Hike to Tête du Parmelan & Grotte de l’Enfer

The Parmelan is a mountain in the Bornes Massif and one of the most popular hikes in the Annecy area. The mountain can be seen in the background of the photo above, taken from my window in Annecy-le-Vieux. This page describes partially the itinerary that I followed (I made a detour through Grotte de l’Enfer instead of going back directly).

I started in the morning in Annecy and went by bike to the village of Villaz, where a small road leads to the trailhead. It was pretty steep so I gave up before reaching the parking at the end: I saw an unofficial trail direction sign and I parked my bike there. I first walked past the Chalet Chappuis before reaching the crossing between the 2 main paths to reach the summit of the Parmelan: Grand Montoir (“Big Ascent”) and Petit Montoir (“Little Ascent”). They go to the same place but the Grand Montoir is faster (but steeper) so I took that one. Soon, I reached the limestone plateau and the emergency hut (Refuge Camille Dunant). From there, it is just a short walk to the summit: The Tête du Parmelan (“Head of the Parmelan”). After eating lunch surrounded by alpine choughs, I went on my way back. Instead of returning on the same path, I went for a loop through the limestone plateau and passing by the Grotte de l’Enfer (“Cave of Hell”). It is easy to get lost on the way: Fortunately, there are many cairns so I never strayed too far. After the Grotte, I found the Petit Montoir trail and followed it down until I reached the path I took on the way up.

Above, Fier river on the way to Villaz.

Above, at Villaz.

Above, Chalet Chappuis.

Above, Lake Annecy.

Above, crossing between the Grand and Petit Montoir paths.

Above, limestone plateau.

Above, refuge Camille Dunant.

Above, Tête du Parmelan.

Above, cross at the summit.

Above, alpine chough. They are used to being fed by visitors: One of them even came to eat from my hand.

Above, cliffs of the Parmelan. There is a path along it.

Above, looking towards Col de Bluffy.

Above, on the way to Grotte de l’Enfer.

Above, Grotte de l’Enfer. It seemed a bit slippery because of the snow so I did not go closer. It can be explored with the right equipment though. This page has some photos of the bottom.

Above, the way to Hell (Enfer).

Above, back at Chalet Chappuis.

Above, a donkey.

Above, Parmelan on the way back to Annecy.

Above, Dents de Lanfon from the side and Pointe de Talamarche.

Above, Mont Veyrier.


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