As some of summer's biggest attractions, beaches are very quickly overcrowded. Air France Travel Guide offers you to get off the beaten track and spend the season in the mountains. You'll recharge your batteries amidst luxurious vegetation. Whether you prefer skiing or hiking, here are six destinations to breathe in fresh and new air for the holidays.
Mont Blanc, on top of Europe
From Lyon, it takes no more than 2 and a half hours to reach the Mont Blanc, a perfect opportunity for whoever wishes to escape summer heatwaves in the city. Sometimes called the roof of Europe, its summit culminates at 15,774 feet. In spite of its natural beauty, the Mont Blanc would still not be the same were it not for the surrounding landscape: the d'Argentière, l'M, Drus and Midi mountains all sublimate the view and reflect their grandiosity in the mirors of numerous lakes. There is no doubt about it, the Mont Blanc is well worth a visit during summer, far from usual winter ski resorts.
Put on your best shoes and roam the trekking routes: a stroll towards the Dard waterfall or the Gorges of the Diosaz – the site is listed – and first and foremost the Grand Balcon will let you stand alongside the Pic du Midi. More than a hundred routes are available.
The most athletic ones will want to ride mountain bikes, whereas thrill seekers will favour canyoning, mountain climbing and even paragliding. And for golf lovers, they'll find many verdant courses!
Mont Blanc mountain chain
Ascent up to the Pic du Midi observatory
Amid the French Pyrenees mountain chain, 2h30min away from Toulouse and 1h30min from Tarbes, the 9,400-feet high Pic du Midi de Bigorre stands proud. Leaving from the Col de Tourmalet, the trek to the summit and back takes about 5 hours and is open to everyone. For a faster trip, use the cable-car departing from La Mongie.
Up on the terrace of the observatory, you will enjoy stupendous views onto the Spanish-French Pyrenees mountain chain. It is also possible to meet the stars, comfortably nestled in the highest European planetarium. Take a break at the restaurant for lunch, facing the highest summits, before going back down. An unforgettable moment!
Pic du Midi de Bigorre
Skiing in Chile: no, you're not dreaming!
Take advantage of the season switch between northern and southern hemispheres to go skiing in Chile, right during winter time. Some 22 miles east of Santiago, Farellones is the departure point towards various Chilean ski resorts. El Colorado, La Parva and the Valle Nevado are destinations where snow abounds in July, August and September.
Thrill seekers will opt for Valle Nevado and practice freestyle skiing on the ramp that has been installed on the site. El Colorado offers the Sunset Park to ride a snowboard as the sun is setting and colours the mountain with lovely orangey hues. As for La Parva, smaller than the others and less sought after, it will allow you to enjoy a very quiet day of skiing without relying upon ski lifts. Trust us, this is a true delight!
El Colorado 503
Farellones, Lo Barnechea
Camino Farellones S/A
Valle Nevado, Lo Barnechea
Les Deux Alpes with the family, between snow and green
In France, very few ski resorts remain open in summer. Two hours away from Lyon, Les Deux Alpes is one of them (it is open until early September). In the morning, enjoy one of the 11 still snowy mountain slopes (green, blue and red). 17 ski lifts take you to the summit for a downhill ski session, or to have lunch in one of the four elevated restaurants.
In the afternoon, switch to a mountain hike. You'll choose between eight different paths, during which you can gaze at breathtaking landscapes over the Romanche Valley, the Muzelle waterfall or the Plateau d'Emparis... After a sporting and sunny day, relax in one of the various spas offering unwinding massages.
Les Deux Alpes
Route du Petit Plan
In Martinique, raid the famous volcano
In the north of the Martinique island, impressive Mount Pelée both intrigues and raises concern. The volcano last erupted in 1929, but remains under close observation by the Morne des Cadets observatory. Summon up the courage to follow one of the trekking routes leading to the summit or to the craters created by the 1902 and 1929 eruptions. The routes start in various towns around Mount Pelée: Le Prêcheur, Macouba and Morne Rouge, among others. The fastest path goes through L'aileron – the 1.5 mile ascent takes about two and a half hours, whereas the longest starts in Grand'Rivière. You should be able to climb those 5 miles in over 3 and a half hours (note that the slopes are steeper). During the ascent, make a stop at the Plateau des Palmistes to take a break and enjoy the unobstructed views at the summit. Access from the Caribbean Sea side also offers spectacular vantage points.
Corsican mountains for seasoned trekkers
In summer, mountains are especially recommended to anyone who loves trekking, allowing for an intimate encounter with nature. The most daring – and best trained – will want to pursue the GR20 trail, one of the most famous in the world. It meanders around the island from northwest to southeast over 120 miles across rock formations.
Of course, you'll only walk part of the way. No matter how, the GR20 holds the promise of a great human adventure. Beautiful landscapes stretching in front of your dazzled eyes will undoubtedly leave their imprint in your memory. Spend the night in a mountain refuge where you'll meet other trekkers from across the world. Note that you should be physically fit to undertake this journey, as it is very demanding.
Trekking in Corsica
2 Boulevard Masseria
20 000 Ajaccio
In Dubai, everything is possible
As the temperatures rise up to 95°F (35°C), seek shelter in Dubai's largest mall, Ski Dubai. Since 2005, its five all-levels ski runs are perfect to satisfy your snow cravings under the Emirati sun. Children will be pleased as some areas have especially been arranged for them: snow park, caves and sledge runs.
The Snow Bullet will also provide thrills with its 16-meters high zip-line hanging over the runs... and other skiers.
Just like any regular ski resort, Ski Dubai offers mountain cabins at the Avalanche Cafe, where you can rest with a mug of hot chocolate in hand. Who said Dubai was too hot?
Mall of the Emirates
Sheikh Zayed Road
P.O. Box 60811, Dubaï
Al Barsha South 1