A Hidden Gem - Sixt Fer-a-Cheval, Haute Savoie, France

At the head of the valley, 6km from Samoens lies a true hidden gem, Sixt-Fer-a-Cheval, one of the most beautiful villages in France (of which there are only five in all the French Alps). It is an area of outstanding natural beauty, the village itself is built on the banks of the River Giffre, centred around a small abbey dating from the 13th century. Buildings in Sixt tend to be of traditional design, a mix of wooden and stone chalets, old farmhouses and ancient buildings. The regional history is apparent all around as there are 9 chapels, oratories, crosses, fountains and carved doors all providing evidence of the skills of the stone cutters who were world famous for their work. 

 Rafting on the Giffre - Sixt Fer-a-Cheval

Rafting on the Giffre - Sixt Fer-a-Cheval

The Sixt national park is a year-round haven for mountain lovers, adventurers, walkers, and mountain bikers and lovers of all forms of alpine activities including paragliding, Via Ferrata, mountaineering and rafting. There are lots of trails and paths winding their way through glorious alpine meadows, forests and abundant waterfalls. Keen hikers can walk the trails that lead to some of the higher more challenging peaks in the area. The highest peak is Mont Buet which reaches 3,099 metres. Always ask advice from the Tourist information office and ensure that you are well prepared as the weather can be very changeable. 

 Cirque Fer-a-Cheval surrounded by limestone peaks

Cirque Fer-a-Cheval surrounded by limestone peaks

There's nothing quite like the fantastic Cirque Du Fer à Cheval, It reaches almost 5 km across and is surrounded by extremely high limestone cliffs. The scenery is truly stunning with 360 views of around 30 waterfalls torrenting in every direction and when the snow starts to melt the avalanches start exploding and the “boom” echoes all around the valley. There are many walks of different lengths, terrain and difficulty, all very well sign posted. A good walk for most abilities is to follow the trail to Le Bout de Monde (the end of the world). You will find yourself following a trail through a dramatic valley over a swing bridge and then following the river up the valley. There’s no need to worry about refreshments as there is an excellent restaurant at the start and a small refuge mid-way which provides snacks and drinks.

 The spectacular Pic de Tenneverge mountain - Cirque Fer-a-Cheval

The spectacular Pic de Tenneverge mountain - Cirque Fer-a-Cheval

Sometimes when its quiet you might be lucky enough to see all kinds of wildlife including chamois, marmots, bouquetin (ibex), and lammergeier (bearded vultures).

 A male bouquetin (ibex)

A male bouquetin (ibex)

Keen and well-prepared hikers can access trails that lead to some of the higher peaks in the area, some can be pretty challenging so ask for advice at the Park Information centre before setting off. The highest mountain in the valley is the Mont Buet which reaches 3,099 metres. Sixt shares important borders with Switzerland, on the northeast and Chamonix-Mont-Blanc (via the GR5 route) to the south.

 The view west looking down the Cirque Fer-a-Cheval valley

The view west looking down the Cirque Fer-a-Cheval valley

Another favourite is the magnificent Cascade du Rouget, the largest and best known of the waterfalls in the locality. The torrent surges dramatically in two huge steps, falling for over 80 metres. It is easily accessible by car, bike or on foot, approx. 40 min walk from the village. 

 Cascade du Rouget

Cascade du Rouget

Even more beautiful walks and scenery can be accessed by continue past the Cascade until you reach the end of the road at Lignon.  One of our favourites is to the Lac d’Anterne which is an enjoyable hike but is rated difficult due to the length (18km) and elevation (1,180 m). The start of the walk is behind the chalet and you enter the undergrowth by a relatively steep pathway that leads to 2 waterfalls, one of which is from an unknown source.

 Cascades de la Pleureuse and de la Sauffaz

Cascades de la Pleureuse and de la Sauffaz

Shortly after, the path separates in two, turn left and follow the sign post towards the Lac d’Anterne. The trail starts to narrow, and wind and you begin to get a glimpse of the beauty that lies ahead. A short descent leads to the river and after a few switchbacks you will arrive at the Refuge Alfred Wills.  After a steep ascent then a small plateau, in the valley you find the sumptuous green-turquoise pearl that is Lac d’Anterne.

 Lac d’Anterne

Lac d’Anterne

Sixt sit on the bank of the River Giffre and is the starting point for the White-Water rafting.  It really is a fun day out for all the family and one of the most exciting points of the river is the entry to the Gorge de Tines where the raft heads down a small waterfall and depending on the height of the water depends on the fun. 

 White water rafting on the River Giffre

White water rafting on the River Giffre

Once down the rapids enjoy the short trip through the narrow gorge taking in the peace and quiet and the full height of the cliffs on either side of the narrow channel.  Once you reach the end of the gorge its possible to access the top of the cliff and jump into a deep pool but only if you’re brave ( I’ve never managed to pluck up the courage). 

 Gorges des Tines - Sixt-Fer-a-Cheval

Gorges des Tines - Sixt-Fer-a-Cheval

The car park at Gorges des Tines provides the access a magnificent Via Ferrata course. Via Ferrata is a protected climbing route where a steel cable is periodically fixed to the rock and using clips and harnesses climbers can secure themselves to the cable, limiting any falls. There are some amazing views and some challenging overhangs and quite a bit of climbing. 

 Via Ferrata at Sixt Fer-a-Cheval

Via Ferrata at Sixt Fer-a-Cheval

The whole of the valley offers some great mountain biking, cross country, enduro and down hill and there is no shortage of great spots in and around the Sixt village.

 Mountain Biking through the meadows

Mountain Biking through the meadows

On a sunny evening we love to take the off-road track that follows the river all the way to the Cirque where we enjoy a demi Citroen (small lager with lemon syrup) in the sunshine before heading home before the sun comes down. 

 Restaurant at Cirque Fer-a-Cheval

Restaurant at Cirque Fer-a-Cheval

The Lodge at can put together a bespoke adventure holiday package tailored just for you and your team. We specialise in organising flexible packages for all abilities and tastes. 

We can organise everything from transfers, transport around the valley, accommodation, catering and as many adventures as you want to pack in. We can also put together more gentle and relaxing holiday activities if there are members of the party who like to chill a little.  


The only thing you need to organise is your flight to Geneva airport and let us do the rest.

www.thelodge.ski
www.sixtferacheval.com
summer.samoens.com