The French Alps are seen as a major tourist destination in the winter for skiing holidays. While this is true, the region is also popular in the summer months for a wide range of activities. The mountains that provide perfect ski conditions in the winter, now provide the perfect environment for a number of summer activities to take place.
The Alps without snow is a perfect destination for walkers. Many of the resorts keep their gondolas and chairlifts open so that the visitors can make their way up to the higher pastures. The trails give people outstanding views of the mountainous topography and often people will choose to take a trek that can last for a week choosing to either stay in tents or log cabins.
The Chamonix Valley offers the perfect opportunity for tourists to enjoy the landscapes that can be viewed from Mont Blanc. Tracks have been created for both walkers and cyclists, and people can actually make their way up to the Bionnassay Glacier. The Mont Blanc tramway takes tourists all the way up to the foot of the glacier and often mountaineers make their way from here in attempting to scale Mont Blanc. This is not the only rail route available in the area. The Montenvers railway travels as far as the huge ice field Merde Glace. The rivers in the area are popular for canoers with the Arve River providing swimming in the waterfalls.
The Alps are glaciated, and this has resulted in many lakes being created in the region. Some lakes that fill corries are small, while some U shaped valleys are filled by long ribbon lakes. These lakes are home to many boating and swimming activities. Sailing and canoeing is popular in the summer time as the temperatures rise markedly from the winter lows.
The melt water of the melting winter snow feeds the rivers, and this creates the perfect opportunity for white water rafting. There are other activities along these waterways and both cyclists and horse riders’ will often follow their paths down valley sides.
The Portes du Soleil area have adapted their chairlifts so that they can carry mountain bikes. The region has 650 km of mountain bike trails and Les Gets hosted the 2004 Mountain Bike World Championships. The area also has many waterfalls and lakes that are suitable for both swimming and boating in.
Cycling in France is a huge sport. There are many opportunities to enjoy a cycling holiday in the Alps with many of the shops that provide ski gear in the winter adapting to provide cycling equipment in the summer. One of the country’s most famous sporting events is the Tour de France and each summer the race spends three or four days in the Alps, as the riders complete the mountain stages of the race. The section of the race up to Alpe d’Huez is traditionally regarded as one of the toughest legs. The mountains become alive with spectators.
Many of the higher winter resorts still provide skiing on their glaciers. The mountains see a wide variety of activities that are taking place. Importantly these activities combine together to keep people coming to the region so that the locals can benefit economically from their visitors.