I’ve been lucky enough to live in the beautiful French village of Montgenevre for most of the last two years, however this October has been the first time watching the leaves change and getting to experience the most beautiful time of year in the mountains.
For me, autumn is all about drinking hot chocolate, wearing big, woolly jumpers and slippers, and binge watching my current Netflix show of choice (this year I’ve sold my soul to the Gilmore Girls). But after years of English autumns – which consist mostly of rain – it’s been a real treat to be out in the Alps for the change in the weather.
There are a million reasons why you should travel to the Alps in the autumn; cheaper prices, mild weather and the fact that its much quieter being just a few. But because of the nature of mountains towns and resorts it can be tricky to find activities to actually do during this time, since the French like to close down everything between September and November. Working from home means that I’ve had to make a real effort over the last few months to actually get out the house and start doing things and so I’ve decided to compose this list to help give you some ideas!
5. Road Cycling
Now, before anyone who actually knows me starts calling me out on this one just know that there is a reason I’ve put cycling at the lowest possible number on this list – I hate it. In my mind, hell is Satan behind me screaming at me to cycle up a mountain. However, for some unknown reason people actually seem to like road cycling in the mountains. Its an unbelievably popular activity among locals and tourists alike, its good for you, gets you seeing the local scenery and the immense popularity of the Tour de France makes this region the perfect place to do it. There are plenty of local companies who can guide you on your tours including ChainLynx which are based in Montgenevre. There are hundreds of possible routes in this area but some recommended routes from locals I’ve talked to include the Col d’Izoard, the Serre Poncon circuit and the Col de Sestriere.
4. Ice Hockey
When I think of hockey I think about Canada and Scandinavia, however in the Alps – and particularly in ski resorts – its immensely popular too. Hockey season starts in September and its an amazingly fun way to spend an evening. For anyone who has never got a chance to watch the sport before, its incredibly fast-paced, slightly violent and impossible to look away from. The atmosphere is fantastic and its a relaxed, family-friendly way to spend an evening out and it won’t put you out of pocket. My local team is Les Diables Rouges in Briancon but they also have teams in Meribel, Morzine and plenty of other resorts and towns.
3. Enjoy the local cuisine
Although I’m talking mainly about France in this post the Alps actually cover 8 countries and of course that means ample opportunity to experience the regional food and drink. Living in France but on the border of Italy I’m lucky enough to be in walking (or skiing) distance of restaurants that serve two of the most famous cuisines in the world. The pizza in Claviere and Cesana is to die for, and even up in Montgenevre in Caesar’s (where I used to wash dishes for a bit of extra cash) the Italian cuisine is heaven. France, of course, is renowned for its rich food and wine. I always recommend sampling some of the mountain cheeses and dishes like Tartiflette as well as visiting a vineyard and enjoying some of the hundreds of options of local wine. Scour TripAdvisor in the surrounding area to where your staying and make the most of some of the most delicious food in the world!
2. Explore the cities
The Alps are renowned for their beautiful scenery and natural delights, but there are fantastic cities just a short distance from almost anywhere in the region. If you’re based in Switzerland you can easily visit Geneva, Zurich and Lucerne. Turin is in the middle of the Italian Alps and you can also visit Aosta or even Milan. France has plenty of access to beautiful cities like Annecy, Chambery or Grenoble. If you’re based elsewhere there are plenty of other options like Salzburg, Austria or Ljubljana, Slovenia among others. As much as I love living away from all the noise and chaos it can be nice from time to time to head into the city and wander around shopping, meeting other tourists or expats and sightseeing in some of these beautiful and historical cities. Locally run restaurants in villages have an amazing feel but cities also have an abundance of fantastic places to eat. If you head to some restaurants while you’re in the city you can cross off two of these activities in a day!
For me, the absolute number one thing to do during autumn in the Alps is to get out into nature and start walking. There is something so lovely about getting out of the apartment into the fresh October air and walking over the crisp brown and orange leaves. Wherever you are in the Alps there will be no shortage of beautiful sign-posted walks and there is always a wide variety of levels and distances but my recommendation is of course to do some research beforehand and choose wisely. My boyfriend’s favourite past time during October is wild mushroom picking which is something we’ve been doing quite a lot this year. Its a great way to get us out and being active and getting off the pathway. Bardonnechia in Italy has some fantastic walks, one my favourites being up to Lago Verde (the Green Lake). Many people come to the Alps specifically for walking holidays and you really can’t beat this area. However, regardless of where you go in the world walking, is good for the body, good for the soul and is the best way to see it the area!
Whatever activities you choose during your autumn Alpine adventure I know you’ll appreciate the beauty of this area. Let me know any more suggestions in the comments!