A return trip to Col d'Anterne

A return trip to Col d'Anterne

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An ideal high-altitude pass: fresh air, breathtaking views, and the occasional ibex.
A trail through high altitude meadows with the Mont Blanc on the horizon, passing through mountain pasture hamlets, marvelling at the beauty of the mountain flowers, possibly spotting Ibex, marmots or large birds of prey, and finishing on a high note at the spectacular Col d'Anterne, passing through the Barre des Fiz.


  • un-aller-retour-au-col-danterne

    Credit: Points d'intérêts du parcours - Asters-CEN74


22 points of interest

  • Overlooking the Dérochoir

    The Dérochoir is the product of a series of landslides. The first known and documented landslide dates back to 1471. The second and last, for the time being, was in 1751. At the foot of the cliff is a huge landslide cone that forms an unsteady slope. These landslides made it possible to cross the Barre des Fiz.
  • Peak

    The mont Blanc before the rise of mountaineering

    A lot of mountaineers have dreamt of climbing Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Western Europe. But this has not always been the case. In the past, the mountains instilled fear and superstition in their local inhabitants, as evidenced by the names given to the summits ("cursed mountain", "devil's spikes"...). Only shepherds, chamois hunters and stonemasons (extractors of rock crystals) frequented these hostile areas. The first ascents were made by daring foreigners who hired these experienced mountaineers to provide guidance.
  • Fauna

    The Griffon Vulture

    It is a frequent summer visitor to Haute-Savoie. The species is monogamous, in other words couples stay together for life! This bird lives in colonies of relatively big colonies, the nearest of which are in the southern Vercors. It is mainly the young individuals that explore new territories. To feed, this bird is also capable of covering hundreds of kilometres by gliding, provided the weather conditions are favourable.
  • Fauna

    The Common Raven

    It is the largest of the passerines and corvids! Whether feared or revered, it is the subject of myths and legends in many cultures. Once hated and hunted, it is now protected. About the size of a buzzard, it can be recognised by its diamond-shaped tail and its throaty screech. It is an omnivore, which means it feeds on carcasses, eggs, chicks and berries! The couples, bound together for life, perform high-flying courtship displays! Apart from humans, its only predator is the golden eagle.
  • Fauna

    The Golden Eagle

    It's a predator, armed for the hunt! Thanks to its large, wide wings, it glides high into the sky in search of prey. Its exceptional eyesight spots marmots (its favourite meal), hares, foxes or ptarmigan, and sometimes even young chamois or ibex! Its prominent eyebrow arch acts as a sun shield when it swoops down to snatch its prey. It is equipped with talons for grabbing and a powerful, hooked sharp beak for tearing flesh.
  • Fauna

    The Black Woodpecker

    It is the largest of the 8 woodpecker species found in France. Originally an exclusively mountain-dwelling species, it now can also be found in the valleys! The Black Woodpecker adapts equally well to deciduous and coniferous forests, as long as they are large enough and have large-diameter old trees and some dead wood left. It is easily recognised by its entirely black plumage enlivened by a bright red spot, limited to the nape on the females and more extensive on the males.
  • Fauna

    The Hazel Grouse

    This is the smallest and most elusive of the mountain Galliformes species. It is much less well known than the black grouse or the rock ptarmigan because it lives exclusively in the forest! But it is just as important from a biological and scientific point of view: this species is an excellent indicator of environmental change. Its specific requirements in terms of vegetation and variety of tree species put it at risk in the face of poor forest management. This is one of the main causes of the species' decline.
  • Fauna

    Whistly song of a marmot

    The Marmot is the favourite food of the Golden Eagle and, to a lesser extent, of the Fox. Always alert, the marmot surveys its surroundings to avoid being caught. Standing upright on its paws, its iconic stance reminds of a candle atop of a chandelier. Thanks to its very wide field of vision and its highly effective hearing and sense of smell, nothing escapes its notice. In the event of an emergency, it warns others with an audible cry: high-pitched and brief in the case of an airborne hazard, whistled and repeated in the case of a ground hazard. And that danger can be you!
  • Flora

