Geological hike between the Petit Salève and Salève mountains

Let’s set off on a 4-hour hike in search of clues to show us that Geneva’s favorite mountain had its Ice Age and its maritime and tropical periods!


½ day


From CHF 50.-/person

Max. 8 participants

Randonee un jour saleve


A 150-million-year-old history

The story of the Salève begins at the bottom of a shallow, tropical sea, in the middle of the Mesozoic (or Secondary) Era. Where there is sea, there are marine animals: we’ll discover a magnificent example of an ammonite fossil. Then plate tectonics created our mountains. Finally, successive, very recent glaciations eroded them: on the Petit Salève, we’ll see a piece of Mont Blanc, identified by one of the pioneers of modern geology, Alphonse Favre from Geneva. The rocks of the Salève don’t talk, but they do speak to us! Would you like to hear what they have to say? Sign up for this hike!

Stage 1

Starting point

We meet at the parking lot behind the Monnetier church at 10.30 am. It’s a 15-minute drive from Thônex-Vallard customs, in normal traffic conditions. The hike is 10 km long, with a 250 m climb.

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Stage 2

Climbing the Petit Salève

We set off on foot from the village church (700 m altitude) towards the Petit Salève (900 m altitude). On the way up, we’ll observe evidence of the last ice age and the formation of this mountain.

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Stage 3

Break with a view of Mont Blanc

We’ll take a picnic break overlooking the Arve Valley and its surrounding mountains. This will give us a better understanding of the journey of the fragments of Mont Blanc that have come to rest at the doorstep of Geneva!

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The ammonite fossil

We head back down to Monnetier to change mountainsides and begin the first section of the route to the summit of the Salève. This is where our famous fossil is situated. We then retrace our steps to the church, where our hike ends. Arrival time: 2.30pm.

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For sports enthusiasts

We can start from the Salève cable car car parking area, in the village of Pas de l’Echelle, just beyond Veyrier customs, and walk up to Monnetier. This adds 1 hour’s walking time and 300 meters of ascent and descent, for the round trip. Departure 10:00 am.

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What’s the right equipment?

This hike can be done in any season

Required equipment

This hike can be done all year round, except in the event of snow or rain. Walking on wet limestone paths can quickly become dangerous.

Sun protection for sunny days; sufficient layers in winter

Mountain boots or trail shoes

Picnic and drinks for a lunch break

Backpack with maximum 25 l volume


Individual price up to 5 people

Prices do not include picnic, drinks or local transport.

In case of bad weather

Notified by email 24 hours in advance, refunded

Individual price

Up to 5 participants

CHF 50.-

Group price

Up to 8 participants

CHF 250.-


They share their adventures with us

Hikers in groups, families, couples or solo: everyone leaves with a smile on their face.


Eating a fondue in front of a breathtaking panorama, then spending the night in a tent at 2000 meters, is a pure dream. Thanks again to Jean Rémy for organizing this event and sharing his knowledge of mountains, flowers and geology in a timeless setting.


Jean Rémy led us on a wonderful hike into the heart of the Entlebuch Biosphere : from Restaurant Stäldeli high above beautiful alpine meadows, through high moors and sparse forests to the almost alpine looking summit of Schafmatt. Jean Rémy knows trees, flowers and birds as well as geology and geography. A true and interesting hike. Merci !

Ariane and Markus

Jean Rémy took us on a week-long dream trek in the Grisons. He organized a route of varying difficulty, adapted to our level. The images and thrills of the magnificent landscapes are still fresh in our minds.

Axelle and Christian

Introduction to snowshoeing between Tignousa and the Hotel Weisshorn in a grandiose setting. We discovered the flora and some of the birds of the Swiss Alps. My warmest thanks to Jean Rémy for his guidance, kindness and professional advice.


Jean Rémy organized a wonderful snowshoe walk in the Risoud forest. We really enjoyed the fondue stop in a woodcutter’s hut, followed by a visit to the Astroval astronomical observatory. Very original and much appreciated.
Thank you so much!

Delphine and Nicolas

I’ve hiked the Salève countless times. But I rediscovered this mountain thanks to Jean Rémy’s skilful narration, mixing rock history, ammonite fossils and anecdotes about 19th-century Geneva geologists. Thank you JR for a thrilling hike!


Jean Rémy organized a wonderful snowshoe walk in the Risoud forest. We really enjoyed the fondue stop in a woodcutter’s hut, followed by a visit to the Astroval astronomical observatory. Very original and much appreciated.
Thank you so much!

Laurence and Henry

Jean Rémy takes us on snowshoes to the heights of Grimentz in the direction of La Brinta. At the edge of the forest, we were shuffling through deep snow and admiring the nearby peaks. It was a wonderful discovery, away from the ski slopes.


Thanks to his meticulous preparation, Jean Rémy led us with ease on snowshoes through the Risoud forest above Le Brassus for over 6 hours. The atmosphere was magical. A memorable day that we wouldn’t have experienced on our own.



Pictures of Salève

The geology is certainly exceptional in the Salève. Less known is that you can find here a rich and varied flora: doronics, hawkweeds, sage and the rarer limodore.


Answers to your frequently asked questions

This hike is suitable for those with an interest in geology, but without the need to climb.

The mountain leader training course I’ve just completed includes a geology component. I had never studied this subject before. But it captivated me. And I was lucky enough to meet geologists who knew how to popularize their science. I knew the Salève like the back of my hand, having climbed it dozens of times. Geology opened my eyes to a new facet of this magnificent mountain. Which I hope to be able to share with you.

It may be less well known, but it’s full of surprises. The area is a wildlife reserve with a wide variety of flora, from orchids to chestnut trees. There are fine views to the south-west over the Lake Geneva basin and to the south-east over the Arve plain and all its surrounding mountains.

Of course you can! It only takes 15 minutes by car to reach its eastern summit at an altitude of 1,250 m, at a place called l’Observatoire. The view is well worth the detour. If you’re fit enough, you can also hike from the parking lot to the top station of the cable car and back. Expect 1½ hours of additional hiking time and a nice climb as a bonus!