The French Alps are Europe's ultimate outdoor playground. In winter the massif is abuzz with skiers, but they're arguably more beautiful in summer, and there's just as much to lure travellers who want to get active on holiday. Whether your idea of the perfect holiday is fresh air, wildflowers and gentle hikes or crags, wingsuiting and backcountry adventures, there are few better places for a holiday making the most of the outdoors. Here are our picks for active hotels in the French Alps once the snow has melted.
Hotel les Glières, Champagny-en-Vanoise
This hotel in the Vanoise National Park has cosy rooms and the kind of pine-clad rustic charm you expect from a traditional Alpine hotel; think wooden skis on the wall and a roaring fireplace in the winter. In the summer Hotel Les Glières is the perfect gateway to the national park - a gorgeous haven for outdoor pursuits, with the most scenic hikes in the Maurienne and Tarentaise. But the bonus of staying here is the short distance to the Vanoise's outstanding and challenging via ferrata route. If you've never done via ferrata, try it here 'Äì it's effectively climbing on a set route while harnessed to a fixed wire, so there's not quite so much fear of falling as with sport climbing. But it does get you high up and the route at Champagny gives some spectacular views down the valley.
Le Morgane, Chamonix
But if you're a climbing purist, there's only one place for you. Chamonix is number one on most mountaineers' hitlists, with crags and ice climbs that are legendary all over the world. Whether you're making your first forays into top-roping or you're a seasoned alpinist, you can't really beat Chamonix for its combination of challenge and accessibility, along with some of the most stunning landscapes in the Alps. A stay in boutique hotel Le Morgane lets you conquer Mont Blanc with an exceptionally comfortable base to come back to, with tastefully decorated rooms, lots of modern common spaces to relax in and an exceptional restaurant.
Hotel de Milan, Le Bourg-d'Oisans
On a summer evening in the village of Le Bourg-d'Oisans you'll find plenty of cyclists resting their legs on the terraces of cafes and restaurants as they share tales of their day on the road. They've come to the village because it not only sits at the base of Alpe d'Heuz and the 21 hairpin bends that make it an iconic climb of the Tour de France, but also the other famous routes nearby, including Cols du Lautaret and Criox de Fer. The Hotel de Milan is a classic French hotel with brasserie in the heart of the village, with rooms and apartments, a laundry service for your kit and massages available for those tired limbs.
Le Beausoleil, La Toussuire
La Toussuire isn't a big name among Brits, but French families know all about it- both as a ski resort and a summer holiday destination made for outdoor fun of all kinds. It's part of the massive Les Sybelles ski area, which has over 250km (155 miles) of mountain bike trails in the summer, and the resort's Médaille d'Or chairlift is open to pedestrians so you can explore the higher reaches of the mountain on foot; the lift is just a 10-minute walk from Le Beausoleil hotel. Le Beausoleil is great for families, with several family room types and an excellent restaurant onsite. La Toussuire is also near the popular family resort of Les Karellis, which has the usual host of outdoor attractions, plus a kid-friendly high ropes course.
Hotel Le Faucigny, Chamonix
Yes, Chamonix again. Its unique terrain and trails mean it's the Alps' capital for more than one outdoor pursuit, and it's now the unofficial home of trail running as well as mountaineering. Le Faucigny's location makes it perfect for runners hitting Chamonix's world-beating trails - it's about 100m from the start line of the Marathon du Mont Blanc in the centre of Chamonix so it's ideal if you're here to compete. It's also great if you're just here to explore, as the central location gives easy to access to the trails heading north to Argentière and Vallorcine, as well as those in the opposite direction to Les Houches and Servoz. The interiors are more bright and modern than traditional pine chalet, and many rooms come with views of Mont Blanc. Le Faucigny knows its audience and also has a full-service spa to take care of aching muscles after a day on the trails.