We take to the road and drive down the Route des Grandes Alpes in the French Alps. From Thonon-les-Bains on Lac Léman the Route provides an amazing alpine experience.
The Route du Parpaillon in the Vallée de l'Ubaye, southern Alps. The Tunnel du Parpaillon is the highest road tunnel in Europe, popular for walkers and cyclists and with stunning mountain scenery.
MountainPassions is the premier online source of independent, expert insight and information for skiers and anyone planning to enjoy the mountains of France.
Home of Alpinism
In our new series on summer destinations, we visit the home of Alpinism - Chamonix-Mont-Blanc. Now one of the must-see destinations for travellers from all over the world, Chamonix plays host to visitors in all four seasons. There's simply too much to do here for one report, so we're devoting a whole series to this incomparable destination. We start with our review of Chamonix, with ideas of where to stay, where to eat and some of the activities on offer. Read the feature
Gateway to Mont-Blanc
Each year around 500 000 people ride the cable-car to the Aiguille du Midi in Chamonix, a success story which is reflected in the newly-enlarged and extravagantly-restyled departure area. In fact, the whole complex is now on the kind of monumental scale which sends out a clear message that you're in for the kind of experience you won't forget in a hurry.
Read the feature
The highest railway in France
We ride the Tramway du Mont-Blanc to its highest point at the Nid d'Aigle (2380m) and experience on e of the most tremendous railway rides with stunning views over the surrounding valleys and towards Mont-Blanc. Passengers can alight onto Alpine pastures above Les Houches and enjoy the network of mountain paths or begin the long haul to the summit of Mont-Blanc. Read the feature
Summer cycling holidays
Got a mountain-bike? Great, but have you actually ridden in the mountains? Neither had we, so to find out just what we'd been missing we headed over to one of the most popular activity centres in the French Alps. Les Saisies is among our favourite ski resorts - and now we know exactly why people love it in summer, too.
Read the feature
Walking tour in the mountains
Mark Tennent from Simply Savoie normally leads groups on a week long hike through the magnificent scenery of the Beaufortain region in Savoie. Here, he describes the route and some of its highlights which include the azure waters of the Lac de Roselend and the famous Pierra Menta. Read the feature
Walking tour in the mountains
Sometimes known as the Tour des Glaciers de la Vanoise, one of the great beauties of this tour, apart from the superb scenery, is that you remain at altitude and need only touch tarmac road for 50m from start to finish.
The Tour is well provided with mountain refuges which provide simple accommodation in stunning mountain locations and will provide you with memorable experiences and a chance to meet like-minded people. We asked Mark Tennent from Simply Savoie (Guided Walking and Via Ferrata Holidays) to give us a flavour of this magnificent tour. Read the feature
Try something new and challenging
Via Ferrata allows you to climb rock faces normally only accessible to rock climbers.
Surprisingly, via ferrata routes don't require all the techniques of rock climbing, so they're accessible to a wide range of people. Qualified mountain activity specialist Mark Tennent reveals how it all works, and just what you need to know to get you started on your own adventure this summer.
Read the feature
Great ideas for summer hoidays
Before you do anything be sure to check out our list of great ideas, designed to help you make the most of your next summer holiday in the mountains.
Whether you plant to relax and unwind or push yourself to the limit, we think there’s no better setting than the mountains of France. There are countless activities to choose from, fantastic local food to try, traditional skills to discover and a wealth of history to explore among picturesque mountain hamlets and larger heritage sites. See our Top 10
Summer mountain holidays
Something of a revolution has been quietly transforming the face of French mountain tourism, so we decided it was high time we took a look at just what has changed. As a result, we reckon that this year's summer visitors are going to be mightily impressed.
Developers have responded to raised market expectations and created premium self-catering accommodation with high levels of comfort and onsite services, all at prices not normally available to skiers and winter visitors. Independent hoteliers and restaurateurs have followed suit, and now summer visitors can enjoy a huge range of mountain activities, along with stylish classic (or, if you prefer, contemporary) mountain chic. Read the feature
Drive the legendary mountain route
From Lac Léman to the shores of the Mediterranean, the legendary Route des Grandes Alpes takes in a succession of truly breathtaking mountain scenery.
