Photo: Smit/Shutterstock

16 Experiences You Must Have in the French Alps Before You Die

France Photo + Video + Film Outdoor Insider Guides Hiking
by Mathieu Le Lay Nov 27, 2015

1. Ski in La Clusaz and hit L’ourson restaurant for the best après-ski tartiflette you’ll ever have.

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La Clusaz Ski Resort will make any skier happy — the slopes are large, long, and so diverse that you’ll never get bored. After a day on the hill, head to L’ourson and stuff your face with some gooey reblochon goodness. Finish your dinner with a small glass of Génépi, a local alcohol made from the alpine wild plant.

2. Climb Les Tours d’Areu in September when no one is around.

During the ascent, the surrounding view towards La Pointe Percée and Le Mont-Blanc will stop any climber in their tracks.

3. Hike in Vanoise National Park to observe the giant bearded vultures flying overhead.

Photo: Bouke Atema/Shutterstock

The Vanoise protected area offers one of the greatest spots for hiking and contemplating nature. Endemic flora, great views, and stunning wildlife. Ibex, chamois, threatened giant bearded vultures, golden eagles, and cute marmots, the Vanoise’s got it all.

4. Hike on top of Massif des Fiz and enjoy the view on the highest peak in Europe.

Don’t forget to hike around Lac d’Anterne and reach the Col d’Anterne.

5. Camp at the Lac des Chéserys and watch the sun set over the town of Chamonix.

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After a 4-hour hike, you can reach the peaceful Lac des Chéserys. From there, you will get one of the most stunning views on the Chamonix peaks including Les Grandes Jorasses and L’Aiguille Verte. Don’t forget to appreciate their reflections into the water at sunset.

6. Spend an evening in the Chamonix valley and meet some of the coolest alpine guides.

They’ll give you the best recommendations to explore La Mer de Glace and La Vallée Blanche. While you’re there, try the the local Mont-Blanc beer, La Brasserie du Mont-Blanc.

7. Climb up to 3000 meters on top of Mont Buet and set up camp for the night in front of the Mont-Blanc mountain range.

Photo: milosk50/Shutterstock

8. Go and pick ceps in the forest and cook the best mushroom soup you’ve ever eaten.

9. Paraglide above Annecy Lake during summer time.

Photo: Samuel Borges Photography/Shutterstock

Although it is a one of the most frequented spots to fly in Europe, once you get above the Annecy Lake, you soon forget about the crowd. If you’re experienced, climb up to La Tournette at 2400 meters after a hike through a limestone landscape and jump with your own paraglider wing to enjoy an impressive view and time in the air.

10. Walk in the footsteps of explorer Jacques Balmat who disappeared in the late 19th century looking for gold high on the hills of Sixt-Fer-Cheval.

This location spot is one the wildest areas in Haute-Savoie offering impressive mountain views towards the valley and the surrounding peaks, including the mysterious Tenneverge culminating at almost 3000 meters.

11. Ski tour up a peak in Queyras National Park and then ski down in light, powdery snow.

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Start from Saint-Véran, one of Europe’s highest village, and finish it in Abriès. You will enjoy the beauty of the park along the way. Take a look at the castles and wooden sculptures in this area of the French Alps.

12. Explore the Pre-Alps in the Vercors mountains.

Stop off at Cirque d’Archiane where you should see many Griffon vultures flying over the steep cliffs.

13. Learn how to ski or snowboard from the best instructors in Tignes.

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If you have kids, this is a great opportunity for them to learn efficiently and improve very quickly so they might join on the Black Diamond next time you hit the hill.

14. Bike up the North side of Galibier.

This is one of the best passes in the entire Alps. If you are cycling during summer time, check out if Col du Galibier is part of Le Tour de France itinerary and enjoy seeing the professionals climb up effortlessly.

15. Visit in the small village of Castellane in the Southern Alps for some water fun.

Photo: Marina VN/Shutterstock

Rafting, canyoning, rappelling down waterfalls, or sliding and diving in natural pools, there are many ways to explore the wild gorges of this stunning location.

16. Drive along the shore of Lac Leman, the largest alpine lake in Western Europe.

Enjoy the views across the lake and then stop in Evian Les Bains to take advantage of its beautiful beach. Stop in the medieval town of Yvoire and try the famous and delicious fera fish, a local specialty.



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