Lac Tournant

This is a circular walk based on trail 5 as promoted by the Arêches tourist board. It is well marked with yellow signs and paint flashes or markers for trail 5. There are good views over to Mont Blanc, the Beaufortain Mountains and the lake, although small, is a nice place to eat your sandwiches.

Technical sheet No. 25674972

A Beaufort (Savoie) walk posted on 19/08/22 by Alwayswiththehills. Last update : 19/09/22
Calculated time Calculated time: 5h35[?]
Distance Distance : 12.65 km
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 679 m
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 1,353 m
Highest point Highest point : 2,092 m
Lowest point Lowest point : 1,018 m
Moderate Difficulty : Moderate
Back to starting point Back to starting point : No
Walking Walking
Areas Areas : Alps , Beaufortain
Location Location : Beaufort (Savoie) (73270)
Starting point Starting point : N 45.669251° / E 6.565641°
Ending point Ending point : N 45.685388° / E 6.565795°
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Goats Lac Tournant Paraglider above Grand Mont Aiguille du Grand Fond to La Pierra Menta


Park in or around Arêches, walk to the chair lift ‘Grand Mont’ and take this to the start of the walk.

(D/A) From the top chair lift station, walk up the path through the piste between the forest in a southerly direction. The path is marked trails 5 and 8, it bends to the left and ascends to pass under a set of chair lift cables, shortly after this you will arrive at a yellow finger post with Tête de Cuvy marked (0.5km 20min).

(1)Turn right and follow the path to the Tête de Cuvy, ascending to the ‘table d’orientation’ (1988m) at the summit. Enjoy the great views.

(2) From the summit, continue to follow the trail 5&8 markers and descend to a junction with a path and another yellow sign post (Tête de Cuvy 1976m). Turn right and take the path to Refuge de l’Alpage (1.2km 25min) Again you will follow trail markers 5&8 to ascend a broad piste, passing beneath another chair lift cable. At the top of the piste you will join a broad track. (Wooden piste information board)

(3) Go straight over the track (left goes to the Refuge d’Alpage) to a signpost L’Entre Deux Tetes 2034m and follow the track in the direction of Refuge des Arolles. As the track gently ascends, you will come to a junction on the right, with a triangular shaped broken crag (Tête Rouge) ahead of you.

(4) Turn right onto a smaller path which descends and contours beneath the Tête Rouge. The path crosses scree and small boulders in places, but is easy to follow. It crosses a stream before ascending slightly and then descending to the Lac Tournant. At first, it looks like you are descending into a combe with no lake, but it comes into view as you descend. (It is possible to imagine how, at one point, the lake was much bigger)

(5) From the lake, take the path at signpost Lac Tournant 2003 signposted to Refuge des Arolles. It passes to the right of a crag and follows the water course at first, then turns away to the left of the stream to contour and gradually descend beneath the southerly slopes of La Legette du Grand Mont. You will arrive at some abandoned animal enclosures and another sign post, Entre le Fer 1943m. (Here you can ascend to Lac de Brassa as an alternative). Continue in the direction of Refuge des Arolles, ignore turn off on paths to the right (keep following Trail 5 markers and Refuge des Arolles) and always keep following the path to the refuge. You will arrive at a broad track and pass beneath chair lift cables to take a signposted path that zigzags up to the refuge. (Open all year, it provides accommodation to those on the Tour du Beaufontain)

(6) Leave the balcony of the refuge and pass beside a small mazot (Where the goat herd sleeps). Take to broad track ahead of you signposted Col de las Bathie, which ascends and look out for a smaller path on the right which is signposted. Turn right and follow this path to Le Planay. The path descends beside the edge of the forest and then via a more open section before entering the forest and descending to a track. (You will now be following trail 5 markers or yellow signposts for La Planay)

(7) Cross the track and follow the path across a pasture to a chalet at Piapolay. Keep following the path down, it then joins the track a second time and follows it for 200m. Look out for the marker on the right at the edge of some trees, turn right and follow the path down to join the track a third time. Again, follow the track to a hair pin bend, just after the hair pin the path leaves the track on the left (marker) and it descends to follow the line of the chair lift cables to meet the track again. Turn left a follow the track for 50m and then turn right onto the path and descend to emerge on a track just above the lower La Planay chair lift station.

(8) Turn left and follow the track to the road, then turn back on your self and follow the road to pass the chair lift station and gently descend to the bend in the road. At the bend, go straight ahead to Le Bois. Follow the path to a small hamlet of chalets.

(9) Turn left into the hamlet and then right to pass beside a barn. The signpost has fallen down (2022) so the path may not be obvious, but you will find it after the barn, on the right side of the road. It passes around the edge of a pasture and ascends to pass a pile of boulders into the forest. The path then ascends, steeply at first and then diagonally to the left to join another path.

(10) Turn left and follow the path, which now descends to pass over a couple of water courses. The path becomes broader and the joins a track. The left-hand turn drops down to La Thuile (Not shown on IGN maps), the right-hand turn heads slightly uphill and heads towards Les Envers. Turn right and follow the track, just before the ski lift cables, look out for a path on the left. Turn left and follow the path which slants diagonally across the pasture to the lower ski lift station.(D/A)

Waypoints :
D : km 0 - alt. 1,698 m - Upper chair lift station
1 : km 1.23 - alt. 1,922 m - Sign post
2 : km 1.56 - alt. 1,987 m - Tete de Cuvy
3 : km 2.22 - alt. 2,034 m - Junction with track, signposts
4 : km 2.56 - alt. 2,060 m - Junction with path
5 : km 4.13 - alt. 2,010 m - Lac Tournant
6 : km 6.68 - alt. 1,888 m - Refuge des Arolles
7 : km 7.99 - alt. 1,653 m - Junction with track
8 : km 9.46 - alt. 1,208 m - Junction with track
9 : km 10.09 - alt. 1,182 m - Hamlet of chalets
10 : km 10.64 - alt. 1,248 m - Junction with path
A : km 12.65 - alt. 1,018 m - Lower chair lift station

Useful Information

Refuge des Arolles serves refreshments and is a nice place to stop off before the descent.
Note there is a herd of goats which graze in the vicinity of the refuge and they like to follow walkers. They will not bite or butt you but they do like to lick the salt from your legs if you are walking in shorts and have been sweating. Try to time your exit from the refuge to avoid this hazard.

In the summer, the chair lifts for Le Grand Mont and La Planay do not both run at the same time. It is best to check online to make sure that the Grand Mont lift is running on the day you wish to do this walk. Alternatively, walk up from Arêches and time your walk to catch the chair lift down using the La Planay lift.

Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.

During the walk or to do/see around

There is some great scenery and views from the Tête de Cuvy. The lac Tournant is small but pleasant and the walk has interest throughout. The descent avoids the tedious track in most parts.

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