|Medium to strenuous hikes (T3) | Beautiful lake & historic stone buildings | Enjoy a drink or meal at the Cabane de Louvie | Fishing|
The Lac de Louvie is one of the most beautiful lakes in Switzerland. True, turquoise waters nestled among towering peaks are almost a cliché in this country of stunning lakes. But four things elevate Lac Louvie to the category of best Swiss lakes: an unobstructed view of the Grand Combin, picturesque stone buildings on the lake shore, the chance to stop in at the perfectly situated Cabane Louvie for a bite to eat or overnight stay, and the very high chance of spotting marmots and ibexes. The lake is also the only one in the area where you can fish.
Three Lac de Louvie hike options are described here: a return hike from the village of Fionnay, a loop hike from Fionnay, and the more famous sentier des chamois trail which starts above Verbier and ends in Fionnay. All are accessible with public transport, and all offer a spectacular day out in the beautiful Val de Bagnes.
► Return Lac de Louvie hike from Fionnay | 7.8 km | 777 m↑↓ | T3
► Loop Lac Louvie hike from Fionnay | 10.8 km | 1,170 m↑↓ | T3
► Sentier des Chamois from Verbier to Fionnay via Lac de Louvie | 14.5 km | 777 m↑ 1,485 m↓ | T3
Vaulted stone buildings: an emblem of the Val de Bagnes
The restored stone buildings at the far end of the Lac de Louvie are beautiful examples of the region’s distinctive alpine architecture: étables à voûte de pierres sèches, or vaulted dry-stone barns, cheese cellars and mountain chalets. Dating from the early 1800s, their exact construction method remains a mystery – but involved piling a massive cylinder of earth between two long stone walls, placing the stones for the vaulted roof on top, then clearing out the earth. Around 600 such buildings have been documented in the Val de Bagnes, of which around 90 are still standing thanks to restoration efforts starting from the 1970s.
You can enter some of the buildings: make sure to close the door properly behind you, and note that camping and sleeping in the buildings is not allowed.
JUMP STRAIGHT TO
Practical info – Lac Louvie and Cabane de Louvie
Getting there & away
The Lac de Louvie is located in the upper (haut) Val de Bagnes, near the famous ski resort of Verbier in the Swiss canton of Valais/Wallis.
Access from Fionnay
The most direct route to the lake and cabane is from Fionnay – a small village about 15 km further along the Val de Bagnes from the town of Le Châble, which is the main access point for Verbier.
Free parking is available in Fionnay on the main road, just across from the trail head. The village is also served by bus from Le Châble, which itself is served by train. Note that the bus only runs four times per day, and does not run in winter.
Access from Le Châble/Verbier
The sentier des chamois trail starts at Les Ruinettes above the town of Verbier. To get there from Le Châble, take the cable car to Verbier then the Medran cable car to Croix des Ruinettes. You can also skip the first part of the walk by continuing in a third cable car to La Chaux. A combined ticket for the cable cars plus the bus from Fionnay back to Le Châble is available – and all transport is free is you stay overnight in the Val de Bagnes (see below).
Le Châble is served by train, and paid parking is available in both Verbier and Le Châble. Note that the summer season for the cable cars and bus is from mid-May to the end of October. And as mentioned above, the bus between Fionnay and Le Châble only runs four times per day.
|Ride the bus and cable cars for free!|
If you stay in the Val de Bagnes for one or more nights between June and October, then you can have a VIP pass to travel on all the valley’s buses for free, as well as the cable cars – including from Le Châble to La Chaux. You can get your pass from your accommodation, or pick it up from the tourist office in Le Châble or Verbier as soon as you arrive in the valley. You’ll need to show email or other proof of your reservation (including for the Cabane Louvie) plus an identity document.
►More on the VIP Pass
What to bring
You don’t need any special equipment to do the walks described here in spring, summer or early autumn. You will need snowshoes, mountaineering skis/equipment, and potentially avalanche rescue equipment in winter and early spring when there is a lot of snow.
If you are staying at the Cabane de Louvie then you’ll need to bring a sleeping-bag liner or sheet , plus a towel if you wish to use the hut’s shower.
Whatever the season, be prepared for sudden changes in weather, take enough to eat and drink, and don’t forget sun protection.
The Cabane de Louvie offers lunch and snacks between mid-May and the beginning of October, when the wardens are present. During this time you can also stay overnight with dinner and breakfast included. If you are doing the sentier des chamois from Verbier then there also restaurants at Les Ruinettes and La Chaux. There are no other restaurants on any of the trails; if need be you could shelter in one of the old stone stables at the end of the Lac de Louvie.
Picnic tables are located near the stone stables at the far end of the Lac Louvie, as well as on the trail up from Fionnay.
►Cabane de Louvie website (French, English)
Fishing for rainbow trout is allowed in summer and early autumn. You’ll need a daily fishing permit, which you can buy at the Cabane de Louvie.
