The Awe-inspiring Alps

January 9, 2020

Best known as a winter ski destination, the Auverge-Rhône-Alpes—the portion of the Alps that lies in southeast France bordering Switzerland and Italy—draws European tourists in the summer for its moderate temps, fresh air and jaw-droppingly stunning mountains. Vacation like a French girl? With a resounding “oui!” we set off on a getaway to Bourg-Saint-Maurice in the thick of summer. This idyllic alpine enclave will feed your appetite for adventure, R&R and, yes, incredible cheese. —Karen Kwan

french alps

stay. When you’re a girl boss/mom/woman on the go, and you’re making decisions and calls all day long, there’s an undeniable allure to an all-inclusive vacation—wouldn’t you agree? At Club Med Les Arcs Panorama, located at the Arcs 1600 ski resort, the only big decision you have to make is whether you want to attend a yoga class or sit back with a glass of bubbly instead. The hotel is brand-spanking-new, with a comfortable, contemporary design inspired by the great outdoors (think woodland animal motifs and tree trunk tables). The Alps themselves, of course, provide the most incredible backdrop.

savour. The French know how to do buffets right. Fresh offerings, with several cooked on order, along with plenty of variety makes each meal a culinary adventure. Rather than generic and, let’s face it, often bland buffet foods, the menu focuses on celebrating local ingredients and dishes. The tartiflette—a potato, bacon and cheese casserole served in a French oven—is a rich and filling soul-satisfying entrée. Beaufort and Tomme Gris cheese, foie gras and oysters from Marennes all make regular appearances, too, and, at the à la carte restaurant, 1780 Gourmet Lounge, you’ll find fondue on the dinner menu, which, in our opinion, is always a good idea.

sip. Dance-alongs at the hotel bar, which becomes a party scene after the shows, are where to wile your evenings away. Need a little social lubricant? Order a Hugo Spritz—a refreshing mix of elderflower syrup, prosecco, mint and soda water (the bartenders make a decent mojito, too). And, of course, when in the south of France, summer sipping must include a glass or two of rosé.

sweat. When surrounded by such natural beauty, even the most non-outdoorsy person will be inspired to get outside. With multiple guided hikes daily offered in a range of levels of difficulty, trek with a set of walking poles and immerse yourself in the forest as you get up close and personal with the mountains. Prefer two wheels as your fitness mode of choice? Register for mountain biking or e-biking (beginners, fear not: there is an informative lesson for newbies to the sport). Otherwise, you can swim laps in the pool or check out Club Med’s well-equipped gym, which offers yoga, meditation and Pilates classes.

soar. The most exhilarating way to enjoy the greatness of the Alps surrounding you? Strapped into a paraglider with your guide from heights of upward of 2,500 metres, of course! The short run off the hillside will be nerve-wracking as you wait for your guide’s instruction to take off but, before you know it, you’ll be in the air flying by the mountain peaks as the villages below you appear smaller and smaller. Pro tip: book your paragliding adventure through the hotel when you arrive before you chicken out—and avoid a heavy meal immediately beforehand.

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