Summertime in the mountains
The alps are a world famous winter holiday destination, but what happens for the other 7 months of the year?
Summer, unfortunately, doesn't happen for the entire 7 months! We have some interseason (generally the months of May & October which are REALLY quiet) and we have some bits between this and the main seasons where the hustle and bustle starts to pick up/slowly dies down (generally June & September) and then we have the summer season (July & August) and of course winter (November to April).
We love summertime in the mountains. The scenery is stunning and there are numerous activities available that cater for everyone. It is not, however, necessarily the first choice for a sitting around doing nothing kind of holiday - more les vacances sportives, as the french would say. And if rumours of extortionate pricing puts you off rest assured that during the summer prices for everything tend to be around 50% cheaper than in the winter!
If you haven’t had an adequate fix of sliding action over the winter then you can come and ski on the glacier in Val d’Isere from 12th June until the middle of July. The glacier is open from 7am to midday. More details here.
The glacier in Tignes will also be open from 19th June to August 1st.
Summer skiing can be a bit hit & miss! And openings will be dependent on conditions.
But what about the real summertime & summer holidays in the mountains... At the moment we are in interseason mode but the summer season will soon be upon us, with Val d’Isere opening it’s doors and lifts on 26th June.
There really is something for everyone with stunning scenery, activities galore, one-off entertainments and sun drenched terraces. Here is a run down...
TOWN CENTRE playgrounds, slack lines, trampolining, high wire course, kiddy car track, tennis, volleyball and so much more!
MANCHET VALLEY equestrian centre, archery, yoga/aerobics, playground, skate park, pump track, more tennis and a golf driving range.
LA DAILLE via ferrata.
SOLAISE fishing in the lake.
OLYMPIQUE mountain biking and also link to Tignes via the Borsat chairlift (bikes only).
EVERYWHERE walking, trail running & road biking.
Walking can be done under your own steam (watch out for mountain bike trails) or by joining an organised guided route (click here). Do some marmot spotting while you are out!
Trail running - try the Odlo High Trail courses running 9th July. 9km to 70km courses to choose from!
Road biking is extremely popular in these parts, partly due to the fact that the Col de l'Iseran is the highest paved col in Europe (2770m) and so a great challenge for keen participants. If this sounds a little too much for a holiday jaunt then why not hire an E-bike to ease you on your way! Another popular col that is easily accessible is the Col du Petit St Bernard, which takes you over the border into Italy.
Lessons for everything are available - swimming, trampolining, horse riding, mountain biking, archery, tennis, yoga etc etc... Take a look at options here
SWIMMING POOLS Centre Aquasportif has a pool, gym, climbing wall, squash courts etc (as in the winter). If you fancy an outdoor dip then head for a drink &/or lunch &/or stay at Hotel Altitude and make use of their pool.
Click here for a full rundown of all the activities available & dates for special events.
There are also various one off/weekly entertainments put on by the Tourist Office.
Regular guided walks/hikes, sporting tournaments and much, much more.
Take a look here.
My highlights would be
Fete de Vieux Val 24th July 2021
A weekend of entertainment with kids fete on the Saturday afternoon, adults party that night and a float parade on Sunday. The floats are something else - a different theme each year and the local businesses really throw themselves into making theirs the best!
Foire Avaline 7th & 8th August 2021
An entire weekend during which the centre of Val d'Isere is filled with stalls. Local producers come and sell their wares from leather & lacework, through meats & cheeses to jewellery and art. There is lots to see & do for the kids, including farm animals, the emergency services, donkey rides, old fashioned games and merry-go-rounds.
Fete de Fornet 18th August 2021
An afternoon for the kids with old fashioned games lining the streets of Le Fornet and an entertainer. Apero time is for the grown ups with drinks and nibbles served by the inhabitants of Le Fornet.
Pedestrian nights Thursdays
Like the winter version where the main street is closed to traffic on Thursday evenings, live music and entertainment is put on for the crowds.
Olympique Bubble is open to pedestrians and mountain bikers - free for pedestrians, €10 per day for cyclists. Wouldn’t be my first choice for a walk due to the mountain bike trails and amount of scree rather than grassy slopes.
Solaise Bubble is open for pedestrians (free) which gives access to some attractive walking as well as the Ouillette Lake and the lovely Ouillette restaurant.
