April 26, 2016 | La Plagne
As the snow begins to melt and the mountains turn from bright white to vibrant green, many people forget the numerous activities available amidst the scenic realms and forested countryside in the summer months. La Plagne (in the French Alps) offers cycling instead of skiing, trail running instead of telemarking, and overnights suspended from trees instead of snuggled in igloos.
This year, the resort has introduced a number of new pursuits alongside its firm favourites. Tempted? Take a look below at summer in La Plagne…
Keen to become a key destination for electric mountain biking this year, La Plagne has introduced two new trails – covering 50 km – and 30 new e-bikes, including smaller e-bikes for children (La Plagne is the only resort in France to have e-bikes for children). Enjoy pedalling along the varied routes at a leisurely pace, looking out for ibex, chamois and golden eagles, letting the power from the battery do most of the work. Hire an e-mountain bike from €65 / £51 pp per day, including a helmet. For more information, visit elpro-la-plagne.com.
The village of Belle Plagne now offers a free Via Ferrata route where climbers do not have to undo or change their connection from one wire to the next. The 600-metre course, at 2,350 m to 2,560 m altitude, is linked by a continuous Aeroligne, so those taking part can keep moving without having to unclip every few metres. The course is classed as intermediate, and is ideal for a family or group of friends who have experienced Via Ferrata before, and fancy a new challenge. The free session lasts 90 minutes (minimum height of children 1m 20cm). Helmets and equipment can be hired from sports shops throughout the resort. For more information, visit la-plagne.com.
Release your inner monkey and climb the tall trees in the beautiful Champagny en Vanoise National Park under the guidance of Charlie Delhumeau, a qualified arborist and expert in tree climbing. Build up your confidence on the lower branches, before pulling on a harness, clipping into the safety lines and powering up to the treetops, where panoramic views of La Plagne await. As darkness descends, simply spend the night in a hammock strung between the sweet smelling pines, 12-15 metres above the ground. Nestle in a sleeping bag and stare out across the snow-capped mountains and up through the canopy of leaves, to the star-studded sky. A three-hour tree climbing session costs from £20 per adult and £17 per child (groups of up to eight people, minimum age seven) including harness, ropes and expert guide. Add on a night’s stay in a hammock from £28 pp (minimum age 10). Tree-climbing sessions and stays in the hammocks are only available from 2-4 August. For more information, visit www.lecorce-sensible.com.
After creating three exciting and easy descent trails, and establishing the two enduro (‘extreme’) routes last summer, the resort has just introduced three new downward itineraries in Plagne Centre (one blue, one red and one black), and two new enduro paths above Montchavin-la Plagne for all to enjoy. Keen mountain bikers can also explore the 86 km of cross-country trails. All cyclists can make use of the Plan Bois chairlift (Montchavin-la Plagne) and Les Blanchets chairlift (Plagne Bellecôte) which will now be open throughout the summer (along with 11 other lifts), meaning that getting around the mountains could not be easier. Hire a mountain bike from €20 / £16 pp per day, including a helmet. Hire bikes for children from approx. €15 / £12 pp per day. For more information, visit elpro-la-plagne.com.
Now in its 27th year, La 6000D (28-30 July) is a well-known trail-running festival with a wide selection of events, ideal for keen runners. Race to the top of La Grande Rochette (5 km, 1,000 m vertical, min. age 16) or explore the many walking trails around Plagne Centre in an 11 km competition (min. age 16). Alternatively, children (ages 6-16) can take part in the 6D Kids starting in Aime, which includes a treasure hunt. And why not summon up the courage and take part in the official 6000D (65 km, 3,500 m vertical, min. age 20)? Known as the ‘race of the giants’, clamber up mountains, through forests and over streams, and even tackle the Olympic Bobsleigh track (on foot). Many of the races are free, although the main 6000D event costs from €60 / £48 pp. For more information, visit www.la6000d.com/en/.
La Plagne opens for summer 2016 from 2 July to 28 August. One week’s self-catering in La Plagne costs from €272 pp / £213 pp (four sharing). A six-day summer lift pass costs €25 pp. Return flights (London-Geneva) cost from approx. £103 pp with easyJet.
Built 27 years ago for the Albertville Olympic Games, and still used by French clubs and tourists throughout the winter, a summer bobsleigh – designed to go down the course on concrete – is now on track. Students from the National Institute of Applied Sciences (INSA) in Lyon have been developing a prototype for four years, and the self-driving, self-braking machine will be open to the general public in 2017, with trials taking place this year. Head over to the bobsleigh track in La Roche to find out how the testers are faring. For more information, visit la-plagne.com.
Call La Plagne on +33 (0)4 79 09 79 79 (www.la-plagne.com) for accommodation bookings and advice.