Nature & Mountains / The Alps

An autumn nature weekend: 7 reasons to choose the Alps

Winter excitement in the resorts? It’s already there! Summer crowds? No, thanks!

Autumn in the mountains strikes the perfect balance between these two extremes, with its peaceful, intimate atmosphere.

It’s an opportunity to enjoy a weekend away from the world, a little interlude where you set the pace of life and where nature reveals itself to those who know where to look. Whether it’s a climbing trip, a fine dining break or a photography competition, you’re sure to bring back some long-lasting memories.

A waterfall in a forest glade with autumn colours
You could have the forest and the mountains to yourself when you visit the Alps in autumn. ©Canva

1 – The mountains to yourself

Away from the crowds of the summer high season and the hustle and bustle of winter, autumn holidays in the mountains offer visitors the rare luxury of having the mountains practically to themselves.

One of the undeniable advantages of an autumn weekend in the Alps is the abundance of space. Whether you want to park close to your favourite destination, picnic by a crystal-clear lake or simply stroll through the quaint streets of Alpine villages, there’s no need to worry about crowds or traffic jams.

Autumn offers a feeling of space, allowing you to breathe deeply and immerse yourself in nature without the slightest constraint.

Hiking trails which were crowded a month earlier are transformed into quiet paths that you can explore at your own pace. The most famous sites, overcrowded not so long ago, are calm again. Shops and restaurants which once bustled with summer holidaymakers, open their doors and offer a more intimate, personalised experience.

A rocky mountainside covered in glorious autumn colours
In autumn, the mountains take on golden, copper and purple hues. ©Canva

2 – The flamboyant colours

A romantic, majestic setting

Autumn in the Alps transforms the landscape into a living colour palette. The mountains, once covered in lush greenery, take on hues of gold, purple and copper.

The leaves of trees ranging from larches to maples are transformed into a mosaic of warm, vibrant tones, creating a striking contrast with the autumnal blue sky.

  • For photography enthusiasts, an autumn mountain holiday is an opportunity to capture breathtaking images. From golden sunrises to flaming sunsets, every moment is up for grabs.
  • Couples looking for a romantic getaway will find a unique atmosphere in the Alps, and enjoy walking hand-in-hand through the crisp leaves and candlelit dinners with breathtaking views.
A table and chairs on a mossy terrace with a view of the mountains
The terrace at Chalet Nevala in the Trois Vallées, guarantees a breathtaking view of the mountain tops

Views that are worth the journey

Here are three iconic places in the Alps where the autumn views are particularly worth seeing:

  • L’ Aiguille du Midi in Chamonix, France: A cable car takes visitors to the top of l’Aiguille du Midi. In autumn, nature lovers with a head for heights can walk on glass footbridges suspended across the void.
  • Le Lac de Braies in the Dolomites, in Italy: Nestled in the mountains, le lac de Braies is renowned for its clear waters and serene atmosphere, especially in autumn. Explore it by boat, and admire the mountains reflected on its calm surface.
  • The Schilthorn in Switzerland: Take the cable car up the Schilthorn to make the most of the breathtaking views. Round off the day with a meal at the Piz Gloria revolving restaurant, made famous when it featured in the James Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
Snow-capped mountains and forests full of autumn colours
Hikers will feel as if they are walking between two worlds. ©Canva

3 – Walking between two seasons

Hiking enthusiasts on an autumn mountain holiday will be able to enjoy some stunning scenery, a true passage between two worlds.

Just close your eyes and imagine yourself walking these trails, which form a link between a farewell to summer and the first signs of winter. Nature is preparing for its metamorphosis. Encounters with wildlife, the play of colours in the gentle autumn sunshine and the invigorating freshness of the air make every step an adventure.

Here are three popular hiking routes in the Alps:

  • One of the most popular trails, the Tour du Mont Blanc is a multi-day adventure that takes hikers through three countries (France, Switzerland and Italy). The route passes through charming villages, picturesque landscapes and offers a variety of itineraries to suit all abilities.
  • The Lac Blanc hike in Chamonix is accessible to most hikers. It offers breathtaking views of the Aiguilles Rouges and Mont Blanc. A cable car takes hikers up to the summit of La Flégère. From there, it’s a gentle walk down to the lake, where the surrounding peaks are reflected in the water.
  • The Ecrins National Park is a paradise for hikers. It offers a variety of trails of different lengths and levels of difficulty. One of the most popular routes is the hike to Lac de Serre-Ponçon, which combines panoramic views of the lake with mountain scenery.
A walker stands next to a mountain lake and contemplates a view of the mountains
The Tour du Mont Blanc: 155 kilometres and 8,500 metres of ascent to tackle. ©Espaces

4 – Mild temperatures ideal for outdoor activities

Autumn temperatures in the Alps are generally mild and pleasant, ideal for outdoor activities. They generally vary between 10 and 20°C during the day. Evenings can be cooler, but with the right clothing, it’s easy to stay warm.

Another significant advantage is that the Alps generally experience less rain in autumn than in the summer months, as well as moderate winds. This allows visitors to enjoy nature to the full without worrying about the weather.

