Let’s get straight to it, Samoëns in the winter is awesome. Blue skies, perfect pistes, long lunches, nothing beats it. Samoëns in the summer is, well, just as awesome but in a different way, endless activities, waterfall hikes, mountain meadow picnics and swimming in mountain lakes, ahhhh. When it comes to the spring and autumn, visitor numbers dwindle. Yet for the locals, most would say that spring and autumn are by far the most beautiful seasons to enjoy the Alps. I have the same conversation with every new property owner when they come on board, ‘why don’t we get many guests in the most beautiful seasons, spring and autumn’. They know, they have a holiday home here and often come out of ‘peak’ season to enjoy their property and all the valley has to offer.
OK, so here goes, I’ve got my thinking cap on, and I’ll have a go at coming up with 101 reasons why spring and autumn should be worth the trip.
Beautiful flowers of course, but their scent too, quiet mountains, local village life, cooler fresher air. Gushing waterfalls and flowing rivers from the snow melt, great for rafting and kayaking. Wild animals emerging from their winter cocoon and roaming free in the Giffre valley’s national park of Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval. Longer daylight hours. Activities like road biking, mountain biking, e-biking, climbing, hiking, via-ferrata, fishing, caving, parapenting, canyoning, horse riding, tennis, volleyball, pump tracks, adventure parks, stand up paddle boarding in the lakes, trail running in the hills are all in full swing. Plus, for the more relaxed adventure, there is walking through flat mountain valleys, capturing the abundant nature by camera or brush strokes, tasting the local Savoyard food and drink, or taking historical tours of the ancient medieval village.
But for me, the reason I truly love the spring must be the nature, the sheer scale of the changing seasons is inspiring. The way the melting snow gradually reveals the Alps in their summer glory. The way the light green of the new leaves from the deciduous trees appears first on the valley floor, then as the days and weeks pass, rise up the mountains to meet the dark evergreen trees. This two-tone mountain view really is something special, but seeing it change day by day is one of the many reasons I’ve chosen here as my home. Also, I really love hiking through the colourful mountain meadows in the spring with millions of butterflies going about their spring rituals, energises you right to the soul.
I also love seeing the snow on the mountain peaks contrasting with the green trees and blue skies and that achievement of riding the newly opened mountain passes on my road bike, just tops it for me. If that snow is still lingering on the lower mountain, tackling it is made easy these days with fat bikes and snowshoes so nothing can hold you back. Cool evenings are a joy, not only meaning a good night’s sleep, but you can still light that fire in your chalet for the ultimate cosy evening. If it’s warmer, lighting up the BBQ or even jumping into the hot tub or sauna no matter what the weather.
All of the above really, but in reverse. The activities are still available. The wonderful nature doing its thing with the autumn colours, first high up on the mountain tops then working its way to the valley floor. The intense orange and reds of the trees, the beautiful clean fresh air, the smell of winter knocking on the door, it just has to be experienced. Alternatively, if its adrenaline you’re looking for then the Mont Blanc car rally comes through Samoëns and Morillon in early September, very quickly!
There are plenty of other experiences to keep you busy for an autumn holiday. From farm visits sampling the local cheese and of course not forgetting staying in a refuge on the mountain. We do get some whopper storms occasionally, watching these pass through the valley from the comfort of your balcony is quite something, especially when the lightening is striking the mountain tops opposite! The local towns of Chamonix and Annecy are well worth day visits too. Boating on Annecy’s Lake or updating one’s winter gear ready for that ski holiday at bargain prices in Chamonix.
Walking and hiking really are at their best in the spring and autumn, fewer people, fresher air, and more wildlife. The temperatures are at their best too and you can escape that ever-increasing summer heat, or winter cold with temperatures often in the early 20’s. If you really do want that assisted lift up the mountain for the thrills of the descent, then in the Grand Massif lift dates were extended into June and September for the first time this year.
But no article is complete without giving you both sides of the story. The mountain never closes however, in the spring and autumn, the lifts do, but who cares, all the nature and activities are right on your doorstep. Accessing the best nature hikes and viewpoints and all accessible by foot or car in our valley. Wait, that leads me to another reason – no lift pass payments! Now that’s a real saving.
In the spring and autumn some of the locals take their holidays so a few of the commerces are closed. However, there are always several restaurants and bars to choose from and being a year-round village, all the essentials remain open all the time like supermarkets, banks, chemists, sports stores, clothing decoration and doctors, not forgetting the gourmets delight in the chocolatiers, or sampling the amazing array in the boulangeries.
I know I will wake up tomorrow morning, after this article has gone to print with several more reasons, but for now I can’t quite think of enough to get to 101. Therefore, I’ll just add all the savings as numbers as there are hundreds of Euros to be saved on flights, travel and accommodation prices. If you add up the €’s it will certainly be more than 101 that’s for sure.
I made it and really do hope we can welcome you to Samoëns and the Giffre valley one spring or autumn in the not-too-distant future to experience it all for yourself.