Les Gets is part of the Portes du Soleil, one of the biggest ski areas in the world. But it’s not just a winter destination. When the snow melts and the white slopes turn green, it’s the perfect summer playground with a host of activities from hiking to biking, culture, fabulous restaurants, spas, invigorating mountain air and a brand new, unique in Europe, year-round sound and light show.
When I told my neighbour (I live in a small village in northern France) that I was going to Les Gets for a few days, she assured me I’d feel like a new woman with the fresh mountain air. “It’s special, pure and clean, you’ll be whizzing up those mountain slopes in no time” she said. Of course I dismissed this as French folly. I took the train from Paris to Geneva, hopped on a Skiddy Gonzales transfer shuttle and alighted frazzled and weary. My neighbour was right though – it took just a matter of hours to feel rejuvenated, refreshed and revitalised. There’s definitely something in that mountain air…
Majestic mountains surround the village of Les Gets and they’re perfect for hiking for all levels. There are chair lifts and cable cars working throughout the summer which makes reaching the summit a bit of a doddle. You’ll get stunning views over Mont Blanc and scenery that looks like something out of your imagination.
I took the Mont Chéry gondola lift and then hiked about an hour on the Chavannes slopes up to the restaurant Les Chavannes. It took me longer because I stopped so many times to soak up the views. I passed herds of goats and cows wearing bells which sounded like an orchestra of elves. There are lush forests and meadows of wildflowers, cascades of fauna and flora and waterfalls which look like a curtain of diamonds. Traditional style chalets dot the slopes and paragliders float overhead. The summer sun shone down but high up in the mountains, it’s still cool. You can get a map of hikes from the tourist office (they’ll even suggest the best picnic spots) and follow the marked footpaths or go with a guide. There’s a little tourist train that stops at the restaurant too. There are lakes you can take a dip in, secret chapels, cheese farms and potteries where you can watch the artisans work and buy a beautiful souvenir.
Les Gets is heaven for cyclists. It’s reputed to be the best mountain biking terrain in the alps. Road bikes, mountain bikes, enduro and e-bikes – you’ll find it all here.
Les Gets Bikepark has more than 128km of marked trails, good for all levels from kids upwards on green, blue, red and black trails for those who are really really keen. That’s not me. I hired an e-bike and protective gear, slung the bike on a chair lift to take away the real slog of going up the mountain and enjoyed a slow ride overlooking the most spectacular scenery. My friends on the other hand, dare devils and thrill seekers, hired top of the range bikes and cycled part of the Tour de France route, loved Les Gets Bikepark including the black runs, sped downhill and went all out enduro. I met up with them when they finished, there was plenty for me to do including shopping, the shops here are fabulous, while they were having the ride of their lives.
There are several spas in the town, perfect for relaxing muscles after a day of fresh air. I went to Les Sources du Chéry. It’s smart but friendly and has everything you need to chill – steam room, pool, sauna, jacuzzi, salt cave and for the brave – a cold water well! The perfect way to relax after a day in the mountains.
Whatever you do, don’t miss a night-time visit to the enchanted forest of Alta Lumina. An astonishing sound and light show takes you on a wander through the woods for a magical adventure that’s brilliant for the whole family. Read about Alta Lumina.
The quirky Museum of Mechanical Music
I didn’t expect to have a cultural intermission in the mountains I must be honest. But when I saw the signs for the Museum of Mechanical Music I couldn’t resist going to find out what it was all about. What an amazing surprise. The museum is big and it’s full and it’s utterly fascinating. 800 exhibits ranging from organs to music boxes, automatons and mechanical pianos, enough to make any music lover go (lady) gaga. There’s also an incredible Roger and Gallet collection of automatons, the sort that would have been displayed in the poshest shop windows of Paris. I’d recommend at least two hours to see it all and definitely to take a guided tour so that you can see the instruments in action.
Les Gets foodie scene
Apres ski isn’t just for the ski season, it’s all year round in Les Gets! There are more than 40 restaurants and bars in the village and a wide range of styles from vegan to gastronomic.
Locals Love: L’as de Neiges, relaxed, cosy, friendly and fun, eat in or take away A really talented chef and team make this an absolutely stand out restaurant. Enjoy fabulous pizzas and pasta as well as local Savoyard dishes with the chef’s modern take. Superb. asdesneiges-lesgets.com
Push the boat out: Vinna Annapurna restaurant and wine bar. Lovely sunny terrace, smart interior and delicious dishes. vina-annapurna.com/en
Vegan/vegetarian/healthy cuisine: Wild Beets Café. Breakfast or brunch, salad boxes, wraps and dinner. Quite simply – scrumptious. wildbeetskitchen.com
Don’t miss: Les Durs à Cuire is funky and fun with a fabulous menu. The restaurant calls itself an Alpine speakeasy! Tartiflette and fondue are on the menu but also gourmet dishes. (479 Rue du Ctre).
Recommended: Restaurant du Lac – on the slopes overlooking a lake and kids float park, next to Alta Lumina, the salads and burgers and generous and delicious. (736 Route de Gibannaz).
Where to stay in Les Gets
There’s plenty of accommodation in the village. It’s very French in Les Gets, more so than its near neighbour Morzine (just a couple of km away) and there’s a good choice of hotels and numerous chalets and apartments.
I stayed in an utterly gorgeous chalet in the centre of town. And when I say gorgeous I’m honestly not exaggerating. Called Urban Corniche, a nod to the fact that it’s an “urban” escape in the mountains and situated right in the main hub of Les Gets, it had a hot tub and sauna on the balcony. It had a grand piano, its own bar and an indoor swing. A pool table and chill out zone. The welcome pack included Champagne and snacks. There was ski/boot storage and plenty of room for up to 10 people. It was luxurious, elegant and sophisticated but so comfy. I felt pampered and spoiled, and slept like a baby. If you want special – you’ll absolutely get that here. You know when you stay somewhere and never want to leave? This is one of those places. hunterchalets.com
Why go to Les Gets in the summer
Loads of activities, you’ll never be bored. Nature at its best with spectacular scenery. Brilliant wellness break with spas, cycling, hiking, swimming and sports galore in the purest mountain air. Friendly folk, fabulous for foodies and fun. It is the perfect getaway from it all holiday destination.
www.lesgetsbikeschool.com a professional mountain bike instruction school with highly qualified and experienced instructors and guides can help riders to progress and learn new techniques. They offer group and private lessons.
Road Cycle Hire: www.toricomorzine.com supply flat or clip in pedals and bikes come with spare inner tube, cycle levers and pump. Helmets included in the hire price. Torico also have downhill, enduro and e-bikes for rental.
Road Cycle Guiding: www.buzzperformance.com Triathlon, cycling, swimming and fitness training. Try the Cold de la Ramaz guided tour if you really want to experience the buzz! The Buzz founders and operators Joe and Amelia are from Tasmania, Australia.
Find out more about Les Gets at: www.lesgets.com/en