and horses peacefully live together in this fantastic natural landscape. Well preserved and protected, Glières Plateau deserves respect. When hiking through the area, remember to follow these simple, yet very important, rules:
- The alpine chalets, huts, and shelters on the plateau are all private property.
- Keep your dog on a leash to avoid scaring the herds of livestock and startling their guard dogs.
- Stay on designated trails, whether on foot or bike, to avoid trampling the vegetation.
- Close all gates behind you.
- Clean up after yourself so as to leave no trace…
All trails lead to a protected natural area
For hikers who would like to travel on foot to Glières Plateau, there are several hiking trails from the valley that lead to the plateau and higher elevations.
Starting in La Balme-de-Thuy in Thônes Valley, and right near Morette National Cemetery, the Ultimatum trail takes GR96 for an all-day hike (6.5-hour roundtrip and 841 meters vertical) to and from Glières Plateau (a 3-hr 45-min climb and a 2-hr 35-min descent). Walk through the forest past “rebel camp” and along the waterfall circuit all the way to Nant Debout meadows. Next the trail leads through La Rosière and Dran meadows before you reach Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Chapel and then the Plateau itself.
Please note: free shuttles can take hikers to Thônes Valley from Col de Bluffy Pass.
© Gilles Piel
You can also start at the La Verrière trailhead along the road between Thorens-Glières and the Glières Plateau. Take the Escarmouche trail along Adiau path as it passes through the forest along Paccot Creek, tops out in one of the area’s alpine meadows, and then takes Chemin du Collet trail. The 15 kilometer hike takes 5.5 to 6 hours to complete and rises 900 vertical meters on its way to the plateau.
From Annecy, you can take bus line number 82 to Fillière.
Finally, Col des Glières Pass figures among the legendary mountain passes that every experienced road cyclist simply has to ride.
If you would like to ride the same roads as Tour de France legends, start from the town of Thorens-Glières to start the 14 km ride that climbs 824 vertical meters, with an average 6.5% grade.
© Tristan Shu – Annecy Mountains
- © Gilles Piel
Journalist: Gaëlle Tagliabue
Translation: Darin Reisman