France is full of hidden valleys, stunning scenery and traditional mountain villages. If you love nature and the great outdoors, then why not hire a car and discover some of the gems in France’s crown?
Visit the authentic village of Aussois
This pretty little town is the perfect place to experience real French life. Wander around the streets of Aussois and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time. The villagers are welcoming and the kids will love learning about the history of the Esseillon Forts and picnicking next to the Saint Benoit waterfall.
Skiing and snow sports are top of the agenda in winter, from sledging and snowboarding to games and activities for the younger members of the family. Aussois is known for its sunny location, as it’s one of the few south-facing ski resorts in the region, so it is the ideal place to sit and enjoy a little après ski.
Wander through the streets of Bonneval sur Arc
This picturesque village tucked away between the mountains is full of pretty stone houses with wooden balconies typical of the Alpine region. Village life centres around the church and its history. During the summer months you can enjoy the festivities along with the locals, such as street parties and fireworks.
The ski season lasts from December to May and is ideal if you prefer to practise winter sports away from the crowds. In spring and summer, you can walk or cycle through the mountain paths and enjoy the spectacular views. Bonneval sur Arc is one of the highest mountain villages in France, set at 1,800 metres.
Experience the peacefulness of Guzet
For another visit to an amazing mountain village in France take a trip to Guzet. Sitting in the heart of the Pyrénées Ariègeosies national park, this is one of the best-kept secrets of this region. In the winter you’ll find 40km of ski slopes while spring and summer offer the chance to wander through miles of unspoilt scenery.
Make the most of your hire car and discover the range of things to see and do in this magical region. You can visit the Ars waterfall, one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the Pyrenees, the unique cave art of the Niaxu caves and the natural waters of Lers lake.
Take a journey to Vaujany
This tiny village, located an hour from Grenoble, is another unspoilt mountain village where you can ski in winter and walk in summer. Vaujany makes for a great family day out. Once you’ve wandered around the narrow streets and had lunch in one of the bars you can enjoy some family fun.
There’s lots to do at the village leisure centre. You can take a dip in the indoor swimming pool, try out your skills at the ice-skating rink and spend some time unwinding at the spa. Why not hire a mountain bike and explore the region at your own pace? Or take to the water on a pedal boat across the Le Verney Lake?
Spend the day in the traditional alpine village of Abondance
Sitting 30 km south of Lake Geneva, Abondance is named after the famous French cheese. This golden-coloured cheese is produced from the milk of the Abondance cows that graze the healthy mountain pastures. First produced by the monks of the Abbey of Notre-Dame-d’Abondance, this is a perfect souvenir of your trip.
If you’re looking for a place to relax and experience traditional French life Abondance is the mountain village to visit. The natural beauty of the mountains that are a backdrop to the village will take your breath away. With skiing in winter and walks in spring and summer, Abondance has something for everyone.
- Relax at Saint-Gervais-les-Bains
Peace and tranquillity await you at Saint-Gervais-Les-Bains at the foot of the French Alps. This village is famous for its spa and thermal springs and is ideal if you want some ‘you time’. The spa is a constant 39 degrees and promises a boost for your health. You can relax in the indoor and outdoor pools, enjoy the saunas and feel the healing properties of the hot stones.
With the combination of skiing in winter, walking in summer and the spa year-round, Saint-Gervais-les-Bains is ideal for all age groups. The village offers several restaurants where you can sample the delicious French gastronomy of the region, including mouth-watering cheese and bakery products.
The best way to experience the beauty of these French mountain villages is by car, as you have the freedom to travel at your own pace.