Posted on 10 August 2019
Times are changing and summer holidays in the French Alps are now catching up with its solid reputation as a top-notch ski destination. Rather than relying on a few winter months to make money for the whole year, local resorts are marketing themselves as ideal holiday destinations for those who like to explore after the snow melts.
Alpine summers are drier and warmer than the UK, and family adventure activities include hiking, mountain biking, and even golf. Other resorts also offer abseiling and para-gliding, increasing their appeal, especially for family holidays and real estate investors.
Enjoy Summer Holidays in the French Alps
Fancy navigating your way down gorges, floating down snow-melt streams, and sliding down waterfalls? If so, the popular sport of canyoning is an exhilarating way to experience the French Alp’s natural beauty. In many resorts like Chamonix, mountain guides kit you out for a day or half a day of avid exploration.
Rafting or kayaking can be just as fun, and fantastic rivers in Haute Savoie offer this, including L’Isère, the source of which is near the named Val d’Isère, and the Dranse, which is only 30 minutes from Chatel resort. Châtel is also home to a long aerial runway, an extreme zip-wire, so not for the faint-hearted.
Besides this, horse-riding, mountain-biking, para-gliding, paintballing, fishing, and sailing on Lake Geneva and Lake Annecy are all options for enjoyable days outside of winter. There are golf courses dotted around the region too.
Ongoing investment in the French Alps increases its year-round appeal, and today’s international home buyers seek dual seasonality when choosing a mountain resort. Tourism and real estate no longer focus around winter sports and the ski season.
Now French resorts are also summer destinations boasting of fantastic lakes and mountains and include a range of activities and modern-day accessibility. Chamonix is the hub of summer activities and setting a great example to welcome as many tourists in summer as it does in winter. However, let’s look at Alpine activities boosting its year-round appeal.
Summer Things to Do and Activities in the Alps
Cycling: The world’s most famous cycle race, Tour de France, passes through the French Alps every year. It is a testament of the appeal to cyclists, both those on road bikes and mountain-bikers. The Portes du Soleil area, straddling France and Switzerland promotes both types of cycling and Chatel boasts 15 chairlifts to lift mountain bikes in summer and offers 600 kilometres of tracks, 19 trails and a bike park.
Golf: Savoie and Haute Savoie form one of Europe’s most picturesque destinations and famed golf destinations including Chamonix, Avoriaz, Megève, Tignes Les Arcs and Courchevel. The family-oriented resort of Les Gets, in Portes du Soleil, has a scenic 18-hole course.
Also read: 6 French Alp golf courses for beginners and pros.
Tennis: Many Alpine resorts have tennis facilities, but hardcore enthusiasts know Courchevel club as an international tennis hub and often hosts professional tournaments. Flaine, part of the Grand Massif, and another popular resort with top-notch facilities also feature summer tennis camps.
Paragliding: Paragliders from around the world love Chamonix Valley, in Mont Blanc’s shadow. It suits beginners and experienced flyers because of the many flying schools and beautiful landscapes.
Rafting and canyoning: Canyoning and rafting are two exciting ways to experience the French Alps. Fantastic rivers in Haute Savoie include L’Isère, the source of which is near the named Val d’Isère, and the Dranse, which is only 30 minutes from the Chatel. So aside from activities, which resorts are worth visiting during summer.
Summer Holiday Destinations in the Alps
Valmorel: This family-oriented, purpose-built resort comprising several satellite villages, offers a good selection of chalet-style, self-catering accommodation, and the location is picturesque.The family-friendly resort is 1400 m above sea level, and the village centre is car-free.
A few good- quality restaurants, bars, and shops dominate the low-key scene, which caters for couples and families rather than party goers. It is excellent value but faced criticism for the lack of a free bus service linking the satellite villages. Summer activities include walks, rock climbing, hiking, and several indoor activities.
Les Gets: Just an hour from Geneva airport, family-friendly and part of the extensive Portes du Soleil area; pretty Les Gets offers just about everything. The short transfer time, one of the quickest in the Savoie region means holidaymakers can catch an early flight from the UK, drop off their bags and be there for lunch.
Les Gets, with its cosy traditional character, family-friendly hotels, and limited nightlife, is popular with families. An approved Village Famille Plus Montagne, it welcomes children and offers countless kid-friendly activities for all ages, including an ice-skating rink.
It is small, quirky facilities like this that make a resort stand out from neighbouring ones. The popular Savoie resort of Les Gets should be on the radar of anyone hunting for a French alp home after London newspaper the Evening Standard praised it for its mix of family-friendliness and traditional charm, and for being just an hour from Geneva Airport.
The article, describes Les Gets as a year-round Savoyard village with direct links into the Portes du Soleil area, and being next to Morzine, the epicentre of a beautiful summer spent mountain biking. It also has its 18-hole golf course and a network of footpaths for summer walking.
Les Gets’ year-round population of 1,300 swells to 16,000 in peak weeks, and the local tourist office says 82 per cent of visitors are French. Meanwhile, the buzz, compact centre has 100 shops and over 40 restaurants and bars, and there is a free bus connecting the resort to outlying hamlets.
