French Alps Holidays - Travel Guide
In winter and summer, the Alps, a sublime French region, offer breathtaking landscapes that will delight mountain lovers. Large ski areas, natural spring water baths, historical sites, villages perched at altitude... All the criteria are met for a successful stay in one of the country's highest points. At VeryChic we are committed to offering you the best hotels, so that you can be confident in having an amazing stay in the French Alps.
For nature lovers, the French Alps are a prime destination. This region has some of the most magnificent natural landscapes in Europe, with its impressive mountains, crystal clear lakes, waterfalls and pristine forests. Many travellers also visit the Alps for Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Western Europe.
Culture and leisure activities also attract many visitors. The French Alps are the historic region of ancient Savoy, the ancestral territory of the Italian royal house, as well as the ancient region of Dauphin. In Chambéry, the major point of interest is the majestic Chateau des Ducs de Savoie. Annecy has an ancient castle that belonged to the Counts of Geneva, while Grenoble was the meeting place of the Dauphin's states. In Belle Epoque, many spa towns flourished, such as Aix les Bains, Évian-les-Bains and Saint-Gervais-les-Bains where the thermal baths are still very popular today. Not forgetting Courchevel, one of the most luxurious ski resort in Europe!
So, if you want to know how to make the most of this gorgeous mountain setting on your holiday in the Alps, we'll tell you more below.
Weekend in the Alps: how to prepare well for your first mountain holiday
The French Alps are home to some of the most spectacular hiking routes in Europe. If you are in an adventurous mood during your holiday in the Alps, trekking is a perfect choice. You will find various marked trails, some for experienced walkers and others for casual hikers. To make the most of your first alpine adventure, here are some tips!
Get yourself in shape
Getting in good physical shape will make your trip much more enjoyable. The trek in the Alps is within reach of anyone in good health. With the succession of descents and climbs (and an average altitude of around 1300m), the more physically prepared you are, the better. If this is your first holiday in the Alps, work out on a daily basis: jogging outdoors, and of course, more treadmill sessions.
Invest in walking shoes
Given the number of kilometres you will be walking during your trek sessions in the Alps, having a pair of good quality walking boots can make a big difference. On climbs, they help to distribute the effort between your legs and arms, allowing you to save energy. On the way down, the walking boots help maintain balance and take the load off your knees, as the boots take the brunt of the impact. With greater stability, you'll also reduce the risk of tripping and injuring yourself on uneven or potentially slippery ground.
Choose the right hiking boots
In addition to your standard outdoor clothing, pack a good pair of hiking boots for your weekend in the Alps. Choose a solid sole with good ankle support to better protect you on rocky terrain. The shoe should also be comfortable. To ensure this, wear them well before you leave. For example, during a day or weekend hike on a trail near your home. Ideally, this one will alternate climbs, descents and a variety of reliefs.
Protecting yourself from the sun
The mountain sun has a very high UV index. So you need to prepare yourself properly. Protect yourself from the ultraviolet rays by taking with you the following:
Please note that the UV index is very high.
- Sun cream
- Hat with a wide brim
In July and August, temperatures can reach 30 °C at lower altitudes. To avoid dehydration, take bottled water as well and make sure you drink regularly. This is a great way to avoid dehydration.
Don't forget your raincoat
Evening thunderstorms are not rare in the French Alps. Remember to bring a waterproof jacket, a windbreaker and rain trousers to keep you warm and dry. There is nothing to stop you from choosing a poncho, which also has the advantage of protecting your backpack. Finally, before you set off on your trek, find out about the weather conditions.
What is a must-see on your weekend in the Alps?
Most hikers focus their visit on outdoor activities: hiking, biking and climbing in the summer; skiing and snowboarding in winter. In the picturesque villages perched in the mountains, ski resorts such as Chamonix, Annecy, Aix les Bains, and the Alpes d’Huez have excellent facilities. The lively atmosphere and the regional charm are incomparable! Discover the must-see places during your holiday in the Alps.
Chamonix, pure Alpine charm
The town of Chamonix lies in a peaceful valley at the foot of Mont Blanc. Surrounded by mountains, meadows and streams, the town attracts travellers from all over the world, so why not you?
It has a lot going for it. You can simply marvel at the beauty of the Alpine landscape or enjoy a variety of outdoor sports. Chamonix is a playground for hikers, climbers, golfers, mountain bikers, and of course, skiers.
The town is home to a large number of ski resorts, which are all well worth a visit. The town is home to an internationally renowned ski resort. The resort stretches for 23 kilometres along the Chamonix Valley between Les Houches and Argentiere. If you want to prolong your immersion in the traditional atmosphere of mountain villages, make a stop in Les Houches. This commune set amidst lush forests and alpine meadows offers a wide choice of hotels, chalets to rent, restaurants, and shops.
In Chamonix, the Aiguille du Midi is also a must-see site. It's an observation peak at an altitude of 3842 metres, offering a 360° view of the entire French Alps. The Aiguille of the Midi is only accessible by road.
