Last-minute getaways in the French Alps – Summer 2020
Wish you were here?
If you’re anything like us, we’re spending a lot of time daydreaming about holidays, even though we don’t know when we will be able to travel again…
With that in mind, here are four self-catering ideas to inspire anyone who enjoys an activity holiday (with some top tips for those who prefer to relax!).
All four options are available on a last minute basis, as and when the borders are opened for driving between the UK and France.
Try our Lakeside Cabins:
- Sleeps 4-5 guests (one double room, one twin with extra bunk)
- Shower, basin, separate WC. Washing machine.
- Kitchen: hob, microwave, fridge, crockery, cutlery, pots & pans
- Garden furniture, BBQ
- Wifi available within campsite
- Parking next to cabin
- Boat hire available for wakeboarding etc.
Self-catered Chalet Matisse:
- Sleep up to 8 guests (four bedrooms)
- Games room with TV, X-box, table football
- Wifi, DVD player, satellite TV, wireless speaker
- Log burning stove
- Free parking nearby
4 last-minute getaways in the French Alps
1. Courchevel: Free ticket to the top
If you enjoy feeling on top of the world, then the Three Valleys is a perfect hikers’ destination. From gentle strolls through the La Tania forest, to trail runs and scaling rocky summits, there are options to please the whole family.
Courchevel is kindly opening Verdons, Saulire, La Tania and Praz gondolas for free again this summer (with appropriate distancing measures) and so hikers will be able to enjoy the numerous routes around the peaks.
Good to know: Dogs are welcome on the Courchevel lifts, although be aware that if you want to venture into the Vanoise National Park to spot the ibex, marmots and chamois, you’re not allowed to walk dogs even on a lead.
Getting around: The bus service – also free – is a great way of exploring different areas. Routes and walking maps are available from the Tourist Offices, or you could download the detailed Géoportail app.
Where to eat: Grab a hunk of local cheese – Tomme, Beaufort or Comté – as well as a baguette and a pocket-knife (and maybe a bottle of vin) and you have a simple but delicious picnic, just like a proper local!
At the top of La Saulire, there’s a via ferrata itinerary, so if precipitous overhangs and vertiginous ladders are your thing, it’s definitely a good test of your mettle – whilst being safely clipped on at all times! (Hire equipment locally)
If you’ve ever skied the Verdons piste, you might be surprised to know that you’re skiing over sand! Underneath the ski slopes lies Courchevel’s golf course, which costs €45 for 18 holes, or €31 for nine. Discounts for under 18s and couples.
2. Lake Annecy: Venice in the Alps
The stunningly clear waters of Lake Annecy are a popular spot in summertime.
The lakeside bike track and surrounding mountains offer biking for the whole family, and you can hire boats for wakeboarding, paddle boards and pedalos for fun on the water.
Annecy itself is a picturesque town with charming little canals winding through the old town, geranium-laden windowsills, and ice-cream shops galore.
There are museums & galleries for culture vultures and a morning market for fresh produce.
Good to know: We have a rental boat for wakeboarding or just cruising around the lake! The Mastercraft NXT 20 – 5ltr V8 – 320 BHP has a blueooth stereo and tower speaker, bimini sunshade, drinks cooler and rear sun lounger! Prices from €100/hour plus fuel.
Getting around:With a car you can head further afield for day trips, but a bike is great for stopping off at the villages around the lake. Bike hire is available from various locations nearby, ask us for details.
Where to eat: There are many options to dine out around the lake, but we love Chez Ma Cousine, whose shaded terrace overlooks the water (bring your swimmers for a dip after lunch). Alternatively a simple BBQ back at the cabin is a perfect way to chill out after a busy day!
The mountains and lake are a second home for thrill-seekers: tandem paragliding, high-ropes in the forest, canyoning, wakeboarding… Adrenalin junkies will not be bored!
Bring a towel or yoga mat down to the beach in the morning and your sun salutations will take on a whole new level of ‘zen’.
