Insider's Guide: The French Alps


In the second of our series of Insider's Guides, Chris Thompson, managing director of Alp Active, which offers activity holidays in the Portes du Soleil area, gives his tips on holidaying in the French Alps.

1 In Evian, on the shores of Lake Geneva, you may be tempted to buy a bottle of the world-famous water. Save yourself a few euros and do as the locals do; take empty bottles to the drinking fountains where the same mineral water gushes out and you can fill up free of charge. There are two fountains close to each other on Avenue des Sources.

2 In Chamonix, don't miss the Aiguille du Midi cable car, which whisks you up to a viewing platform just below the peak of Mont Blanc. The view is stunning, but don't forget a jacket. It may be 30C-plus at ground level but at 3,842m it will be below freezing. At €42 (£37) return, it's not cheap, but you will remember the experience for the rest of your life.

3 Savoie's slopes are normally associated with ski runs, but in summer, 2,000 hectares produce the local white wines such as Apremont and Crépy. Taste your way around these vineyards by renting an electric bike at Chambéry station and following the waymarked Route des Vins.

4 The Portes du Soleil domain is made up of 12 resorts. They include the Savoyard villages of Morzine, Les Gets and Châtel, as well as purpose-built resorts such as Avoriaz. In summer, most chairlifts remain open, and for just €1 a day you can get a Multipass, which allows unlimited use of them. The pass will also get you into the pools, ice rinks, museums, tourist trains and more. Bus transport between the villages is also free.

5 The Savoie Mont Blanc area has 29 Michelin-starred restaurants. Some open their kitchen to share their secrets. For example, in Courchevel , the renowned Chabichou (chabichou-courchevel.com), with two Michelin stars, invites people to spend some quality time with chef Michel Rochedy.

6 Fancy a swim with a difference? Head for Combloux, where you will find the Biotope swimming lake. The water is filtered naturally, using nothing but reed beds and plants that grow in special areas in the margins. This produces water purity claimed to be higher than "normal" swimming pools. And there are fabulous views of Mont Blanc, too.

7 Try downhill cycling from Arc 1950 to the village of Villaroger. The route passes along forest tracks and there are lots of hamlets to explore. On the way back, take the easy route and hop on the funicular train and then catch one of the inter-resort buses.

8 The wonderful Jardin des Cinq Sens in the pretty village of Yvoire on the shore of Lake Geneva stimulates the senses because you can smell, touch and taste your way along the carefully laid out pathways.

9 Lac du Bourget is France's largest inland lake, perfect for swimming, boating and fishing.

10 The spa town of Aix-les-Bains was once a favoured retreat of Queen Victoria. She had such an affinity for the town that they put up a statue of her. Feeling peckish? The nearby village of Bourget du Lac has four restaurants with five Michelin stars between them.

To find a holiday in any part of France, visit the website of Abtof (the Association of British Travel Organisers to France ) at franceyesyoucan.com. For more Information on the area, go to savoie-mont-blanc.com.

Voices
voicesExclusive: Pete Doherty on drugs and his demons
Sport
footballLIVE: All the latest from today's late game at the Emirates
News
newsNew images splice vintage WWII photos with modern-day setting
Sport
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Excellent opportunities are available for par...

    Investigo: IT Auditor

    £60000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits : Investigo: A global leading travel busi...

    Recruitment Genius: Chef De Partie x 2

    £16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This charming and contemporary ...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor - OTE £20,000 Uncapped

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Day In a Page

    US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

    Immigration: Obama's final frontier

    The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
    Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

    Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

    Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
    Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

    You know that headache you’ve got?

    Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
    Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

    Scoot commute

    Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
    Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

    The Paul Robeson story

    How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
    10 best satellite navigation systems

    Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

    Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
    Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

    Paul Scholes column

    England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
    Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

    Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

    Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
    Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

    Frank Warren column

    Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
    Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

    Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

    Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
    Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

    'How do you carry on? You have to...'

    The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
    Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

    Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

    Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

    'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

    Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
    Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

    Sir John Major hits out at theatres

    Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
    Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

    Kicking Barbie's butt

    How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines