The fourth stage of the Tour de la Vallée d'Illiez (TVI), Barme to Champéry, is 11.7 km long with an elevation gain of 520 m and takes approximately 4 hours to complete.
There’s nothing like an early morning in Barme – nestled snugly in a centuries-old chalet, you’ll wake to birdsong and the melodious ringing of cowbells in the distance.
Home to two quaint ‘cantines’, as we call our traditional mountain restaurants, an iconic oratory and a few snug farms, this protected natural site is the perfect embodiment of rustic alpine life, almost untouched by the passage of time. The Champérolains appreciate the rarity of such a place, and accordingly banned any new construction here decades ago.
When you’ve filled up on a delicious alpine breakfast, you’ll set out on the path towards the aptly named place called ‘Sous la Dent’, at the foot of the Dent de Bonavau. At the Bonavau Pass, a short, ten-minute detour will take you to the Signal de Bonavau for a panoramic view over the Illiez Valley.
Making your way back, you’ll continue downhill to the Refuge de Bonaveau, then follow the path on your right (which eventually leads to the Cabane de Susanfe). When the trail splits off for Susanfe, you’ll continue straight to the Belle-Etoile alpine bridge, built in 2016 to span the spectacular cascading torrents of the Sauflaz River Gorge.
Informational panels on glaciers and the water cycle dot this section of the path, as it continues towards the Rossétan mountain pasture and heads downhill to ‘Roc Coupé’, a passage carved into the cliff and equipped with chains – more impressive than technically difficult.
Further down, a bridge crosses the river and leads to the ‘La Trappe’ sector before joining the paved road Barme Road. Walk past the Grand Paradis picnic shelter and through the lift company car park, to take the bucolic Chemin des Poussettes, or Baby Buggy Trail, back to Champéry.
Champéry welcomes you with flowering balconies and a postcard-perfect village street. Lined with traditional chalets bearing the typical ‘bellows rooflines’ and a variety of shops and restaurants, the ‘Rue du Village’ converges on an iconic bell tower built in 1725. At the church, you can stop to rest in peaceful coolness and watch a 14-minute audio-visual presentation on the church and the history of Champéry.
Best time of year