The buses run around town, but much less frequently than in winter. There are buses up & down the main road, from la Daille to Le Fornet. There is also a bus that will take you out to the Manchet Valley.
Most restaurants in town are open for lunch during the summer and they do amazing value deals (especially when compared to winter prices!) - you can normally get a 3-course meal plus a drink for less than €20. Check in advance for evening bookings.
Brasserie Louis in La Daille.
Le Casserole in the centre of town.
La Source in the centre of town.
Bar Jacques in the centre of town.
If you are heading up the Solaise lift then the lovely Ouillette Restaurant is open - a favourite of ours whatever the season and a veritable sun trap.
If you are heading to the Manchet Valley then you will find the restaurant Au Bout du Monde.
Camping - there is a site, Camping Les Richardes, situated in Laisinant.
AirBnB would be a great place to start for self-catered apartments.
There are also a number of hotels that open during the summer months. I would recommend trying the lovely Hotel La Toviere in La Daille.
The Village des Enfants (click here) is open in the summer for full day or half day bookings for children aged 18 months -17 years. They are wonderful! And the daily schedule is jam packed with fun activities for the kids, to tire them out while you relax & unwind.
The usual free bus service runs around town, between Fornet and La Daille as well as the route up to the Manchet valley, but a little less frequently than in winter.
If possible I would advise having your own transport when coming in the summer - drive all the way or hire a car at the airport. Parking is free during the summer months. Not only will it make getting here much easier - public transport and transfers can be tricky to find - but it also means that once you are here you have a lot more options and can disappear off on day trips as the feeling takes you.
Just around the corner in Tignes (15 minute drive) another whole world of mountains and activities is open to you. In Tignes you have got the Toviere bubble lift and the Palafour chairlift open for walking and biking. There is also, of course, the lake with various watersports available including pedalos and stand up paddle boarding. Like Val d’Isere, there are also tennis courts, football pitches, trampolines and skate park. Around the lake there is also an amazing outdoor soft play-esque area full of bouncy castles and pool pits, with deckchairs from where you can supervise & relax at the same time!
Tignes is also home to the highest golf course in Europe…
There is also the Sports Centre and Lagon, with swimming pool, gym etc.
If you fancy an outdoor dip then head to The Queue de Cochon in Lavachet and grab a drink by their pool.
For more on summer activities in Tignes click here
TOUR DE FRANCE is coming to Tignes this summer 4/5th July
Around the lake you will find a number of BBQs that are available for anyone to use - you just need to provide the charcoal and meat! For restaurants my personal recommendations would be
Lo Terrachu situated on the edge of the lake.
Queue de Cochon in Lavachet.
La Cantine in Lavachet.
Tignes Cuisine in Tignes Le Lac.
Pignatta in Tignes Val Claret.
The Corner in Tignes Val Claret.
There are also a number of things that we love to do in the surrounding area - down to Bourg St Maurice and a little beyond. I have also included Annecy here as it is just too good not to if you are in the area and have the time - it is also en-route from Geneva airport.
PLAN D’EAU We really enjoy a day trip to the Plan d’Eau de Macot, which is just the other side of Bourg St Maurice. Here you will find a cycle path, huge children’s playground, high wires course, small lake with small sandy “beach area (but completely surrounded by nice grassy areas), a restaurant and BBQs for free use (first come, first served).
WHITEWATER ACTIVITIES Just the other side of Bourg St Maurice, in Landry, you will find the H2O rafting centrefor all your whitewater activity needs. Rafting, Hydrospeed, Canoeing, Stand Up Paddle Boarding and Canyoning all available.
ANNECY Just a couple of hours drive away is the picturesque town of Annecy and it’s famous lake. It is simply idyllic and we love to spend weekends there (during the inter season in particular when there is nothing open in Val d’Isere). There is a cycle path along the length of the lake, small beaches at various points, a variety of watersports available and breathtaking scenery. Parapenting is an extremely popular pastime here as well.
So that's my rundown of "Summer in the Mountains"! The mountains are a natural playground and with all the other activities and entertainment put on they make a wonderful place to holiday.
Have you been to the alps in the summer? What did you enjoy the most?
I would highly recommend you make the trip and come to see for yourself, you won't regret it!