20 km long.
This is a circular hike along the ridgeline (la crête) of the Taillefer, which overlooks Lake Annecy in France.
This hike would be very tough with small children, due to the distance and the rocks you have to climb down at the end.
We did this hike while staying at Camping La Ravoire, during a very warm day in the May half-term break.
La Crête de Tailleferlooks down on the campsite. While sitting on the deck of our cabin, looking up at the Taillefer's towering cliffs and jagged edges, it doesn't look that walkable. However, the campsite owners showed us the route up, and so off we trekked to bag this hill.
We start the walk along some quiet country lanes past picturesque Alpine houses. These houses, with their sloping roofs, balconies, and flowers, look beautiful in the sunshine. We can only imagine their winter beauty with thick snow covering their roofs.
We walk past the sister campsite, Camping Les Fontaines, and then soon take a small track up past an Alpine meadow. The air is filled with the sounds of crickets (a sure sign you are somewhere hotter than home!) and also the distant chiming of Alpine cattle bells.
Once you enter the woods, the ascent begins, but gentle at first.
One of the first navigation features you come to is a bridge; after this bridge, you start climbing higher. Expecting just a simple bridge across a stream, we were surprised when we encountered a stunning waterfall.
After the bridge, you take the path to the right and start climbing higher. This part of the hike gets very steep! Expect to spend about 40 minutes walking.
The days before our hike it had been raining, and so this part of the trail was very muddy.
As we got to the top of the climb, the view opened up to reveal the valley below. It was stunning!
There's a bench that looks out onto the view. An ideal spot for a picnic and to recharge after the climb.
The footpath along the top is quite well marked in places. However, recent storms had brought a few trees down, blocking the main route.
The path along the ridge doesn't follow the cliff edge. Instead, behind the ridge, is a forested area. The trail occasionally gets closer to the edge, where the trees part to reveal the view of Lake Annecy below.
There are many offshoots from the main path. We took one towards the edge to look down on the campsite we were staying at. Though, be careful following offshoots, as there are many of them and it might be hard to retrace your footsteps back to the main path.
After the initial climb, you gradually start descending, with a few undulations as you walk along the trail.
Towards the end of the ridge route though, there's a climb up to a big lump of rock known as Mont de Gilbet (or Gilbey - we saw it spelled both ways!).
This mini 'mountain' overlooks the town of Duignt, which has a chateau that sticks out into the lake, and is where Lake Annecy curves into two halves. From the top of Mont de Gilbet you can see both sides of the lake.
Although this part of the climb is not as steep or long as the previous climb, you instead climb up rocks. It's not too difficult, but expect to climb some big steps. Also, be mindful of the edge in places!
After the summit, it is a similar story with the descent, with lots of rocks to climb down before the path becomes easier underfoot, with a series of switchbacks until you reach the bottom.
You come out of the climb at a small farm next to another chateau-looking building. This is the top end of Duignt, and you can follow the path down to the lake shore.
Duignt is another picturesque Alpine town, with its square, cafes, church, and of course, the chateau in the lake. It's a perfect place to stop and eat an ice-cream while watching the lake.
Sitting on the bench in front of the blue waters of Lake Annecy, a local from Duignt tried to have a chat. Unfortunately, my French is a little rusty from school days, and his first topic of conversation was politics and Brexit! But we managed to have a chat (of sorts), much to the surprise to the rest of my family.
The route back from Duignt follows the cycle lane. This is a traffic-free trail that runs along a former railway line. As you walk down from the hike to the lake shore, you cross the cycle route as it enters a tunnel. You can either walk back through this or walk around Duignt and pick up the path after the tunnel, which is what we did.
We didn't rush the hike, and so it took us over 5 hours. You could do it quicker, but then you'd miss out on the sights.
We got back to the campsite with enough time to relax at the pool ;-)
If you are staying near this route, it's well worth doing, and conquer your own little bit of the Alps.
Facilities DetailsThere are plenty of places to stop for a picnic along the route. Toilets and places to eat are in the town on Duignt, on the shore of Lake Annecy.
On The Map
We've marked on the map the place where we left the roads and started the climb. You can do this walk from any the campsites in the area or by parking in Duignt.
AddressCircular Hike along La Crête de Taillefer
715 Route de Chaparon
Lake Annecy Region