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, however, I’ve been converted and now think that les vacances d’été in the hills is 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 dozens of fun 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 Alta Lumina.
Despite its growth, however, the village of Les Gets has maintained an authentic French village vibe. Many buildings are still constructed in the traditional chalet style and many of the businesses are owned by local families.
If you’re considering a summer holiday in the French Alps then this post is for you, read on to discover why I firmly believe that a vacation in the French mountains is the perfect choice for the whole family and why Les Gets is the perfect summer playground.
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Located in the heart of the Portes du Soleil region, Les Gets is just 1.5 hours from Geneva Airport. It’s particularly popular with British families thanks, in part, to its convenient location as well as the dozens of summer activities on offer.
The most popular summer activity is downhill mountain biking and, during the summer months, you’ll spy hundreds of bikers tearing down the equally large number of bike trails.
If that sounds a little too adventurous then don’t worry, there are plenty of other ways for active families to keep busy from rock climbing and horse riding to hiking, white-water rafting and paragliding. Les Gets is also home to an 18-hole golf course.
If you are planning to spend summer in Les Gets then it’s well worth buying the Portes du Soleil MultiPass while you’re here. It gives you unlimited access (free or discounted) to more than 70 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
Summer in Les Gets
Table of Contents
1. Try downhill mountain biking
The Portes du Soleil network of resorts is undoubtedly the most popular mountain bike area in the French Alps with some 650km of marked bike paths.
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.
If you haven’t tried downhill mountain biking before then Les Gets is the perfect place to start. That said, I highly recommend booking a lesson before you tear down the tracks; as we discovered riding a mountain bike down narrow marked trails is markedly different to riding a bike in our local London park!
I enjoyed a two-hour private class with Les Gets Bike School with my two teenagers and it was brilliant. Our instructor took time to teach us how to use the bikes, how to balance and turn, how to go over small drops and how to use the brakes properly.
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 or pop into the Tourist Office for more information.
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. Go Paragliding
There are a number of schools offering tandem paragliding flights but the one that I recommend is Les Gets Adventure, a family-run outfit based out of Les Gets.
The company offers a host of adventure activities including canyoning, white water rafting and via-ferrata. They also offer tandem paragliding flights. We’ve flown with Antoine, one of the two brothers, several times now and he’s even taken my youngest (then aged 6) up in the air. They are a great outfit and one that I rate highly.
4. 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.
5. 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. As far as museums go, It is a little kooky and very different to the other activities on offer in Les Gets but it is completely unique and oddly charming. If you find yourself at a loose end on a rainy day in Les Gets then this is where should go! Plus, it’s free with your MultiPass.
The town also hosts an annual wacky mechanical music festival where avant-garde inventors mesh with old school accordion players.
6. Spend the day at the Lac des Ecoles
The Les Gets lake – the Lac des Ecoles – is a great place to spend the day. There are lifeguards on duty, a water slide 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 Park!
This giant inflatable obstacle course comes to life every summer and is a huge amount of fun. It’s also very popular so make sure to book your slot in advance. For young children there is a mini Wibit. The lake is located part-way up the mountain and there is a small entry fee.
7. Take an enchanted walk through Alta Lumina
The enchanting Alta Lumina nighttime walk opened in 2020 and has been wowing visitors ever since. 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.
8. 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.
9. Ride the oldest carousel in France
During the summer months, Les Gets village is packed with numerous 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…
10. Relax in the spa
Les Sources du Chery Spa opened in 2020 providing beauty treatments, steam baths, saunas, cold water plunge pools, a swimming lane and a salt cave.
What’s particularly unique about Les Sources du Chery spa, however, 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. They also offer treatments for kids.
Where to eat in Les Gets
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:
By Train: If you can travel by train then do, this is a great and much more eco-friendly way to travel. For ideas on how to get to Morzine by train, take a look at the excellent SnowCarbon website.
By Car: We usually drive from London to Les Gets, a journey that takes between 10 – 12 hours if you take the Eurotunnel.