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Summer Activities

Summers in the Alps are fabulous! Whether you want an action-packed adventure, a walking holiday, or to simply relax and enjoy the views, clear air and sun, the alps have it all.
The best time to go is in July and August as the resort lifts, shops and restaurants are open. Outlined below are some of the things we have tried over the years. Our book of the house in the apartment has lots of other suggestions and tips, and detailed walking maps.
Here are a few of our suggestions of activities for the summer:

Cycling in the Alps

Vallandry, in the heart of the Tarrentaise and at the gateway to the Savoie National Park, is a perfect mountain base for cyclists who want to explore the fantastic terrain and tackle some of the awesome Cols made famous by the Tour over the past 100 years. From the apartment, there are 4 Cols which can be explored as part of a day’s itinerary, with a further 3 that can be combined in various ways and ridden with perhaps an overnight stop planned at one of the many fine mountain hostelries that provide a warm welcome for cyclists. The owners have cycled all of the Cols and can provide advice and suggested itineraries to suit all ability levels (including advice for support crews, as necessary). The apartment has secure parking as well as storage areas for bikes and kit. The local town of Bourg St Maurice is recognised across the region as a centre of cycling excellence with many hire and repair shops to choose from, if required. Vallandry is over 5000 feet above sea level, so a day cycling down to Bourg and then up and around Arc 1800 or Arc 2000 and back to base is an ideal way to acclimatise and get used to the thin air and gradients.
There are many, many more less well-known rides in the Savoie and these have the advantage of being less busy than the popular Cols. The advice is to just go off and explore. A great day out for families and those with an aversion to hills is the flat cycle track around beautiful Lake Annecy. Starting at Faverges, or anywhere you fancy along the full route (which goes all the way to Albertville) this is a gentle day of cycling with stops to take a dip in the Lake at certain points. Annecy itself, despite the crowds in high summer, is a must visit place to wander around the old town and watch the world go by. Take a good bike lock !

Below are very brief descriptions of the four main rides that are within easy striking distance of Vallandry.

As a starter for novice mountain climbers, this is the ideal ride to begin your holiday with. Climbing out of Bourg St Maurice on the road signposted to La Rosiere, the road is a good one with many hairpin bends, but with gradients that are generally not too steep and that are shaded with pine forest until you approach La Rosiere. Here the road steepens after the village as you head for Italy and the giant St Bernard dog that marks the Franco-Italian border. Stop to take in the stunning views of the whole Mont Blanc Massif in front of you before heading off down the steep gradient to the picturesque Italian village of La Thuile where there are some excellent lunch stops, or picnic areas if you prefer. Depending on your level of fitness, you can tackle the return climb (steep) or take the bus and ride back down into Bourg from the top.

A simply stunning ride taking in the high altitude reservoir and visiting the beautiful town of Beaufort. From the main roundabout close to the station in Bourg, take the signs for Roselend and Beaufort. The 25 kilometres up the Cormet have some stunning views although the gradient is quite steep in places. At the summit, there are great photo opportunities of the reservoir and surrounding mountains before taking the shorter descent into Beaufort – a charming and bustling town in the heart of the Beaufortain department, surrounded by a spectacular backdrop of steep mountain terrain. Following a hearty lunch at one of the many restaurants in the centre of the village (the Tartiflette comes highly recommended), there are two routes back to home. For the intrepid cyclist, via Ugine, Albertville and the RN90 (+ side roads as the RN90 is classified as motorway until you are past Moutiers) is one way back, the alternative simply being the return ride up to the Cormet and back down to Bourg – our preference, if only for the return views.

