Most people know the Portes du Soleil as a vast international holiday playground spanning the border between France and Switzerland. In winter, the «Gateway to the Sun» is one of the world’s largest ski areas; in summer, a paradise for hikers and nature lovers.
In fact the region takes its name from a mountain pass on the Swiss side of the border. The Portes du Soleil (1,950 m) links the Val de Morgins to the Val d’Illiez; our hike includes the pass as part of a sweeping loop to the Lac Vert, one of the most magical spots in the region.
Our trail begins at the top station of the cable car from Champéry to Croix de Culet. The restaurant with its panoramic terrace offers breathtaking views of the serrated Dents du Midi opposite and the whole of the upper Val d’Illiez.
From here, the trail climbs steadily northwards to reach a col just to the west of the Portes du Soleil: the Portes de l’Hiver («Gateway to Winter»). Beyond, walkers find a high, suspended plateau, and at its heart, the sparkling waters of the Lac Vert (1,973 m). For centuries, shepherds have passed the summer with their flocks at this tranquil spot; the tinkling of the sheep’s bells and the shimmering reflections of the sky’s colours on the lake have a wonderfully soothing effect.
Beside the lake, the Refuge de Chésery is a converted 19th-century stable that serves delicious local produce – and sells permits to fish for rainbow trout. Interested hikers need to bring their own rod and line.
Our trail completes a circuit of the lake before returning to the Portes de l’Hiver and dropping down the ridge to the Portes du Soleil. The path traces a high loop across the mountain bowl overlooking the small resort of Les Crosets before the final descent via Planachaux to Champéry, via lush pastures and fragrant forests.
- Panoramic, mostly high-level hike, accessed by cable car
- Peaceful mountain lake, magical atmosphere, friendly refuge restaurant
- Flexible itinerary, various options
Use of the trails and the information on this website is at hikers’ own risk. Local conditions may entail changes to routes. Valais/Wallis Promotion accepts no liability for the accuracy and completeness of information on this website.
For all hikes:
- Bring a map. Download full description of this route including large-scale map by clicking on «Print» icon, top right of this page.
- Use marked trails only, and observe all signposting – for your own safety, to safeguard grazing animals and to avoid disturbing wildlife.
- Close gates after passing through.
- Please be considerate to other trail users, and to the plants and animals.
- Do not leave any waste in nature.
For mountain hikes:
- Take extra care protecting yourself from the sun at altitude. UV radiation can be exceptionally strong, even in cloudy weather.
- Plan hike carefully: take into consideration fitness level of each participant, weather forecast and season.
- Weather conditions can change quickly in the mountains, without warning. Appropriate clothing is therefore essential, along with adequate supplies of food and water. In uncertain weather, turn back in good time.
For high-altitude hikes:
- Inform others of the route you plan to take. Whenever possible, avoid going alone.
- Do not venture onto glaciers without a mountain guide.
- Take note of the warning signs that point out the constant danger in river beds and along watercourses below dams and reservoirs: water levels may rise rapidly without warning.
Tips and hints
More information about the destination:
Getting thereA9 motorway, exit 18 (St-Triphon) if approaching from Lake Geneva or exit 19 (Bex) if driving from higher up the Rhône valley. Follow signs for Monthey and then Champéry.
ParkingLarge car park by Champéry station. Follow the car park routeing in Champéry.
Book recommendation by the author
Author’s map recommendations
- good footwear
- clothing suitable for the weather: always carry a waterproof jacket
- hat or cap
- bottle for water
- binoculars (optional)
- hiking poles (optional)
- printout of this hike (click «Print» icon, to download)
For certain walks: