Impressive mountain ranges, beautiful alpine meadows, excellent snow conditions, fine gourmet cuisine and cool après-ski parties – the French Alps have all of this! Here, you can not only go hiking or cycling in summer, but also go skiing until spring (and sometimes even all year round)!
We're here to introduce you to the regions in the French Alps – Savoie, Tignes and Isère, which you might not yet know by name, as well as what they have to offer holidaymakers. We've got the scoop on the best activities and events, gastronomy tips including where to get the best bargain meals on the slopes, and provide you with the most important information for your holiday in the French Alps.
You can of course choose to cover the distance by car. Buses and trains are also well-connected with, for example, Chamonix. If you want to get to your destination faster or don't want to drive a car, Lyon Airport or Geneva are the best places to get to by plane.
You can fly with, for example, easyJet, British Airways and Swiss Air from various locations in the UK, though flying from London or Manchester tend to offer the cheapest rates with direct flights.
It's easy to say that the French Alps are worth a visit at any time of the year, and while this may sound like a marketing gimmick, we do have to agree! Of course, it all depends on whether you want to ski, hike or do other outdoor activities.
While it gets nice and warm in the summer months, it can cool down to a crisp -14 °C in winter. The months from May to September are best for those looking to do adventuring outdoors with warmer days, such as hiking, mountain biking and our personal favourite, paragliding.
🏴☠️ Pirate Tip: The spring months of April and May can have some days full of rain. Activities like paragliding or hiking will need to be postponed if you encounter bad weather, so we recommend having a back-up activity or two if you do get some showers on your holiday.
Savoie is a sparsely populated department bordering Italy. 88% of the region belongs to the Alps. Here you can try out great wines and 200 types of mountain cheese; a small beer brewing scene has also developed in the meantime. Savoie is home to one of the most beautiful high alpine roads, the Cormet de Roseland, as well as some of the highest alpine passes, offering beautiful landscapes of cow-filled pastures and snow-capped peaks.
The Isère is the third-largest winter sports destination in the French Alps. The Écrins National Park is also located here, which invites you to explore. Belledonne, Chartreuse and Vercors are ideal for summer and winter sports with peaks up to 3,000 m high.
🏴☠️ Pirate tip: Be sure to try the herbal schnapps while in Isère, which are made according to a secret recipe in the Grande Chartreuse.
The Haute-Savoie department brings together pretty much everything that makes up the French Alps, including famous winter sports resorts, charming towns, delicious gastronomy, impressive landscapes, nature reserves and spa towns. Spa tourism is very important here due to the many mineral springs! So if you are looking for relaxation, we recommend choosing Haute-Savoie for a wellness holiday as they have a number of excellent spas.
The Alpine town of Annecy is best known for its old town, with pastel-coloured houses and canals meandering through the city. The eye-catcher of the city is the medieval castle Château d'Annecy, which houses a museum. And if that's not romantic enough, perhaps the location on Lac d'Annecy (Lake Annecy), the sixth-largest lake in France, will convince you.
The ski resort of Tignes in the French Northern Alps consists of a group of villages near the Italian border. Divided by the Lac du Tignes, Tignes is a typical French ski resort, which is also great for après-ski. If you are looking for an extremely snow-sure ski area, Tignes is the right choice!
In the French Alps, you can not only ski in winter, but all year round. This is how you combine fun in the snow with longer days and sunshine! The ski areas in Savoie and Haute-Savoie are particularly suitable for skiing in spring. Due to its altitude, there is a particularly long snow season here. Skiing is possible even in summer on the glaciers in Les Deux Alpes, Tignes and Val d'Isère.
Enjoy the panorama of the Alps and Mont-Blanc from above while feeling like a bird—while paragliding!
🏴☠️ Pirate Tip: the Sur Un Nuage paragliding school in Crozet offers scenic flights from Monts Jura in summer and winter. You can book a paragliding session with them €110 (around £93) for adults and €80 (around £67) for children.
Of course, hiking in the French Alps should not be missed either! There are a number of hiking routes, no matter what level of fitness. The Le Morond circular route, which you can access via the Morond chairlift, is particularly beautiful. Enjoy a number of viewpoints and views of the 300 or so peaks of the Alps chain as you make your way along the ridges of Mont d'Or.
