Located at Balme de Thuy in the Aravis massif, la Belle Inconnue waterfall is mainly known to canyoning enthusiasts. The trail leading to the waterfall is unmarked, but it’s also what makes it charming. I went there on a weekend in June: it had rained heavily and the path was quite slippery. As a result the the atmosphere from a Ghibli movie set…
The trail starts along the road: a small passage is visible just after the stream near a small bridge. That day, wild garlic was growing everywhere. You can imaging the smell in the car afterwards!
The path then leads to a clearing with a very photogenic stream, the Nant du Cruet. A green amphitheatre with the sound of water in the background. Although this isn’t the main waterfall, that stream was really beautiful due to its beautiful setting. It had a mystical atmosphere.
The path climbs above the torrent. It’s short but steep. This hike isn’t well known and while the path is visible, it’s not well-defined, especially after the train. That day, it was pretty slippery but without any real difficulty.
The path ends at the imposing waterfall. When canyoning, you can go through a cave and a have 30-meter abseil on the waterfall. Pretty impressive!
I researched at length why this waterfall was named “the beautiful stranger”. I thought first that a beautiful stranger might have drowned… But Michel Voisin explains this (“Savoie, a mountain of legends” by Lucien Chavoutier).
In 1223. The eldest of a family, Marie, 20, was engaged to a neighbourhood boy.
“The young girl’s beauty had struck the son of a lord of the country (…) who chased her with his assiduity. Marie pushed him away, true to her promise. (…) the Baronnet tried a big blow (…), seized Marie and sequesters her for 6 months. She managed to escape and took refuge in a cave, near a waterfall. It was not long before it became apparent that a beautiful stranger was living nearby and the place therefore became “the waterfall of the beautiful stranger”.
The end? It ended well. The story ends with a beautiful marriage. The waterfall, therefore, immortalizes the love of Marie and her charming neighbour!
You have to know its location to get there because the waterfall isn’t marked or indicated. From Annecy, take the direction of Thônes. Near the Balme de Thuy. To park, there are two possibilities:
- The Morette military cemetery car park
- You can also park just before the trail, on a path called the Route Ancienne nationale 509 d’Annecy.
The start of the hike to la Belle Inconnue waterfall
The start of the path is about 600 m before the cemetery by the road next to a small bridge. It’s slightly shorter if you park on the old national road
Altitude: 665 meters
Elevation: 100 m
Time: 40 min (return)
You can combine the beautiful stranger waterfall with la Balme de Thuy waterfalls: a succession of waterfalls, also close to the cemetery. For more information, read the article dedicated to la Balme de Thuy waterfalls.
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