Sunset over a river in the mountains in the autumn
In autumn, temperatures in the mountains are usually mild and pleasant ©Canva

With the weather inviting you to explore and relax, here are a few ideas for outdoor activities you can enjoy:

  • Outdoor climbing: Climbers can take advantage of autumn to indulge their passion along the rocky slopes of the Alps;
  • Kayaking or canoeing: In autumn, the waters are still warm enough to enjoy these sports while taking in the pretty colours of the riverbanks;
  • Paragliding and hot-air ballooning: The stable autumn weather conditions are ideal for these activities;
  • Yoga and meditation in the open air: Just choose a little corner of nature where you can recharge your batteries and connect with the environment around you;
  • Peaceful picnics: Parks, lake shores and clearings are perfect places to relax and enjoy a meal al fresco.

5 – So many activities to choose from

Whether you’re an adrenalin junkie, a history buff or just looking to relax, there’s something for everyone.

A choice of wellness experiences

Autumn in the Alps opens the door to a whole range of wellness activities that allow you to recharge your batteries in the heart of nature. The soothing scenery provides the perfect backdrop for an outdoor yoga session. After a day of adventure, soak in the soothing waters of the spas, where you can recharge while absorbing the serenity of the mountains.

Exciting sporting adventures

An illuminated hot tub outside a chalet at night
Relax in the outdoor hot tub at Chalet Cosyneige after an active day in the mountains.

For sports enthusiasts, an autumn holiday in the mountains provides a magnificent backdrop for a variety of activities. This is the time to embark on cycling or mountain-biking excursions. Fans of tennis and other racquet sports will appreciate the well-maintained courts, where they can play while admiring the Alpine panoramas. The more adventurous can tackle the tree-top adventure courses, rock climbing or paragliding.

Finally, what could be more pleasant after a strenuous day than lounging in a hot tub while you watch the sun set, or treating yourself to a sauna session before snuggling up under a blanket? Whether you’re looking for a steam room, sauna, cosy fireplace or home cinema, choose the chalet that has everything you need from our selection of exclusive properties.

A bright living area with glass doors looking on to the mountains
The cosy and comfortable sitting area at Chalet Mélèze, in Les Gets, is the perfect place to relax on an autumn evening

Unusual historic discoveries

Travellers in search of an authentic Alpine setting can take part in themed walks to discover the fauna, flora and history of the region. They can explore trails dotted with historic sites, picturesque villages and hidden treasures.

6 – Local specialities

Autumn heralds raclette season! Melted, au gratin or eaten plain, this Alpine cheese is a pleasure when shared with friends and family. Paired with potatoes, cold meats and vegetables, raclette is an essential part of any holiday in the Alps.

Tartiflette - a dish of Reblochon cheese, potatoes,  onions and bacon
Tartiflette is a hearty dish you should try while you’re in the French Alps

Fondue, a timeless classic, takes pride of place on Alpine tables in autumn. Diners dip pieces of bread into a creamy mixture of melted cheese and wine, and woe betide anyone who loses theirs! Regional variations of fondue add a touch of diversity to this mountain tradition.

The end of the year is also the perfect time to enjoy tartiflette, a gourmet dish made with potatoes, bacon, onions and melted Reblochon cheese. This rustic concoction embodies the very essence of Alpine cuisine, a perfect balance between comfort and bold flavours.

As well as savoury dishes, visitors should also try the local pastries and desserts. Blueberry tarts, walnut cakes and other sweet delights reflect the region’s rich culinary heritage. Local markets are a treasure trove of locally-produced specialities, offering you the chance to bring a little flavour of the Alps home with you.

Finally, the most discerning holidaymakers will be keen to explore local produce. A variety of cheeses, tasty charcuterie and artisanal products can be found on the shelves of local shops and markets.

Bar stools at a wooden bench for wine tasting
Guests are welcome to use the wine cellar at La Ferme du Grand Shan – the perfect setting to try some local wines.

7 – Preparing for winter: the first snowfalls and the magic of Christmas decorations

Visiting the mountains in autumn also means enjoying the gentle prelude to the winter season, when the first snowfalls transform the landscapes into fairytale settings.

Autumn is also the time when ski resorts and mountain villages slowly wake up in anticipation of the winter season.

Preparations for winter activities are underway, with lifts in place, slopes groomed and events lined up. Residents and visitors alike know that winter is just around the corner, bringing with it the chance to get out on the slopes, get cosy by the fire and marvel at the snow-covered scenery.

A real sense of anticipation spreads through the resorts and villages at the end of autumn. The first festive decorations appear, creating an atmosphere of magic and excitement. The Christmas markets begin to take shape and show off their crafts, sweets and gifts.

A snowy summit framed with tree branches bearing golden leaves
The first snowfall turns the landscape into a fairytale setting. ©Canva

Gourmet meals, extreme sports, hiking and yoga followed by a trip to the spa? The mountains are the ideal destination for an autumn weekend.

If you’d like more recommendations for your autumn break in the mountains, check out the following articles:

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