Lake Annecy: le col de la Forclaz

At 1250 meters, the Col de la Forclaz offers a beautiful view of Lake Annecy. During the day but also at sunset, the landscape does not disappoint. It is a spectacular site now famous thanks to the world championships of acrobatic paragliding. This is one of my favorite walks and I often come to see my father take off.

The Montmin site is famous worldwide for its beauty and its great flight conditions. It also means that the site can be very crowded, especially in Summer. This walk (it’s more a walk than a hike) takes you to the beautiful paragliding takeoff spot of Montmin/Col de la Forclaz. It offers panoramic views over lake Annecy and is also a great sunset spot. Count approximately 15 minutes to reach the top from the car park: the trail is marked and the follows the road (the access is restricted to paragliding schools).

Paragliding at the Col de la Forclaz

Over time, old takeoffs sites have been abandoned. New ones are equipped to limit the impact on the environment due to a very strong attendance by pilots and spectators. Additionally, the takeoff site is restricted: a barrier was installed to limit the number of vehicles. Paragliding was born in Mieussy, Haute-Savoie in 1978. Parachutists were running down mountain slopes and it was quickly developed as a new activity in lake Annecy.

Tandem flights or individual paragliders share the runway. and we do not get bored watching them take off! In France, free flight/paragliding is not regulated but you have to be responsible, autonomous and follow a few rules. The site can be very busy and a regulator is often here to reduce the risk of accident. I witnessed helicopter rescues a few times.

The Col de La Forclaz is also a stage in the Tour de France and many cyclists take this road to train. The climb from Lake Annecy to the Col de la Forclaz is steep on the side of Talloires: a great way for cyclist to train and enjoy great views of the lake.

The Col de la Forclaz for sunset

Whatever the season or time of day, the pass provides a beautiful view. I’m always talking guests and friends when they are visiting. My favorite time? When the sun goes down, the orange tones are stunning. There is also less people and less paragliders.

The site is also a great picnic spot to watch the sunset.

Altitude pass: 1150 meters
Altitude at the top: 1240 meters
Incline: 110 meters
Time: 30-40 minutes (return trip)

Access to the col de la Forclaz

It is possible to start the hike from Talloires (there are however few views of the lake) but the pass is easily accessible by road. If you see someone with a big backpack, it’s probably a paragliders who parked his vehicle near the landing field and hitchhiking up. Depending on the time and traffic, it is better to go through Talloires-Montmin rather than Annecy. The road is pleasant and runs along the lake. At the top, the parking lot is quite small but it’s possible to park along the road. It takes about 15 minutes to reach the top from the parking. The only vehicles allowed on that road are the paragliding schools.