Samoëns is becoming a very popular French winter ski resort, however, do not just consider the French Alps in the winter; one of our Peak Retreats' clients has kindly shared their summer trip diary with us to tell us why Samoëns in summer is a great holiday destination. Take a further look to gather some inspirational insights for your next summer holiday in the French Alps with Peak Retreats.
Having enjoyed a week skiing in the Grand Massif earlier this year, we were looking forward to going back to the area in the summer. We chose Samoëns as a base for an alpine summer holiday as it appeared to be a pretty village with plenty of activities nearby, and came highly recommended by friends and relatives who had already stayed there.
We travelled by ferry to France and for the first time tried P&O priority boarding. Hundreds of cars were already waiting at the ferry terminal when we arrived in Dover as it was a peak holiday weekend. However we were given our priority boarding hanger, and, as soon as we reached our allocated lane, we were waved on to the ferry and directed to a space at the front of the enclosed part of the deck. From there we walked upstairs to the Brasserie and were offered a window table, where we enjoyed a leisurely family breakfast with waitress service. On arrival in Calais we were amongst the first few cars to drive off the ferry towards the “Autoroute des Anglais”.
Our favourite stopover hotel on the way to the Alps is Novotel Dijon Sud, which is ideal for families. It was hot and sunny on arrival in Dijon and having spent several hours in the car, the children couldn't wait to jump into the outdoor pool for a quick swim before supper.
Having enjoyed the luxury of MGM apartments in a few other resorts, we opted to stay at La Reine des Prés in Samoëns. The grounds are not extensive but the flower beds are well kept and there were many flowers in full bloom, some giving off a pleasant scent. We were very pleased with our apartment which was spacious, and in a peaceful location, with a west-facing balcony. We were given a warm welcome by the staff in the residence.
The children had fun ordering bakery items at the reception in French, and on most occasions came back with the expected goods! We made very good use of the pool, relaxation area and spa. The pool was a reasonable size and only got busy right at the end of the day. At the edge of the pool were two Jacuzzis, one for adults only, and one that people of all ages could use. A good range of treatments were available in the spa and they even offered children’s massages with a chocolate scented product!
We stayed in Samoëns for a fortnight and found more than enough to do in that time. From La Reine des Pres you can walk into the centre of the village in five minutes and enjoy a meal or drink in the square. There is an extensive regional produce market on Wednesdays, and the botanical gardens are worth a visit. Lots of activities are on offer nearby and our children particularly enjoyed pony riding at a local riding school and trying the Indiana Park forest assault course. The white water rafting looked good fun and is on our list for next time.
Some ski lifts are open in the Grand Massif resorts in summer and we tried the following walks in Flaine and Les Carroz.
Flaine is well known as a Grand Massif ski resort, so we took the Grandes Platières gondola up the mountain and from the top took in the spectacular view of Mont Blanc. We followed the footpath along the rocky ridge and down to Flaine Forum. Despite it being very hot and sunny, there were still pockets of snow around in August. After the long walk down in the heat, the inflatable sofas outside the Cascades restaurant were a welcome sight. Getting up from them after a cool refreshing drink was harder!
Les Carroz - From the top of the Kédeuse Gondola in Les Carroz, we took an easy path through a wood and across alpine pastures to a lake, where there were some logs suitable for picnics, and to one side a café which is only open in summer. From there it is an easy walk back onto the ridge where you would have the option of walking up to the Tête des Saix, over to the Igloo restaurant above Morillon, or back towards Les Carroz.
Peak Retreats recommended a few longer walks to mountain refuges which offer simple accommodation and meals. Not wanting to miss out on the comfort of our luxury apartment, we tried a few day hikes and were amazed at how much faster the children walked knowing that a delicious lunch would be awaiting them up the mountain. We would highly recommend the walk from the car park at Les Allamands (a ten-minute drive from Samoëns) to Refuge de la Golèse.
There was a lovely ambience in the restaurant at Refuge de la Golèse and the walk to get there was scenic and peaceful. We also thoroughly enjoyed the walk from the edge of Sixt Fer à Cheval to Refuge des Fonts. The walk follows a woodland path high above the River Giffre. At one point there is a clear view of “Cascade du Rouget” and you can hear the sound of rushing water throughout the walk.
A more well-known walk in the area is the walk around the Cirque at a nature reserve just outside Sixt Fer à Cheval. As well as taking in the views of the limestone cliffs and waterfalls running down them, we observed one brave person abseiling down a waterfall. We also came across a section of ice at the side of the path which had apparently come down from a glacier. Being a family of keen swimmers we were unable to resist taking the high road over the Col de Joux Plane to Morzine to try out the large swimming complex there. There was a superb 50m outdoor pool and, as well as taking in the mountain view, you could watch the gondola going overhead!
All in all we had a fantastic holiday in Samoëns and hope to go back there!