Chamonix in summer – an active holiday with Inghams
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It is rare to come across an Alpine resort which comes to life in the summer more so than in the winter. This is one of Chamonix’s most unique and appealing aspects, which gives those who are unable to ski the opportunity to join in on a taste of the mountain life. It won’t take long for you to agree once you spend a week strolling through the bustling streets, ascending the Brevent lift for a hiking trail and visiting a host of other attractions which include all-year-round glacier ice caves and the most scenic of railways which can be taken up into the mountains or down through the valley. Chamonix is certainly a little off the beaten track when it comes to the classic British summer holiday, but we found it to be the perfect destination for outdoor adventure lovers and families alike.
We enjoyed a seven night stay with Inghams at Hotel La Sapinière on the Peaks of Perfection Activity Week (starting from £759pp). This offers an easy way to enjoy the best of the resort, with our package including half-board meals, white water rafting and guided biking and hiking. Setting aboard our raft to wind our way down the River Arve was a definite highlight of the trip, and despite the occasional choppy turn or mini waterfall, you can be sure of an overall gentle ride with the reassuring guidance of your Evolution 2 instructor.
Those up for something a little more active can head up the Planpraz telecabine and choose between a number of well-marked hiking trails – the winding path up to the Brevent top station being a more leisurely route which ends in a delightfully scenic cafe; or the hike to Lac Noir as a much more challenging and physical option, again ending in incredibly rewarding views which are well away from the crowds. If you’d rather skip the leg work, take a string of different cables up to the very top Brevent view point, from which you can enjoy the buzz of activity from all around – we could see hikers, paragliders, climbers, slack liners… and those simply taking it all in.
Purchasing a Mont-Blanc multipass is well worth the money as you can access a great number of attractions without having to pay any additional fees. Get up as early as you can and head up the Aguille du Midi cable, then up again to the Mont Blanc viewing point. We caught the early morning light dancing over the endless stretches of mountains which was really magical – although don’t forget to wrap up as it drops to around 1-2 degrees. Later on in the day, take the mountain railway to the Montenvers site, from which you can make your way down to the glacier ice caves. Those with limited mobility should be aware of the long set of stairs winding down to the caves, which amount to around 10-15 minutes of cardio each way. The rapidly receeding glacier has shrunk by over two kilometres since the mid 1800s meaning more and more steps have to be added down to it every year. The pass also covers all cog railways within the Chamonix valley, so you can enjoy a gentle day trip down to Vallorcine which is home to a good range of well-marked hiking paths.
Another great way to get around in Chamonix is by e-bike. Power-assisted pedalling really does take the sting out of the hills, allowing you to ascend to astonishing heights with ease and then take in the views. We journeyed to Argentiere on an action-packed route up winding and bumpy mountain paths on our fat-tyred e-mountain bikes, however your Evolution 2 instructor can tailor your route to your preferences. After a day on the saddle, head to the brand new QC TERME spa complex on the outskirts of town for some well earned R&R. This truly was one of the most impressive spas I have ever visited, complete with a vast outdoor pool overlooking the mountains and a whole host of indoor pools and relaxation rooms. We loved the sound bath – an immersive, atmospherically lit room from which you can enjoy dulcet jazz music only when you put your ears under the water. Other favourites included the cinema sauna room showing films of the mountains, the rainforest showers and the wellness buffet. All of these attractions are included within the entry fee of a very reasonable €48, making for a brilliant day or evening out.
From the traditional and authentic French feel of the place to the delicious Savoyard cuisine, incredible range of activities and jaw-dropping panoramic views as standard; a week was all it took for us to completely fall in love with Chamonix. Escape to the mountains for a different kind of summer holiday, and I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
Silver Travel Advisor recommends Inghams.
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