We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Family Activity Holiday in the French Alps

Which Annecy hotels are on sale?
mm/dd/yyyy mm/dd/yyyy
See hotels
bristol, uk
Level Contributor
16 posts
3 reviews
Family Activity Holiday in the French Alps

I'm thinking about next year's holiday already and am wondering if anyone can help. I'm looking for a town or village in the French Alps where we can base ourselves. We like road cycling, tennis, walking and freshwater swimming - ideally river swimming with rock pools and cliffs to jump off (for my kids, not for me!). Does anyone have any suggestions? Thanks in advance :-)

Level Contributor
11,064 posts
1. Re: Family Activity Holiday in the French Alps

As you mention road cycling next year, the first thing to mention is that the Tour de France will be in the Annecy area in July:


The roads used by the route are likely to be either very busy (especially with camper vans) or closed for a day or two. If you want to be there at the same time as the tour, then accommodation is likely to start getting booked up sooner rather than later.

We went to Annecy last year, with one person very keen to do some road cycling. He liked some of the roads, but I think if we went again (which we probably will), we'd look at Thônes or Le Grand-Bornand which are further up the mountains and avoid some of the busy valley roads. We did a fair amount of walking, but not your other sports - I think the mountain rivers tend to be used for canyoning ....

Other places we've stayed that I'd go back to very happily are Morzine (there's a lake at Montriond, and apparently the Joux Plane and Joux Verte are good road rides) and le Bourg-d'Oisans which was great while the weather was good (there is also summer skiing at les Deux-Alpes if that might appeal). We also had a day at Sixt Fer à Cheval, which I liked.

I think a lot of winter ski resorts put on activities during the summer too - likely indicators seem to be good swimming pool, lifts and mountain restaurants to attract walkers, and a range of activity companies. They all have websites to find out more.

Edited: 3:24 pm, October 29, 2012
Level Contributor
279 posts
46 reviews
2. Re: Family Activity Holiday in the French Alps

Have a look at Morzine and Les Gets - there are lots of lakes for swimming in the area, the Tour de France goes thro in July. Lots of road biking available. Ski lifts are open to transport mountain bikes up to bike down - some champoinships were held in Morzine not so long ago. At morzine and les gets some of the ski runs turn into a golf course in the summer.

Also available in the area are Paraglidding, white water activities, climbing and the views are stunning

It is also a good base in easy reach of lake Annecy, Evian, lake Ganeva, Yvoire it is a beautiful area be it winter or summer.

Level Contributor
42 posts
6 reviews
3. Re: Family Activity Holiday in the French Alps

Hi There

Just a quick couple of questions please? In order to enable a more detailed answer...

How old are your kids? Can they cope with ruling gradients 4%-8% + 1,000-1.800 (ish) meters of climbing in a long morning? Distance 40k?

If the answer is yes to the above I have some suggestions + it will enable others to have thoughts a well!

Also are you taking your own bikes or hiring?

Best regards


Level Contributor
42 posts
6 reviews
4. Re: Family Activity Holiday in the French Alps

In several of your previous posts you have stressed the importance of freshwater swimming & jumping in to rock pools as well as cycling.... so I’m going to be bold and suggest you give the Alps ‘proper’ a miss!


Because the water is too cold even in summer, (unless you wear a wet suit) and as a previous respondent has said there is so much traffic on the valley roads they’re often unpleasant to cycle...

So firstly I’m going to propose the Ardeche, not the southern part and the Gorges, but the middle to northern part which is much wilder and less travelled.

So the area covered by Aubenas, Vals les Bains, Antraigues, Le Cheylard, Lamastre, St Felicien....


Lots of lovely lanes with light traffic, cyclist friendly drivers, rivers to swim in and rock pools to jump in!

To get a flavour of the cycling have a look at the website of one of Frances’ most famous sportives L’Ardechoise. The routes are well signposted (for the most part) and can be knitted together to make your own itinereries...


The website also has lots of links to accommodation.

My son and I have ridden Les Boutieres.... two of four thousand participants!

This area is a cyclists playground...

Our favourite descents are (probably) from Col de Quatre Vios to St Pierreville, and from Col de Genestelle to Antraigues.

For a family friendly ascent the ride up from Vals to Genestelle is difficult to beat... Our friend’s eight year old could just manage it – missing out the initial hard climb out of town.

Rivers & Pools.

