Most people tend to take a holiday in the Alps in during the winter, to take advantage of the excellent ski and snowboarding facilities. However, exploring the area in the summertime is an equally rewarding experience as there are a wealth of places to see and activities to enjoy, all of which are a lot more accessible without the snow! Here’s our list of the top five summer activities in the Haute-Savoie department of France.
1. Hiking in the Portes-du-Soleil Area
The ski pistes in the Portes-du-Soleil area near Morzine, with their spectacular views across France and Switzerland, turn into wonderful hiking routes in the summer. The routes are well marked and managed, and are suitable for different levels of capability, taking you through lush forests, past sparkling mountain streams and onto vast plateaux overlooking valleys and villages below. And the best thing about walking here is that you can now take advantage of the ski lifts and cable cars to access routes that would otherwise take days to reach.
2. Thermal Spas and Evian-Les-Bains
There are a number of thermal spa towns in the Haute-Savoie where you can enjoy relaxing spa treatments. Our favourite spot is the town of Evian-Les-Bains, home of the famous mineral water. Located on the edge of Lake Geneva (also known as Lac Léman), Evian is a picturesque lake town with many pretty parks and squares, an active cultural scene and a great selection of restaurants. As well as visiting the Evian water museum and factory, the thermal spa here offers a comprehensive list of wellness and medical treatments.
3. Eat Cheese!
The Haute-Savoie is home to several famous French cheeses – including Reblochon, Tomme de Savoie and Emmenthal. Local tourist offices can point you in the direction of those cheese-makers who have opened up their premises to the public. Here you can take a guided tour to see the different stages of the production process, which usually culminates in a tasting at the end. Of course, if you’d rather just eat the cheese, then simply head into any artisan produce market to try a sample at the fromagerie stalls!
4. Extreme Sports
The mountains are natural attractions for extreme sports enthusiasts all year round. In the summer, activities such as mountain biking, rock climbing, via ferrata, paragliding, skydiving and white water sports such as rafting come into their own. And for true daredevils there is nothing more thrilling than canyoning – a type of free-style abseiling down waterfalls and over the water-smoothed rocks of tumultuous alpine rivers!
5. High Altitude Golfing
A very little known fact is that there are a number of golf courses in the Haute-Savoie Alps where you can enjoy a round of golf and take in amazing panoramic views at the same time. The beautifully designed 9-hole course at Avoriaz is surrounded by the Aravis mountain range whilst at Les Gets, with altitudes reaching 1550m, you can enjoy 18 holes with the magnificent Mont Blanc summit in the background!
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