Dangers & annoyances
All three Lac de Louvie hikes have exposed sections with steep drop offs in places, not always with chains, and all pass through areas of potential avalanche danger. Note that snow could be present on the trails into summer and also in autumn. You also need to guard against:
- Heat stroke/dehydration
- Stomach bugs & parasites in lake and stream water
Trail descriptions and maps – Lac de Louvie hike
Medium return walk to the Cabane de Louvie from Fionnay
The path is well marked and very obvious. One section with steep drop offs has chains; the trail is not otherwise difficult or dangerous in late spring (once the snow has melted), summer or early autumn. A picnic table is located around half way up, but there are no restaurants or shelters until you reach the Cabane de Louvie.
- Cabane de Louvie
- Distance: 7.8 km return
- Highest point: 2,250 m (Cabane de Louvie)
- Height gain: 777 m↑↓
- Trail level: T3
- Technical details: steepish in parts; steep drop offs in places; chains in one section
The trail starts across from the parking area in Fionnay, running to the right of the water-works buildings and pond. It climbs up then traverses across the mountainside above Fionnay, before turning to take you deeper into the mountains and up to the cabane on the lake shore. Return the same way, or else add around around 1.6km by walking to the étables à voûte at the far end of the lake and back. You can also walk around the lake; the path on the east side involves some rock hopping, while that on the west side is a regular hiking path.
Strenuous loop Lac de Louvie hike
The path is well marked and obvious, but a bit rougher after the Cabane de Louvie and with some rock hopping on the eastern shore of the Lac de Louvie. Two sections have steep drop offs with no chains or protection: the Col du Bec d’Aigle (“eagle beak saddle”) and just before the final descent to Fionnay. The trail is not otherwise difficult or dangerous in late spring (once the snow has melted), summer or early autumn. Apart from the Cabane de Louvie and any unlocked dry-stone barns, there is no food or shelter along the trail.
- Cabane de Louvie
- Louvie (dry-stone barns)
- Col du Bec d’Aigle
- Le Dâ
- Sovereu (dry-stone barns)
- Distance: 10.8 km
- Highest point: 2,567 m (Col du Bec d’Aigle)
- Height gain: 1,170 m↑↓
- Trail level: T3
- Technical details: steep in parts; rocky in parts; steep drop offs in places; chains in one section
Follow the trail to the Cabane de Louvie, as described for the return hike above. Continue around the west side of the lake to the dry-stone barns and then start back down the other side of the lake on the now rougher trail. You’ll have an amazing view across the Lac de Louvie to the hut and the Grand Combin behind.
Around halfway along the eastern lake shore, turn left onto the “6” trail in the direction of Ecurie du Crêt. The path climbs steeply to the Col du Bec d’Aigle, then descends into the Vallon de Sovereu. Cross the valley floor and continue along the 6 trail for a little while, then take the path on the right descending back into the valley. This section is reasonably flat, passing past more étables à voûte at Sovereu. The valley narrows towards its end, with the path becoming quite steep as it zig zags down. Once out of the gorge, the going gets easier again down to Fionnay.
Strenuous hike from Verbier to Fionnay via Lac de Louvie
The path for the sentier des chamois is well marked and obvious. There are steep drop offs in places, not all with chains. The trail is not otherwise difficult or dangerous in late spring (once the snow has melted), summer or early autumn. Apart from the top of the cable cars and the Cabane de Louvie, there is no food or shelter along the trail. And remember, there are only 4 buses per day between Fionnay and Verbier, so check the timetable to be sure you don’t miss the last one!
- Les Ruinettes
- La Chaux
- Col Termin
- Têtes de Louvie
- Cabane de Louvie
- Distance: 14.5 km
- Highest point: 2,648 m (Col Termin)
- Height gain: 777 m↑ 1,485 m↓
- Trail level: T3
- Technical details: steep drop offs in places; chains
From the cable car station at Les Ruinettes, follow the Chemin des Ruinettes to La Chaux. This is a wide, wheelchair-friendly path with wooden sculptures along the way. You can alternatively take the trail a little lower down along the Bisse de Levron, an old irrigation channel. You can also skip this part by taking a cable car all the way to La Chaux.
Follow the “160 Sentier des Chamois” trail from La Chaux. This traverses the mountain side and provides fabulous views of the Grand Combin and Lac Mauvoisin at the end of the Val de Bagnes. After a gentle climb to Col Termin, the trail crosses the Têtes de Louvie then descends to Lac Louvie. Turn right at the lake shore for the path to the Cabane de Louvie and Fionnay; turn left for a detour to see the historic stone étables à voûte buildings.
Nearby mountain fun
Eating & sleeping
Down in the valley, the Dortoir de Fionnay offers basic dormitory accommodation as well as local cheese and other farm goods. You’ll find small hotels and places to eat, plus a campground, in other villages in the Haut Val de Bagnes, while both Verbier and Le Châble offer a large number of eating and sleeping options.
Other hiking options
For other trails in the area, see SwissMobility.
One trail of note is the long-distance national “6 Alpine Passes” trail, which includes a section around Lac de Louvie and over the Col du Bec d’Aigle.