Lac de Louvie: Hiking among “chamois” in the Swiss Valais
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😷 COVID-19 NOTICE: You can check out the latest information about travel restrictions and bans in Switzerland due to the coronavirus HERE.
In the past few months, we have been writing about Slovenia and now Patagonia, but I am realising we have been posting about these destinations hors their season… and therefore, we wanted to also post about other places in a more timely manner (ha!), and share with you some of our finds in Switzerland. More specifically, we thought it’s worth sharing hike options for the spring and summer, when most mountain huts are open and you can do weekend or longer hikes.
One of our most recent (past year) favourite hikes was to Cabane de Louvie in the Swiss Valais, although we weren’t able to do the classic recommended hike, the “Sentier des Chamois” (chamois are those goat-antelopes with short hooked horns, very agile and popular in the Alps). That was because this route requires taking the cable car from Le Châble to La Chaux.
At the time, the cable car was closed due to COVID-19. We therefore did an out-and-back hike from Fionnay (another near town) to Cabane de Louvie, which was also nice, but we still want to try to do the longer “Sentier des Chamois” next time!
Just to give you an idea of distances, Le Châble is within a 2h-drive from Geneva, 1h30-drive from Bern and 1h-drive from Lausanne or Aosta, in Italy.
So below, we will be providing details for the different options you have to spend an amazing weekend hiking up to Cabane de Louvie, which is located by a beautiful and peaceful lake with the same same, Lac de Louvie:
But first, a few details about the Cabane itself!
🏡 One night at Cabane de Louvie
This charmful mountain hut located at 2250 metres above sea level, is only open during late spring and summer (from end of May/June to early/mid-October). However, check out the exact opening dates before you go on their website here (you will anyway have to book beforehand on the same link!).
This hut offers you shelter and a delicious dinner and breakfast for a very reasonable price in Switzerland!
One night in a dormitory is 75 CHF/person (about 65€) with dinner and breakfast included. Children pay a bit less (30-45 CHF depending on their age), and there are two double rooms if you prefer it that cost 85 CHF/person with the half-board included as well.
Moreover, if you stay at Cabane de Louvie, you can get a “tourist card” that allows you to take the cable car from Le Châble to La Chaux or the bus between Fionnay and Le Châble for free. You can pick up the card before getting to the hut at the tourist office in Le Châble, by just showing your booking confirmation and an ID. We have indicated all these places in our map below!
Once in the hut, you can walk around the lake and chill in the terrace with these views:
Dinner is often served around 7 p.m. so make sure to end your day hike before then and you will be able to choose between the menu of the day or fondue. The whole group has to go for one or the other. We of course did fondue due to peer pressure, and it was just delicious! The regular fondue in Switzerland is with two cheeses: gruyere and vacherin; but in the hut, they used a third local cheese (I unfortunately don’t remember the name…) which made the fondue even yummier!
For the next day, if you don’t have your own lunch, you can order a picnic bag for 12 CHF (about 10€), which usually includes a sandwich, cereal bar and fruit.
✨ What makes Lac de Louvie so special 🎣
Lac de Louvie is embedded between mountains and the colour of its water is just special!
There is something peaceful about it, and apparently the place is famous for fly-fishing from June to November. We didn’t fish but I was victim of a hook when walking barefoot near the lake (🤕), so beware!
If you wish to fish, you will need a daily license that you can pay for at the hut for 30 CHF one day or 50 CHF for 2 days. And if you fish, please don’t leave the hooks behind!
And that’s another thing that makes this place unique! The amount of wild animals you will encounter. The lake is actually part of a wider natural reserve called Haut Val de Bagnes, where you will find chamois, ibexes (or bouquetins as called in French, similar to the chamois but with bigger horns) and marmots:
We only spotted a few marmots and many ibexes despite doing part of the “Sentier des Chamois”!
🏔 Getting to Lac de Louvie via the Sentier des Chamois 🐐
There are many ways to get to the Lac and Cabane de Louvie, as it’s actually part of a multi-day hike between Chamonix in France and Zermatt. But if you are heading there for just the weekend then you mainly have three options.
We will provide brief details for each option, but just to say that we have a clear preference for option 3! We just couldn’t do it because of the cable car as explained before.
Option 1️⃣ Fionnay-Louvie-Fionnay, out-and-back
This is the fastest and steepest way to get to Cabane de Louvie and doesn’t require any cable car, just your feet. You can easily leave your car at Fionnay (a very small town 20-min away from Le Châble), deeper in the Val de Bagnes at 1491 metres. Note Fionnay is also reachable via train and then post bus.
Once there, you will see signs indicating Lac de Louvie near the parking, and you just need to follow the indications. It’s a very straight forward hike of about 2 hours and 800 metres of elevation gain. And if you are lucky as we were, you will run into plenty of impressive ibexes, don’t be scared of them!
And then, you arrive at the hut (2250 metres) where you can enjoy the beautiful views and even surround the lake.
The next day, you can return the same way you came, but being downhill, you will do this fairly quickly, so we would encourage that you check a few options around the lake.
For instance, you can go up to the nearby Col du Bec d’Aigle (2566m) and take the hiking trail surrounding the lake from higher to Plan de la Gole (2429m) (or vice versa), getting a different perspective of this beautiful place:
Then, you go down to the lake again and can return to Fionnay. We had to do this option because at the time we went (mid-May) there was still quite an amount of snow and it wasn’t easy to follow the route tracks, etc.
Option 2️⃣ Fionnay-Louvie-Fionnay, doing a loop
Another option is basically the same as the above to reach the Cabane de Louvie, but to return, instead of taking the same path, you go up to Col du Bec d’Aigle (2566m), and go down to Fionnay through Le Dâ, surrounding the peak La Rogneuse. You can also extend the hike by going first to Plan de la Gole (2429m). See an example on Wikiloc here.
Again, we were not able to do this loop due to the amount of snow that we still had in May…
Option 3️⃣ Le Châble-Louvie-Fionnay, point-to-point
This is the option we want to try next time as it covers the full “Sentier des Chamois”! Which consists of starting from the town Le Châble, where after getting your “tourist card” you can take the cable car to La Chaux (2265 metres) (you will first surpass Verbier and Ruinettes).
Once in La Chaux, there should be indications to start the “Sentier des Chamois” towards Cabane de Louvie.
This hike takes about 3h30 and 4h30, and the cumulative elevation gain is of about 500 metres as you will pass through Col Termin (2648 metres), the highest peak, and then it’s all the way down until you reach the hut!
The idea is that the next day you can hang out by the lake or go to some of the other places around (Col du Bec d’Aigle and Plan de la Gole) and take the most direct way down to Fionnay completing the “Sentier des Chamois”.
Now, how do you return to Le Châble where you started?
There is a post bus (free if you have the “tourist card”) that will take you back there. Be mindful the bus schedule is quite limited and you can consult it here.
📍 Map with key places for hiking to Cabane de Louvie
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