Mont-Blanc & Chamonix Valley
At 4810 metres, Mont-Blanc – as everyone remembers from school geography lessons – is Europe’s highest mountain. Nicknamed “the Lord of the Alps”, it’s the absolute high point of any trip to the area south of Lake Geneva. On first view, you almost think that the astonishing glaciers come tumbling right down into the valley. Mont-Blanc is the third most visited natural site in the world and the resort of Chamonix is the undisputed capital of mountaineering having hosted the first ever Winter Olympics back in 1924.
There’s actually too much to see and do in Chamonix – surrounded by 3000-metre peaks, it’s the departure point for a comprehensive and clearly marked network of mountain paths and biking tracks. It’s simply made for adventures. For a start, you could go hiking on the glaciers in the Mont-Blanc massif, there are 71 to choose from in total. You could take the Mont-Blanc tramway, which predates the First World War, up to the Bionnassay glacier, from where experienced mountaineers proceed to scale the sacred peak. You could ride the Montenvers railway as far as one of the most beautiful icescapes in the world: the Mer de Glace, a vast frozen sea that inspired Mary Shelley to describe it so memorably in Frankenstein. You could discover the summer grotto complete with ice sculptures and a gallery of crystals. You could hop aboard the Aiguille du Midi cable car for an outstanding view of Mont-Blanc together with the Swiss and Italian Alps. Where else in the world can you see three countries at once
And all that’s without even mentioning the scores of activities you can participate in Mont-Blanc country: canoeing on the Arve river, swimming in rapids on the Giffre, paragliding, via ferrata, ice skating, horse riding or just strolling in the foothills. For something a little out of the ordinary, try a canyon descent at night or 18 holes of golf on one Europe’s most stunning courses. Children can join a course to learn how to be a trapper in the forest outback and the whole family will want to pay a visit to the Greenland Husky breeding kennels.
The lift system in the valley enables visitors to switch at will between landscapes of shady forests, ethereal glaciers and flower-filled meadows. Keep an eye out for golden eagles soaring overhead. Offering unlimited access to all the Compagnie du Mont-Blanc ski stations and installations save for the panoramic gondola, the Mont-Blanc multipass is the ideal way to explore the unearthly snowfields and glacial domes of the massif. You can buy a consecutive or non-consecutive option so you’re not forced to cram all your outings into a short space of time. See our website for further details.
Summer is definitely the best time to witness the Savoyard lifestyle at its liveliest. Festivals and holiday celebrations take place throughout the season; the most well-known is the annual Fête des Guides which takes place around the 15th of August in Chamonix and includes a special mass to bless the mountain guides’ ropes and ice axes.
Cheese lovers will feel right at home in this part of France. Apart from the rich fondue that you’ll find everywhere, try the soft mountain cheeses Tomme de Savoie and Reblochon. Fritters and turnovers are very popular in Haute-Savoie but best of all is Le Farçon, a tasty potato dish mixed with bacon, raisins and prunes. Eat it accompanied with a local Mondeuse wine. Vive la montagne!
In the heart of the French Alps between Mont Blanc, Beaufortain and Aravis, the Val d’Arly is still a well kept secret despite being one of the oldest tourist centres in Savoie. Unique, varied terrain with Mont Blanc as a stunning backdrop, fantastic scenery, charming traditional villages, and the warmth and friendliness of its inhabitants, discerning travellers have made this area their ideal alpine getaway. A major crossroads, and the starting point for hikes and car excursions to take in famous tours of The Savoy Alps
For those in search of attractions and activities, there are endless possibilities for sightseeing and outdoor pursuits. There is a huge variety of sites available within an hours drive, with activities for thrill seekers and passive sightseers alike. The three reservoirs in the region are particularly appreciated for their water sports activities. There are over 250 km of marked walking tracks and 135 km of biking trails. Several chairlfts operate in the region to ease access to the breath-taking landscapes of Val d’Arly Mont Blanc.
For Golfers there are several Alpine Golf courses to choose from, with breathtaking views and uncrowded fairways.