If you are looking for a day to skip to shorten the 14 stage hike from Chamonix, France to Zermatt Switzerland or to take a rest day, stage 8 is a good choice. Although it’s a pretty walk from Arolla to La Sage, you won’t be missing any views, other than Lac Bleu, that you haven’t seen the day before. Be sure to check out the quaint village of Les Haudères, before heading up the hill to La Sage.
Day 8 –Arolla to La Sage
Based on the Cicerone guidebook, “Chamonix to Zermatt: The Classic Walker’s Haute Route,” by Kev Reynolds
Distance : 10k
Elevation Gain: 215m
Elevation Loss: 554m
Time: 6.5 hours with frequent photo stops and an hour for lunch at a restaurant in Les Haudères
Despite a clear, pretty morning leaving Arolla rain was expected in the afternoon.
Out of Arolla there are 2 trails; an easier low land trail and a higher more “interesting” hillside trail. The description in the Cicerone guidebook doesn’t explain why the high trail is more interesting and since we didn’t do the lower trail I can’t really compare except to say that the high trail doesn’t offer views than you haven’t seen before. That said, parts of the high trail are quite nice with open sections that hug the cliff side with valley and peak views behind you. Much of it, however, is in forest and there is quite a bit of up and down.
Shortly after the high and low trails reconnect Lac Bleu emerges, one of the prettiest views of the day. On a sunny day the water is a mesmerizing mid-tone blue-green. From the lake great mountain views including Mont Collon, which in the morning is not favorably lit.
Just below the lake is Louché, the chalets of which are mostly in ruins. Supposedly you can buy milk and cheese here but we saw no sign of any habitation.
From here it’s a long downhill walk to La Gouille and on to Les Haudères, both pretty towns with old style Swiss architecture, especially Les Haudères where old wooden granaries are perched on beams topped with flat stones to keep the rodents out. We stopped here for lunch before continuing up hill to La Sage.
The gentle climb to La Sage has views of the opposing mountain side and Pigne d’Arolla behind you in the distance. The town of La Sage, with quaint chalets spread out along the hillside, boasts these same views overlooking the valley.
Sleeping and Dining in La Sage
Hotel La Sage, the only hotel in town, is near the bottom of town. Some of their rooms, ours included, have fabulous valley views.
The room has a pleasant rustic vibe with a proper double bed instead of 2 twin beds pushed together. The bathroom with a tub and shower is sizable for this size room.
Although the clouds started to clear mid-afternoon by dinner time there was a light drizzle in the air, a weather pattern that was forecasted to continue into the next day.
The demi-pension dinner is in a lovely wood dining room with large windows. Tables are generously spaced with views of the village and down the valley.
The first course was a baked cheese round served on a salad with roasted cherry tomatoes, walnuts and raisins. The melted cheese delightfully oozed when I cut into the crust. For the main, chicken with zucchini and rice garnished with black olives, nicely done but unimaginative. Dessert was a moist ginger cake dusted with powdered sugar and a sprinkle of fresh berries.
The breakfast buffet, although lacking a wide range of options, was comprised of quality products – good bread, cheese, ham, cereal, muesli, yogurt, jams and butter.
September 1, 2019
For links to all the posts in this series see the Chamonix to Zermatt page.