Summer Fun in Samoëns - like a giant playground

Samoens is a charming village in the Haute-Savoie region of France. Not just perfect for skiing and snow fun in the winter. People often say “ The Alps are just for winter - What is there to do in the Summer?” and that’s when we start explaining that the summer is every bit as fun and maybe even more fun than the winter. There is just so much to do the only problem is deciding which activities to pick.

Luckily we have ZigZag Samoëns’ outdoor adventure specialists based right in the centre of town. Louise is a native English speaker and after 12 years in the valley she knows all the activities and the best options. It really is a one stop shop of fun.

 Photo credit:  Soren Rickards

Photo credit: Soren Rickards

1. Hiking

Explore marked mountain trails and stop at mountain refuges offering fabulously authentic lunches. You can even hire a pack donkey to help carry equipment and young children on your hike! A pack donkey makes longer hikes accessible for groups of all sizes and ages and will allow you to go further and faster by carrying equipment and young children.

 Photo credit: Jeremy Picard

Photo credit: Jeremy Picard

2. Road cycling

There are some great cycling routes in the area with stunning views. The base of the Col de Joux Plane is right in the village and is a regular on the Tour de France Circuit. It is a 14 km climb and will test even the best riders but the view at the top makes it all worthwhile. There are also lots of easier routes too but always be prepared for some climbing - this is the Alps after all.

Summer cycling.jpg

3. Mountain biking

You can check out many of the published itineraries and follow the marked mountain trails or you can book a guide. The Ski-lifts are utilised in the summer to get you and your bike to the top of the mountains and then you can blast some great descents, these are graded just like ski slopes so you really can pick the best options for your ability. Or you can enjoy some of the tracks along the valley if you fancy a more gentle ride. There really is something for everyone.

Summer Anna MTB.jpg

5. Canyoning

Canyoning is an adventure activity for all ages and you don’t need any previous experience. It really is great fun and something completely different. Just slip into your wetsuit and get ready to jump, swim, slide and abseil your way down a natural alpine canyon.

Summer Keri canyoning.JPG

6.Via Ferrata

A combination of rock climbing and hiking, Via Ferrata is a route of iron cables and ladders allowing inexperienced climbers to access a challenging route in total safety as you are attached securely to the rock face at all times. It’s a bit like  “assisted” rock climbing and I guarantee it’ll get your heart pumping!

 Photo credit:  Soren Rickards

Photo credit: Soren Rickards

7. White water rafting

This is a “must-do” summer sport for the whole family ! Pull on your wet suit, listen to the instructions from your english speaking guide and before you know it you will find yourself alternating between laughing, screaming and shouting as you ride the waves, bounce off a few rocks, swim and splash each other during various calmer stretches. It really is a fun few hours.

Summer rafting.jpg

And if you still want more fun you can find the following in and around Samoëns: swimming in the freshwater lakes or the outdoor pool, tennis, pony trekking, horse riding, paintball, high ropes, a zip line, mini golf, archery and much much more.

Summer lake criou.jpg

4. Parapenting

Samoëns is ideal for paragliding and by booking a tandem flight you can discover the pure joy of flying like a bird with views that will take your breath away. Depending on the conditions, take-off is a few simple steps or sometimes it might be necessary to run a couple of metres! If you fancy an extra thrill your pilot will happily perform a few aerobatic tricks before landing back in Samoëns.

Summer Parapent.JPG

At the end of the day

And after each activity you can’t beat heading back to The Lodge at Samoens and getting a cold drink out of the fridge and relax on the balcony and laugh about the great fun you have just had and start getting excited about the next day’s activity.

Summer Lodge Samoens.jpg

The Lodge at Samoënsand Zigzag can put together a bespoke adventure holiday package tailored just for for you. We specialise in organising flexible packages as we know everyone is different and have varying requirements depending on the age, ability and mix of the group.  

We can organise everything from transfers, transport around the valley, accommodation, catering and as many adventures as you want to pack in. We can also put together more gentle and relaxing holiday activities if there are members of the party who like to chill a little.  

The only thing you need to organise is your flight to Geneva airport and let us do the rest.

