Family: Chamonix, France
Sunday 27 January 2008
For families in Europe, the future of the summer holiday surely lies in the mountains. In the years ahead, as climate change begins to ratchet up sea-level temperatures to unbearable heights, we'll all be after a bit of cool altitude, like Victorian colonials escaping the heat of the Indian plains. And the great old Alpine resorts are waiting for us with open arms. With winter snowfall becoming increasingly unreliable, this must be their future too.
For the moment, though, there are bargains to be had. Take Chamonix, the grandaddy of all the resorts, in France's Haute-Savoie region (average summer highs, 24C-27C). Here, fabulously swanky properties managed by luxury specialists Pollen-Brooks can be hired for less than half their peak wintertime rates. These include, Chalet Lumiere, which sleeps 10, has a children's playroom, drop-down cinema screen, sauna, Jacuzzi and gob-smacking views of Mont Blanc and Les Drus mountains.
Even easily bored Nintendo DS-generation children cannot fail to be gripped by the summer activities on offer. You can take an 1,800m summer luge run, winding through forests and meadows; or a funicular railway up to the Mer de Glace, France's largest glacier, and explore its dripping blue depths via an ice tunnel. There's hiking, rafting, horse-riding, a forest adventure park, a wildlife park, a huge outdoor pool (no swimming shorts, Speedos only, monsieur), and bored teenagers can paraglide off mountainsides or don Mad Max-style body armour to follow extensive mountain-bike trails.
All Chamonix's big lifts run throughout the summer, including the vertiginous ride up to the Aiguille du Midi (3,842m), one of the highest cable-cars in the world.
On the way home, we stopped off in Paris for a quick sortie up the Eiffel Tower and a night in the Edouard VII, a hip, roomy and dead-central family hotel that offers cut-price deals in August, too.
With an itinerary like that, who needs the beach anyway? Bill Tuckey
Chalet Lumière, Chamonix, from £640 per person, including housekeeping and concierge services, from Pollen-Brooks Leisure, 01344 849 135, www.pollenbrooks.com, email@example.com. Hotel Edouard VII, 39 Avenue de l'Opéra, 75002 Paris, £310 per night for standard room, 00 33 1 42 61 56 90, v
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