Likened to The Vail of France, this fairy tale destination is a wondrous summer escape

Notorious for its skiing and home to Western Europe’s highest mountain, the town of Chamonix, France will quickly make the list of any traveler’s favorite escapes. While generally considered a winter destination, summer is a wondrous time to visit this unique hideaway, tucked along the border with Switzerland and Italy. With magnificent mountains, charming log cabins, and a delightful town center, Chamonix might best be described as “The Vail of France.”

The local lifestyle is steeped in outdoor activity, filling the town with positive energy and an inherent sense of adventure. With trailheads that start in people’s backyards, it is nearly impossible not to go exploring. It is simply a part of life here.

While trails are abundant, and range in difficulty, a strenuous nine-mile hike will get you to Lac Blanc, where the view of the lake with the prominent and inspiring mountain peaks will take your breath away. With luck, you might even see a chamois—a species of goat-antelope—grazing on the side of the mountain.

The heart of the town, with its artisanal market, outstanding gelato, and intricate architecture, compels visitors to linger and enjoy. The Saturday market features rows of booths with delicious cheese, bread, jams, jewelry and fine art. The restaurants will remind you why French fare is so renowned. And the streets are filled with various outdoor gear, clothing, and photography shops that make it easy to while away a day.

 

Visitors to Chamonix, should make the hour-long drive to Lake Annecy, for an unforgettable day. Simply sitting on the grassy beach and gazing upon the blue waters and jagged mountains puts the heart at ease. For those feeling the tug of adventure, rental bikes are available for the 30-mile ride around the lake. And for those itching to get in the water, paddleboards and pedal boats can be rented as well. And adrenaline junkies can venture out into the lake to climb up a rock wall and do some cliff jumping into the water.

After a day on the lake, old town Annecy, with its cobblestone streets and quaint atmosphere, is the perfect place to reflect on the day and what a magnificent corner of the world this is.