181 allée des Gorges, 74310 Les Houches.
From Geneva A40/N205 exit 24 Servoz Les Houches, signposted.
JUN daily 9:30-17.
JUL to AUG daily 9-18.
SEP daily 9:30-17.
Adults EUR 6.50, Children (13-16) EUR 5.50, Children (5-12) EUR 4, Children (0-4) free, Seniors (65+) EUR 4.50, Disabled EUR 3.50.
Family: Group Prices.
Groups (10+): Adults EUR 5.50, Children (13-16) EUR 4, Children (5-12) EUR 3.50.
|Guided tours:||self guided, D=90 min, L=2,600 m, VR=130 m, St=600.|
|Address:||Gorges de la Diosaz, 181 allée des Gorges, 74310 Les Houches, Tel: +41-450-47-21-13.|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
|1871||developed by professor Achille Cazin.|
|1875||opened to the public.|
The Gorges de la Diosaz is the gorge of the La Diosaz torrent. It has its source on the south side of Mont Buet (Le Mont-Blanc des Dames, 3,099 m asl) and is a side branch of the Chamonix valley.
The gorge has numerous highlights, the first is actually not natural. At the entrance to the gorge lies the tomb of a poet marked with several inscriptions. One inscription read "It is with both marvel and fear that one should visit this place marked by nature, spurting forth its majesty and power". Another one "the French Government honours science and the arts, protects scholars and artists. The soil of the Republic welcomes strangers from every land with hospitality". A small grotto at the entrance of the gorge has a size of 2 m by 4 m. It has been recently opened to the public. Next comes a huge slab of rock which became stuck between the banks of the torrent. It is called the Natural Bridge as it forms a huge bridge across the gorge. Today there is an outlook on top, which offers a view of the the Cascade du Soufflet waterfall below.
Numerous information boards along the trail explain the geology and history of the gorge. The gorge developed in black and green schist rocks along a natural fault in the rock. Beneath the geologic features, there is impressive flora and fauna to be seen inside the gorge.
The gorge was developed by Achille Cazin, a professor of physics who worked in the field of thermodynamics. He owned the area called îles de la Diosaz which included the gorge. After he had discovered the gorge on his ground, he wanted everyone to share his find. His idea was: «to allow everyone to access the heart of the gorge to the most modest price possible». He founded a company whose sole aim was to construct a passage through the gorges. Pierre Berthoud, the carpenter of Servoz, carried out the wood works. The workers were lowered from the steep cliffs with heavy hemp ropes to attach hundreds of metal supports on the walls. This took four years of toil, until finally in 1875 the trail was completed and the gorge opened to the public. Some 1,500 tourists visited the site the same summer. The priest of Les Houches, Joseph Lombard (*1833-✝1900), poetically described the site in 1874: "My sides are steep and no one can without fearcontemplate my current in the bed of rocks; The mountain towers in front of me: I melted through the mountain and opened up a labyrinth to where my torrent rushes."
The water of the Diosaz is used for the production of electricity by the Electricité de France (EDF). While the water runs through pipes and turbines, the gorge is almost dry. There is a compromise between the production of electricity and the tourism, so the water flows through the gorge during high season, Juli and August and on weekends in June and September. So it is advisable to visit the gorge during this times.
There is a fee for the gorge, which is a little higher than average for gorges. Like always it is used to do the regular repair works, every year three months of maintenance work are required to keep the route open and safe. There are 2.6 km of trails in the gorge, which is also way above average. Be aware that the tour requires good walking shoes and a little physical fitness. Due to the trails and the 600 stairs it is not difficult though. At the entrance is a ticket office with souvenirs, a snack bar and toilets.