The beautiful area of Champex-Lac in the Pays du St.Bernard in Valais has something to enjoy for everyone. Whether you are just bringing a book and wish to read it in peace, whilst dipping your feet in the Champex-Lac. Or maybe you have in mind to make this an action-packed family weekend, the choice is definitely yours
Where is Champex-Lac?
The magnificent mountain lake of Champex-Lac, (local name Lac de Champex), is at an altitude of 1466m and forms the centre of the village with the same name – Champex.
Champex village is found in the French-speaking Canton of Valais, and is part of the municipality of Orsières. This charming Swiss mountain village is well known by alpinists and mountain lovers because it is the starting point for many hikes into the surrounding mountains and to alpine huts. This brings a great alpine feel to the village.
Champex and the shore of Lac de Champex lie at the foot of the Mont Blanc Massif which is bordering with France.
On our map to Champex-Lac (see below) you will find all the activity locations of our family packed weekend in the Pays du Saint Bernard, Valais Switzerland.
Our two days in a glance
- Day one family activities around Champex-Lac
- Day two family activities around Champex-Lac
- Travel Tips & Suggestions
- Our thoughts on these two days at Champex-Lac
Family Activity Weekend Itinerary at Champex-Lac
When we discover a new area we always try to see, do and experience as much as we can. This gives us a good feel of the region and because Pays du Saint Bernard has so much on offer, it would have been a waste to choose just one or maybe two activities during our family weekend at Champex-Lac.
If you also like to be active then we suggest to follow our Champex-Lac family itinerary and enjoy the Pays du Saint Bernard to the fullest in two days. You won’t regret it.
Day one Family Activities around Champex-Lac
Cycling (or hiking) to la Cabane de la Tsissette in Liddes & Adventure Tree Park (Sentier Suspendu) at La Fouly
Biking or Hiking to the Cabane de la Tsissette
To get to Champex-Lac from the bottom of the valley floor is quite a drive, and on the way, you will be passing great areas within the Pays du Saint Bernard. This is why we planned to go biking with kids in the morning to the Cabane de la Tsissette in the heart of the Combe de l’A nature reserve.
Don’t worry even if you are not a biking family (yet) it is also a beautiful hike and easily doable with young mountaineers in the family 🙂 An enjoyable 4.6 km trail (one way) along some of the most beautiful unspoilt nature within the Pays du St. Bernard. See photos below.
Park your car at the location marked on the map above. In the sharp curve and you will find parking places off the road on both the left and right sides.
On the Path to the Cabane de la Tsissette
The path brings you and the family deep into the heart of the Combe de l’A nature reserve where at 2000m altitude you will find the newly renovated and beautiful Cabane de la Tsissette.
On the way there, look up these imposing wild mountain peaks and try to spot the famous Ibex or maybe even a family of Chamois. You will be biking or hiking along the River l’A although it is only just before the Cabane where you will be at the same level. Just a bit further up the little hill and you will have reached the Cabane de la Tsissette. I hope you have planned to arrive for lunch, their Alpine Gnocchi are delicious!!
To the delight of the children, there were goats, chickens, the owner’s dog and even a young kitten to pet. According to the herders they are friendly and you can go into their fenced area. Just be careful when young kids are around the goats.
Travel TIP: Take full advantage of the peace and quiet at the Cabane de la Tsissette and spend the night. Deer, stags and other mountain animals come down to the river to drink and can be observed from the Cabane. The owner of the Cabane said sometimes there are more than 18 at the same time. Wow, I would love to see this spectacle! Wouldn’t you? We definitely want to come back and stay the night.
After having satisfied our hunger and relaxed in their comfy deckchairs, it was time to strap our helmets back on and sit back on our bike saddles.
With some big smiles we cycled, now downhill, back to our car.
Tree Park – Sentier Suspendu at La Fouly
Before heading up to Champex-Lac we ventured along another beautiful valley in the Pays du St. Bernard, the Val Ferret. The valley road passes streams, alpine meadows full of wildflowers and waterfalls before ending at the small family village, La Fouly. Breathtakingly beautiful nature right in front of you. At the same spot you will find a great campsite, Camping des Glaciers, and the tree adventure park, Sentier Suspandu de La Fouly.
Secure and exciting climbing, zip lining and balancing within the trees. The kids wanted to go straight on to the big route, but we made them warm up on the easier route for smaller children.
If you have never been to one of these great tree adventure parks, then you have to try one. At most tree parks the circuits are set up so you and the kids attach your security device to the safety line at the start and can only remove it at the end of the route.