3. Relaxing en famille in La Tania
La Tania makes a great base for a family summer holiday. With an open-air swimming pool, boules, bike trails, cows on the ski slopes and strolls among the shady pines, it’s ideal for families who appreciate the fresh air and freedom of the mountains.
With a car you have access to some great days out, all well under an hour’s drive: Lac de la Rosière in Moriond, Mottaret’s Lac Tueda and refuge/visitor centre, Méribel and the MTB trails and bouncy castles, Bozel lake for kayaking/SUP and a beach vibe, Champagny-le-Haut or Pralognan for waterfalls, hiking and lunch in a mountain refuge… The list goes on!
Good to know: If you don’t want to drive from the UK with bikes then there are places to hire either electric or MTB bikes nearby, whether it’s for the day or a whole week.
Getting around: A car is useful and expands your options for day trips, although there are free buses running between La Tania and Courchevel. A Brides-les-Bains to Méribel (and Méribel Village) free bus runs 5 times a day from 6th August to 1st September with bike trailer. Routes and walking maps are available from the Tourist Offices, or you could download the detailed Géoportail app.
Where to eat: Skiers’ favourite Le Bouc Blanc is open and ready to welcome guests during the summer season (July and August). With parasols on the terrace, and plenty of space to let the kids roam free, it’s a glorious spot to linger over a long lunch.
Dates for the diary:
17 July – ‘Fete des Bucherons‘ in La Tania
22 July – Open Air classical music concert & fireworks
22nd August – Frappadingue – Muddy obstacle course race! Le Praz
16 – 17 September – Tour de France, Méribel
Just along the road in Le Praz, you’ll find the equestrian centre, where you can follow the pony trek itinerary without a guide and enjoy the stunning scenery from horseback.
Grab a beer or two and something to chuck on the BBQ (don’t forget the charcoal) and enjoy a peaceful stroll around the incredibly clear waters of the highly-instagrammable Lac de la Rosière, then chuck a frisbee around until your food’s ready!
4. On your bike!
Whatever your bike of choice, Courchevel and Méribel offer some wheely great opportunities for riders (sorry, rubbish joke!)
If road biking’s your thing, then Courchevel’s Col de la Loze is a new route that has been created to link Courchevel to Méribel. And the Tour de France is coming through on 16th September 2020!
More into MTB? There are easy, wide mountain tracks accessible to most riders using Courchevel’s lift system, and if you head over into Méribel then there are designated MTB trails for all levels.
Budding Danny MacAskills will definitely want to have a try on the various pump tracks around: there’s a smaller one in Méribel (plus a skate park) and larger options down in Bozel or slightly further afield near Aigueblanche.
Good to know:If you don’t want to drive from the UK with bikes then there are places to hire either electric or MTB bikes nearby, whether it’s for the day or a whole week.
Getting around: There are buses from La Tania to Courchevel in the mornings, and the lifts are free in Courchevel during summertime (and they take bikes!). A Brides-les-Bains to Méribel (and Méribel Village) free bus runs 5 times a day from 6th August to 1st September with bike trailer. Routes and walking maps are available from the Tourist Offices, or you could download the detailed Géoportail app.
Where to eat: Cycle up to Moriond and underneath the Signal chairlift you’ll find an authentic Ferme-Auberge selling fondue, raclette and sharing platters of home-cured meats and their own cheeses.
Dates for the diary:
21 – 23 August – MTB event Maxiavalance – mass start race, + kids events in Méribel
22nd August – Frappadingue – very muddy obstacle course race, Le Praz
16 – 17 September – Tour de France, Méribel
Try the full-on MTB trail to Brides-les-Bains (there’s a choice of red or black runs) which starts from the ‘ball trap’ on the road between La Tania and Méribel Village. The Salon de Thé in Brides is a good ice-cream stop!
For a less challenging ride, head to lunch in Méribel from La Tania. There are tracks throughout the forest that are accessible with a car but make wide, undulating trails for cyclists, with enough bumps to make it fun. There are plenty of restaurants in Méribel to choose from. We love Jacks for the Spanish nibbles, washed down with a craft IPA.
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