Summer in the Alps

Summer is on the horizon. As we near the end of another cold winter, those longer days that renew your soul are just around the corner.

As winter awakens into spring and summer, the Alps are transformed from a fairytale winter wonderland into a riot of colour and a myriad of wild flowers dancing in the verdant meadows. If there are any resorts that embrace summer quite so enthusiastically, it is Chamonix and Zermatt. Hazy spring skiing days signal the seasons are about to change. You can say ‘goodbye’ to the frozen gloves and ‘hello’- to the ice cubes clinking their way around your wine glass.

The skis and snowboards have seen their final storage wax but there is a near infinite list of endorphin inducing sports to start to look forward to instead. As the snow melts, ceaseless hiking and biking trails reveal themselves, criss-crossing the mountain landscape. Those craving an adrenalin rush never feel that end of season disappointment. Hiking, mountaineering, mountain biking, road cycling, trail running, rock climbing, paragliding, rafting, kayaking, tennis… Chamonix and Zermatt certainly deserve their reputations as summer Alpine meccas. The ski lifts are open in the summer, ensuring easy and affordable access to the high mountains.

Chamonix

If you would prefer to pack sunglasses, a comfy spare pair of shoes and some extra Euros rather than a helmet, body armour and tire pump, tear yourself away from the majesty of Chamonix’s awe inspiring scenery and treat yourself to a day trip to Geneva or perhaps Annecy, known as the Venice of the Alps or head through the Mont Blanc tunnel to Courmayeur. Whether your day trip be lazing by the beaches of Lake Annecy or Lake Geneva, indulging yourself in a thermal spa or finding your inner Italian on a wine and cheese tasting tour across the border, there’s plenty to see and do away from the confines of Chamonix.

For even the youngest members of the family Chamonix is ready to kick start their love for the mountains. Only a half hour drive is Lac de Passy, warm enough to splash around in during the summer months. Maybe the youngest would appreciate a visit to the Merlet Animal Park. This nature reserve of alpine pastures, above the village of Chamonix’s Les Houches is a sanctuary for eight different Alpine species of Marmotte. With a wealth of activities for every generation to enjoy, your daily dilemma, apart from whether to have another delicious pastry, is what to spend today enjoying. It is time to embrace those precious months of summer idyll before Mont Blanc once again shudders under the next throes of winter.

Zermatt

Thereʼs more to Zermatt than the snow and the pistes; Summer can be a wonderful time to take advantage of all that this charming car free Swiss resort has to offer.

Spending summer in Zermatt can be addictive. Thereʼs something special about the mountains in the summer months that is a world away from the winter wonderland of the ski season. If the winter months are a study in black and white, the summer months are a riot of lush greens and colour. The snow melts and a whole new world is revealed, the mountains suddenly become accessible to hikers, mountain bikers, cyclists and all manner of nature lovers and photographers. Road cyclists will find lung busting climbs, through terrific scenery, some of the climbs would test the fittest of road racers. Try the ride to nearby Grachen, down the hill to St Nicholas and then up again to Grachen, a fairy tale mountain village high above the Zermatt valley, a round trip of about 60k. A real tester.

For mountain bikers, over gravel and stones, through larch and Swiss pine forests and all this with a magnificent mountain backdrop: On six routes with a total of 100 km with different levels of difficulty, you will descend or ascend an average of 1,000 metres of altitude. Try out the downhill run and from the Sunnegga, thrilling!

For hikers, with more than 400 km of marked hiking and walking trails, Zermatt, Täsch and Randa offer a wide range of options to hiking fans. The mountain railways make it possible to effortlessly reach altitudes up to 3,000 metres above sea level. The areas in Täsch and Randa, with breathtaking views of the Weisshorn and the peaks of the Mischabel group, are recommended to those who like to walk up to higher altitudes. Or you can follow in the footsteps of Emile Zola, Eduard Whymper and Albert Schweizer to Trift. There are walking trails close to the villages for those who are no longer so good on their feet. Themed walking trails invite you to learn more about the area. Recently, Zermatt introduced a network of hiking trails with uniform signposts following the “Quality Goals for Hiking Trails in Switzerland”. What more could you ask for. An absolute haven for keen walkers and nature lovers.

In late summer photographers travel from all over the world to Zermatt. Golden-yellow larch forests set against a deep blue sky make for a magnificent landscape colour palette. Add in the world’s most famous mountain – the Matterhorn – and it’s hard to go wrong. Avail yourself of the opportunity to photograph this famous landscape from many angles, at both sunrise and sunset. This is a place where the scenery is hard to beat!

Danny Frith is Director at SkiBoutique. SkiBoutique is a luxury ski chalet agency based in Switzerland.

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Comments (3)

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  1. How beautiful Dan! Amazing views. We get similar ones of the Southern Alps here in New Zealand but I am keen to see the Europe Alps too ;) Something about snow-capped hills and green backgrounds, the white and lush greens providing for a beautiful contrast. Awesome summer trip. Thanks for sharing :)

    Ryan

    • danny frith says:

      Hi Ryan, Thanks for your comment. It’s funny you should say that as I went traveling in New Zealand after finishing University. One of the biggest things that struck me was how the Southern Alps reminded me so much of the European Alps. Very similar indeed and just as majestic.
      The one thing that does set them apart though is that there is so much history and so many different cultures in the European Alps. A must see if you get the chance.

  2. Geoff says:

    On reading this, I’m inspired! I’ve been to the Alps many times, but only ever in winter (or occasionally at Easter when there’s still some skiing to be had). I think I might try and squeeze in a visit this Summer…

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