Plateau des Prés by la Balme
The nature reserve
The roman route
Before the Roman invasion, Val-Montjoie was home to Ceutrons, a Celtic tribe practicing livestock breeding. For their cheese production, they imported salt from Moutiers via the Col du Bonhomme mountain pass. They participated in the establishment of these routes leading to Italy, which were taken by the Romans during the invasion of the Alps.
Observe the section of Rochassets, it was carved in the rocks in order to create a passage for the charriots!
Notre Dame de la Gorge
The bogs at la Rosière
Originating from the ice age, this wetland was first a depression eroded by the glacier in which the melting ice stagneted. It’s a paradise for carnivorous plants such as Alpine Butterwort or the Round-leaved Sundew...
The round-leaf Sundew
It is called "Rossolis or Sundew" because of the scintillation of this substance in the sunlight.
This species is fragile and protected, please do not touch it !
The roman bridge
This route, which has become the GR5 since, is a popular tourist destination.
The bridge overlooks the gorges of Bont Nant.
Admire the natural pools that the torrent has shaped slowly but surely!
The mountain refuge of Nant Borrant
In 1842 the commune of Les Contamines authorized to establish an inn on this location. It will be called "Mountain Hotel" until 1976. With the development of the long-distance hiking trail "Tour du Mont Blanc", it has become a refuge. But since its creation it has always belonged to the same family! It is open from June to the end of September.
The Nant Borrant refuge is located at the gates of the nature reserve which starts just behind the torrent...
The mountain pasture
Without the grazing of domestic animals at this altitude, this environment would be composed by few species of bushes and according animal species. The alpine pasture is a rare example of human activity generating biodiversity in both animal and plant species, more abundant than what the natural evolution of the environment would produce. It hosts many species of plants, birds, invertebrates, mammals...
The breed called "Abondance" was born in the village of the same name in the Chablais area in Haute-Savoie. It can be recognized by its mahogany-colored coat and belly and its white head.
The "d'Herens" breed is coming from the Valais region in Switzerland. More stocky, it has a plain coat, often black, sometimes dark red or chestnut. Its lively and belligerent behavior is used during the traditional "Fight of the queens" in the 3 areas around Mont-Blanc. But don’t panic, these games are harmless for the competing animals!
The mountain refuge of la Balme
Estimate the height of the roof and imagine that during the winter only the chimney isn’t covered by the snowpack!
This refuge is open from June to September.
The Black Grouse
The male, or rooster, with its blue-black plumage and its red wattles above the eye, which are fleshy appendages, can’t be confused with any other bird.
The hen, which raises the broods on its own, has a less colorful and reddish-brown plumage, providing good camouflage and protection from predators. Homochromy is the word used for this protective coloring in animals that makes an individual visually become part of the landscape.
The Northern Wheatear
This is the male of the Northern Wheatear, a sparrow-sized passerine bird. Nevertheless, this 25g featherweight is a long-distance migratory bird. Indeed, if it comes to nest in the mountains during the summer season, in search of insects such as flies, crickets and other grasshoppers, which abound in the alpine grasslands, it spends the winter much further south, in the savannas of tropical Africa, from Mauritania to Tanzania!
Panorama on the Mont-Blanc massif
Admire the view of these other peaks: Aiguille de Bionassay (4052 m), Dômes de Miage (3633 m) or Aiguille Nord de Tré la Tête (3892 m), the highest peak of the nature reserve. From this position, you can observe the different natural environments protected by the reserve situated in an area with over 2800 m of altitude variation, starting at the forest level.
Handsome as Apollo
The Ring Ouzel
The Ring Ouzel can be recognized by the white bib on its chest.
- Cross the footbridge over the torrent to reach the track.
- Stay on the main track following the torrent upstream on your right.
- Stay on the GR and take the ancient roman route which rises in front of you.
- Stay on the route and cross the "Pont romain".
- At the bifurcation, take the passable track on the right.
- At the intersection, stay on the main trail going downhill.
- At "chalet des prés, take the down going track in the direction of "Notre-Dame de la Gorge".
- Take to the left to go back down by the same itinerary as coming up.
Access and parking
Report a problem or an error
If you have found an error on this page or if you have noticed any problems during your hike, please report them to us here: