High up in the French Alps, it’s exciting to imagine the forces that shaped these colossal peaks. The African and Eurasian tectonic plates collided some 35 million years ago, forcing the land skyward into a 1000km chain of saw-edged mountains.
Spanning across seven European countries, the Alps reach their maximum height in France, at Mont Blanc (4810m). Routes into the Alps’ otherworldly realms are many: aboard cable cars that fly to scary heights, or in the company of mountain guides who bring you out into the wilderness. Europe’s biggest, and arguably most prestigious, ski resorts are here, melting into flower-filled hiking country each summer. Winter or summer, this amazing terrain commands respect: the French Alps’ mirror lakes, ice-cold rivers and majestic glaciers form one of Europe’s true epics.
Highlights in the French Alps
In Chamonix, skiers and sightseers are launched by cable cars to heights of 3842m on the Mont Blanc massif, while the glacial void of the Vallée Blanche is for the brave. Skiers and boarders have a choice of pistes along the valley, while in summer the lifts access hiking and biking trails. The town hosted the first ever Winter Olympics in 1924. Downtown Chamonix hums with life, streets are lined with Michelin-starred restaurants, sports gear stores and some of the French Alps’ fanciest hotels. And the night life is fantastic too. For great food, let’s head to the “Cap Horn” Restaurant, with its large and sophisticated main room that extends outside on a pleasant terrace with a spectacular Mont Blanc view. This place is suitable for all events, for groups up to 200 people. You will enjoy the various atmospheres the Cap Horn has to offer while savoring the chef’s cuisine based on top-quality local ingredients. This classic Chamonix eatery with its cosy vibe and great food comes highly recommended by our team.
Les Trois Vallées is the big one you’ve all heard about: vast, fast and by most measures, the largest ski area in the world. It’s impossible to get tired of all this terrain: there are more than 600km of pistes and more than 180 lifts linking eight resorts and three valleys. Among these are Val Thorens,, Europe’s highest ski village at 2300m, wealthy Méribel, and playground of the super-rich Courchevel. In Méribel, the 5-star “Kaila” hotel is sure to please the pickiest customers. Centrally located, just a footstep from the ski lifts, its rooms and suites are decorated with a luxurious and highly contemporary style, with a warm and comfy touch. Opened in December 2012, it boasts a 200sqm indoor swimming pool and a unique spa, which will guarantee ultimate relaxation. Last but not least, the restaurant l’Ekrin, decorated in black velvet, with gold and wooden tones, has earned one Michelin star. Chef Laurent Azoulay will delight you with original, daring and delicate dishes, with access to an exceptional wine selection.
In between Les Ménuires and Val Thorens, “Chez Pépé Nicolas” is an authentic alpine chalet and above all a very atypical restaurant. This conceptual place with a quirky look, described as “tradi trendy chic” by connoisseurs, has a fabulous team that will do everything to provide you a totally exceptional experience. On the menu, you get local specialties like raclette, tartiflette, croziflette, fondue, Beaufort cheese, etc. But also delicious grilled meats, and funky desserts that will make you beg for more. Once you’ve taken in all the great atmosphere, food, and drinks, just hop on the restaurant shuttle, or make a torchlight descent back to your hotel!
Whatever you wish for your perfect stay in the French Alps, and whatever your budget, you can be sure that Vitalis will build a tailor-made experience that you will remember for many years to come! Please stay tuned for our next article about all the best group activities this region has to offer.