Hike to Lac Bénit, Mont-Saxonnex

The lac Bénit is a beautiful lake bordered by fir trees, located at the foot of the very steep Mount Bargy, in the French Alps. Since it’s one of my mum’s favorite hike, she wanted to take me for this second post-lockdown weekend. The hike is perfect for a day trip from Annecy.

The hike

There are several ways to reach the lake. Some days in summer, a chairlift can get you closer. However, this wouldn’t be much of a hike if you did take it! With such ease of access, one might wonder why there aren’t more people! I started the hike from the Vuargnes car park. The trail starts in the woods, on a connecting ski slope: a slope, generally between between 2 ski areas where you generally have to push on the poles (or carry your snowboard).

The trail climbs along the ski slopes with a passage through the woods to reach the lake at the foot of the Bargy. The Bargy is a mountain range of the Bornes massif, made up of Petit Bargy, Grand Bargy, Pointe du Midi, Pointe Blanche and Pic de Jallouvre. The tallest is called the Grand Bargy (tall Bargy). It’s the one with a sort of face carved out of its rock.

The climb is not very steep and there is a lot of room on the trail. Directions are well indicated by the signs along the way.

I’m not going to lie, there there was a lot of people! Fortunately, at the top, everyone was spread out around the lake. Usually (and not right after ;lockdown), the Lac Bénit is a haven of tranquility for hikers.

The lake

Located at 1452 m, the lac Bénit is a 8m deep glacial lake. However, this hasn’t always been the case. In the middle of the 20th century, trout were put in the lake. As the fishing was very good, it was then decided to raise the lake, almost doubling its surface.

The Bargy range is 2400m high and located just behind the Aravis massif (La Clusaz and Grand Bornand ski resorts). The charming landscape is due to its contrast: mountain pastures with a calm lake contrasting with the steep cliffs of the Bargy range. Throughout the years, many avalanches have changed the face of the landscape.

Don’t leave without going around the lake. A small path goes around and allows you to appreciate the lake and its surroundings from different angles. On this day, the colour was very green. And on the other side, rather blue. The waters were calm and allowed a beautiful reflection of the trees.

Why is it called the lac ‘Bénit’(blessed lake)?

The lac Bénit is a lake surrounded by a legend that gave it its name. It is said that following an avalanche from the Bargy mountain, a big wave flooded a village (well… the lake isn’t very big, but let’s move on ?). The lake is said to have been blessed by a bishop to ward off bad luck. He also threw his gold ring that should still be at the bottom. Let’s hope Gollum never finds it!

Preserving biodiversity

Because the lac Bénit is a popular place, the shores of the lake are equipped with a small path and a little chalet that sells drinks. The lake is fragile and I saw a lot fishermen during my hike. I’m questioning myself whether it should be more regulated… I sincerely hope that no activity like ziplines will ever be installed (Lac des Confins already has one). Easy access to the mountains shouldn’t be an excuse to destroy its biodiversity.

How to get there

As said above, I went to the lac Bénit just after the lockdown was lifted. Although it was a Thursday, the car park was packed. This is why we decided to park at the Vuargnes car park to take quieter trails. It did lengthened the hike but I don’t regret it. There are several trails to reach the lac Bénit:

From Bété (1160m)

From Bété car park
Elevation: 300m
Time: 1h to reach the lake

From Morsullaz

From Morsullaz car park
Elevation: 390m
Time: 1h10 to reach the lake
From Morsullaz car park and the chairlift:
In Summer, the Morsullaz chairlift operates on certain days. It goes to a ridge which dominates the lake. Accessing the lac Bénit is faster but it’s no longer a hike!

From Vuargnes

The car park is at the crossroads between Chemin des Vuargnes and Route de Morsullaz
Elevation: 470 m
Time: 1h30 to reach the lake

The lake: information
Length: 300m
width: 160 m
Maximum depth: 8.7 m
Area: 4.1 ha