Favourite places within an Hour of Samoëns
Samoëns is ideally located for exploring the wider Haute Savoie region. There are numerous options for day trip all within just an hours drive from the chalet. Below are some of our personal favourites:
The beautiful town of Annecy has a magical setting on the northern tip of the lake from which it takes its name. Take a stroll through the old town with its warren of passages divided by branches of the Canal du Thiou. The buildings that line these passages are overflowing with geraniums and petunias in the summer months and house numerous cafes and restaurants in which to relax and watch the world go by.
The highlight of any trip to Annecy is exploring the lake itself. The options are endless; whether you favour a speed boat, a pedalo or a lunch-included cruise to explore the lake, whether you prefer hiring bikes and making the 45km cycle tour around the shoreline or whether you merely fancy strolling along the promenade you will benefit from the feel-good factor of the inspiring natural setting of the lake and the surrounding mountains.
Just a few minutes south of Annecy, set on the shores of Lake Annecy, the charming little village of Talloires has magnificent views across the late and a beautiful waterfront lined with exclusive hotels and restaurants. Lunch on the terrace of L’Abbaye de Talloires, with its vista of the shimmering mountains in the distance, is a highly recommended way to relax. Tables are set under the majestic lime trees and hundred-years-old plane trees which offer shade on a sunny day. A light summer menu is available and is prepared in their outdoor kitchen in front of your eyes.
Step back in time as you explore this medieval walled village on the shores of Lake Geneva. Stroll through the narrow cobbled streets or wander along the waterfront with its bustling cafes and restaurants. Views of the lake and the mountains abound in this ancient fishing village. Visit the Five Senses Garden in the heart of the village. Previously the castle’s former vegetable garden, The Five Senses Garden, which has been restored in the spirit of a medieval enclosed garden, is a delight of colour and smells as well as also challenging the visitors’ perceptions of taste and texture.
Chamonix, set in the Arve Valley, is a destination popular the world over. People are drawn here to experience nature at its most extreme whether that is simply to admire the stunning scenery from a distance or to partake in one of the many activities available. With its pretty town centre, steeped in mountaineering history, you can simply relax by the river at one of the many cafes and people-watch the eclectic mix of extreme skiers, hikers and day-trippers or have a wander round one of the best selection of outdoor equipment and clothing shops you’ll find. For those looking to experience a little more of what the Chamonix-Mont Blanc area has to offer then you might like to try one of the following:
Take a cable-car 2700 vertical metres (nearly 2 miles) to the top of the Aiguille du Midi peak at 3842m. Here you can enjoy panoramic views of the major French, Swiss and Italian peaks over 4000m and the vast glaciers below. For an additional charge you can take a telecabin from the top of the cable car over the Glacier du Geant to the Helbronner peak in Italy.
Hop aboard this old rack and pinion mountain train and take the zigzagging route up the mountainside to a viewing point overlooking the foot of the Mer de Glace which, at 7km long and 200m deep, is France’s largest glacier. From the viewing platform you can either take a 20 minute walk or a short gondola down to the glacier itself to the “Grotte de Glace”, an ice cave carved into the glacier that houses a museum depicting the life of the early mountaineers. The top of the Montenvers train is also the starting point for a number of hikes including the trail to Plan de L’Aiguille as well as the descent back into Chamonix.
Open from mid-June to the end of September and starting from either Le Fayet or Saint-Gervais, the Mont Blanc tramway passes through stunning pastures and forests before reaching Nid d’Aigle (Eagles Nest) at 2372m from where there are panoramic views of the Bionnassay glacier and both the Chamonix and Contamines valleys. There are numerous hiking trails that commence from some of the stops along the route including an easy walk to the Bionnassay glacier from Nid d’Aigle.
For fantastic views of the Mont Blanc range and also some great hiking trails then the Flegere and Brevent lifts on the south side of the valley offer some great options. Both lifts open in the summer for walkers and mountain bikers from mid-June to early November.
From the top of the Brevent lift you can take a 50 minute walk to the Refuge de Bellachat where you can stop for something to eat and admire the views of Mont Blanc from a height of 2152m. From the top of the Flegere lift (1877m) you have the choice to either start a number of walks or alternatively take the Index lift up to a height of 2,595m and start the walks from a higher vantage point. The walk to Lac Blanc is just 75 minutes (90 minutes from the top of the Flegere lift) and the refuge on the side of the lake offers speciality mountain cuisine.
If you fancy burning off some adrenaline with the kids then why not try the Chamonix Adventure Park. Just opposite the Montenvers train station you will find the entrance to the Parc de Loisirs de Chamonix which in addition to numerous rides and zip-wires is home to a 1300 metre long luge that is great for children and adults alike!
This cosmopolitan city has much to offer. Stroll around the shore of the lake with its parks and beaches and stunning vistas of the mountains, have a coffee alfresco in one of the bustling squares in the old town, explore the botanical gardens or for a bit of culture visit the European headquarters of the United Nations (Place des Nations), the museum of the International Red Cross or the MAMCO art museum which is home to a number of contemporary private art galleries.
For those looking to treat themselves or a loved one to something a little bit special then Geneva is home to some of the most exclusive shops in Europe with the Rue du Rhône offering shoppers the opportunity to marvel at the very highest level of luxury brands.
Some options closer to home; Less than 20 minutes
You don’t need to travel far from the chalet if you are looking for stunning natural beauty.
Sixt Passy Nature Reserve
The Sixt Passy National Park is the largest Nature Reserve in the Haute-Savoie offering 100 km of signposted walks with something for all abilities. There are trails that will take you through varied landscapes of lakes, mountain summits, glaciers and forests with many of the walks linking-up with one of the five mountain refuges. The refuges offer overnight accommodation for those on multi-day hikes but they also offer fantastic lunch options for those just out for a ramble. Details of some of the walks and the refuges are available on our website.
Le Cirque du Fer a Cheval
Beyond the village of Sixt Fer a Cheval the road comes to an abrupt end where you find yourself staring at the impressive Cirque du Fer a Cheval, a major national site where 2000m high cliffs tower above you and waterfalls plummet over the sides.
En route to the village of Sixt Fer a Cheval admire the magnificence of the sheer sided drop of Les Gorges des Tines where you’ll often find white-water rafters navigating the turbulent and fast flowing waters of the River Giffre.
La Cascade du Rouget
Also known as the ‘Queen of the Alps’, La Cascade du Rouget is the star of the local waterfalls dropping 90m into a plunge pool just metres from the side of the road. Stand and admire the power of nature whilst feeling the fine water spray on your face.