    The Mountain Ash

    It is a small tree that grows on the edge of forests. Its fruit, called "sorbs", are orangey red berries that are very popular with thrushes and blackbirds. They can be used to make brandy, jelly, or jam. Just make sure you pick them before they are ripe, otherwise, they may become toxic! In the reserve, the mountain ash is being studied as part of a collaborative science programme designed to measure the impact of climate change in the mountains.
  • Flora

    The Downy Birch (Betula pubescens)

    There are four species of birch in Europe, and the one growing here is the downy birch. There are many proven medicinal properties of its sap and bark, such as natural detox properties and its ability to remedy rheumatism, fatigue and allergies! In the reserve, the birches are monitored as part of the "Phénoclim" programme set up by CREA to measure the impact of climate change on the life cycle of plants.
  • The 'Ayères'

    The word "Ahier" originally comes from the Roman dialect for sycamore maple. The terms "pierrières" and "roc" come from the many boulders that formed during the rockslides at Dérochoir, including the one in 1751 that killed 6 people and a few domestic animals. All these cottages were mountain chalets used for farming. Now they are used as vacation homes.
  • Architecture of alpine cabins

    Some of the mountain shepherd cabins are over a century old. 
    The construction of sturdy high-altitude cabins is driven by its harsh immediate environment. Such cabins must feature stone walls and a spruce frame that can withstand deadly winter conditions!
    Originally, the roof was covered with "tavaillons", a type of French traditional wooden tiles.
    These buildings, used for farming in the summer months, were rudimentary and provided shelter for the shepherd and their family.
  • The history of the Passy nature reserve

    In the 1970s, the wealth of natural areas in Haute-Savoie was the subject of much interest. As developers grew increasingly ambitious and numerous tourist developments were planned, people began to raise concerns. The French government decided to create 9 national nature reserves. In 1974, the Aiguilles Rouges national nature reserve was created, followed by the Sixt-Fer à Cheval/Passy nature reserve in 1977. Between these two protected natural areas lay a small portion of land, which became the Passy nature reserve in 1980.
  • The alpine cabin

    The alpine cabine is a small building which, gattered with others, forms a small hamlet.

    These constructions were originally intended for the organization of agricultural life in the mountains. These cabins were used in the summer to shelter the shepherds and their family. They were also used for milking and the production of cheese and other dairy products.
  • Livestock guardian dogs 

    These are guardian dogs, so their use is permitted in nature reserves. They are there to defend sheep and lambs from attacks by large predators, such as wolves. Often large in size, these dogs, known as "molossoids", dedicate their lives to protecting the livestock to which they are deeply attached. When approaching the herd, it is important to remain aware of their attitude and to adapt to it, while following simple instructions: - Keep your distance from the herd (go around it if possible) - Call out loudly to the herds and dogs to avoid surprising them - Stay calm and avoid sudden movements, keep walking without running. Don't hesitate to speak softly to them so that they get used to you and accept your presence. - Avoid looking dogs in the eyes and try to ensure that you always have an object or an obstacle between you and the dog.
  • Fauna

    The wolf

    Wolves have been making a comeback in France on their own since the 1990s. Originating in Italy, the species first colonised the southern Alps, then the entire Alpine region. Since the summer of 2019, its presence has been confirmed in some of the Haute-Savoie nature reserves, which is why guard dogs are kept around several herds. The wolf is a carnivore. It feeds mainly on wild animals such as chamois and roe deer. But it can also eat sheep, especially when the herds are not guarded. To avoid interfering with the dogs' duties, please follow the instructions!
  • Mountain pastures, a mountain tradition

    The mountain pasture is a mountain meadow intended to feed livestock (cows, sheep, goats, etc.) during the summer, while the meadows in the valley, which are more accessible, are used for mowing (cutting the grass). The grass, once dried, becomes hay that can be kept for a long time. Livestock will be fed on hay during the winter.

