Best Spots in the French Alps this Summer

This is a guest post by Alpine Infusion.

Mountains aren’t only for winter!

After the snow has melted and the skiers have gone home for the year, you may assume the French Alps have little to offer. But, you’d be wrong.

There are a number of hidden gems nestled within in Europe’s best loved mountain range. The key is knowing where to look.

If you’re unsure where to start, we’ve got a handy travel guide for you. Here are the best spots in the French Alps this summer.

The Vanoise National Park

Did you know there’s a national park nestled within the French Alps? If not, you do now!

The Vanoise National Park is rich with cultural history and home to stunning, rare wildlife. So much so, it’s been described as a ‘genuine green diamond’. It’s just waiting to be discovered by those who venture to the mountains in the summertime.

The park aims to protect and conserve biodiversity, including eagles, fauna and ibexes. A number of rare plants, such as certain wildflowers, also live within.

Admired by children, hikers and nature enthusiasts alike, the park has something to appeal to everyone. You can even go fishing in the Ouillette lake, surrounding by some simply stunning scenery.

Whether for a long walk or a picnic, this makes for the perfect summer’s day out!

This park is easily accessed when staying in some of your favourite resorts. Staying in a catered chalet in Meribel will not only make your holiday one of luxury, but give you easy access to the park and its delights.

‘Little Venice’

Thanks to its stunning scenery, pavement cafes and relaxed atmosphere, the French town of Annecy has been lovingly nicknamed ‘Little Venice’.

This part of the Haute-Savoie region of the Alps comes to life in the warmer months.

You’ll be spoilt for choice on what to do first! It could be relaxing by the beach, attending a festival or dining out in one of the many restaurants.

If you love your sport – you’re also in luck. Annecy is the European capital of outdoor activities! From sailing to hiking, you’ll see the mountains in a completely new light; transformed in the summer.

Of course, we had to mention the Lake. Lake Annecy is one of the most breath-taking natural settings that you can only appreciate in its full glory as the weather gets warmer. Whether it’s sailing on it or sunbathing around it – there’s something for the whole family to do.

Écrins National Park

Écrins National Park is home to spectacular meadows and wildlife, making it the perfect place to explore. It’s popular in the summer time, yet never feels overcrowded.

You can take part in a hike, explore a glacier or photograph some of the wildlife. Many foxes, squirrels and marmots can be found inside. There’s enough to keep you entertained for hours!

You can easily reach the park from your Courchevel 1850 chalet by car.

Lake Geneva

Looking to make your next summer holiday an unforgettable one? Visit Lake Geneva.

Shared by France and Switzerland, the lake is home to endless hours of fun. This includes swimming and boating, to name just two water sports. There are many others to try!

Remember – it’s not just the lake itself but everything around it. Cycling is a popular activity for those who love the fresh air and enjoying the views.

Those who aren’t keen on sport have plenty to do too. From salons to spas, there’s more than you could fit into one day!

Barcelonnette

Barcelonnette is stunning to look at. It’s home to picture-perfect views, street markets and colourful houses. In summer, you can appreciate this small French town in all its glory!

All the architecture has been inspired by Mexico. It’s as close as you can get to that part of the world without leaving Europe!

There’s plenty to do during a day-trip here. From dining out to taking part in a festival, it’s a hidden gem you don’t want to miss.

Book Your Accommodation

Ready to explore the French Alps in summer? All that’s left is to book your accommodation.

Alpine Infusion offer luxury ski chalets in the Three Valleys that will make your next holiday one to remember forever.  Tempted yet?

Mont Blanc and Glacier des Bossons

Chamonix

Mont Blanc and Glacier des Bossons
Mont Blanc and Glacier des Bossons

Chamonix is one of the original climbing and skiing destinations of Europe and home to its highest peak, Mont Blanc. The natural beauty of the Chamonix valley has been mesmerizing travellers for centuries and it is still one of the most visited destinations in France.

The first tourists apparently arrived in Chamonix in 1741 and they were two Englishmen, William Windham and Richard Pocock. They documented their journey and their discovery of La Mer de Glace glacier in a publication which influenced many others to endure the long journey to the ‘Sea of Ice’.

The new visitors brought with them their appetite to conquer the mountains but it wasn’t until 1786 that the top of Mont Blanc was summited by two locals, Dr Paccard and Jacques Balmat.