Did You Know? Property prices in Les Gets are 30 per cent cheaper than in Chamonix, making this an excellent alternative for buyers who want a year-round backdoor resort.
Courchevel: The French resort of Courchevel confirmed its place as a world leader in gastronomy by achieving a further two stars in the Michelin Guide, bringing its total number of stars to 12.
Buying a home in Courchevel, covering four connected villages and part of the vast Trois Vallées area, is now even more appealing if you are a bit of a foodie and enjoy world-class sampling cuisine. The resort’s 12 stars split across seven restaurants means you could visit a different eatery each day.
Courchevel always had an edge over rival resorts, with its outstanding facilities and chic properties. This latest achievement confirms that demand at this end of the market remains strong, not only for expensive homes but all the trimmings that come with them.
Top-notch restaurants in Courchevel that hold Michelin stars are Les Airelles, Cheval Blanc, Le Chabichou, Le Strato, and L’Azimut. Other resorts where restaurants earned new stars include Megève, where the Flocons de Sel became the only French Alp restaurant with a third star, Chamonix, Chambéry and Val d’Isère.
Investment Tip: Having such an incredible selection of world-class restaurants to choose from makes this resort attractive to an international market and increases its long-term investment proposition. See examples of homes for sale in Courchevel here.
Chatel: Called Forme d’O and in the village centre, Chatel’s aquatic centre with a capacity for 700 visitors covers 4,138 square metres. Forme d’O replaces Châtel’s old 320-square-metre swimming pool, which no longer meets the requirements of today’s visitors.
Forme d’O forms part of Chatel’s ongoing development and investment programme, which aims to build ultramodern infrastructure to widen the resort’s appeal as a summer holiday destination. The aquatic centre offers both the local population and holidaymakers an additional year-round facility, and one that can be used in winter to relax after a day on the slopes. It also increased the appeal of owning a home in Chatel.
Geared towards family with multiple water activities, the centre includes family changing rooms and baby areas and is suitable for many visitors, including schoolchildren, families, the elderly, the disabled, athletes and residents.
The central spa area features a wet zone and a dry zone. The former region has an indoor swimming pool, beach, three saunas, 2 Turkish baths, three cold massage shower cubicles and a relaxation room; the latter zone includes changing rooms, a beauty area, four treatment rooms, a tea room, relaxation room and cardio room. The fun-fit area has two swimming pools, an indoor with different areas for children, teenagers, and fitness, keep-fit and an outdoor with stunning valley views.
Meribel: One resort attracting British Alpine buyers is charming Meribel in the French Alps Savoie region, but then that is nothing new. Founded by a Scotsman, Peter Lindsay, in the late 1930s, its British flavour includes English being spoken through resort including at the excellent ski school.
Famous faces you might see soaking up the atmosphere include Harry Potter star Emma Watson, who owns a chalet in Meribel. The resort also hosted female pop singers Natalie Imbruglia and Sophie Ellis-Bextor, the Beckhams, F1 ace Michael Schumacher, and Prince William and Kate Middleton with her family.
One benefit of Meribel, not offered by other resorts of similar standing, is that while it provides a range of bars and restaurants, there are few hotels, so private accommodation is the norm there. Hence celebrities and royalty adore it.
Dual Seasons in Alpe d’Huez: Summer and winter holidays in a scenic destination.
Chamonix Summer and Winter Activities: This French Alpine resort attracts many holidaymakers all year round.
Summer in Val d’Isère: Things to do in this beautiful French Alp holiday destination.
Increased Property Appeal Through Summer Holiday Rentals
The growing popularity of summer holidays in the French Alps is excellent news for those who rent out their homes, but Julian Walker, owners of Skiing property, warns against being complacent. The buy-to-let investors who are attracting the summer holidaymakers are those who change their advertising and marketing as the seasons progress.
Those who are losing out are still marketing themselves as ski destinations all year round. Owners should set up ‘summer’ and ‘winter’ advert profiles.
In your ‘summer’ photos and descriptions, highlight warm weather features like a barbecue and sun terrace, and in the text, including information about local events and attractions to visit in warmer months.
Also, outline what outdoor activities are available, such as mountain biking, white water rafting and lake swimming. Ski lifts in several French resorts have been adapted to carry mountain bikes, find out if this is the case in your resort and mention it in your advert.
Wherever your home is in Chatel or Tignes, your photo gallery should include scenic photos of the area, interior and exterior of your home on a bright day.
Request and publish reviews from any guests staying during summer asking them to highlight the things they most enjoyed about their time there. Don’t be greedy over rental rates, keep them competitive and in line with comparable properties in your area and always leave a welcome pack and hamper to make your summer guests feel special.
If you are looking for a summer and winter holiday home in the French Alps, our listings of homes currently on the market will be of interest. Alternatively, contact us here if you want to speak to a real estate expert about making the right investment for you.