You must be going to Chamonix?
Mention a trip to The French Alps and that’s likely to be the response. Chamonix is well known as a hip, happening destination equally loved by the rich and famous and anyone in love with the idea of hiking or skiing around the famous Mont Blanc. But any google search now advises to factor in the crowds.
Whenever I look across to Mont Blanc (ok so it’s a tiny peak in the distance) from a high point on one of my hikes, I’m grateful for the invitation to experience life in this lesser known Oisans region of France. Spectacular mountains, endless choice of beautiful hikes (no bookings required), e-bikes for hire, fabulous local food and wine, and no crowds. As soon as I arrived I knew it was the right place for Sharing Bali & Beyond.
Tourism is vital to the region, but it still feels like farmers, produce makers, and a more traditional village way of life is important. The call of the mountains is real, hiking and climbing is part of life.
It’s a destination for serious cyclists in summer. In fact, every few years the Tour de France passes through the town bringing a huge influx of cycling fans. The scales get tipped to ‘busy’ during the event, but it’s still possible to dodge the crowds by heading out in a different direction to the tour. There’s plenty of mountains and lakes to choose from.
Over tourism is a big topic these days. It’s easy for hot destinations to become over-loved.
At the end of another Sharing the French Alps trip my mind is as clear as the mountain springs on whats to love about life in this corner of the world. Here’s my 10 best reasons to go….
The Place: Hiking to Lac De La Fare. Elevation 2800m.
What’s to love: The thrill of climbing 1500m in altitude in a few minutes on a telecabin ride through the clouds. 360 degree views of mountains, sparkling lakes and glaciers. Feeling so alive, breathless, on top of the world.
The Place: Cafe de Paris for late afternoon post hike drinks. The classic small bar, with metal tables and chairs, flower boxes, set up under an awning on the sidewalk. The ‘crowd’ is a mix of locals of all ages, cyclists and travellers. Dogs of all sizes hang with their owners. Its a place to meet, to talk, to drink slowly.
What’s to love: Rose Givre, the perfect summer aperitif. Think fresh raspberries, rose wine, raspberry liqueur, ice. Its ok to pay by leaving your money on the table. By the end of our trip the bar staff know our order. Santé. (cheers)
The Place: Start on the famous hairpin bends of Alpe d’Huez before heading off on smaller roads, each bend delivering jaw dropping alpine views.
What’s to love: Turbo power! Thanks to electric bikes, cycling the alps is no longer limited to those who cycle at a Tour de France level. With gradients of up to 13%, pushing the bike after the first 100 metres is the reality for the inexperienced. Beware, the thrill of cycling through such spectacular scenery is addictive.
The Place: Enroute to Lac De La fare.
What’s to love: Playing in the snow wearing a t-shirt.
The Place: The queue in the local boulangerie (bakery) at 6.30am.
What’s to love: Freshly baked baguette. Chunks of cheese. Ham. Fresh peaches and nectarines. The perfect picnic for a hike. Worth the wait in the queue.
The Place: Spring fed lake, half hour wander from our chalet along a dirt road. Hidden by trees.
What’s to love: A deep dive takes your breath away, but once you get past the initial chill, its beautifully refreshing. The quietness.
The Place: A rock under ‘the cascades’. We find a waterfall every day on our hikes. This one happens to be an easy walk from the chalet.
What’s to love: The quiet realisation that sometimes there’s no need to do… just be.
The Place: Town centre. Le Bourg D’Oisans.
What’s to love: Shopping for locally produced artisan quality food in small specialist stores. Shops close for at least two hours for lunch, giving you no choice but to set your pace to village time. Tasting your way through the farmers market that takes over town every Saturday.
The Place: Small river 15 mins walk from the chalet.
What’s to love: No rapids, this is pure chill. Paddling down a small river, taking in the late afternoon sun, not taking life too seriously. As the river takes us into town, finishing up at Cafe De Paris seems so right.
The Place: The highest point on our e-bike adventure. The last tunnel brought us to this magnificent view.
What’s to love: Having fun with new friends. Travel is more than wonderful destinations. The people you meet along the way are the most memorable.
“He who would travel happily must travel light.”Antoine de St. Exupery
It’s impossible not to be more ‘in love with life’ after a few days of e-biking, hiking, fabulous food and wine and mountain air. That’s why I created Sharing The French Alps. Find out for yourself on the next trip. Wondering how you can run your business and have a holiday in the Alps? We get that. The Carpe Diem Retreat is the perfect solution for business owners. Its the ultimate ‘integrate work and life as one’ experience. Vivre La Vie.