Cascade de Seythenex provided us another waterfalling excuse to explore around the outskirts of the Lake Annecy area. What made this impressively forceful 45m waterfall different was that it could be coupled with a cave tour. According to the website of the folks running the tours and facilities, it was the only cave open to the public within the Haute-Savoie department (part of the Rhône-Alpes region).
As for visiting the waterfall and the cave, we had to pay 7 euros per person to get in as of May 2012. The site was only open from May to September as the cave would probably be prone to flooding in the off season.
Once inside, they held cave tours seemingly every hour or so, which lasted roughly 40 minutes. While we were waiting for one of these tours, we checked out a pretty nifty small-scale model of the area, which included the Seythenex waterfall as well as some working water mills. There was also a video shown here though it was completely in French.
The walkway leading to both the cave and the waterfall started immediately behind some steps descending below the cafe and admission area. After a few minutes along this path, we were right in front of the cave entrance. This was where the cave tours began and ended.
While this cave wasn't very big, it was interesting nonetheless. We could see firsthand how the geology and hydrology of the area made the various patterns and shapes within. There were even some plants that were grown that seemed to benefit from the relatively constant temperatures, humidity, and artificial light. However, a good pair of shoes would probably be beneficial for this cave tour as some parts of the ground were wet and slippery.
Back outside on the walkway, it was only a few paces more to see the impressive main drop of the Cascade de Seythenex. There was a steep path going up several steps to get to the top of the waterfall while offering other (less misty) views of the falls itself.
At the top of the falls, there was another smaller tier of the waterfall as well as the start of the zipline, which we could have done if we paid a little extra for it.
Meanwhile, back towards the cave entrance, there was also a descending path (prone to getting blasted by mist from the Cascade de Seythenex) leading towards a bridge for a more bottom-up perspective of the impressive falls. While some ugly, dilapidated structure took a little away from the scenic allure of the falls from down here, it was still worth checking out.
It looked like the trail kept going beyond the bridge, but we couldn't really say anything more about it since we didn't keep going. We returned to the car park on the same path that we came in.
From Annecy, follow the D1508 along the western banks of Lake Annecy continuing further south beyond the lake as it enters the town of Faverges. Once in town, you can either choose to drive through the town via D2508 (Rue d'Annecy though it changes names several times) until you junction with the D12 at a three-way intersection or continue on D1508 until you can exit and take the D12. In both cases, you turn right and head south on D12.
While on the D12, there will be signposts indicating "Seythenex". As you get further up the hill, there will be additional signs indicating La Grotte et Cascade de Seythenex (The Cave and Waterfall of Seythenex).
We actually came here from Cascade d'Angon via the Col de La Forclaz, which took us about 40 minutes. However, it took us about 30 minutes (with some slow-vehicle caravan traffic) to return to Annecy via the direct driving route described above.
For geographical context, Annecy was 42km (under an hour drive) south of Geneva, 107km (under 90 minutes drive) north of Grenoble, and 148km (90-120 minutes drive) east of Lyon. The city of Lyon was 466km or at least 4.5 hours by car from Paris. However, we used the very fast and efficient TGV (high speed train or le train a grande vitesse), which wound up taking around 3 hours to cover this stretch between the two major cities.
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