Once upon a time winter was definitely my favourite time to be in the mountains. Having spent a number of summer holidays in the French Alps, however, I’m beginning to think that les vacances d’été might be even better.
One place that we return to again and again is the Franco-Swiss Portes du Soleil region, which offers 600km of excellent slopes for a winter ski holidays and plenty of activities in summer. Numerous villages pepper the area; some are modern and purpose-built and others began life as traditional farming villages.
Les Gets (pronounced ‘les jeh’) is one such traditional village. In winter, the resort is busy with skiers and boarders heading off to tackle the slopes. Summer in Les Gets, however, is even livelier, with mountain bikers racing along downhill tracks, families picnicking by the Lac des Ecoles and visitors wandering the enchanted night forest walk at the newly opened Alta Lumina.
This post may contain affiliate and commercial links. I was hosted on a press trip for a handful of the activities listed below. For more information see our disclosure policy.
Les Gets is just 1 – 1.5 hours from Geneva Airport, which is just one reason why it’s so popular with British families in particular. That, plus the fact that Les Gets in summer is home to one of the biggest bike parks in Europe.
Despite its growth, however, the town has maintained an authentic French village vibe. Buildings are still constructed in the traditional Chalet style and many of the businesses are owned by local families.
[author][author_info]It’s worth buying the Multi Pass while you’re here. It gives you access (free or discounted) to more than 60 activities in the Portes du Soleil as well as lift access. It’s available for one day or the whole summer season and is free for children under 5-years-old[/author_info] [/author]
Summer activities in Les Gets
[author] [author_info]If you’re visiting Les Gets then make sure you take a look at all the things to do in Morzine too. Morzine is a 10 minute car journey from Les Gets and is another great destination for an activity holiday. You may also want to spend the day exploring around Lake Geneva, which is a fun city for families. [/author_info] [/author]
1. Try downhill mountain biking
The Portes du Soleil network of resorts is undoubtedly the most popular mountain bike area in the French Alps.
Lets Gets itself is home to 128 km of marked trails, 13 downhill tracks, 1 Freeride track plus a jump park and a kids’ zone. They also boast Enduro tracks – and an 80km Enduro tour through the Portes du Soleil – as well as electric mountain biking tracks. If you’re not familiar with Enduro, it’s a kind of cross country type of mountain biking.
I tried downhill mountain biking for the first time recently with mixed results. The best day, however, was the lesson that I took with my two eldest kids. We enjoyed a two-hour private class with Antoine from Les Gets Bike School and it was brilliant. He took time to teach us how to use the bikes (imperative when your only cycling experience involves riding to the local park in London), how to balance and turn, how to go over small drops and how to use the brakes properly.
If you’re thinking about beginner mountain bike lessons then definitely take a look at Les Gets Bike school.
Intersport are planning a week-long mountain biking camp for kids in the summer 2021.
For all the fun of mountain biking without the gnarly tracks, I highly recommend trying an e-mountain bike.
[author] [author_info]Read more about my day on the downhill mountain bike tracks here – including just how many bruises I went home with![/author_info] [/author]
2. Go walking in the mountains
If you prefer to explore the stunning scenery on two feet rather than two wheels then Les Gets offers plenty of marked walking trails, including many that are child- (and pushchair-) friendly. Take a look at this list of mountain walks for ideas on where to go first.
Some of our favourite walks include the two-hour La Boucle des Clarines for views of Mont Blanc and Le Circuit des Chèvres, where you’ll meet the herd of goats near Lassare farm. You can visit the farm on Thursday evenings (bookings required). Even if you miss the goats, there are carved wooden statues dotted around the trail, which help encourage little kids to keep moving along.
3. Throw a pot
Visit le Poterie artisanale des Gets for a lesson in throwing pots. Every Monday, during both winter and summer, the pottery shop runs a two-hour workshop for children. The first hour is spent modelling with clay and the second hour using the potter’s wheel. Pieces are then placed in the kiln, ready for you to collect on Friday.
Children under 12-years-old can use the potter’s wheel with a parent. See their website for more details.
4. Visit the Museum of Mechanical Instruments
You’ll find the Museum of Mechanical Instruments located in one of the oldest buildings in Les Gets. It’s the only museum of its kind in Europe with a collection of 800 instruments, some dating back to the 17th century.
During your guided visit you’ll learn all there is to know about mechanical musical instruments. Plus you’ll get to see some of the exhibits in action. If it happens to be raining in Les Gets while you’re there, this is a good rainy day activity.
The town also hosts an annual wacky mechanical music festival where avant-garde inventors mesh with old school accordion players. Kids will love seeing the myriad musicians line the street, playing their mechanical and antique musical instruments and singing.