Madeleine is a true challenge and, along with the famous Col de L’Iseran, a very tough climb. It regularly features on the Tour and was a decisive stage in 2013, as fans of Chris Froome will recall. That ascent was from the south side, whereas our route starts on the north side near La Lechere and the memorably named village of Pussy. It is possible to ride down to La Lechere from Vallandry via the RN90 through Moutiers. However, a word of caution – you will need to exit the main road just before Moutiers town centre as the road becomes a motorway (as the owner knows to his cost). The signage is not good and the bikes prohibited sign is easily missed as you are whizzing down the hill at 60kph +. The route through Moutiers is also quite complex and a good sat nav is very useful. The climb from La Lechere, past the road for Pussy, is long and steep. For the really intrepid adventurer, at around half way up (1100 metres) there is a detour to Lac de la Grande Lechere. A simply beautiful ride, although it adds 6-7kms and about 500 metres to the climb. The views back over the Mont Blanc massif are spectacular and at the summit, the weary cyclist will note the altitude is exactly 2000 metres, making the climb unique from more than one view point. The route down via St Francois de Longchamp to La Chambre takes in some charming hostelries for lunch before tackling the return journey. If you have a support crew, this is one ride where you will be glad to see them at the bottom of the southern descent!

From Vallandry via Bourg St Maurice, this is the toughest test in the Savoie. The mighty Iseran still has a special place in the mountain cyclist’s challenge list, as despite the Col de Ia Bonette’s rather spurious claim to be the highest pass in Europe, the last 90 metres to the Cime de la Bonette is a bit of a cheat as it goes round in a circle before re-joining the road down. Iseran has now slightly changed description to the highest road pass in Europe. Enough of the semantics. From Landry, at the foot of the hill down from Vallandry, it is a relentless 40km 2000 metre climb with the last 12k from Val D’Isere being especially tough. Your reward is not at the summit, which is a bit of a windswept disappointment, but in the ride down into the Bonneville Valley. Words can’t adequately describe the scenery on the descent – just do it (and, ideally, meet the support crew in the charming mediaeval village of Bonneville for a well-deserved rest and drinks).

Mountain Activities

The mountains surround Vallandry, and there's lots to see and do in the Summer warmth:

From a gentle ramble over to the awesome Les Vergnettes to a ½ or full day hike in the National Park to a three day hike, staying in Refuges on the way, Paradiski has something for you. There are hundreds of kilometres of beautiful, marked walking trails and maps and trail guides are available from the Tourist Office. Here's an example. To reach the higher trails you can buy a one journey or multi journey Lift Pass. The local Mountain Guides Office offer guided group walks, walks on a glacier, and private, longer trips. Some of our favourite walks are:
Take the Vallandry chair then follow the marked trail over to Les Vergnettes (a stunning church perched precariously on the lower slopes above Nancroix), then walk around the lower slopes back to Vallandry – easy.
Rosuel to Lac La Plagne – a stunning walk of about 4-6 hours, steep in places, but simply stunning views. Brave the glacial waters of Lac La Plagne, then stop for a crêpe and a cuppa at the Refuge, before heading back to Rosuel.
Pont Baudin to Lac L’Etroit – a walk with stunning views towards Vallandry. Very steep descent. 4-6 hours.
Col D'Entrepôt : 3-4 hours.

Les Arcs and La Plagne are two of the best downhill mountain biking sites in Europe. The riding is challenging, the views are spectacular and the long tracks just keep on flowing! Probably a resort best suited to intermediate/advanced riders, you will find plenty of demanding technical trails and steep downhill plummets. The lift system is efficient and takes you and your bike up to 2700m from where you can choose from a multitude of tracks to get back down into town.
Easier routes are available via the Vallandry chairlift.

Off-road scooters, called Arapaho Scooters can be hired in Champagny (minimum age of 10).

There are lots of places to parapente from, in and near Vallandry. The Office de Tourisme can provide more information on this peaceful and liberating experience. The instructor will control where you go, aiming to catch thermals, which will keep you up for longer. A usual tandem ride will last about 20-30 minutes, depending on those thermals.

