About Chamonix & Annecy in Savoie
When the mercury dips our thoughts invariably turn to the slopes and the opportunity to indulge our cravings for some French Alps-based winter skiing. As usual, the first choice destination for ski mad Brits will be Chamonix in Savoie which offers the perfect blend of skiing, climbing, shopping and gastronomy.
Dominated by its majestic 15,700 peak, the town’s first establishment offering a room for the night accompanied by a warm hearty meal opened in 1770 but it was Napoleon really opened the town up to mainstream appeal by sanctioning the building of safe rail and road access and the town’s popularity grew even more the appeal of the town its name was cemented in folklore by the with the arrival of the inaugural winter Olympic games in 1924
Loved not only by skiers but also travellers, climbers, artists and writers Chamonix is centred around five major ski areas namely Le Brévent, La Flégère, Grands Montets, Le Tour/Balme and Les Houches
But there is plenty to do in the resort other than ski and visitors must ensure the take a ride on the awe inspiring Aiguille du Midi cablecar which takes you effortlessly over 9,000 feet in under 20 minutes.
Paragliding is also an option for those possessing a string stomach or for something a little more sedate catch the Montenvers train from Chamonix to the Mer de Glace glacier. A mecca for romantic weddings the town even hosts its own annual marathon and is without doubt one of the most famous skiing destinations in the world – but by no means the only one in France...and even has its own marathon
Anybody seeking to avoid the hustle and bustle of Chamonix may prefer a visit to the village of Megeve which is fast earning a reputation as an excellent location for all snow sports.
Similar to its better known neighbour Chamonix, Mégeve also has four main areas of skiing, Mont d'Arbois, Côte 2000, Rochebrune and the quiet district of Jaillet. Offering facilities for skiers of all abilities, the slopes of Megeve are well served by a regular, free shuttle bus.
Rookies and families are also well catered for as the village is home to the Waidzai Snow Park which extends a warm welcome to skiers and snowboarders with Megeve also offering a superb indoor swimming pool, a climbing wall, two ice rinks and an impressive indoor tennis facility.
After dark Megeve takes on an altogether different complexion as the sophisticated town relaxes and caters for its rather upmarket clientele as expensive restaurants and the local casino proving an irresistible urge for many.
For something truely magical, Annecy, approximately one hours drive from Geneva has recently begun to market itself as an all year destination thereby stealing the edge on some of its neighbours who are only able to market themselves as ski destinations.
Situated at the head of a stunning lake Annecy does not have any skiing areas of its own, but its attraction lies in its proximity to a number of areas where first class skiing is available including Le Grand Bornand, Saint Jean de Sixt and Megeve.
But that isn’t to say you’ll be regretting basing yourself here as you wander around the banks of the numerous canals which lend the town a certain Venetian feel.
The town has a richly-deserved reputation for attracting sportsman and women of all abilities and it is easy to understand why with a host of activities on offer aimed at participants of all ages including cycling, rowing, climbing trekking and of course, skiing and snowboarding.
Swimming is permissible in the Lac d'Annecy which is claimed to be Europe’s purest lake and whatever you do, make time to visit ‘Lovers Bridge’ but be sure to read up on the traditions associated with it beforehand!