5. Spend the day at the Lac des Ecoles
The Les Gets lake – the Lac des Ecoles – is a fantastic place to spend the day. There are lifeguards on duty, a waterslide and a roped off area for little kids. They also have armbands for novice swimmers to borrow.
The best thing about the Les Gets swimming lake, however, is the Wibit Water Park!
This giant inflatable obstacle course is a huge amount of fun. It’s also very popular so make sure to book your slot in advance. For younger children there is a mini Wibit. The lake is located part-way up the mountain and there is a small entry fee.
6. Take an enchanted walk through Alta Lumina
New for the summer of 2020 is the enchanting Alta Lumina nighttime walk. The multi-sensory experience was created by a Canadian company and is the only one of its kind in Europe. It’s been installed in the forest just behind the Les Gets swimming lake and combines Les Gets’ history of music with cutting-edge lighting displays and technology.
[author] [author_info]Read more about what to expect from the Alta Lumina experience here.[/author_info] [/author]
7. Visit Morzine
The neighbouring town of Morzine has lots of fun things to do with kids including a fantastic outdoor swimming pool complex, a summer luge down the mountain, an adventure park and some lovely family-friendly walks. You must also visit the Lac de Montriond – Montriond Lake – one of the most beautiful places in the valley. For more ideas take a look at this summer guide to Morzine.
8. Ride the oldest carousel in France
The heart of Les Gets in summer is packed with activities for kids from a mini skate park to the oldest merry-go-round in France. Incidentally, Les Gets is also home to the oldest disco in the mountains! Although that might not be quite so child-friendly…
9. Relax in the spa
New for 2020 is Les Sources du Chery spa. In addition to providing beauty treatments, the space has steam baths, saunas, cold water plunge pools, a swimming lane and a salt cave.
What’s unique about Les Sources du Chery spa is the children’s area. This supervised area is for children aged from 3 to 12 years and offers kids the chance to paddle, swim, splash and have fun while they’re parents are relaxing nearby.
10. Go paragliding
One of our Les Gets summer highlights was paragliding with Les Gets Adventure. This small family-run business offer a host of adventure activities including canyoning, white water rafting and via ferrata but we chose to take to the skies instead.
Dad, Nicolas, is a paragliding instructor but now leaves the flying to his two sons, Antoine and Christophe. The duo run a steady stream of tandem flights from the top of the mountain at Mont Chery during the summer months. You’re only in the air for about 15 minutes but that’s more than enough time to glide along the summer thermals and see the town and surrounding scenery from up high.
They have taken children as young as four-years-old (with the caveat that the child really must want to do it!). My two older children were aged 10 and 12-years-old and they loved it.
Les Gets Restaurants
Once upon a time dining out in Les Gets was all about great big vats of melted cheese and large wooden boards of charcuterie. Little else featured on the mostly traditional Savoyarde menus. These days, however, a whole host of new restaurants have sprung up offering everything from vegan cakes to high-end cooking.
L’as de Neiges
The elegant L’as de Neiges does serve traditional Savoyarde dishes but it also creates excellent alternatives. The local trout goujons are very good as is the thyme roasted lamb rack. Deserts are equally delicious.
Les Dures a Cuire
This lively restaurant is a lot of fun. The menu has some great play on words (you’ll have to test your French out) and the food is equally good. I had an excellent sea bass and risotto dish followed by a beautifully presented lemon posset. Les Dures a Cuire also has a kids’ menu.
Wild Beets Kitchen
Wild Beets Kitchen is the perfect cafe for breakfast, lunch or an afternoon snack. Come here for wholesome healthy salads, wraps and rainbow tofu as well as their tasty homemade cakes. Breakfasts include courgette and pea fritters, smoothie bowls and a ‘Bikers Bap’ – two rashers of bacon, sausage and a fried egg in a bun.
The Vinna Annapurna menu is not huge but what it does offer is very good; a generous selection of wine, friendly service and well-cooked food. Try the trout and the beef tenderloin.
This friendly little cafe is the place to come for a traditional French crepe. They offer a huge range of savoury galettes and sweet crepes to satisfy all tastes. They also offer a winning range of amazing ice cream.
The best time to visit Les Gets
For a summer vacation choose the months of July and August when everything is open (June is the quiet time when many activities are closed). Avoid the busy weekends when the Tour de France are in town.
The winter ski season usually runs from mid-December to mid-April.
How to get to Les Gets
By Air: Fly to Geneva International Airport with any major airline. If you are travelling from Europe then EasyJet, British Airways and Swiss Air all fly into Geneva.
From Geneva Airport book a transfer or hire a car for the short journey to Les Gets. You can book airport transfers with many different operators. The journey usually takes around 1.5-2hours.
Here are a few operators:
We usually drive from the UK to Morzine and Les Gets. The Eurotunnel is fast and the drive while long (around 11 hours in total from London), it is easy once you get on French motorways.