In 1770 the first tourist hotel, the Hotel d’Angleterre was opened and Chamonix has never looked back since.

After our introduction you probably won’t be surprised to hear this: There is a lot to do in Chamonix.

If you are not afraid of heights then take the Aiguille du Midi cable car to the viewing platforms at 3842 metres. You will feel like you could touch the peak of Mont Blanc and you will see groups of brave mountaineers attempting to conquer one of the stunning peaks around or ski the famous Vallée Blanche. You can even go over to the Italian side of the Alps and travel over the glacier on the Helbronner lift. This is our personal favourite and it is worth every extra penny to get this view!

If you prefer trains to cable cars then take the Montenvers rack railway to the famous Mer de Glace (Sea of Ice) glacier. You can go down to the glacier and into the ice grotto that shows you the history of the glacier along with some great ice sculptures. You do have to climb over 300 steps though in each direction. On the opposite side of the valley from Mont Blanc is the Brévent cable car. You get the best view of Europe’s highest mountain from here.

In the winter there is lots to do for non-skiers as well in Chamonix, which makes it an ideal destination for families and people who want to enjoy the snowy vistas. You can take the cable cars or the Montenvers railway up into the mountains of Chamonix and enjoy a leisurely lunch on the top. You also have a choice of some excellent spas in Chamonix if you are after something relaxing.

If you want a real bird`s eye view of the mountains then why not try a helicopter ride around Mont Blanc and the surrounding peaks.

There is also a leisure centre in Chamonix with a swimming pool, sauna and steam rooms, ice rink, indoor climbing and other facilities.

You can find a bowling alley in Chamonix, which also has pool tables and air hockey tables. Chamonix`s cinema also shows some films in English with subtitles.

If you like a bit of gambling then why not try the Casino in Chamonix`s centre? You can enjoy some blackjack or roulette but of course you have to be over 18.

The other great activity you can do is of course Shopping. Chamonix has many great shops. You can find anything from luxury boutiques to mountain hard-ware shops.

Chamonix also attracts many extreme sport enthusiasts. This is the perfect place to try your fist tandem parapente flight, learn to traverse a glacier, climb the highest peak in Europe, go canyoning, white-water rafting or try any other crazy adventure under the sun.

It is easy to enjoy the Savoyard gastronomy in Chamonix`s delightful restaurants. In the winter there is nothing better than a hearty meal of cheese-based dishes. Try a raclette, a fondue or a tartiflette – it should satisfy the biggest appetites!

A raclette, as you can see on the picture is a big block of cheese put under the grill and you get to scrape off the top melted layer. You then eat this cheesy goodness with boiled potatoes, charcuterie and drink some Savoie white wine with it. We recommend a cold glass of Apremont wine!

A tartiflette is a dish made with layers of potatoes, bacon and onions topped with a famous local cheese called Reblochon and grilled to perfection.

A cheese fondue needs no introduction, however a Savoyard Fondue uses local cheeses, like Beaufort and also Comté and Gruyere.

If you want to go for a day trip from Chamonix then try the beautiful town of Annecy, which is only an hour away. Your other option is the medieval town of Yvoire on the shore of Lake Geneva or Courmayeur through the Mont Blanc tunnel.

To get to Chamonix your best option is to fly to Geneva airport. From Geneva airport to Chamonix many companies operate shuttle services if you are after the cheapest option. If you are after a bit more flexibility or there are a few people in your group then ask for private transfer quotes to Chamonix from local companies.

Distance of Transfer from Geneva Airport to Chamonix: 104 km
Geneva Airport to Chamonix Transfer Time: App. 1 hr 10 mins

Distance of Transfer from Chambery Airport to Chamonix: 145km
Chambery Airport to Chamonix Transfer Time: 1hr 30mins approx

Distance of Transfer from Grenoble Airport to Chamonix: 225km
Grenoble Airport to Chamonix Transfer Time: 2hrs 30mins approx

Distance of Transfer from Lyon Airport to Chamonix: 220km
Lyon Airport to Chamonix Transfer Time: 2hrs 10mins approx

Have you got any insider tips for people visiting Chamonix? Tell us about your favourite ski runs, restaurants, activities!