Find more hiking routes in the French Alps here.
Ice floating originally comes from Finland. You can drift on a frozen lake in a special suit, so you don't feel the cold water, and enjoy the peace and quiet that nature has to offer. This works particularly well in winter and spring on the Lac de Tignes.
We've pirate-tested ice floating with Evolution 2 and had a blast! You can try it from €50 (Around £42) for one hour of floating.
Moonbikes are 100% electric snow bikes that look like bicycles with skis underneath and with which you can race down the slopes in La Plagne, Tignes, Risoul, Le Sauze or Les Saisies without noise and pollution. A 45-minute session in Tignes costs €50 (Around £42). Give Moonbiking a go!
A leisurely tour on an e-bike or a daring tour on a mountain bike through the ups and downs of the French Alps – both are possible! For those looking for the latter, we recommend the “la Marmotte” tour. This demanding 174 km tour takes cyclists from the Croix de Fer to the Télégraphe in Galibier and ends with the climb to the Alpe d'Huez (a total of 5000 meters in altitude). Not for the faint of heart!
You probably know Stand-Up Paddle Boards, on which you can now see people floating around on every lake. You may have tried yoga yourself. Did you know that you can combine both? This requires a lot of balance, but then it can be really relaxing. If this sounds like an activity up your alley, we recommend trying Paddle Yoga in Sévrier.
🏴☠️ Pirate Tip: If you'd like to catch some local wildlife, Marmots live in the French Alps and are best spotted in summer. Especially at the Col de la Vanoise, near the Félix Faure hut, above Pralognan-la-Vanoise (Savoie) and on the marmot trail of the municipality of Eygliers (Hautes-Alpes) a few minutes walk from the Mont-Dauphin site removed.
French cuisine is world-famous, so of course the gastronomy aspect should not be neglected during your holiday in the French Alps! Fondue, tartiflette, farcement, diots, pormoniers, crozets, rissoles and sea fish are just a few examples of dishes you can enjoy during your stay in the French Alps.
In this region, there are numerous restaurants, local farms, inns, and mountain huts that all prove that top-class cuisine is not only reserved for great chefs. Check out our tips for the best places to eat below!
Oxygene Café: Vegetarian/vegan dishes & very good coffee
Il Savoia: New Italian restaurant in the Voulez-Vous Hotel
Le Panoramic: French cuisine at 3,030 m at the foot of the Grande Motte, restaurant-self of Le Panoramic, at the bottom of the Grande Motte. 🏴☠️ Pirate Tip: This restaurant is the best value for money for a lunch on the slopes in Tignes.
La Table de Jeanne: Typical French restaurant for the best fondue or tartiflette in town
4'47 Restaurant Bar Lounge: delicious appetizers, a perfectly prepared parfait & unusual facility
Le Cadre: Healthy fast food with a great view of the Plage de Doussard bathing lake
After a long day on the slopes, you can of course celebrate, and France knows how to do après-ski the right way. Above all, we can recommend Le Cocorico, the most famous après-ski bar in Tignes. The 360 Bar in Val Thorens with a breathtaking view of the surrounding mountains and the La Folie Douce ski hut in Val d'Isère, that plays club beats, are also recommended.
Tomorrowland Winter (19.-26.03.): 7-day electronica festival in Alpe d'Huez at over 3,300 m altitude.
Vélo Vert Festival (June): this mountain bike festival kicks off the season! You can try out the latest bikes and gadgets on 15 test tracks.
Jazz à Vienne Festival (June & July): Many jazz concerts take place in Vienne over a period of two weeks – mostly in the famous Antique Theatre.
Grenoble Street Art Festival (27.05.-26.06.): Watch street artists live as they create new works of art.
Transhumance (17.-19.06.): Be there when the sheep, cows and goats are brought to the alpine pastures at the start of summer and accompany them on their walk. The start is in St. Martin de Belleville.
The Norma'l Festival (07.-08.04.): The end of the ski season is ushered in with around forty DJs, groups and artists. From rock, reggae, electro to dub, everything is included at the free festival.