14 - Col de Balme, Croix de Fer, Vallorcine or le Buet



This is a stroll through

At the ticket office, take a one way ticket to the Charamillon gondola + Autannes chairlift. At the chairlift (2,186 m), turn left on the dirt road towards the Col de Balme (2,191 m). The Col de Balme marks the Franco-Swiss border.

One can already see the the refuge of Balme which is only a few minutes over the chairlift. Enjoy the view of the Mont-Blanc from another angle.

Leave the TMB on your right leading to the Forclaz pass and on your left towards the Posettes pass.

Head straight ahead beyond the Swiss border in the direction of the Iron Cross. You arrive at a fork where on the left you ignore the path going down to the Catogne chalets visible below, but take the ridge path on your right leading to the Iron Cross viewpoint (2,343 m). Allow 30 to 45 minutes for a round trip to the Iron Cross from the fork. From there, the vista lies on the District of Valais, the Forclaz pass and the Rhone Valley.

Back at the fork, take the path going under the Iron Cross towards the Catogne chalets. Once you arrive at an intersection, continue straight on (ignoring on the right the Trient direction and on the left up towards the Balme/Posettes passes).

Cross the Balme pasture with its herds of Hérens cows. You continue downhill and reach the start of the Tête de Balme chairlift from where one has a nice view of the village of Châtelard just below the Emosson dam. You can picnic here.

Shortly after, leave the path that goes back to the Posettes pass and turn right on a path at 180° which goes down towards Vallorcine. You reach a fork where the path splits into two branches, one on the right that joins the resort of Vallorcine through a pine forest and the other on the left leading to the Buet. If you choose Vallorcine, you can then reach the train station of Buet by the stagecoach path.

To return to Chamonix, take the Mont-Blanc-Express train, Martigny-Saint-Gervais line, either from Vallorcine station, or from Buet station.

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