Cascade d'Arpenaz

Haute-Savoie / Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes, France

About Cascade d’Arpenaz

Hiking Distance: almost roadside
Suggested Time:

Date first visited: 2012-05-20
Date last visited: 2012-05-20

Waterfall Latitude: 45.97641
Waterfall Longitude: 6.64231

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Cascade d’Arpenaz was a pretty easy and straightforward waterfall for us to see and visit as it was easily seen off the A40 autoroute.

It was certainly one of the taller waterfalls we’ve seen in France as it’s said to be around 270m tall.

Arpenaz_039_20120519 - Cascade d'Arpenaz
Cascade d’Arpenaz

Perhaps what we remember most about this waterfall wasn’t so much its height, but its location.

As we were cruising on the autoroute, we were only minutes away from a rest area and viewpoint of Mt Blanc (the highest point in France).

And as we took the short detour to get close to the Cascade d’Arpenaz, we were struck by the beauty of the surrounding mountain scenery, which featured many pointy peaks and towering cascades.

In fact, there was another attractively tall cascading waterfall further north along the A40 though we didn’t stop for it.

Arpenaz_021_20120519 - Looking across the valley from Cascade d'Arpenaz towards gorgeous mountains of the French Alps with a big waterfall and a hamlet in context
Looking across the valley from Cascade d’Arpenaz towards gorgeous mountains of the French Alps with a big waterfall and a hamlet in context

As for nomenclature, I’ve also seen this waterfall being referred to as Cascade de l’Arpenaz and the Arpenaz Waterfall.

It is part of the Haute-Savoie department of the Rhône-Alpes region right in the heart of the French Alps in the country’s east.

Getting close to Cascade d’Arpenaz

From the official car park for Cascade d’Arpenaz (see directions below), I took a path that led along the stream that the waterfall was on.

There was a point where I had to cross the bitterly cold stream that was deep enough to require me to take my socks off and wade in ankle-deep water in Chacos).

Arpenaz_011_20120519 - The stream crossing required to get right in front of the Cascade d'Arpenaz
The stream crossing required to get right in front of the Cascade d’Arpenaz

Once I got to the other side, I was then home free to continue the scramble alongside the stream and get a better view of the Cascade d’Arpenaz while allowing myself to get right up to its misty base.

Admiring Cascade d’Arpenaz from easier vantage points

In addition, we also enjoyed taking photos of the falls from several other vantage points that didn’t require getting wet.

One such view was from a picnic area where the waterfall towered over the foreground trees.

Another convenient view as over a field of wildflowers just beyond the picnic area fronting the waterfall (see photo immediately below).

Arpenaz_033_20120519 - Cascade d'Arpenaz towering over a field of wildflowers
Cascade d’Arpenaz towering over a field of wildflowers

Moreover, we caught a distant viewpoint on the approach to the village of Luzier where we could see the entire context of the waterfall against its mountainous backdrop while fronted by a grassy valley populated with homes, farms, and power lines.


Cascade d’Arpenaz resides near Sallanches in the Chamonix-Mont-Blanc commune in the Hautes-Savoie department of the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes province of France. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their local tourism board website.

Arpenaz_003_20120519 - Looking up at the Cascade d'Arpenaz from the car park by the picnic area nearest to the bottom of the falls
Arpenaz_007_20120519 - When we looked across the valley from Cascade d'Arpenaz, this was the view we were treated to. Notice the huge waterfall backed by sharp peaks, which made me think that this excursion was really more than just the impressive Cascade d'Arpenaz
Arpenaz_009_20120519 - Even more focused look at the impressive waterfall opposite the valley from the foot of the Cascade d'Arpenaz
Arpenaz_015_20120519 - Direct view of Cascade d'Arpenaz right after I crossed the stream
Arpenaz_017_20120519 - Looking right up at the Cascade d'Arpenaz from its misty base
Arpenaz_018_20120519 - Some kind of thing on the ground that I saw near the base of the Cascade d'Arpenaz. But I don't know what it is exactly
Arpenaz_019_20120519 - I noticed somebody was camping near the base of the Cascade d'Arpenaz
Arpenaz_008_20120519 - Another broad look across the valley from the foot of the Cascade d'Arpenaz towards the attractive mountain range and waterfall that caught our eye during our visit
Arpenaz_023_20120519 - Cascade d'Arpenaz as seen from the picnic area
Arpenaz_037_20120519 - Full contextual view of the Cascade d'Arpenaz as we were approaching the village of Luzier
Mt_Blanc_Chamonix_007_20120519 - Le Mont Blanc

For all intents and purposes, Cascade d’Arpenaz was pretty much an attraction visible from the high speed autoroute.

From the junction of the autoroutes A410 and A40 near Bonneville, we continued east on the A40 as it veered south heading towards the Chamonix-Mt Blanc area.

Probably about 25 minutes (or 42km) from the A410-A40 junction, we took the exit 20, which was the first available exit after we noticed Cascade d’Arpenaz from the autoroute.

In fact, another cascade further up the autoroute would probably bring your attention (as it did for us) to that side of the mountains anyways so you can’t miss it.

Arpenaz_001_20120519 - The local road to the village of Luzier near Cascade d'Arpenaz
The local road to the village of Luzier near Cascade d’Arpenaz

Once on the local roads, we took the route D1205 before crossing over a bridge that became the Route de Luzier.

Shortly after the bridge, there was a pullout where we could take distant contextual views of the falls.

Continuing towards the town of Luzier, we turned left onto the Route d’Oex.

After leaving Luzier, we saw signs indicating when to turn right to get to the Cascade d’Arpenaz.

The last bit of road was unsealed and rutted so I’d imagine it’s also possible to park on a shoulder alongside the road and walk as well if the unsealed spur to the car park is not desirable to drive on.

From a time standpoint, it took us about an hour to drive from Annecy to the Cascade d’Arpenaz.

For geographical context, Annecy was 42km (under an hour drive) south of Geneva, 101km (under 90 minutes drive) west of Chamonix, 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.

Find A Place To Stay

bottom up sweep from the car park area

bottom up sweep of an obstructed view of the falls from the stream crossing

Top down sweep of the falls just after crossing the stream

Bottom up sweep looking right up from the misty base of the falls

Bottom up sweep from the road fronting the picnic area

Tagged with: haute-savoie, rhone-alpes, french alps, mt blanc, mont blanc, chamonix, france, waterfall

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