    The breeding of milk producing cows was once a tradition. Nowadays, in the Passy Nature Reserve, you can find rather large herds of sheep for meat production.
  • Flora

    The Great yellow Gentian

    This large perennial plant, over 1 m high, can be found in meadows, moorland and forest clearings in the mountain and sub-alpine regions. It is used in phytotherapy, but should not be confused with the highly poisonous white alder, which it grows alongside of and closely resembles! The only difference lies in the flowers. Gentian flowers are yellow. Outside the blooming season, you should take a closer look at the leaves. Gentian leaves face each other on the stem, while adler leaves are on opposite sides of the stem.
  • Tintins cabin

    This cabin, which is more of a shepherd's shelter, was built under "La Pierre à l'Ours". It served as a shelter for a shepherd looking after his herd here until the 1960s. In 1959, the shepherd was only 14 years old and watched over 2000 sheep. But where is the bear? To find it, move to the side of the stone and look carefully, it's there!
  • Fauna

    The Alpine Ibex

    This now protected species almost disappeared from the Alps at the end of the 19th century, mainly as a result of hunting and poaching. Successive reintroductions throughout the Alps have helped to increase population numbers, although the species remains threatened to this day. In the reserve, the ibex are monitored to ensure their health and to ensure better management of the species' populations.
  • Fauna

    The Bearded Vulture

    It's a symbol of our mountains. Just as famous and fragile as the Alps! Almost completely decimated at the beginning of the 20th century, it owes its comeback to the work of passionate and relentless ornithologists. If you're lucky enough to spot one on your walk, you should know that it is the result of the largest animal reintroduction programme in Europe! And don't worry, it's a scavenger that feeds mainly on bones.
  • Fauna

    The Alpine Chough

    This well-known mountain predator lives mainly in large, noisy flocks, with impressive headcounts, especially in winter, when snowfall at high altitudes forces it into the valleys to find food! It is often mistakenly referred to as a "jackdaw", when in fact it is a completely different species of corvid, which is more likely to be found on the lowlands! The chough can be recognised by its black plumage, lemon-yellow beak and red feet. It is an avid aerobatic performer, and you'll no doubt be amazed by their acrobatic manuevers!


Depart from the Maison de la Réserve naturelle de Passy. Take the paved road that passes in front of the "Lou Pacheran" restaurant. Take the track up towards the Col d'Anterne. Marker 102. Continue on the track towards the Col d'Anterne. Marker 103. Continue straight ahead on the track towards Ayères des Pierrières, Col d'Anterne. Marker 16. Go straight through the hamlet of Ayères des Pierrières. Turn left onto the track towards the refuge de Moëde-Anterne, Col d'Anterne and Lac d'Anterne. Marker 121. At the pond, either continue on the track or take the path straight ahead (pedestrian shortcut). Be careful, it's an exposed vertiginous path! Marker 134. Turn left onto the path towards the Col d'Anterne. Go straight on towards the Col d'Anterne. To return, take the same route towards Plaine-Joux. Marker 100.
  • Departure : Maison de la Réserve naturelle de Passy
  • Arrival : Maison de la Réserve naturelle de Passy
  • Towns crossed : Passy

Altimetric profile

Sensitive areas

Along your trek, you will go through sensitive areas related to the presence of a specific species or environment. In these areas, an appropriate behaviour allows to contribute to their preservation. For detailed information, specific forms are accessible for each area.
Impacted practices:
Aerial, , Land, Vertical
Asters - Conservatoire d'espaces naturels de Haute Savoie


Always exercise caution and plan ahead when hiking. Asters, CEN 74 cannot be held responsible for any accident or incident that may occur on this trail.


Bus SAT Mont-Blanc L85

Access and parking

Get to the Passy Plaine-Joux resort via the D43 road. Car park at the entrance to the resort. Bus line L85 (SAT Mont-Blanc).

Parking :

Plaine Joux

Report a problem or an error

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