Therefore you’re always attached with your harnesses and the security equipment. All you now need to do is have the courage and skills to overcome the obstacles.
A great way to teach the kids self-confidence and for them to test their ability.
We absolutely love these parks. We have visited many different tree parks and have always found them a great activity. The Sentier Suspendu in la Fouly has some high routes.
TIP: Before you are sending your kids up on one of the higher routes, make sure your child is ready to be up there! Pushing them is not a great idea in such activities. If your child is ready, they will want to go without needing a push.
Oh, and by the way, you can go as well, the Sentier Supendu at la Fouly is for the whole family.
Next to the tree park you will also find a climbing wall and a great playground. So, even if some of the family members are not interested in the tree park, they can still have fun at the playground. If you are a climbing family you need to bring your own climbing gear for the climbing wall.
We had so much fun and it was a great way to spend an afternoon in the Pays du Saint Bernard in Valais.
Driving up to Champex-Lac
It was time to leave La Fouly and head up to Champex-Lac.
Driving within Pays du Saint Bernard is a beautiful adventure on its own. At every corner a new stunning view opens up and more and more photography spots are forcing us to stop. I never want to miss a great photo opportunity!
We got to Champex and there was a nice ongoing summer vibe around the lake with people on paddle boards and pedaloes, some swimming and others were just enjoying the atmosphere and people watching. It was too beautiful and warm to just head to the hotel so we parked the car and went to the lake to enjoy it like everybody else. What a picture-perfect place. One is very quickly within the fun and relaxed atmosphere and it was not long after we arrived, that the kids wanted to go swimming.
Yes, in Champex-Lac a mountain lake where the water temperature is probably 2 degrees above freezing 🙂
No, just kidding, I have no idea what the temperature was, guessing maybe 18 degrees mid-July.
As there were others swimming in it we agreed to dip the feet at first…. Just a foot was not enough for Lucas and he was in. Quickly followed by Chloe and to everyone’s surprise me!! This was the 1st time I have swam in a mountain lake! As they always say, once you are in, it’s ok!!! 🙂 It was cold but also exhilarating.
Here just some scenes from Champex-Lac. Each time different, each time more beautiful!
Where to stay at Champex-Lac
Voilà, now it was time to check-in to our Hotel at Champex-Lac. All wet and cold 🙂
When we plan weekends away which are full with activities, we tend to stay in simple but clean hotels as we’re really only there to sleep.
The three-star Hotel du Glacier was perfectly situated close to the lake and we had 2 adjoining rooms. For our convenience we also booked dinner at the hotel which was very good and we definitely recommend staying here. For a more upmarket experience we like the look of Au club Alpin which was right at the lake and had private lake access. Not bad either..
Day two Family Activities around Champex-Lac
Fort d’artillerie de Champex-Lac, Bisse de Champex-Lac, Pedalo & Piscine de Champex
Fort d’artillerie de Champex-Lac
After a very quiet and relaxing night followed by a satisfying breakfast at the Hotel du Glacier in Champex, we started the 2nd day of our Champex-Lac weekend with a guided tour of the artillery fort of Champex-Lac.
Our visit to Champex-Lac was in collaboration with Pays du Saint Bernard and they asked us whether we would be interested in going to visit the Fort.
Ok, I have to be honest with you, (as always) No, I was not really keen on visiting the Fort. Why? Because I thought it will be boring, too long and there are other more interesting things to do at Champex-Lac. But in the end we added it to our weekend itinerary at Champex-Lac.
And now again I have to be honest with you, this guided tour in the Fort d’artillerie de Champex-Lac was probably the most interesting and educational thing we have done in a long time. And on top of it it was fun too.
This has proven once again, to do and visit things a bit out of the ordinary. It opens up new interests and you might just be positively surprised like we were.
I had no idea that these Forts are hidden. To be able to step foot in one, and to walk all the hidden corridors deep into the mountain was an amazing experience.
Switzerland was prepared for any enemy that wanted to come over the mountains and this Fort was built to defend an invasion from Italy. The Forts are incredibly camouflaged, blending into the mountain and the only holes are to allow the cannon shells to be fired.
During the tour you will still see the old paperwork and plans to calculate the range of their defence weapons; the telecommunication system and many more original items are still there.
Our guide was perfect. He knew exactly how to deal with the kids and the tour was short enough so everybody kept their concentration. We spent over one hour in there which was another surprise. 🙂
I highly recommend this guided tour it is a total eye opener. And from now on when we see an abandoned old mazot in the mountains we ask ourselves whether it is just an old shed, or maybe there is more within!?