Summer cycling activities in Samoëns

Summer is upon us! July is peak summer season in the valley. A perfect climate in the valley, and ideal for families, swim in the Samoëns pool or in local lakes (Lac Bleu is close by). Try a Parapont flight, Via Ferrata, Canyoning or Rafting on the Giffre (all the way from Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval through the les Gorges de Tines), there are also two Indiana Adventure parks with tree-top and zip-wire adventures for children and adults alike. We at The Ledges can certainly help you choose appropriate activities and with your bookings.

Road cycling

The Lodge is the perfect base for the road cyclist. It even comes equipped with an IC7 indoor cycle for warm up or just to test your FTW (Functional Threshold for Watts). The Tour de France once again passes close by with Stage 10 on 17 July 2018 - Annecy to La Grand Bornand. Samoëns is conveniently situated at the foot of the iconic Col de Joux Plane, which is a truly wonderful and natural climb, other climbs which are easily accessible for the cyclist are the steep Col de Romme and Col de la Colombière, which will be the defining climbs in Stage 10.

Mountain biking

With its' steep technical trails and huge expanse of cross-country, Samoëns and the Grand Massif has become a world-renowned Mountain Biking centre, with an Enduro World Series event, putting Samoëns on the map. For even more trails and another world-class resort, Les Gets/Morzine is also just a short 30 minute drive away. There are also some superb green and blue trails through the Giffre valley, which are suitable for children of all ages.

Five favourite spring-time activities in Samoëns, Haute Savoie

Five favourite spring-time activities in Samoëns, Haute Savoie

As the days get longer and sunnier, the valley begins to come alive, the snow disappears, the grass turns green and the spring meadows start to bloom. The Giffre Valley boasts an extensive national park overflowing with activities as well as a heritage dating back to medieval times.It really is a genuine alpine playground with so much to do but here are our top 5 spring favourites.

Why give up a day’s skiing to go snowshoeing?

Why give up a day’s skiing to go snowshoeing?

Why's easy!

  • If you can walk, then you can snowshoe.
  • There is no learning curve as there is with activities such as skiing, snowboarding, cross country skiing etc. 
  • Once you get the hang of a few key techniques:
    • Widen your stance to avoid stepping on the snowshoe frames, 
    • Master how to go up and down hills 
    • Learn to traverse a slope
    • And what to do with the poles.

Samoëns - arguably the perfect French ski resort

Samoëns is a breath of fresh mountain air, proudly described by the French as one of their monuments historiques, and it just happens to be positioned at the bottom of The Grand Massif, an extensive and varied ski area. It is situated between Geneva and Chamonix and is only an hour’s drive from Geneva airport.

The Grand Massif consists of five resorts; Samoëns, Morillon, Flaine, Les Carroz & Sixt and offers over 265km of piste. It maintains an excellent snow record as over 80% of the slopes are north facing and they also benefit from the 'Mont Blanc effect'.    

The different resorts all offer a wide variety of slopes and there really is something for everyone, no matter what the weather or ski ability.

 Skiing down to Les Carroz - with a view across Flaine and over to Pointe Percée

Skiing down to Les Carroz - with a view across Flaine and over to Pointe Percée

Beginners benefit from the array of slopes available throughout the Grand Massif resort and there are special beginner areas at Morillon 1100 and Samoens 1600. Morillon also boasts a very pretty 5km green run through the trees making it one of the longest green runs in Europe. 

Intermediate skiers can access a multitude of blue runs and are often pleased to hear that there are more blue runs in The Grand Massif than any other colour, including the beautiful 14km Les Cascades. This is a spectacular run through the alpine back country, starting at the top of Flaine and finishing at the village of Sixt where you can enjoy a glass of vin chaud before taking the ski bus back to Samoens. There are also a number of beautiful tree runs heading into Morillon and Samoens, while the Flaine bowl ensures that you can dip your toe into powder skiing just off the edges of the piste.

Experts love heading off to The Gers bowl in Flaine where there is a feast of off piste skiing. Flaine is one enormous bowl with very few trees, so when it snows it becomes a huge powder park! Snowboarders and Freestyle Skiers can take advantage of the 3 snow parks in resort, the most advanced being in Flaine offering half-pipes, boarder cross, big air jumps, tables, rails and quarters.

If skiing is not your thing there are an abundance of other options to do in the snow The Grand Massif offers dog-sledding, ice climbing, igloo building, snow-shoeing, ice skating, skidooing, and other unexpected activities and is officially-recognised as a family friendly resort.