Some 'top spots' to head for are:
Falaise d'Arc (2000-2050m) - 11 routes, graded from 4b-6a.
Falaise de Rochefleur (1620m) - 10 'official' routes and 9 'unofficial' but fairly easy routes, graded from 3b-6c.
Pont Baudin Petit Dalle (1550m) - 18 routes, graded from 4a-6b.
Pont Baudin Grande Dalle (1590m) - 19 routes, graded from 5b-7a+.
Blocs de Ceris (1370m) - over 20 large boulders with a multitude of routes from 3-7b.
The Sports Centre in Plage Bellecôte features an indoor climbing wall and in Plagne Centre you will find 3 movable and tilting walls to practice on. There is also an indoor climbing wall in Arc 1950.

If climbing up sheer rock on the end of a piece of rope sounds a bit scary then Via Ferrata climbing offers an element of security that still allows beginners to enjoy the achievement of having scaled a mountain! Following marked routes through the mountains you are helped along by steps, bridges and ladders whilst being roped up for extra safety. Suitable for adults and children over the age of 8, guides can be arranged on request. There are 2 main Via Ferrata routes in La Plagne; Plan du Bouc and Grosses Pierres. Plan du Bouc is in Champagny le Haut and features 2 courses, 1 intermediate and 1 difficult. Grosses Pierres is in Champagny en Bas and is more challenging and physical.

Mountain Activities

Half day, full day, and three day combi passes are bookable from Arc Aventures and H20 (Landry).

Plunge down mountain streams via a series of abseil descents and jumps. There are differing levels available, and a minimum age of 8. Not for the faint hearted!

Less strenuous than canyoning, this is a favourite activity for many holidaymakers. There are various options available from a 3 hour adrenaline rush to a full days excursion. Don’t expect to remain dry!

An alternative to rafting where you travel down the river on an inflatable body-board. Exhilarating!

Apart from the many mountain lakes and streams which make a refreshing dip in the summer there is also a large outdoor swimming pool (with stunning views) in Arc 1800. There is also a large swimming complex in nearby Bourg Saint Maurice, which comprises an indoor pool, outdoor pool and 3 diving boards. There is also leisure-lake near Aime which has a beach, cafe, playground, crazy golf and tree-climbing adventure park.

Other Summer Activities

If you've exhausted all of the above, there is still lots more to try..

Adults and children can swing through the trees high above the mountains on a circuit of zip lines, monkey bridges, ladders and ropes. There are ‘parcours’ / 'arbre aventure' parks at Rosuel (next to the Horse Riding), Arc 1800, Belle Plagne, Aime Villette and Champagny.

Available in Vallandry, Les Arcs and Rosuel. Minimum ago of 8 years.

Les Arcs Golf Course is open every day from the end of June to the beginning of September and hosts a number of competitions and events throughout the summer. For the more experienced player there is the 18 hole par 70 Le Chantel course. For those who prefer a more leisurely game there are 9 hole courses in Vallandry and Arc 1800 which have spectacular views of the mountains.

There are several riding stables nearby; the Centre Equestre at Pont Baudin, the Centre Equestre la Cavale in Les Arcs and the Centre Equestre Ranch El Colorado in Bourg Saint Maurice.

Are available in Vallandry and Les Arcs (Club des Sports at 1800), offering your children the opportunity to try a range of activities while you pursue your own interests. Catering for different age groups -A nursery for 1-3 year olds with mini-trampoline, singing & music, arts & crafts and more to keep your little ones fully entertained. The Club Mini takes children between 3 and 6 years old for a range of activities including mountain rambles, swimming, judo, trampolining, painting and mini golf. For children aged from 6 years up to 17 the Club des Jeunes has more challenging sporting activities such as circus skills, tennis, water sports and mountain discovery.

Les Arcs provides 30 tennis courts as well as the Nastase Academy, offering courses and tournaments.There are squash courts in Arc 1800 (Sports Centre). Vallandry has two courts that can be booked through the Office De Tourisme.

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