Our in-depth guide is in four parts - Lac Léman to the Beaufortain, the Beaufortain to Briançon, Briançon to the Vallée de l'Ubaye, and the Col de Cayolle to Menton. Written from experience on our own trip following The Route, we'll help you plan your drive, and give ideas for accommodation, restaurants and places to see.
One of many colourful festivals held every summer
EVERY AUGUST the Vallée de l’Ubaye celebrates its historic links with Mexico in a Latino-Mexicain festival. For ten days or so the market town of Barcelonnette is enlivened by the musical tempo and colourful costumes, creating a unique ambiance of joy and conviviality.
Read the feature
Photo: © Claude Gouron
Ultimate off-road cycling
In the Southern French Alps an old, long-abandoned mountain pass built by the military scales the wild, rugged Massif du Parpaillon and still appears on larger-scale maps.
Was it, we wondered, still possible to follow it from end to end? We were determined to find out. Read the feature on the legendary Route du Parpaillon.
Life in the Alpages
Tradition & Nature
It was an unforgettable journey up a rough mountain track to visit Conchette - summer home to alpagiste Jean-Pierre Blanc. Amid the highest of mountain pastures above the Lac de Roselend, in the Beaufortain region of the French Alps, M Blanc creates award winning Chalet Beaufort d'Alpage cheeses. We observed the process, then tasted the wonderfully complex flavours derived from the rich Alpine grasses and wildflowers. Read the feature
Here are the latest offers from Peak Retreats.co.uk (08445760170), including all new Summer in the Pyrenees with Pyrenees Collection.co.uk (08445760176) and road cycling itineraries for the French Alps.
Saint Jean de Luz
with Pyrenees Collection
Book two consecutive weeks and receive 15% off this ideally located residence Domaine Iratzia. Just 2km from Saint Jean de Luz centre it is set in its own park with an outdoor pool and just 400m from Erromardie beach. Prices start from £314pp
Week beginning 27th June, 14 nights, 5 sharing inc midweek ferry crossing.
Saint Martin de Belleville
with Peak Retreats
This corner of the Alps is one giant outdoor playground, participate in pretty much any sport and activity you can think of: ice climbing, via ferrata, biking, canyoning, fishing at a high altitude lake, hydro speed or white water swimming. Stay in Les Chalets du Gypse from £107pp, the (MGM Apartments) in a prestigious residence of 30 apartments combining traditional architecture from Savoie with ultra-modern facilities. Book before 30/04/15 and get 10% off. Weeks starting: 4/7, 11/7, 25/7 or 22/8.
Week beginning 4th July, 7 nights, 5 sharing inc midweek ferry crossing.
Wild swim in the crisp waters of Lake Annecy this summer and relax in 4 * luxury at the lakeside retreat of the hotel Abbaye de Talloires. This new holiday with Peak Retreats (UK 0844 576 0123) is on offer from just £560pp for full board with a lake view
Or head for the mountains and stay in the new Alpine spa and leisure pool complex Durancia, which opened this winter in the traditional resort of Montgenevre. Stay in 4 * luxury at the self-catered Chalet des Dolines with prices from £203pp. Prices are for 7 nights, starting June 2015, based on 2 sharing and include midweek ferry crossing.
Travel to France by train...
Taking the train to France this summer is the smart way to travel. Avoid airport check-ins, cramped seats, long transfers and relax by rail to the heart of your destination. Book your train tickets to France and Europe with Voyages Sncf UK
Self-drive mountain holidays in France
Travel to France by ferry and some of the best summer scenery in the world. Enjoy the freedom of taking unlimited baggage and up to 9 people per car via .
Book your journey with P&O Ferries
Service and Comfort with SWISS
Year round flights from the UK to Geneva offer a huge choice of stunning holiday destinations throughout the Alps.
Low cost car hire
Be as flexible as you please with low cost car hire. No waiting for buses or paying for taxis, be free to explore with up to 150kms per day included in the hire including motorhomes (* see T&C's online). Click below to take advantage of special offers.
When the snows have retreated for another year, the mountains reveal a whole new side to their personality. Ski terrain reverts to lush pastures erupting with countless wildflowers and grazed by the dairy cattle who provide the rich milk for a host of celebrated mountain cheeses.
The backdrop to it all is the kind of scenery you can only truly appreciate when you see it at first-hand. And if walking or mountain-biking isn't your style you can discover much of the scenery on some of the world’s finest grand touring routes...