 Click map for

Click map for

Founded in the 13th Century, Samoëns sits snuggly in the valley of the River Giffre, close to countless limestone cliff faces and for centuries was the home to a fraternity of miners and masons who became fixtures of the local community.

Just off the main street is the famous botanical garden, the only one of its kind in the Alps, created in 1906 and with more than 5,000 plants. It’s worth a walk to the top where there are stunning views of the village and surrounding valley. 

While Samoëns looks magical from up on high, it’s an equally exciting experience at street level.  The village is jostling with shops, restaurants, festivals, open-air concerts and craft fairs – even outside the ski season. 

 Samoëns old village square at Christmas

Samoëns old village square at Christmas

The centre of Samoëns is traffic free, and has a beautiful square dominated by an ancient lime tree. Every Wednesday there is an extensive local market selling everything from fresh local products to souvenirs and snow machines.

More than anything else in its modern identity Samoëns remains a real Alpine community, where people live and breathe the mountain lifestyle. It’s so much more than just a ski resort and that what makes it a real hidden gem and for me the near perfect ski resort.

Huge new developments for the Grand Massif ski domain

This summer in the Grand-Massif ski domain, there is a huge ongoing investment in a development project to considerably expand the ski area and transform links. The development of the Coulouvrier bowl between Morillon and Samoëns includes the creation of 4 new ski runs (2 blue runs followed by 2 red runs for the 2018/2019 winter season), an addition of 42 hectares of pistes to the ski area. There will be a new 6-seater, detachable Coulouvrier chairlift, departing from 1200m and arriving at 2120m. With a record length of 2850m, this will be the longest lift of its kind in Europe, making the way in 9 min, with a theoretical throughput of 3000 people per hour. There is also the development of the snow-making network with the siting of 70 snow cannons to cover this zone.

Tête de Saix summit

The key intersection at Tête de Saix summit is currently being extensively landscaped, this will hugely alleviate, what has been a busy bottleneck, as several ski-lifts share the piste off the summit crossing over between the resorts of Flaine, Les Carroz, Morillon and Samoëns. It will also optimise improve safety for skiers and this transformation will afford a 360º view of the whole of the surrounding panorama.

Snow - Flaine :

Creation of a 110,000 M3 reservoir in the Veret sector. This will integrate into the natural environment and providing the resort with a tenfold increase in its snow-making capacity. This resource will be of particular use for enhancing the natural snow coverage on the pistes leading back to the resort.

Hike to Lac de Gers

This is a well known route and a favourite among locals. This in itself tells you what a little gem this place is. A walk that you can easily fit into a morning or an afternoon, but if you want the full experience, lunch at the Refuge Lac de Gers is a must!

 Click the graphic above for Strava GPX route file...

Click the graphic above for Strava GPX route file...

After changeover on a Saturday we'd usually like nothing more than to sit down with a glass of wine and relax, but with friends on hand this weekend we finished in record time and decided on a last-minute hike up to the Lac de Gers. There is the option of starting from Sixt-fer-a-Cheval at the bottom of the Cascade run, but for a faster route (perfect for late-starters!) there is a car park situated just off the road up to Samoens 1600. 

We were four walkers, with a range of fitness levels. There is a sign at the car park and then an easy-to-follow track right up to the lake. Be careful as you may come across cars coming up and down the track. We hiked on a clear and dry day so a good pair of trainers were fine for the walk.

You don’t have to walk far from the car park before you can feel the burn in your legs! The hike starts with quite a steep, but steady ascent. But there are plenty of places to stop, catch your breath and take a picture of the amazing scenery through the trees. As you near the top it becomes much less steep and the path takes you through fields of cows, bells and all! We found lots of tiny frogs hopping about too.

 Jonny and a frog!

Jonny and a frog!

We reached the refuge just as they were winding down, luckily we had expected this and had brought sandwiches and a well deserved beer each! We found a great spot overlooking the lake to enjoy our picnic. It's such a great place and feels like you're a million miles from anywhere, surrounded by the mountains.

 A picnic with a view

A picnic with a view

It took us just under 2 hours to reach the refuge (it can be done much faster if you can resist making friends with a frog or two on the way!). Jonny's Garmin recorded 415m of elevation over the 6.25km walk. We were quicker on the way down. With a rain cloud coming closer we were back in the car in under an hour and a half.

So far this is our favourite way to spend changeover afternoons!