Destination of the Week: French Alps
Heading into winter, you could be forgiven for getting the ‘pre-cold’ doldrums. Instead, why not book a holiday and embrace the weather? The snowy, winter wonderland of The French Alps awaits, with world famous ski resorts, pristine lakes and charming villages sitting cosy within the backdrop of colossal, snow-capped peaks.
What to do
The Chamonix Valley is home to Europe’s highest peak, Mont Blanc. When you want to be in the thick of dramatic mountain scenery, at a winter playground with fabulous ski resorts, adrenalin activities and exciting nightlife, this is the place to go. The small alpine town has several ski areas which are ideal for advanced and beginner skiers.
The economic capital of the Alps, Grenoble, offers more than just computer industries. The old university town is rich in cultural heritage and has a vibrant dining and nightlife scene. With its stunning position on the banks of the River Isere, surrounded by jagged mountain peaks, it makes for a postcard pretty holiday destination.
Visit the small town of Annecy to discover ancient buildings, canals and the turquoise water of Lake Annecy. When you want to ‘take the waters’ to revive before returning home, visit the spa towns of Thonon and Evian, where you can bathe in mineral-dense water that’s said to heal an array of disorders.
Where to stay
From grand old buildings to quaint guesthouses and impossibly luxurious ski resorts, no matter what kind of winter holiday you’d like in the French Alps, you’ll find somewhere cosy to stay among the snowflakes.
Hotel Mont-Blanc (£££)
Set in the heart of Chamonix, Hotel Mont-Blanc is an elegant base for your ski holiday. With the all-important mountain views, a hot tub, a restaurant, a bar, a free shuttle service to the ski slopes and equipment hire onsite, you may not want to leave. But, if you do, there’s an ice-rink and a cinema nearby.
Hotel Gourmets & Italy (££)
Just a short walk to the town centre in Chamonix, Hotel Gourmets and Italy is a family-run hotel, offering a bar with a roaring fireplace, a sauna, a steam bath and rooms for couples and families. You’ll enjoy satellite TVs, Wi-Fi access and views of Mont Blanc, all with quick access by bus to the slopes, nearby.
Annecy Hostel (£)
Situated close to the old town and the lake in Annecy, The Annecy Hostel is only 20 minutes from the closest ski resort and it’s run by travellers, for travellers. This means no curfews, no age limits and comfortable lodgings with a shared kitchen, bike rentals and all the help you need for your backpacking trip to the Alps.
Where to eat
Cheese, cheese and cheese is what you’ll get to indulge in on your French Alps holiday. If you actually need something else, there’s also delightfully fresh salmon and trout, ham, potatoes, hearty soups and stews, fruit tarts, wines and liqueurs.
Le Cap-Horn (£££)
With a restaurant, a wine bar and a fumoir in the one unique building, the aim at Le Cap-Horn, in Chamonix, is to offer everything you need in the same, beautiful spot. The theme is seafood and you’ll get to eat your fishermen’s stew and soufflé in an interior design inspired by the sea and the mountains.
La Fondue (££)
For all the cheese and chocolate lovers, La Fondue, in Grenoble, may just send you to heaven and back. You can try an unbelievable array of cheese and meat fondue, chocolate ones for dessert and there’s salads as well, just in case you need a cheese break.
Extreme Cafe (£)
When you’re in Chamonix and craving something straightforward and cheap after all the cheese and wine, the Extreme Café sells coffee, wraps, sandwiches, soups, salads, beer and wine for great prices in a friendly environment.
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