Facts: Built in 1940 and 1943, modernised and adapted for a possible nuclear conflict during the Cold War period, the Fort was used by the Swiss army until 1998. More than 600 metres of tunnels dug into the mountain. Totally invisible from the outside, the Fort was able to house 300 men.
Tip: It is only about 14 degrees inside therefore bring a warm jacket for this visit. Contact Pays du Saint Bernard for reservations and more info here
Hiking La Bisse de Champex-Lac
We would have been surprised not to find a bisse hike in Champex, as the Valais is very well known for its beautiful and mostly easy and flat bisse (water irrigation system) hikes.
But the bisse de Champex-Lac (which you may also find under the name of bisse du Val d’Arpette or Petit Ruisseau) is a bisse which is not only flat.
You can start the hike already at Champex-Lac (like we did) and follow the lake path around to the far side where you will also find a play area and a chapel.
The actual path along the bisse and its stream only starts further along by the Chairlift (Télésiège de La Breya – Champex-Lac).
If you hike the Bisse de Champex-Lac within the blueberry season (late summer) you will be in for a treat. All along the path you will find bush after bush of this most delicious sweet little blue berry. Perfect for several picking stops and admiring the view down the valley.
You will get to a point during your hike where a big waterfall is cascading down from above the Val d’Arpette. And it is here where our bisse hike becomes a little climb. Follow the path up over bridges and steps to the plateau where you will be greeted by the inviting Hôtel Restaurant Relais d’Arpette. Perfect for our lunch stop.
Their set up is beautiful and we saw that there is also a simple campground behind the restaurant.
Travel Tip You can actually drive up to the Restaurant Relais d’Arpette. The place is beautiful for a special lunch with your family and a playground with a trampoline will keep the little ones occupied for a while.
Hiking Facts If you start the hike at the village by the lake it is a one way 2.8km easy hike with an elevation of 160m. For a shorter hike you could drive to the chairlift Télésiège de La Breya – Champex-Lac, which cuts it down to 1.5km one way.
Bisse de Champex-Lac is not pushchair friendly.
Pedalo at Champex-Lac & Swimming at the Champex Piscine
After lunch we headed back down to Champex-Lac where the kids asked to go on a pedalo. Last time we were on a pedalo was in the sea by Elba Island, this one here at Champex-Lac looked for sure to be a smoother pedalo cruise.
If this is of interest and you would also like to add pedaloes on to your Champex-Lac weekend itinerary then you can rent pedaloes and stand up paddle boards at the Pedalo-Champex centre
And to finish our trip, the kids wanted to go swimming and this time not in Champex-Lac but at the outdoor swimming pool at Champex.
It is warmer than the lake, heated to 27 degrees and has a fun slack-line over the pool.
Travel Tip & Suggestions
Pays du St. Bernard has an activity pass system when you overnight within the region.
The Pass St.Bernard is a great deal to make sure you get the full benefit of the 15 unlimited activities and transports available whilst you’re there! Check out term & conditions and where you can get a Pass for your vacation in the Pays du St. Bernard, here.
Thoughts on our Family Activities around Champex-Lac.
With all what we did we certainly packed it to the maximum, but it was so worth it and we would do it all over again.
We asked the kids what was the best part of the weekend, and they both said everything. So there you have it, an amazing family environment for you to visit – Champex-Lac in the Pays du Saint Bernard region.
Grateful for this amazing Collaboration with Pays du Saint Bernard. I hope we can inspire you to visit this wonderful part of our beautiful Valais in Switzerland.
You may also like the following family activities.
- Pays du St.Bernard – Hiking to Lacs de Fenêtre
- Evolène Arolla – Marmot Theme Trail
- Hiking in Grimentz-Zinal – Cabane du petit Mountet
- Verbier- Hiking La tour de la Pierre Avoi
- Ferpècle: A stroll or bike ride to the Mont-Miné Glacier, Valais
- Lötschental Panorama Hike
- Hiking to Lac de Salanfe with Kids
- 12 Easy Family Hikes in Valais
- A Family Hike at La Grande Dixence Dam
- Tseuzier Lake – Best family friendly hike with little kids
I hope that the information provided here will prove itself useful when planning your Active Family Weekend at Champex-Lac in the Pays du St. Bernard region in Valais Switzerland.
If I have left anything out or you have a question, please ask your questions in the comments below so that other readers can join in the conversation and benefit from your queries also.
Note: This was a collaboration with Pays du St. Bernard region. And as always with these great partnerships, the purpose is for us to test the the area and report back to you with an honest review which we always do.
Thank you & Never Forget to Explore
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