Kimberly Button suggests some alternative ideas to mountaineering in the French Alps for groups, from learning about the past in Annecy’s old town to exploring a Medieval village full of flowers.
Amble through ancient Annecy
Annecy is the capital of the Haute-Savoie region, recognisable by the famous Palais de l'Ile which is a court house and prison built in the 12th century. Groups interested in history might like to go inside to see the former prison cells and visit an exhibition on the building’s heritage.
Another must-see is Annecy’s castle, Le Château d'Annecy, which was once home to the Counts of Geneva. The oldest part of the castle is the Tour de la Reine. It was built in the 13th century and today houses a museum with exhibitions showcasing the art and history of the area.
Pictured: Annecy old tow. (Photo credit: www.lakeannecy.com).
A further highlight in the town is the Impérial Palace, a luxury hotel built in 1913 with gardens and a beach that’s open to the public. The backdrop of the lake and snowy mountains make this a great place for photography groups to visit also.
Explore central Morzine
Morzine is a central tourist town in the Alps, and it is here that groups can pick up maps and information from the English speaking tourist office.
Stroll around Morzine’s old town to see its picturesque architecture and traditional Savoyard buildings, or take one of the gentle walking routes along the fast-flowing River Dranse.
Groups who'd like to stay in Morzine can opt for an AliKats Mountain Holiday chalet. These lodges come complete with log fires and hot tubs for those who'd like a luxury mountain experience.
Spot waterfalls in Haute-Savoie
The valleys and mountains in Haute-Savoie are great for walking groups looking to enjoy Alpine scenery at a fairly leisurely pace.
The town Sixt-Fer-a-Cheval is a gateway for many scenic walks, including those in the protected Natural Reserve of Sixt-Passy.
Pictured: Hiking in the Sixt-Passy region.
Groups visiting this reserve won’t want to miss the Cirque du Fer-à-Cheval, a horseshoe of 700-metre tall cliffs with waterfalls cascading down the rock.
Soak up mountain culture in Chamonix
If walking doesn’t appeal, groups can take a gondola ride up a mountain instead.
Visit Chamonix and ride in one of these cable cars to enjoy panoramic views of the Alps. The Aiguille de Midi Mountain in particular can be accessed at 3,842 meters by cable car, and the ride only takes 20 minutes.
At the top there are terraces boastings 360 degree views of the French, Swiss and Italian Alps, plus a close-up of Mont Blanc.
Groups can extend a trip by taking the panoramic Mont Blanc gondola from the top of the Aiguille du Midi to Helbronner in Italy. The five-kilometre gondola journey passes over the Geant glacier, providing views of ice-falls and crevasses.
Pictured: Explore the Alps by cable car. (Photo credit: Robbie Davies).
Find flowers in Medieval Yvoire
Located on the French shore of Lake Geneva, the Medieval town of Yvoire was built in the early 14th century, and is famous for its flowers.
The town has won international acclaim for its horticulture, and its peaceful garden – Le Jardin des Cinq Sens (the Garden of Five Senses) – has over 1,300 varieties of plants.
Medicinal and aromatic herbs, fruit trees, vintage rose bushes, aviaries and fountains line the pathway around the garden, which sits in the heart of the town.
Yvoire is also home to a castle, which was built in 1306 with a military goal to control the road linking Geneva to the high valley of the Rhône and Italy. Groups can explore both the castle and Lake Geneva against the backdrop of the Alps at their leisure.