Morzine is at the heart of the Portes du Soleil, a vast lift-linked area with statistics to dwarf other resorts. It’s hugely popular with mountain bikers and there are a wide variety of trails for beginners through to expert riders. Road cycling is another popular pursuit in the region, for amateurs and professionals alike – the Tour de France has passed through Morzine more than 20 times. If cycling is not your thing then there are plenty of beautiful hiking trails, a massive public swimming pool and of course plenty of superb bars and restaurants.
Les Gets is one of the prettiest villages in the Alps — chic and stylish — both in the town and on the mountain. This is a fantastic place to relax with family and friends. Enjoy a holiday away from the crowds, with mountain biking, white water rafting, paragliding or a few rounds on the 18-hole golf course. We like nothing better than packing a rucksack with wine, cheese and saucisson and taking in the sunrise from the top of Mont Chéry.
Situated at the heart of The Three Valleys, Méribel is the perfect base for family holiday in the French Alps. There are plenty of hiking trails and the lift system whisks you up to a number of spectacular viewpoints in no time at all. A range of nurseries and clubs are available for children of all ages, offering sports and activities including mountain biking, kayaking, via ferrata, canyoning, climbing and archery.
Chamonix market is on a Saturday morning, starting about 7am. Larger than the Morzine market, with a much stronger Italian influence, you will be hard pushed to leave empty handed. Make sure you indulge in a pre-9am mulled wine from a scruffy looking French man who tends to locate himself centrally, serving from his ancient-looking le chaudron de feu (cauldron). Our other top tip, buy Italian; it’s fresh and authentic from just a few kilometres away over the border.
Annecy has three markets but we recommend the Sunday market. A large food market can be found in the old town – cobbled streets, colourful stalls, fresh produce, French locals and tourists alike, all jostling to enjoy some of the many delicious samples. An after-market ice cream is a must, as is a walk along the lake shore. Annecy is known internationally as the Venice of the Alps and is easily deserving of more than one day of your time.
There are many natural thermal spas in the Alps and they are worth a day trip to enjoy them. One of our favourites is Lavey Les Bains just across the border and is one of the hottest thermal waters in Switzerland. With two outdoor pools and an indoor swimming pool, all open year round, you can enjoy healing waters of around 32°C to 36°C as you bob about their lazy river and relax on their underwater loungers. Their pools are located in gardens with gorgeous mountain views but are even better in a snowstorm with a toasty body and cold snowy face. The pools stay open well into the evening, the outdoor pools lit up to create what feels like an illuminated fairy tale. The spas also have their own hammans, saunas of varying temperatures, and freezing plunge pools. Afterwards you can dine in their restaurant or perhaps stop off for fondue in Abondance on your way back.