Grand Tour of Lac Pavin

A Grand Tour of the beautiful and mysterious Lac Pavin, passing by the Puy de Montchal and the Creux de Soucy chasm.

Technical sheet

A Besse-et-Saint-Anastaise walk posted on 28/06/14 by djhoward. Last update : 05/10/22
  • Walking
    Activity: Walking
  • ↔
    Distance: 7.81 km
  • ◔
    Calculated time: 2h50 
  • ▲
    Difficulty: Moderate

  • ∞
    Return to departure point: Yes
  • ↗
    Vertical gain: + 223 m
  • ↘
    Vertical drop: - 224 m

  • ▲
    Highest point: 1,392 m
  • ▼
    Lowest point: 1,176 m


Start : Car park nearby D149 - D978 roundabout.

(S/E) From the car park, walk South-West on the road towards the lake "Lac Pavin".

(1) Join the platform that takes in the entire lake and follow the lovely shady path going right (South-West) along the edge of the lake. At the next Y-junction, leave the circuit around the lake and take the right-hand trail that then begins to climb.

(2) After about 800m you'll get to another junction. Take the wide path to the right (South-West). Further on, ignore a path going off to the right. A little further on (a sign with a map), turn left along the small discovery trail, which is very steep and stony.

At the top of the path, a sign saying "Lac Pavin", invites you to go left. Before doing so, continue to climb to the right "ad libitum", to admire the view.

(3) Return to the sign and continue opposite (in the direction of Lake Pavin) on your right.

(4) At the next junction, turn right (South-West) on the path that descends to the bottom of the Puy de Montchal crater, and climb back up the other side. The trail descends to the left and reaches a junction with various possible directions.

(5) Turn right again on a wide path. At the next intersection, turn left (South). The path leads to a very wide and flat forest path that you need to take to the left. When you get to the tarmac road, turn right (South) on it.

Later on (with a sign on the left), you can go a few extra meters to get a glimpse of the Creux de Soucy chasm, well protected by high fences. Near the sign, there is a beautiful place for a picnic. Resume the road going South.

(6) After 200 meters, take a small path to the left, simply indicated by a yellow arrow. Continue through the forest (an obvious route) to reach a wide path where a GR® passes. Take this path left ("white and red" markers). The view emerges on the right.

(7) Cross the road, you've already taken, toward the Creux de Soucy and get to another road that you then take opposite still walking North. After passing the cross-country skiing centre, you arrive near an information board about volcanism and a stunning view of the lake. You'll find a trail not marked on the IGN map behind the board.

(8) Take this path left rather than the road. The trail descends and joins the "official" trail on the map. Continue down to the left to join the path that goes around the lake. Turn right. Various openings in the forest allow you to see the lake that you still overlook.

The trail loses altitude little by little and takes you back to the starting point, after going between the restaurant and the lake.(1) Then go around the restaurant to take a right on the road leading to the car park. (S/E)


  1. S/E : km 0 - alt. 1,177 m - Car park
  2. 1 : km 0.37 - alt. 1,203 m - Walk around the lake to the right - Lac Pavin
  3. 2 : km 1.7 - alt. 1,297 m - Junction - Wide path
  4. 3 : km 2.46 - alt. 1,389 m - Viewpoint - Puy Montchal
  5. 4 : km 2.76 - alt. 1,372 m - Junction towards the Puy de Montchal crater
  6. 5 : km 3.28 - alt. 1,329 m - Junction wide path
  7. 6 : km 4.39 - alt. 1,271 m - Yellow arrow - Woodland
  8. 7 : km 5.69 - alt. 1,263 m - Road
  9. 8 : km 6.67 - alt. 1,235 m - Junction information board
  10. S/E : km 7.81 - alt. 1,176 m - Car park

Useful Information

Parking : Park in the car park below the one-way road that stretches North of the lake nearby D149 - D978 roundabout.

Facilities : Toilets at the start, near the restaurant.

Terrain : Good shoes are recommended because certain parts are gravelly (risk of slipping and sprains).

Always stay careful and alert while following a route. Visorando and the author of this walk cannot be held responsible in the event of an accident during this route.

During the walk or to do/see around

  • Enjoy the view of the lake, particularly the last part.
  • The view is also exceptional, before going back down the Puy de Montchal.
  • There is an immense array of flora: including the purple foxglove, fairly rare elsewhere, etc...

Reviews and comments

3.8 / 5
Based on 4 reviews

Clarity of route description
3.8 / 5
Clarity of route map
3.3 / 5
Walk interest
4.5 / 5
le Wed 05 Oct 2022 04:14:37 EDT

Hi Magsd,

I just had a read at the description to see what was the problem and indeed the waypoints were wrong so I amended it. I am really sorry it was that confusing and thank you for taking the time to let us know. I hope it will be a better experience for the next walkers.
Enjoy your walks

le Tue 04 Oct 2022 10:54:26 EDT

Overall rating: 2.3 / 5

Date of walk: 03/10/22
Clarity of route description: ★☆☆☆☆ Very disappointing
Clarity of route map: ★☆☆☆☆ Very disappointing
Walk interest: ★★★★★ Very good

Beautiful walk with gorgeous autumn colours and fantastic views.
The numbers given on the map do not match with those in the walk description, which is very confusing.

le Mon 23 Sep 2019 10:43:05 EDT

Overall rating: 5 / 5

Date of walk: 31/08/19
Clarity of route description: ★★★★★ Very good
Clarity of route map: ★★★★★ Very good
Walk interest: ★★★★★ Very good

Lovely walk round and above Lac Pavin, quite a bit of welcome shade.

le Mon 01 Jul 2019 04:24:00 EDT

Overall rating: 4.3 / 5

Date of walk: 23/06/19
Clarity of route description: ★★★★★ Very good
Clarity of route map: ★★★★☆ Good
Walk interest: ★★★★☆ Good

Very enjoyable walk, although in a lot of shade that was very helpful as it was the start of the June 2019 heatwave in France! A good diversity of interest, with the pretty lake and a couple of small volcano craters.
It is possible to shorten the hike - helpful when very hot.

le Wed 11 Jul 2018 03:37:53 EDT

Overall rating: 3.7 / 5

Date of walk: 08/07/18
Clarity of route description: ★★★★☆ Good
Clarity of route map: ★★★☆☆ Average
Walk interest: ★★★★☆ Good

Nice walk , a lot through woods so limited views, sadly never high enough to see the whole lake. Very good wild flowers, huge number of foxgloves.
Route descrption ok , would have been helpful if they had linked more to the yellow signs and the numbers on the map do not appear to correspond to the description, however we found our way.

Other walks in the area

The GPS track and description are the property of the author.