Chamonix Walking - Walk 3 Le Buet to Refuge Pierre à Bérard
The villages of Vallorcine and Le Buet have a distinctly traditional alpine feel, with gently rolling open fields, rural farm land and the distant sounds of cow bells echoing through the meadows.
This is an extremely pretty trek that passes by a beautiful waterfall, continues gently along a river for a short while, and eventually climbs up and opens out into the serene Bérard Valley. The Pierre à Bérard is an unusual little refuge hut at the head of the valley, protected from avalanches by a massive rock from which it takes its name. It is also used as a stop-off point for mountaineers on their way up to the summit of Le Buet, known locally as the ‘Mont Blanc des Dames’ - the ‘Ladies’ Mont Blanc’!
Drinks and snacks are available at the refuge hut.
Count approx 2 hours for the climb up to the refuge and around 1 hour 30 for the descent to Le Buet village.
From Chamonix, take the train to the village of Le Buet (the station stop before Vallorcine). From the station cross over the main road and a little further up to the left is a well-signposted footpath marked ‘Cascade de Bérard’ and ‘Pierre à Bérard’. Follow the path up to ‘La Poya’, a tiny hamlet of old rustic chalets. From here continue upwards to the picturesque ‘Chalet de la Cascade de Bérard’. Snacks and drinks are available here, with a café terrace built onto the boulders overlooking the waterfall. In high season they often have ‘Tyrolean’ evenings, with a barbecue and traditional live music – check with the tourist office for further details.
The path continues upwards, pleasantly undulating along the river bank for a while, before arriving at a little wooden bridge marked ‘Sur-le-Rocher’. Ignore the bridge and continue straight ahead, crossing instead over a second bridge, ‘Pont de la Vordette’. There follows a short, but fairly steep and rocky climb up to the next plateau. The path then levels out allowing you to fully appreciate the beauty and tranquility of the Bérard Valley, ensconced all-round by snow-capped sloping hill sides.
The path continues onwards, crossing over a stream and finally zigzagging up a rhododendron covered hillside. Once atop the hill the sheltered, authentic little refuge hut is visible just ahead.
For the descent, return by the same route as far as the little wooden bridge marked ‘Sur-le-Rocher’. Cross over the bridge to return to Le Buet via the village of Le Couteray and the rustic and exceptionally pretty little hamlet of Sur-le-Rocher.
This walk is described in full in Natalie Jennings's book, "Mont Blanc Wanderings", along with further suggestions to turn this walk into a full day's hike.
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