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 1200ft tall.
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 waterfall, we were struck by the beauty of the surrounding mountain scenery, which featured 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.
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 (socks off and wading in ankle-deep water in Chacos) in order to get a better view of the falls while allowing myself to get right up to its misty base.
In addition, we also enjoyed taking photos of the falls from several other vantage points that didn’t require getting wet. Among them were a picnic area where the waterfall towered over the foreground trees, a field of wildflowers just beyond the picnic area fronting the waterfall (see photo at the top of this page), and 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 and fronted by a grassy valley populated with homes, farms, and power lines.
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.
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.
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 falls.
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.
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