France / Haute-Savoie

Bettex to Mt Joly

Mt Joly is one of the highest points in the St Gervais area. The scramble to the peak is steep enough to give you a rush of adrenalin and excitement when you reach the top. To add to this elation the 360° views will leave you breathless.

The Walk

The hike begins in Bettex, a small village in the Haute Savoie region of the french Alps.

The path gently leads away hugging the mountain and round a corner.

Once round that very first corner and you’re presented with it. An almost pyramid shape atop a mountain, glistening silver.

I always find it exciting to see your goal so far away knowing that soon you’ll be standing there looking back.

The hike traverses the mountain side moving across laterally for a kilometre or so. Through open fields and shaded woodland it’s a welcome warm up to the hike.

The path takes a sharp right and continues steeply up through woodland and finally out to open fields. This is tough on the casual hiker’s legs but the reward of the open air and stunning views outweighs the effort.

The hike continues up to the last ascent of Mt Joly. There are two options here: An easy path which leads around and slowly zig-zags it’s way to the top.


Straight up and over the ridge.

I took the latter 😉

This option has you almost scrambling up the steep side of the mountain and up to the ridge. Once there you’re presented with an epic curve or arc. On one side, the “easy” path zig zags below and on the other a sheer drop. You walk along this arc for a few minutes until you reach the base of the peak.

At this point the grass is almost gone, the path you followed ends and all there is are loose rocks and a steep incline. You make your own way up following whatever line feels right to you. This wasn’t dangerous but my adrenalin was definitely pumping.

The scrambling ends, the incline lessens and a modest flat top congratulates you to the peak. The reward however is not just the elation of getting to the top but as so many peaks offer, the incredible 360° views.

The awesome Mt Blanc panoramic dominates almost 180° of your view. The rest are rolling mountains and ice carved valleys for as far as you can see.

I chose to walk down via the “easy” route. Although not as exciting, it does present a whole new set of scenery to gawp at. In fact I think my best photos came from this part of the hike.

There are many ways back down to Bettex and I chose not to go back the way I came. I’ve always preferred a loop rather than walking over my own tracks. Like the journey up, the path goes through open fields, woodland and eventually leads to the small resort.

Grab a beer and ice cream from one of the bars and that’s a great start to the day.