France's alpine regions are not only a winter wonderland but also a summer paradise, providing a wealth of activities that cater to both the snow enthusiast and the summer adventurer.
The dual season ski resorts in France are prime examples of destinations that offer a seamless transition from the crisp white slopes of winter to the lush green trails of summer. Whilst most resorts now increasingly cater to 365 days of adventure, there are a few that have been leading the way for many years. Here's an in-depth look at some of those dual-season ski resorts in France, where the charm of the mountains can be enjoyed all year round.
Nestled in the shadow of the majestic Mont Blanc, Chamonix is a resort with a venerable history yet remains at the forefront of modern alpine tourism. With approximately 5 million visitors annually, the resort is a hive of activity in every season. The "Step into the Void" attraction at Aiguille du Midi, a glass skywalk over a precipitous drop, offers a unique thrill.
The spirit of adventure pulses strongly here, with opportunities for trekking, hiking, and mountaineering led by seasoned guides. Mountain biking trails crisscross the landscape, and paragliding offers unparalleled views. Water sports enthusiasts can indulge in canyoning, rafting, and kayaking. Chamonix also boasts a golf course, alongside other leisure activities like horse riding, tennis, swimming, and a gym.
The Grand Massif, a gem in the French Alps, stands out as a versatile dual-season ski domain. With its 265 kilometers of ski runs, it ranks as the fifth-largest ski area in France, offering a range of pistes from green to black to cater to all levels.
What sets it apart is the Flaine bowl, renowned for its snow reliability due to its unique microclimate, often resulting in a ski season that extends longer than its regional counterparts.
In summer, Grand Massif transforms into a verdant playground, with its extensive trail network appealing to hikers and mountain bikers alike. The region is also home to the impressive Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval Nature Reserve, featuring some of France’s most stunning natural scenery.
Alpe d’Huez, once known mainly for its winter sports, made headlines with a massive 350-million-euro investment aimed at bolstering its appeal as a dual season destination. Completed in 2022, this project enhanced its skiing areas, accommodations, and sustainability efforts. Today, Alpe d’Huez is a sought-after spot for rock climbing, mountaineering, and cycling—the 21 bends of its famous cycling route present an enticing challenge for many.
The Ecrins National Park, part of the resort, is a sanctuary for wildlife enthusiasts. Nine lakes and waterways offer tranquil fishing spots, and the community swimming pool comes with a fitness centre. For those seeking an aerial perspective, helicopter tours and paragliding are available.
Les Gets, nestled in the heart of the Portes du Soleil region, is a picturesque village that has successfully transitioned into a dual-season resort, attracting visitors with its authentic charm and array of activities year-round.
With the significant investment enhancing its infrastructure, the resort has bolstered its summer appeal, making it a premier destination for cyclists. The area boasts an extensive network of trails, ranging from family-friendly tracks to challenging downhill courses, all set against the backdrop of the stunning French Alps.
Mountain biking in Les Gets is not just a pastime; it's a celebrated aspect of the resort's identity, hosting prestigious events like the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup that draw in a global audience. The trails are meticulously maintained, offering varied terrain for all skill levels, and the lift system efficiently transforms the winter ski area into a bike park.
Les Gets is also part of the wider domain of Portes du Soleil.
This expansive area boasts 600 kilometers of skiing terrain across 12 interconnected resorts, with 308 slopes and over 200 lifts, ensuring a premium experience for winter sports enthusiasts. It's not only the scale but the diversity of the slopes that stands out, catering to all skill levels and tastes.
When the snow melts, Portes du Soleil reveals an entirely different landscape ripe for exploration.
It offers over 800 kilometres of mountain biking trails, including dedicated downhill and cross-country routes, making it a top destination for bikers. Hikers can traverse the scenic trails, while families enjoy the leisurely Alpine pastures. The resorts host numerous summer events, maintaining a vibrant atmosphere throughout the year.
Megève, has elegantly evolved from a storied winter wonderland to a vibrant summer retreat, embodying the essence of a dual-season resort. Its cobblestone streets and chalet-style architecture echo a rich history, while contemporary investments have ushered in modern luxuries and year-round attractions. In winter, Megève's snowy slopes are a haven for skiers of all levels, but as the seasons turn, these powdered trails give way to lush hiking paths and some of the finest mountain biking routes in the Alps.
The resort's commitment to excellence is evident in its diverse offerings, from golfing on alpine greens to thermal spa experiences that harmonise with nature.
Its summer persona is equally compelling, with cultural festivals and open-air markets that showcase local craftsmanship and gastronomy. This careful balance of adventure and tranquility makes Megève a unique destination, inviting guests to indulge in its natural beauty and refined leisure throughout the year.
For the last century, the mountains have been seen predominately through the lens of winter season enthusiasts. Tourism, business and economy has centred around these months. However, in the last ten years (for some longer) resorts have begun to invest further into their summer offer. Supply is fast following demand and whilst these resorts mentioned have their own unique summer season and have been early to the party, resorts that offer only winter season activities are already fewer and further between.