Immerse yourself in the French Alps from Samoëns to Entremont-le-Vieux – GR 96
Three mountain ranges, one adventure: this is what awaits you on the GR 96. You hike across some of France’s dramatic mountains – the Giffre massif, the Aravis range and the Bauges peaks. The landscapes are spectacular; think green mountain pastures, thousand-year-old waterfalls, limestone deserts, and mountain paths backdropped by Mont Blanc. With marmots, ibexes, chamois, unique geology and small mountain villages, this is a route to remember.
The GR 96 is not technically difficult, but you need to have a good level of fitness before you set off on its paths. You cover just over 225 kilometres (139 mi) with almost 13,000 metres (42,650 ft) of climbing. It’s quite the challenge. I’ve divided this incredible route into 11 stages so you have plenty of time to enjoy it.
Each stage ends at a place where you can find accommodation. If you hike during the summer, I recommend booking your nights at a refuge in advance either online or by calling them. Wild camping is allowed between 7 pm and 9 am along the whole route. However, take care to pitch your tent away from sheep pens and livestock. You’ll probably be more disturbed than the animals if you camp too close to them. Some refuges let you pitch your tent nearby – I’ve mentioned in the Tour descriptions when this is the case. You can enjoy local specialities and the cosy atmosphere in the mountain chalets while still sleeping in the fresh air. This is the best of both worlds for me.
You can easily reach Samoëns, the starting point of the GR 96, by bus from the SNCF train station in Cluses. The Y94 bus takes around 35 minutes. From Entremont-le-Vieux, where the GR ends, you can take a bus to Chambéry and return home from there. The C4 bus takes you directly from the village to the SNCF station in Chambéry. For more information on buses and timetables, see: cars-region-savoie.fr.
This route passes through some of the most emblematic passes and summits of the Alps. I recommend hiking between the end of June and the end of September when the highest passes are snow free and you’re able to fully enjoy the mountain flora.
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Last updated: November 22, 2021
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A very nice first stage, which takes you from the charming village of Samoëns to the heart of the Sixt-Passy nature reserve. The guiding thread of this day is water. From torrents to cascades, you will never stop being surprised ... and refreshed!
You leave Samoëns along the Clévieux, then branch off…
A second stage very different from the first, which brings you to Magland in an exceptional rocky environment.
Your first challenge of the day is the ascent of the Col de la Portette. A rather gradual ascent, except for a short, slightly steep section just before arriving at the pass. From there, a superb…
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A beautiful third day in the Aravis massif, between mountain pastures and summits to the small village of Reposoir.
You leave Magland and take the direction of the mountain pastures of Mont-Ferrond. You walk on a pretty forest path for a few kilometers before leaving the woods and arriving in front of…
An absolutely magnificent stage, which takes you on superb ridge trails to the Lessy refuge.
You leave from Reposoir in the direction of the GR, which you reach after about five kilometers of walking. You follow a pretty forest path before arriving in the pastures of Col des Annes. It is in these mountain…
A colorful stage, which takes you from Lake Lessy to the heights of the Plateau des Glières.
A short ascent takes you first to the top of Col de la Forclaz. From there, you take a last look at Lac de Lessy before starting a long and beautiful descent to Entremont. You pass summits exposed to the freshness…
A superb stage, which takes you from the Plateau des Glières to the heights of Lake Annecy.
You return to the GR and begin your gradual descent towards La Balme de Thuy, a pretty little village in the Thônes valley. You cross the Annecy road and begin your ascent to Pointe de Talamarche, an astonishing…
This seventh stage takes you to the heights of Lake Annecy and takes you to the heart of the Massif des Bauges.
From the Pré Vérel refuge, you take a great mountain path and reach Pointe de la Rochette, where a first incredible panorama of Lake Annecy and the surrounding peaks awaits you. The day starts…
This eighth stage takes you through the Bauges regional natural park and brings you to the small village of Aillon-le-Jeune.
From the Roc des Boeufs gîte, you continue on a superb mountain path dominated by Mont Chabert on your right and Mont Julioz on your left. You pass the Church of Saint Jean-Baptiste…
A slightly shorter stage and very different from the previous one, which will allow you to discover the dolines of Margériaz before going back down to Les Déserts.
You leave Aillon-le-Jeune and take a path between fields and forests. A pleasant way to warm up. You quickly arrive at Place à Baban, where…
You leave Les Déserts at the start of the stage and begin your descent towards Chambéry, the final destination of this tenth stage.
About the fourth kilometer, I suggest you exit the GR to go to the Croix du Nivolet. The Croix du Nivolet is quite a symbol when you live in the region. This monumental cross…
Last stage of this GR. You take a little height and join Entremont-le-Vieux.
You leave Chambéry through Calamine Park, then through Etincelle Park. A nice point of view on the Bauges, and in particular on the Nivolet, awaits you there. Yesterday you were up there!
You pass the small village of Chanaz and…
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