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Art in the Alps - the Giffre sculpture trail

Updated: Jun 24, 2019

The Giffre river is a couple of minutes walk from the chalet and we often walk along the marked riverside trail to Samoëns, particularly on Wednesday mornings, when it's market day. If you turn back at the bridge over the Giffre, it also makes a perfect 5km loop for a short run too.

The views up and down river are stunning with the distinctive peak and ridge line of the Marcelly to the west and Criou and Mont Buet to the east.

Sculpture and shadows at the Chartreuse de Melan Grand Massif

However, the other day I decided to wander in the opposite direction towards Taninges.

It's approximately 8.5 km along the river and through the woods to the Chartreuse de Melan, a former convent dating from 1285.

The Chartreuse de Melan is well worth a trip in its own right - it has a number of lovely sculptures in its grounds as well as a giant green bench, which makes for great photos with the Marcelly in the background.

Along the way there are a number of sculptures / installations on both side of the river as part of the Giffre's "Sentier Art et Nature". There‘s a guide to the trail on the Morillon tourist info website.

The route to Taninges crosses the river part way so it's best to cross over the river from the chalet and start off on the south side, soon reaching the first installation - "Cochlée" by Catherine Baas.

There are a number of artworks along this stretch, some more thought-provoking / disturbing than others!

After 4.5 km the route goes through the cement works - I really like the juxtaposition of the art with the heavy industry but appreciate that many will just see this very small section as a bit of an eyesore.

The path crosses the river here and once on the north bank, a spectacular view awaits of the Marcelly behind Lac de Vernays with another installation in the foreground (Petra silva du Giffre by Ghyslain Bertholon). This work comprises two stone columns, one of which has been nibbled by a hypothetical rodent, presumably reflecting the fact that beavers have been successfully reintroduced to the Giffre.

A bit further on is my favourite of all the artworks. Unfortunately the information board is missing so I can't credit the artist....

This last section has a number of smaller artworks either side of the path.

It's then a short walk away from the river to the Chartreuse de Melan..

And to finish - an excerpt from the work "La carrée du Giffre, les voix de la rivière" by Marie Goussé.

Couleurs Giffre:

hier bleu givré,


vert acidulé,


jaune argileux.


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