A steep climb up one of the side valleys of the Val d’Illiez, just above the resort of Champéry, offers a condensed experience of the exceptional scenic variety of this region.
The ascent begins at the evocatively named expanses of Grand Paradis, a couple of kilometres south of the resort centre. Here our trail leaves the main river of La Vièze to follow a tributary called La Saufla. The name means «breeze» in local dialect, no doubt after the cooling currents of air that the cascading stream conjures along its course.
At Roc Coupé – which translates as «carved rock» – the path traces a dramatic passage hewn into the cliffs. Eventually the trail reaches one of the river’s most picturesque waterfalls at an altitude of 1,494 m. The path crosses the river just upstream – via a graceful suspension footbridge that opened in 2016.
A level stretch of the trail on the far side of the valley leads to a delightful mountain refuge, the Buvette de Bonaveau. All the dishes are cooked on a wood fire, as this traditional chalet has no electricity. The views from the terrace – up to the waterfall, the footbridge and the glaciers on the Mont Ruan above – are gorgeous.
From here, the path drops steeply through the forest to Grand Paradis. To get back to the centre of Champéry and the railway station, it’s worth following a different route to the outward leg.
The resort is full of historical charm, with its wooden chalets and traditional restaurants – plus one of the oldest working bell foundries in the country. Champéry boasts modern attractions, too – not least the Palladium cultural and sports centre, which features ice rinks for championship curling, skating and ice hockey, plus indoor climbing, indoor and outdoor swimming pools and a hotel.
- Invigorating climb through lush pastures and fragrant forest
- Dramatic rock passages, sparkling waterfalls, idyllic mountain refuge
- Champéry’s lanes of wooden chalets, full of historical charm
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, hints and links
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; alternatively, park at Grand Paradis for a shorter walk.
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: