The French and Swiss Alps regions have so much to offer, from medieval villages to winter wonderland ski towns, to colorful, bustling cities. Whether you are traveling to the Alps to ski, or are just looking for a magical winter getaway, the French Alps has so many fun winter activities and breathtaking views to offer. I have curated a guide to spending winter in French Alps, making the most and maximizing what the region has to offer!
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Day 1: Gruyères
Start your trip by flying into Geneva, Switzerland. This airport is the closest national airport to the French Alps, just about 1 hour away, and close to plenty of impressive cities and attractions. Once you arrive in Geneva, it is best to rent a car so you have the most flexibility to see as much as possible in the region!
While you can spend your first day in the city of Geneva itself, I recommend saving that for last. Start your trip with a relaxing visit to the village of Gruyères, an adorable medieval village most famous for the production of Gruyère cheese. While in town, you will find the Gruyères Castle, a unique medival castle which can be toured for only 12 CHF. The quaint village is also known for the HR Giger museum (12.5 CHF) and La Maison du Gruyère (7 CHF), where you can get an inside look at their famous cheese production process. Be sure to try some cheese fondue, as it is a staple of the region!
End your day by resting your head at Hotel D Bulle, which is a new modern hotel located right between Montreux and Gruyères. This affordable yet chic hotel is just 10 minutes from Gruyères and 35 minutes from Montreux.
Day 2: Montreux
After a long rest recovering from jet lag, spend your second day in Switzerland discovering the town of Montreux. Montreux, considered the French Riviera of Switzerland, is not just a town to visit in the summer! This town is situated along the Lac Léman, and packed with fantastic shopping, food, and sites to see including the Chillon Castle.
Day 3: Megève
It’s time to make our way to the French Alps with our first destination, Megève! Megève is located 1 hour away from the area of Montreux, and the journey itself is a scenic drive through the mountains. I recommend staying at Au Coin du Feu, a classic alpine style chalet located right in town. The hotel rooms have stunning mountain views and the fabulous, Restaurant Le Saint Nicolas. After getting settled in to your cozy room, spend a few hours wandering around town, where you will find endless luxury shops, art galleries, and adorable cafes to enjoy a coffee or two. The main square is especially dazzling at night, with horse drawn carriages, an ice skating rink, and holiday decor.
During the daytime, the Creux Saint-Jean and Belle aux Bois waterfall hike is a lovely 30-60 minute easy trek that winds through the forest and provides a spectacular village vantage point.
Day 4: Megève
Spend your second day in Megève hitting the slopes! If you plan to ski in Megève and Chamonix, I recommend getting the Mont Blanc Unlimited ski pass, which includes skiing in Megève, Chamonix, Courmayeur, Verbier, as well as popular tourist attractions in Chamonix like Aiguille du Midi and Mer de Glace railway. Megève has endless miles of ski terrain for all levels, including a freestyle area with a landing air bag (I wish I was advanced enough to try this!).
One thing about Megève is that they know how to do après ski, with dozens of on slope restaurants and bars to enjoy, including La Folie Douce Saint-Gervaise/Megeve, Chalet Sauvage, and the stunning Ideal 1850, all with incredible mountain views and great vibes.
For dinner, book a table at Le Torrent for a cozy candlelit savoyard meal in an alpine chic setting.
Day 5: Chamonix
After a couple dreamy days in Megève, it’s time to continue your journey to the picturesque town of Chamonix, known as one of the top ski destinations in the world. No winter travel guide to the French Alps is complete without a stop in Chamonix! For the best Chamonix experience, book a stay at Grand Hotel Des Alpes, located right in the center of town and just minutes from the slopes. Check out my guide here to learn more about my amazing stay at Grand Hotel des Alpes! Spend your first day in Chamonix getting acquainted with the beautiful ski village. There are so many cute boutiques, luxury shops, cafes, and scenic viewpoints in the town to admire. Have a cozy brunch with mulled wine to warm up outside at Josephines, an adorable bistro equipped with outdoor heaters and blankets so you can enjoy the views of town while eating!
After wandering around town, you can pick up your ski equipment for the week at Sport 2000, a rental chain in town with great prices. It’s best to rent your equipment online ahead of time to save time and money, as there are typically coupons available online! End your day relaxing at the hotel spa and prepare for a day of skiing ahead!
Day 6: Chamonix
It’s time to ski! I recommend waking up early around 7am to have breakfast in the hotel before getting ready to hit the slopes. I went during a holiday week, and the lines were not too long as there is an endless amount of lifts in the area, but it is still nice to get there early! Grand Hotel des Alpes has a shuttle service that takes you and your equipment right to the ski lifts for free, which is so convenient! If you’re staying elsewhere, there is also a bus service in town included in both the Mont Blanc Unlimited Pass and the Chamonix Le Pass that you can utilize as well, as the lifts are a far walk from town.
Whether you are a beginner or advanced, ESF Ski School offers ski lessons that can be booked the day prior, available in small groups or private. The lessons are so much more affordable than the US, and the instructors are so helpful. My skill advanced so much with just 2 lessons with ESF!
After a morning of skiing, save enough time in the afternoon to experience Aiguille du Midi with your Mont Blanc Unlimited Pass! Aiguille du Midi was one of the most memorable and unique experiences in Chamonix. A large cable car takes you to the top of the mountain where a building is located with restaurants, shops, historic exhibits, scenic walkways, and Step into the void, which is a terrace made completely of glass that allows you to immerse yourself into the mountains! Be sure to dress warm as the top of the mountain is very cold and windy!
One of the best ways to end the day after spending it in the snow is with some fondue! I recommend La Calèche, which is one of my favorite Savoyard restaurants in Chamonix! The atmosphere is cozy yet elegant, and the food was one of my favorite meals in Chamonix. Be sure to reserve a table in advance!
Day 7: Chamonix
After another day of skiing, be sure to experience the Train du Montenvers, accessed close to Les Planards ski area in Chamonix town. This is a small red four car train that brings you through a scenic route to the top of Montenvers mountain, which is included in the Mont Blanc Ultimate Pass! Here you will also find an ice cave called Mer de Glace, several trails for snowshoeing, The Refuge du Montenvers Hotel where there is a traditional Savoyard restaurant, panoramic view points of the mountains, and a gift shop and small restaurant for coffee and snacks. Unfortunately during my stay, the ice cave was closed due to wind, so check on the conditions prior to your journey up the mountain. The train ride itself is such a scenic way to relax and take in the views of the French Alps, and a must when visiting Chamonix!
Stop by for a coffee or tea and a treat at Chalet 4810, one of my most favorite cafes in town! There are endless pastries to choose from and the atmosphere is so cozy after a day in the cold.
I recommend dinner at Restaurant Le Cap-Horn, an upscale dining experience that combines French and Japanese cooking. This restaurant is delicious from start to finish. Downstairs you will find Bar Les Caves, which is a popular place to have a drink in town.
Day 8: Chamonix
Day 8, which means it’s the last day of skiing! If you’re looking to spend time off the slopes, other activities that are a must in the French Alps include snowmobiling, which is located about 1 hour away at Nature Motoneige, paragliding, which is a really popular activity in Chamonix, or shoe shoeing, where you’ll still be able to enjoy the mountain terrain even out of skis!
Enjoy dinner at Rose du Pont for your last night in Chamonix, which sure won’t disapoint. Its whimsical pink, unique architecture is hard to miss and the inside is even better! The design is a work of art, and the food and drinks are just as wonderful! Since it’s the last night in Chamonix, have a celebratory cocktail at La Folie Douce Hotel, which is one of the most popular apres ski destinations across the French Alps. The hotel has an outdoor area for drinks after skiing, and several indoor bars at night to drink and dance the night away.
Day 9: Annecy
When making the loop back to Geneva, don’t miss out on the special town of Annecy in the French Alps. Annecy, coined as the Venice of France, is a colorful town filled with winding alleyways and a canal crossed by the famous Lover’s Bride. This vibrant town is just 40 minutes from Geneva. To make the most of your time here, I recommend staying a night in town before making your way back to Geneva to depart. Annecy is most famous for Le Palais de I’Île, which is a small castle-like structure which actually used to be a prison, now converted to a museum. It is located in the center of the Le Thiou canal, making it a popular photo op. Another notable feature of the town is Castillo de Annecy, which is a large castle that holds several different art exhibitions and even a small aquarium. These are must-see sites when visiting Annecy!
I styaed in Allobroges Park Hotel, a very affordable hotel right in the city close to restaurants and attractions. If you are looking for something more glamorous, Palace de Menthon is a stunning castle-like hotel stiuated right on the water of Lac d-Annecy, but does require a drive to town.
Day 10: Geneva
Make your way from Annecy to Geneva, where you will spend your last day before heading home! Geneva is a cute, walkable city with a historic feel, winding walkways, and endless shops to discover. I spent my last day wandering around the city and trying different coffee shops, and of course, Swiss chocolate! Geneva is known for its chocolate and wrist watches, so you will find many shops with each. I made my own chocolate tasting “tour”, but if you’re looking for something more structured, there are various guided walking tours available! If you are a watch enthusiast, Geneva is home to the Patek Philippe Museum.
I stayed in Warwick Geneva, which is an affordable yet luxurious feeling hotel right in the city with offsite parking available, and just 15 minutes from the airport.
That’s a wrap on my guide to spending a winter week in the French Alps! From the cobblestone streets of Annecy to the luxurious après ski scene of Megève, these are some of the quintessential towns that you must not miss during your next winter trip to the French Alps!
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