France Montagnes, in collaboration with Atout France, was proud to launch its forthcoming summer season on 20 April 2022 alongside six partners: Les Saisies, La Plagne, Courchevel, Brides Les Bains, Val Thorens and Les Ménuires. The event introduced skiing, travel and lifestyle journalists to the latest news from the French mountains, new seasonal developments in resorts and over 80 summer activities.
The wow factor
Snowy peaks, impressive trees, colourful flowers, turquoise lakes… the French mountains sell themselves in summer. But it’s not just the natural environment that packs a punch – the food and accommodation do, too. Chef Benoît Vidal of two-Michelin-starred restaurant L’Atelier d’Edmond in Val d’Isère knows how to turn every plate into a true work of art. In the spring, he and his team go into the mountains to collect wild plants to use in his dishes. Between Val Thorens and Les Ménuires, restaurant Chez Pépé Nicolas is equally photogenic, with its own permaculture garden and serving traditional Savoyard dishes with a modern twist. And for something really different, stay overnight in a transparent bubble at Le Perchoir des Pyrénées, near Tourmalet-Pic du Midi – although the view of the Pyrenees is so astounding, you may not get much sleep.
Nice and active
Accompanied by a guide, experienced climbers can tackle the legendary Aiguilles d’Arves in the Maurienne Valley. Or learn the basics of mountaineering, negotiating glaciers with crampons and using ropes on a three-day course with Alpineo in the Écrins National Park. Want to learn how to survive in the wild? The guides from La Maison de la Montagne in Orcières will teach you how to make a fire, build a shelter, look for animal footprints and identify edible and medicinal plants. This summer, Peisey-Vallandry will be opening its gondola for the first time to hiking and mountain biking visitors. If you’re a major cycling fan, head to Vaujany and its legendary mountain passes, including Alpe d’Huez and the Col de la Croix de Fer.
A total of 43 mountain resorts hold the ‘Famille Plus’ label, recognising their scrupulous commitment to family-friendly activities, entertainment and childcare. For an adrenaline rush, try the 1,800-metre double zipline La Bee above Val Thorens or enjoy the summer version of dog sledding, cani-rando in Vaujany – both are Famille Plus resorts. If you’re looking for family-friendly hiking, go to the forested Lac de la Rosière near Courchevel, another Famille Plus resort. A range of activities are available around the lake, including a climbing forest for children from three years and up, ziplines for children from 12 and up, via ferrata and an orientation course.
A new cable car opened in Les Ménuires in January 2022 that takes skiers and pedestrians to the top of La Masse at 2,804 metres in less than eight minutes. It will be open this summer to pedestrians, who can enjoy soaking up the sun on the panoramic terrace at the top while admiring 360-degree views of the Alps, from the Écrins mountain range to Mont Blanc.
Nature, wildlife and wellbeing
The biodiversity found in the French mountains is unique and must be protected. While on holiday, you can learn about the indigenous flora and fauna from a guide with expertise in local plants, how to recognise them and whether they have medicinal or culinary properties. There’s also the chance to observe chamois, eagles or marmots in their natural mountain habitat, for example in La Plagne. Another activity on offer in La Plagne is sylvotherapy or ‘ski sophrology’, which improves the health of the body and mind through contact with the energy of trees. Participants need to learn to ‘listen’ to the forest and its sounds, but also to its colours and smells, while at the same time also listening to their own body, their breathing and their feelings.
The five national parks in the French mountains are also the perfect setting for mindful hikes. Switching off your mind, living in the present and enjoying the surroundings: that’s all you need for a great holiday. In Val Thorens at the edge of the Vanoise National Park, you can bivouac close to refuges. Walk 45 minutes from Val Thorens or 30 minutes from Les Ménuires to the picturesque Lac du Lou – a natural mountain lake located between two mountains. Spend an unforgettable night in nature and feel like you’re on your own in the world!
Trail running is gaining popularity in the mountains – and the resort of Super Besse in Auvergne hosts the Trail de la Perdrix (this year on 10 July). Runners can choose between three distances: 11km, 17km and 31km. Another trail in the same mountain range is the Trail du Sancy (24-25 September) in the resort of Le Mont-Dore.
The Etape du Tour (10 July) is the only cycling event in which amateur cyclists can ride a Tour de France stage, with the roads closed to cars. This year’s event starts in Briançon and finishes in Alpe d’Huez, covering a challenging and magnificent 170km with an altitude difference of 4,700m. It takes in some of the most iconic mountain passes: Lautaret, Galibier and La Croix de Fer.
Valloire will host the second Highline Festival (21-25 July), a unique event showcasing spectacular sports such as alpinism, climbing and highlining (walking along a long slackline rigged high above the ground). Over 140 highliners will give a breathtaking performance on 16 highlines set up in the resort, including six at high altitude. Finally, Piano Pic (17-29 July) is a classical music festival in the Pyrenees, with concerts taking place in magical heritage sites such as the Pic du Midi at 2,877m, the Escaladieu Abbey and various churches. Famous pianists play at the festival as well as the György Sebök International Academy. This is a truly magical experience for musicians and music lovers.
Please note that all travel restrictions between the UK and France, including the need for a compelling reason for travel and testing for vaccinated travellers, were lifted on 31 March. Unvaccinated travellers must still present a negative test result or certificate of recovery from Covid-19. Please consult the French Embassy’s website for more details here.
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About Atout France
Atout France (France Tourism Development Agency) is responsible for promoting the development of the tourism industry, the country’s largest economic sector. Atout France’s primary mission is to monitor and analyse the supply and demand in the tourist market. Atout France is also committed to promoting destinations and tourism partners in and from France. This is achieved through marketing campaigns, online promotion, PR and working closely with the travel trade sector. Atout France is represented in the UK and Ireland from its office in London.
About France Montagnes
France Montagnes is the federating body of French mountain resorts, regional tourist boards, ski lift companies and French ski schools. France Montagnes’ role is to promote year-round travel and tourism in the French mountains.