Annecy, romance among the peaks
Situated on the edge of a tranquil lake surrounded by snow-capped mountains, Annecy looks like a scene out of a fairy tale. Graceful white swans often swim in the narrow canals of the Thiou River, which flows from the lake and through the old town. During the summer, potted flowers decorate the lakeside promenade and the facades of many buildings are decorated with colourful geraniums. The old part of the town is a pleasant place to walk around. The winding cobbled streets set the scene for quiet strolls, while the nonchalant ballet of the swans accentuates the festive atmosphere.
When in town, take a walk down the lively Rue de Sainte-Claire. Here you will find arcaded buildings dating back to the 16th century, which are now home to many shops and restaurants.
Wandering through the medieval streets, you will discover many architectural treasures. Annecy has two historic churches, the 15th century Saint-Maurice church and the 16th century Saint-Pierre cathedral. The Palais de l'Isle, which dates from the 12th century, is located on a lot on the Thiou river. It was originally a prison, later used as a court house. This emblematic building regularly hosts cultural and artistic exhibitions. Looking for a place to stay for a night or two? Check out all our hotels in Annecy !
Another important historical monument, the Château d’Annecy. Built in the 14th century, it was the residence of the counts of Genève. Today, the castle is a museum of architecture, regional heritage, modern sculpture, landscape painting, and contemporary art.
Grenoble, the capital of the Alps
The former capital of Dauphin, Grenoble is located in a basin of the Isère Valley surrounded by mountains rising to more than 3,000 metres. Grenoble is dominated by Fort Rabot and Fort de la Bastille to the north.
It is a very beautiful city.
Among the city's most interesting historic buildings is the Palais de Justice. Built between the 15th and 16th centuries, the Palace of Justice boasts a beautiful facade dating from the beginning of the Renaissance. This palace was originally the meeting place of the Dauphin's states. The Chambre de la Cour des Comptes is another monument in Grenoble steeped in history and a must-see in Grenoble.
The Mususée de Grenoble, one of the most important museums in France, is also among the must-sees of a stay in the Alps. This superb sanctuary of fine art features exceptional paintings by great masters such as Rubens, George de la Tour and Philippe de Champaigne, as well as 19th century artists such as Delacroix and Monet. Modern art is also represented, with works by Picasso and Matisse, among others.
In addition to its cultural wealth, the city has many natural heritages, parks and green gardens. On the other side of Isère, built on a rock below the Fort de la Bastille, are the two largest green spaces in Grenoble: the Jardin des Dauphins, offering 30 hectares of flower gardens, terraces, staircases and pavement paths, and the Parc Guy-Pape, which offers a stunning view of Fort Rabot.
Aix les Bains, a renowned spa resort
Located on the edge of the Lac du Bourget, Aix-les-Bains is an internationally renowned spa town. In particular, they concentrate the best thalasso centres in the region. The rustic landscape, the panoramic views, and the serene atmosphere of the town make it ideal for a relaxing holiday. The town is famous for its natural mineral waters, used for therapeutic purposes in the Roman era.
The city is also famous for its modern thalassotherapy centres and spa facilities, including:
- Marina Adelphia including a wellness centre with baths and spa treatments, a four-star hotel, and a gourmet restaurant.
- Les Thermes de Marlioz which are located in a quiet and green park shaded by hundred-year-old trees.
- Les Thermes Chevalley, located in the park of the Villa Chevalley and offering a splendid view of Lake Bourget and the mountains.
Art enthusiasts will enjoy a visit to the Faure Museum and its extraordinary collection of impressionist paintings, sculptures and faience ceramics.
The museum is located in the Villa Chevalley Park and offers a splendid view of Lake Bourget and the mountains.
Megève, the alpine capital of winter sports
Megève is one of France's leading winter sports resorts. It welcomes lovers of downhill skiing, cross-country skiing and snowboarding. The picturesque medieval village of Megève has its origins in the 14th century and offers an authentic alpine experience. The narrow cobbled streets, the main square and the parish church underline the charm of this village, which also has a modern infrastructure. You will find numerous hotels, luxury boutiques, and gourmet restaurants. The largest ski resort in the Alps, Megève, is renowned for its extensive ski area. Unfortunately, due to its low altitude, the ski season is limited.
Vercors Regional Natural Park
Vercors is a chain of hills covered with forests in the Dauphin region, between the Rhone Valley and the Alps Winter Road. Its summit, the Grand Veymont, reaches 2,346 metres. The hills of the Vercors are cut by deep winding valleys and gorges. The nature park has many well-maintained trails, allowing walkers to explore Vercors on foot or on horseback. The site has excellent facilities for a wide variety of winter sports. Needless to say, for the best trek experience in the Rhône-Alpes, Vercors is the ideal setting.
To extend the experience, head to the dolomites of the Eastern Alps, in Italy.