You’ve been to the museums of Paris and the beaches of the French Riviera. Maybe you’ve even seen a Loire Valley château or two. For your next trip, why not aim higher? If you’re looking to gain a new perspective on France, it’s time to head to the French Alps.
Home to the highest Alpine peak (Mont Blanc at 15,777 feet), charming mountain villages, and unique culinary specialties, the French side of Europe’s chicest mountain range does not disappoint. Here are a few things you should know about this luxurious corner of France before you go:
The Alps Are Not Just for Ski Enthusiasts
Yes, skiers will find a downhill paradise in the French Alps, but there are plenty of activities for non-skiers alike. Snowshoeing is perfect for those who prefer mountainside activity at a slower pace. Towns such as Évian-les-Bains (yes, that Evian) and Saint-Gervais-les-Bains welcome spa-goers to their mountain baths. Hiking trails are everywhere, and ritzy ski towns offer excellent luxury shopping opportunities. Lastly, while the tradition of the “après-ski,” or, “after ski” glass of Champagne at the mountain’s top is a must, you don’t actually have to ski to enjoy it. Ride the chair lift up, pop a bottle or two, and ride it back down again. You’ll get all of those stunning high-altitude photos, no skis required.
The Alps Are Beautiful in the Winter and the Summer
The first thing many travelers think of when they think of the Alps is winter, and rightly so. Snow-capped mountains and warm wine by the fireplace are two very alluring prospects. But don’t neglect the opportunities that come with a summertime trip. Fewer crowds, sunny, hillside strolls, perhaps even a game of golf along an Alpine cliff – all of these benefits await those who venture up in the “off-season.” And remember, the highest peaks keep their snow cover year-round, so you’ll still get to take in those gorgeous snowy vistas.
It’s a Comfort Food Paradise
After a strenuous day on the slopes, you’ll be in need of hearty nourishment. And Alpine cuisine was made for just that. Think creamy fondue, potato-heavy dishes, stout cow’s milk cheese, and plenty of meat. A dish called “tartiflette” even combines all of these into a bowl of local cheese, potatoes, bacon, cream, onions, and white wine. In other words, come hungry. And don’t miss out on the pageantry of the “raclette,” another cheese-forward dish that involves operating a warm grill on your table, allowing diners to scrape off melting cheese onto a variety of accompaniments, such as pickles and dried meats.
It’s Home to an Olympic Village
The city of Albertville, France played host to the 1992 Winter Olympics and Paralympics. Today, you can visit their Olympics museum, Tremplin 92, or see the Olympic Hall and other relics of the games that are scattered around town. And of course, like in all areas of the French Alps, opportunities for outdoor adventure – hiking, cycling – are everywhere in Albertville. While it shouldn’t be your principal destination in the region, this city is a great option for a day trip or an en route stop.
France’s Gastronomic Capital City Is Right Next Door
Often referred to as “The Gastronomic Capital of France,” the country’s second most populous city, Lyon, sits right in the foothills of the French Alps. In contrast to Albertville, Lyon truly deserves a getaway all its own, but it can also be excellent jumping-off or returning-from point for your Alpine adventure. As of 2019, Lyon had 20 Michelin-starred restaurants, making it a delight for upscale diners. At lunchtime, stroll through the city’s enormous food hall – named after legendary French chef Paul Bocuse – to feast on fresh seafood platters, regional specialties, and, of course, countless varieties of fine French wines. Not a foodie? History buffs will also appreciate Lyon, which is home to excellently preserved Roman ruins – including an amphitheater – and an extensive antiquities museum.
It’s Important to Plan Ahead
Ski weekends are hugely popular in Europe, and Europeans flock to the French Alps for their outdoor getaways. Hotels, spa times, restaurants, and ski passes book out well in advance of the high seasons, so it’s important to plan ahead to get the most out of your stay. Lugos Travel can ensure your trip to the French Alps runs smoothly and includes the luxury accommodations and experiences you’re looking for. Let us take care of the details, while you sit back and enjoy the views. To start planning your exclusive Alpine getaway, simply contact us.