There are many things you can do in summer in the French Alps. Contrary to what people think, it is not just a winter destination! So if you have some time over summer, consider the Alps in France, it makes for a great stop on a road trip around France, or as a destination in itself!
We wanted to give you a round-up of 10 amazing ideas of things you can do this summer in the French Alps and the surrounding villages.
1. A day trip to Annecy
Annecy is just a short drive away from most villages in the French Alps. From Bourg-St-Maurice expect it to take around an hour and a half. It’s best accessible by private car, as it gives you more flexibility on when you come and go, but also for bringing extra equipment with you.
There is a bike trail the entire way around Annecy, so if you bring the kid’s bikes, scooters or skateboards, you can easily spend most of your day along the lakeside. Check out these segway tours and historical walking tours.
The township of Annecy is perfect for the summer in the French Alps. The small township has medieval buildings and narrow twisting lanes which make for fun exploring. There are plenty of restaurants lining the main part of town, many of them overlooking the stream that runs through the centre of town. If you are looking for gorgeous Instagram photos, this might just be the place!
2. Mountainbiking at a bike park
There are several bike parks around the French Alps, all of them are easily accessible if you are staying in Bourg-St-Maurice and especially if you have access to a private car.
There is a pump track that is open in summer in the township of Bourg-St-Maurice, just bring your bike, helmet and knee pads for free access.
A little further out is the pump track at Aime, it’s near to the local Decathlon and a large supermarket, so it can be quite handy if you have other errands to do too.
We also mention a few great mountain bike trails around the French Alps in this post, perhaps it will inspire you to go a little further afield and tackle something new?
3. Hiking around Lake Rosalend, Beaufort and Col De Bresson
With over 30 designated hiking trails in Bourg-St-Maurice alone, you can be sure to find something suitable to your fitness levels.
We love the Pierra Menta Loop from Beaufort. Allow yourself around 6 hours to complete the 13km long loop. The scenery is spectacular, but be warned, you must be an able hiker with experience and sure footing to complete this hike successfully.
The weather in the French Alp region is fantastic in summer. You will find the days are warm, without being overbearing and hot, and the air is still clean without the humidity you will get at lower altitudes.
If you love the outdoors, actually Summer is the perfect season to visit the Savoie region in! Unless of course you are addicted to that cold white powder in the mountains 😉 In which case, keep that chalet holiday booked and ignore the rest of this article.
4. Doing a Via Ferrata in Paisey – Nancroix
Perfect summer activity in the French alps is a Via Ferrata. It’s such an odd word to an English speaker and I don’t really know what the actual translation could be. But it is essentially an outdoor rock climbing course that is set out along a designated path. You must wear a harness, helmet and gloves to complete the course. You clip into the metal rope and start following it all the way up. At points, there might be ladders to climb or swing bridges built in. It’s pretty much a jungle gym, but for adults!
In saying that, there are courses that are suitable for kids, so check before setting out. You will need to bring your own gear, and it is all free to access during the summer season. However, if you do prefer to go on a tour, GetYourGuide has some great deals.
The Via Ferrata Des Bettieres is located at the entrance to the Vanoise National Park with easy car parking and facilities. There are three sections to the Via Ferrata, each getting a little more difficult. It’s perfect for beginners because you are able to exit after each stage if you are tired or feel like it is too challenging. If you have kids, they may only manage the first section- then it’s an easy walking path back down through the grass (watch out for sunbathing marmots!!)
5. Going paragliding over the French Alps
For those who are a little more daring, there are plenty of opportunities to take to the skies. The great thing about paragliding is that it does operate year-round in the French Alps- you will see snowboarders paragliding into the Folie Deuce some afternoons for Aprés. Generally, April to November is the main season for tandem rides to make the most of optimal weather and flying conditions.
If you want to give paragliding a go, have a chat with a local operator and see what they think suits you best. They will know the best vantage points for the weather conditions and be able to ensure safety.
6. Hiking to Notre-Dame-Des-Vernettes
Another great hike to do while you stay in the Savoie region over summer is the hike to the Notre-Dame-Vernettes. It is a gorgeous little chapel built over 300 years ago up in the Paisey- Nancroix valley. The hike is nice and easy and is easily completed within an hour.
The inside walls are highly decorated and there is an ongoing effort to maintain and preserve the art within. It’s a beautiful sight and worth the short trek up there. You will see ornate golden walls and religious figures. It’s quite a sight given the location up a mountainside!
If you are lucky enough to be staying in the area in July, consider partaking or viewing the pilgrimage which is organised for July 16th each year.
7. Eat local cheese and drink wine in the sun
So this might be a cop-out, but honestly, it’s a reminder to step back too and enjoy your holiday in the French Alps! Relax. Explore the delicious local cuisines and drink up that good stuff. Take a load off, and rest those feet for a bit, you deserve it!
If you’re looking for some ideas on what to order for your boozy summer lunch, we have a great little article about all things Savoie Cuisine here. Have a read and let us know if we missed any!
Finding a place to eat during summer can be tough. Many of the restaurants in the main ski areas close down or operate with very minimal service. Your best bet is to head to Bourg-St-Maurice and still the streets there. As it is a fully functioning village year-round, you will be sure to find a table in the sun!
8. Camping – a perfect family summer in the French Alps
Convince the kids to leave the iPad at home, turn your work emails off for a few days and go camping in the French Alps this summer! You don’t have to leave all creature comforts, of course, there are plenty of options now for “Glamping”, which gives you the best of both worlds.
If you want to pack and tent and just go, be sure to ask the landowner’s permission before pitching a tent. The safest and more appropriate way to camp in France is to stay at designated camping parks, not only do these provide safety and cover your ass legally. But they also have additional facilities such as toilets and freshwater. Unless you can sustain yourself completely off-grid, it’s best to just book a campsite.
If you don’t have a tent, you can still get the same feeling as camping by booking a hut in a campground. Huttopia is one of these companies, offering amazing Glamping style facilities while also allowing regular old school camping.
Make sure you have all of the right gear before you go camping- Cycloscope have tested camping chairs, so you don’t have to!
9. River rafting, kayaking and tubing
Create memories to last a lifetime with river rafting in the Savoie Region over summer. The weather is perfect for it, and the water is clean. Many companies around Aime and Bourg-St-Maurice offer day trips on the river. You can choose from River rafting, tubing or kayaking. The bigger white water rafting trips are often done in the Tarentaise on the Haute Isere River.
The Hautes Alpes and Alpes de Haute Provence regions of southern France have some of the most beautiful white water rivers in France. The most spectacular and fun rivers are undoubtedly the Durance, the Ubaye and the Guil. White water kayaking and rafting from grades 2 to 5 but a good guide will be able to assist you if it is your first time.
10. A luxury day spa experience
Day spas are not just a winter thing. Get yourself booked into for a luxury day spa experience next time you are visiting the French Alps in Summer. We love the Belambra Blues Arc 1800 because it not only has a spa with a hot tub, hammam, sauna and relaxation pool- there is also a golf course 3kms away to send the lads for the day. You can spoil yourself in the serenity while they hit some balls. Perfect!
Having a spa day is also a great way to wrap up a week’s holiday in the French Alps, it’s the perfect ending! If you have been hiking and climbing Via Ferreta’s all week, make sure to have some downtime before heading back to the airport, or preparing for the long drive home.