In the Summer, the Courchevel resort transforms itself from a premier ski area into a wonderland for numerous activites, which we have tried to describe as fully as possible in this section. Terrain that is good for skiing is also good for hill walking and mountainbiking. The great advantage Courchevel has in the summer is its lift system. The main gondolas operate throughout the Summer holidays, so you can easily get to the top of the mountain resort.
The resort opens at the beginning of July, and remains open until towards the end of August. Being in the South of France it can get surprisingly hot here, despite the high altitude. After the snow melts, the area in front of the Croisette at Courchevel becomes an area popular with children—swings, trampolines, crazy golf, mountain bike practice circuit. There is a nine hole golf course at Verdons, and several lakes provide the opportunity for fishing.
You can find details of the different Summer resort activities on the ‘Summer activities’ page, but here is a selection:
Probably the most popular activity for Summer holidays is mountain walking. The lift system is open during the season, enabling you to explore the whole of the mountain range, either by foot or by mountain bike. It is easy to take the gondola lift up, and walk down at one’s leisure, using the well signposted trails. The scenery is amongst the most spectacular you will find, and you will also be able to look out for the local wildlife, including marmottes.
If you prefer, you can explore the mountains by mountain bike. Courchevel is a mountain bike centre recognised by the ‘Fédération Française de Cyclisme’ and offers 236km of marked paths, split up into 13 downhill circuits accessible via ski lifts, and 13 round circuits. These are all marked in degrees of difficulty, rather like a ski piste map. Good quality mountain bikes can be hired at Courchevel, just in front of the gondola stations—the French call it ‘le VTT’.
If you have your own bikes, and are staying at our Ariondaz apartment, you can keep them safely in our own secure storage room, which is found near to the ski lockers, on the ground floor.
Once you have exhausted yourself in the mountains, you may want to spend a few days visiting some local attractions. There are various châteaux within a couple of hours’ drive, or you could try the following:
Annecy — Well worth a visit! Takes about 1½ hours to drive there, depending on road conditions. Take a boat trip on one of the most beautiful lakes in the Haute-Savoie region. The boats operate between April and October. The town of Annecy itself is a fascinating place to visit, with numerous street cafes and restaurants situated alongside the river, which flows through the town. Trust us—you’ll find this one of the most beautiful places to visit. Cruises of the lake are available with ‘Compagnie des Bateaux du Lac D’Annecy’ as well as many smaller boat hire companies.
Pralognan — At the heart of the Tarentaise region, and only 30 minutes’ drive from Courchevel, Pralognan-la-Vanoise is the capital of the Vanoise, and is one of the main entries to the Vanoise National Park. Here, you’ll find Europe’s most extensive ice cap, more than 30 summits above 3,000 metres, and Savoie’s highest mountain. Some of the region’s most popular trails also start from this popular resort. We’ve taken the ‘Mont Bochor’ gondola from the town centre, which takes you to a height of 2,000 metres. From there, the mountain offers a wide range of interesting walks, of varying degrees of difficulty and length. Alternatively, one can start walking from further up the valley, including ‘Le Petit Mont Blanc’ (3 hours) which takes in views of the Courchevel valley.
If you’re looking for something less energetic, then Pralognan is also home to the Olympic Skating Rink, and swimming pool. These are both open daily. Nearby, children may be interested in horse riding, whilst those aged between 3–8 will love the pony rides. All in all, Pralognan has something to offer everyone, and you could easily spend a day or two in this area alone. For more information, visit their website, which you’ll find on our Links page.
Chamonix, Mont Blanc — Welcome to the fantastic world of high mountains! You can visit the ‘Aiguille du Midi’, at a height of 3,842 metres, in the highest mountain in the Alps. Let the cable-car take the strain, for some breathtaking views and scenery. Don’t be deceived by the sunny weather down below, the temperature usually falls to −10°C, so you should take some warm clothes.
The Sea of Ice, Mont Blanc — The ‘Mer de Glace’ is the largest glacier in France, on the Chamonix glacier. It has a surface area of 40Km2, is 7Km long, and is 200m thick. On arrival, you have a quick and easy access down to The Ice Grotto by cable car. The grotto is chiselled out of the glacier each year, and includes many ice sculptures and period characters. You can also see the permanent exhibition of The Alpine Wildlife, a world frequented by numerous alpine species. Finally, discover some of the most beautiful specimens of cristal at The Cristal Gallery, on show in a gallery hollowed out of the rock face. We feel it is well worth a visit, if only for the spectacular ascent up the mountain by alpine train.