Why you should climb the Semnoz Mountain

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The Semnoz mountain is situated in the French Alps and the real green lungs of the city of Annecy. It is a favourite outing for the people of Annecy for its spectacular views over the Alps from its summit. I’ve been many times on its summit but Autumn is by far my favourite season of the year for a stroll in the high-pastures.


The Semnoz Mountain near Annecy

Semnoz Situation Map

The mountain is part of the Bauges massif and its highest summit reaches 1,699m/5,574ft above sea level. The Roman cartographers gave the mountain the name ‘salmon’ (‘Semnoz’) because of its fish like shape.

The mountain is crossed by the 30 km long D41/D110 road from Annecy to Leschaux.

With the exception of the summit, the Semnoz mountain is entirely wooded.

The highest summits of Semnoz are named ‘Crêts’ (similar to ‘crests’ in English):

  • Crêt de Châtillon (1,699 m),
  • Crêt de l’Aigle (1,646 m),
  • Crêt de Tertère (1,622 m),
  • Crêt de la Grande Danne (1,530 m)

Panoramic View of Crêt de Châtillon

From the Crêt de Châtillon, the Semnoz’ highest summit, the panoramic view is one of the most spectacular of the northern Alps of France.

Semnoz mountain © French Moments

The summit of the Semnoz © French Moments

Many of the great mountains and ranges of the French Alps can be seen.

From left to right (facing East)

  • Parmelan,
  • Dents de Lanfon,
  • The Aravis chain and its highest summit (Pointe Percée),
  • Mont Blanc,
  • La Tournette,
  • The Beaufortain massif,
  • The Vanoise massif (Grande Sassière, Mont Pourri, Sommet de Bellecôte, Grande Motte, and Grande-Casse),
  • The Aiguilles d’Arves
  • The Écrins massif (Meije and Barre des Écrins),
  • The chain of Belledonne,
  • The Grandes Rousses,
  • The Bauges massif,
  • The Chartreuse massif, and
  • Parts of the Vercors Massif.

On the other side facing West

  • The Dent du Chat,
  • The Jura mountains (from Grand Colombier to La Dôle in Switzerland including Crêt de la Neige),
  • Mont Salève,
  • The Rhône Valley, and
  • The Massif Central (as far as Mont Mézenc).

The lakes of Savoie

Two of the three great lakes of the region can be seen: Lake Annecy and Lake Bourget.

Lake Bourget and Dent du Chat seen from the Semnoz Mountain © French Moments

Lake Bourget and Dent du Chat seen from the Semnoz Mountain © French Moments

The first is partially visible as a shoulder section of the mountain masks the lake nearly entirely.

Semnoz © French Moments

The castle of Duingt and Lake Annecy seen from the Semnoz © French Moments

An orientation table at the summit of Crêt de Châtillon helps visitors to place the surrounding mountains in perspective.


The High Mountain Pastures

Semnoz mountain © French Moments

View from the summit of the Semnoz © French Moments

For many centuries, farmers have grazed their herds in the high mountain pastures (les alpages) each summer. From the milk of their cows and sheep they have produced butter, tomme and chevrotin. For the last few years, with the extension of the zone controlling the designation of origin for Reblochon, the Alpine dairy farmers on the Semnoz mountain have been able to produce the famous cheese originating from the valley of Thônes.

In winter, when the slopes of the high pastures are covered by a thick layer of snow, the dairy farmers give way to skiers.


The Semnoz Forest

The forest is very popular among the residents of Annecy. The Forêt du Crêt du Maure, just at an easy 5 min drive from the city has a great network of marked-paths. I particularly enjoy walking there in autumn.


Activities in the Semnoz mountain

The Semnoz mountain is a favourite outing for the people of Annecy.

In summer, many activities can be enjoyed on the mountain: hiking, cycling, mountain biking, horse riding, rock climbing as well as paragliding… The mountain includes a deer park (at the Grande Jeanne) and an alpine botanical garden (at Maison du Semnoz).

Semnoz mountain © French Moments

Walking signs, Semnoz mountain © French Moments

In winter a family ski resort includes 18 ski runs for downhill skiing, 50 km of tracks for cross-country skiing, snowshoe tracks and sledging…

The Semnoz Mountain in Winter © French Moments

The Semnoz Mountain in Winter © French Moments


English-French Vocabulary

Semnoz © French Moments

View from the summit of the Semnoz (Dent du Chat, Jura and Massif Central) © French Moments

(f) for féminin, (m) for masculin, (adj) for adjective and (v) for verbs

  • Alps = Alpes (f,p)
  • French Alps = Alpes françaises (f,p)
  • green lungs = poumon vert (m)
  • high-mountain pastures in the Alps = alpage (m)
  • lake = lac (m)
  • massif = massif (m)
  • mountain = montagne (f)
  • orientation table = table d’orientation (f)
  • range = chaîne (f)
  • summit = sommet (m)

Find out more about Lake Annecy

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Discover the Semnoz Mountain with amazing views of Lake Annecy and Mont Blanc © French Moments


 

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About Author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. In 2014 he moved back to Europe from Sydney with his wife and daughter to be closer to their families and to France. He has a background teaching French and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations and a degree of Economics and Management.

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