The area abounds in rivers to swim in, particularly in the Doux valley... The velorail from Boucieu le Roi to Troye will take you past more than you can count! Plus it’s great fun. Advance booking is almost essential! By next summer there should also be a steam train...


Drive back and scramble down to your chosen spot.

If it’s jumping in to deep pools then have a look at the river around Antraigues and Laviolle.

There’s a lovely market in Vals on a Sunday, and Aubenas on a Saturday.

Please note that this area is quite remote. Once you get off the main roads work on 30mph average speed..... Brim full your petrol tank before leaving the main valley.

Secondly not quite the Alpes!

We have French cycling friends who live in Culoz at the very foot of the Grand Colombier... The Tour went up it for the first time last year... and it regularly features in the Dauphine Libre. We’re going to try and ride it twice in a day this summer!

There are wonderful cycle routes around the Lac du Bourget via Aix Les Bains (cycle route around the bottom of the lake to avoid heavy traffic) then back via La Chapelle du Mont du Chat.... Superb view over L’Abbe du Hautecombe.... Drop down off the ridge to take a look.

Or go the other way to Artemare and in to the hills.. Or to Rumilly and the Gorge du Fier....

This a useful resource


Obviously you can swim in the main Lac, but there is also a private swimming lake with a cafe near Chanaz.

At Chanaz you can hire boats and canoes and go down the canal to the Lake. But touristy but still fun....

Superb restaurants exist in Le Bourget du Lac...

For wine visit Les Caves du Bugey


The local wines here are at last being recognised! They have a wonderful shop......

It's also nice cycling territory!

You can drive to Aix les Bains, Annecy, Geneve + alpine resorts etc quite happily for a day. Geneva is about an hour from Culoz...

So you can still get your mountain fix!

If you have any questions please ask.

Wherever you end up have fun.


Edited: 4:51 am, November 07, 2012
bristol, uk
Level Contributor
16 posts
3 reviews
5. Re: Family Activity Holiday in the French Alps

Thank you so much for taking the time to provide such informative responses - I'm really grateful and shall be looking in to your suggestions over the next few weeks. I think the tip of avoiding the Alps entirely is an excellent one!

bristol, uk
Level Contributor
16 posts
3 reviews
6. Re: Family Activity Holiday in the French Alps

Hi Robert. The kids are 15 and 12. We'll probably hire bikes - certainly for the kids and maybe for ourselves too. Thanks again for all your helpful advice.

Talloires, France
Level Contributor
299 posts
28 reviews
7. Re: Family Activity Holiday in the French Alps


Talloires is a great place as well. Right on Lake Annecy (cleanest lake in Europe) and it is probably the most picturesque place ever. Also the lake gets warm in July. You can go walking, canyoning, there is a great adventure park nearby and a free navette in July and August taking you higher into the mountains to start walks from. It's a piece of heaven really and at least you have Annecy to go to on a bad weather day.

Morzine is also a good option, it's got the small lake at Montriond, mountain biking, walking...

And of course there is some great advice above! :)

Edited: 1:05 pm, December 10, 2012
N. Ireland
Level Contributor
2 posts
6 reviews
8. Re: Family Activity Holiday in the French Alps

Hi, we have visited Lake Annecy in June for the past two years and I have swum in the lake every day sans wetsuit! Definitely not too cold. We also brought our own road bikes and did plenty of cycling whilst there - for a flat option, you can cycle the whole way around the lake with an off road cycle path running up one side of the lake - 40km in total. ALternatively, there are plenty of mountains to cycle up, Col de Forclaz, Col de Lescheuix, Semnoz if you so wish.

We stayed in a mobil home right by the lake in Talloires. The only downside to our holiday was that it rained quite a bit in June. I would imagine that it could get quite crowded in summer time and perhaps more so this year with the tour passing through in July 20th and also the Etape du tour which takes place on the 7th July. Although, I do think it would be an incredible experience to take in the tour on a mountain stage!

Exeter, United...
1 post
9. Re: Family Activity Holiday in the French Alps

Hi there, our family went on an adventure holiday with adventures in the alps last summer, we were based in a stunning chalet in the resort of grand bornand and had plenty to keep us busy and active, but also lots of time to relax :)

The staff were fantastic and the whole package was sorted for us, at a very reasonable price. I would take a look at their website.

Happy holidays.

London, United...
Level Contributor
2 posts
4 reviews
10. Re: Family Activity Holiday in the French Alps

Can you tell me the name of the holiday co, sounds interesting