Day Hike: Aix-les-Bains Gare SNCF to Belvédère du Mont Revard

Step 1: Get from the Aix-les-Bains train station to Mouxy. You’ll want to end up at the intersection of Route de l’Église and Route du Revard.

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Step 2: You will see a small shopping center (pharmacy, bakery, etc.) across the street from a church. Look for the set of yellow signs, and follow the one that says “Le Revard.”

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Step 3: Follow the signs and blazes. Most of the trail is fool-proof because it follows the footprint of a defunct cog railway (crémaillère) that used to run up the mountain. There are little historical panels along the way, and you can see remnants of the track and crumbling ruins of its stations. A few spots might give you pause: a couple of apparent intersections with a separate hunting trail, and a couple tricky stretches where you don’t get the reassurance of a blaze for a while.

Step 4: For an amazing view, follow the signage at the end (last kilometer or two) for the “Belvédère.” There are several alternative ways to get there, especially because many people drive or walk from campgrounds. You should be OK if you keep heading toward the highest near summit (once you have an opening in the trees you’ll see that there are impressive peaks in every direction).

Step 5: On a clear day, 15,781-foot (4,810-meter) Mont Blanc in all of its ice-cream-like glory will stun you. Various other peaks surround and Lac du Bourget lies below. There is an unsightly parking lot, ski lift (though the latter actually provides a more open view), and some viewing ramps with clear bottoms so that you can lean out into the panorama. The geography of the area is clearly labeled on a number of displays. All of this is kind of disruptive, but on the other hand the views are stunning and the information handy.

If you don’t have a car but want to enjoy the area and a relatively sporty day hike without too much transportation hassle, I highly recommend.

Practical Information:

Actual height at the Belvédère du Mont Revard: 1538 meters/5045 feet.

Time required: The signage estimates that the hike up will take about four and a half hours. I hike pretty quickly and it took me about three and a half, plus half an hour to get from Aix-les-Bains train station to the start of the trail. The descent took me much less time but I wasn’t paying much attention because I wasn’t worried about losing the light (two and a half hours all-included would be my best guess). I started out around 8-8:30am and was back at the station by about 3:30pm, with about forty-five minutes or so spent drooling over the scenery and resting at the top.

Level of difficulty: The hike is a good workout but not difficult – it climbs consistently throughout but there is no scrambling required. One challenge is that the path is covered in loose, unevenly cut large-piece gravel. Each stone is about the size of a fist and it makes for unsure footing and slippage, plus is not so easy on the knees and hips.

Trail details: Most of the hike is in the woods, with a few peeks at Lac du Bourget along the way. Though there are stretches lacking variety, it’s a pretty trek and the railroad element adds a few points of interest.

Note that there are a couple of tunnels along the path, including one that is 150m long – you may want to bring a flashlight or flashlight phone app along if you don’t want to eat cut rock.

Transportation: Coming from Lyon, Aix-les-Bains is only about an hour and a half away by train (around 20 euro each way). It’s also a quick dash from Chambery and Grenoble.

A few enticing views:

toward Chambery

Lac du Bourget

Mont Blanc!

old train bridge and some fall color

along the trail, closer to the base of the mountain

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