Basking on a crowded beach with the mercury hitting record highs isn’t everyone’s idea of a perfect holiday. Cue the Alps, where the air is fresh and summer temperatures stay comfortably cooler than at sea-level. Perfect properties for a heatwave. We look at why summer mountain homes offer a refreshing alternative to hotter coastal destinations.
Let’s not forget that many of the oldest resorts in the Alps began as summer – or warm weather - destinations in the 1800s and early 1900s. Back then they were visited primarily for the health benefits of being at altitude and as a place for spells away from the poor air quality of smoggy towns and cities. Towns with a thermal spa, prized for wellness qualities, became especially popular.
There are numerous examples, but noteworthy in France are Chamonix, Saint-Gervais-les-Bains (Evasion Mont-Blanc ski area) and Brides-les-Bains (Three Valleys), and in Switzerland, St Moritz and Davos. In Italy there is Bormio and Austria has Bad Gastein.
Wat-er you waiting for!
Who needs the salty ocean when the Alps has velvety freshwater lakes and exhilarating mountain rivers where you can bathe and enjoy every type of water-based activity? There are countless lakes in the Alps and many have designated swimming areas, meaning you’re never far from an idyllic spot for cooling off. For more active types, larger ones are ideal for SUPs, kayaking, sailing, wind/kite-surfing and even water-skiing.
Notable in the French Alps are Lake Bourget (Savoie region) and Lake Annecy (Haute Savoie), France’s two largest natural lakes respectively. Other examples in this area are at Sallanches and Bessan, as well as Lake Pontet at Contamines-Montjoie. Morzine’s Lake Montriond is popular too, while at Combloux, beneath Mont Blanc, they’ve built an ecological swimming lake!
In Switzerland, Zermatt is heaven for water babies, the area being home to more than 100 natural bodies of water, many of them geared up for swimming. InGraubünden, Davos and Lenzerheide both have idyllic lakes.
Cooler and cleaner
Besides lower average temperatures, the Alps has cleaner air with fewer toxins and allergens. Out for a stroll, you’re likely to be treated to the gentle scent of pines, which itself has holistic qualities. Everyone benefits from this type of environment, but in particular allergy sufferers or anyone with respiratory problems.
There are also benefits for your heart and cardiovascular system, thanks to the combination of the air being thinner and less humid. Don’t forget your sunscreen though – the mercury averages around the high 20sC in the summer and the drier air can make the sun strong.
The Alps offer a never-ending network of trails that criss-cross mountainsides and meander down through valleys. During wintertime they’re covered in snow but once the white stuff has gone, the warmer conditions are ideal for walking and mountain-biking – arguably the two most common activities. That’s why major resorts keep their gondolas and chairlifts operating throughout the year. The other great thing is typical routes are shaded, thanks to the forests that cover must of the Alpine landscape, helping to keep you cool.
The Portes du Soleil area, which straddles France and Switzerland, is a hub for cyclists. There, the resort of Châtel boasts 15 chairlifts able to accommodate mountain bikes in the summer and offers 600 kilometres of tracks, 19 trails and a bike park – combined with neighbouring Les Gets, bikers of all levels will be spoilt for choice.
Not too hot for teeing off
There is a reason most golfers prefer to visit courses by the Med in spring and autumn – it’s too hot to play in the height of summer. Not so in the Alps, in fact the temperatures are just right. It’s no coincidence that many of the Alps’ finest resorts offer championship standard golf. In Switzerland, Crans Montana and Andermatt have stand-out courses, Chamonix and Les Gets in the French Alps both have 18 holes, while Kitzbühel in Austria has two 18-hole and two nine-hole courses.
Goodbye to mozzies
A final perk and reason why mountain resorts offer the perfect homes for a heatwave, is the absence of mosquitoes Those disruptive critters that can be a right pain in hotspots down at sea level, but you tend to be mercifully free at altitude.
Start looking for your ski property today
To get the process of buying your cool mountain home underway, take a look at our handy ski property buying guides? They lay out the buying journey step by step to make the process as smooth and hassle-free as possible.