Haute Savoie / France
The beautiful mountain resort of Combloux in Haute Savoie, set in the shadow of Mont Blanc, well deserves its nickname, the Pearl of the Alps.
A traditional Savoyard village surrounded by great mountain sports and scenery, it’s a great choice for guests who want superb skiing, hiking and biking trails, combined with a friendly village atmosphere and a relaxing location.
As well as its pretty church, restaurants, bars, cafes and shops, Combloux’s ski lifts will link you to some of France’s best skiing in Les Portes du Mont Blanc and Evasion Mont Blanc.
The traditional Savoyard village of Combloux punches far above its weight when it comes to skiing! You can stay close to home and ski Combloux and La Giettaz, link into the incredible Les Portes du Mont Blanc and Evasion Mont Blanc, or head to Chamonix to explore further afield. Beyond that, the Espace Diamant Area links Bellecombe, Praz-sur-Arly, Crest-Volant, Flumet, and Saisies, home to the winter Olympics in 1992.
Combloux is also a popular destination for disabled skiers, with a Handiski centre at the ESF chalet in the village, where you’ll find specialist instructors and equipment - it’s popular, so make sure to book in advance.
In the summer, the mountains are a magnet for hikers and cyclists. There’s a great choice of trails in and around Combloux - explore glaciers, forests, farmland and pastures in the shadow of the Mont Blanc mountains. The tourist office has even put together a trail which will take you past some of the area’s fabulous Baroque buildings.
There’s plenty of choice for cyclists too, from exhilarating mountain downhills to cross-country trails and flat riverside rides. The tourist office will be able to suggest a wide range of road and mountain routes, or you can check them out in advance on their website. Young riders might want to head straight for the village’s pump track - free to use, the challenge is to get round the 210m track without having to pedal.
On a hot day, cool off at the man made swimming lake - the water at this ecological lake is filtered by plants, rather than chemicals!
Some of the other activities that you can enjoy in the summer include tennis, paragliding, hot air ballooning and potholing.
Take to the skies If you think the mountains look beautiful from the ground, just wait until you see them from the skies! A hot air balloon is the perfect getaway - float over the landscape in total silence, apart from the occasional burst of the burner. Take off from Praz-sur-Arly, 10km from Combloux, and go where the currents take you - you’ll be met on landing with Champagne and a 4x4 vehicle to take you back to your starting point.
Conquer a mountain From Chamonix, take the cable car to the top of the Aiguille du Midi for views you will never forget. The two-part journey will take you to an altitude of 3,777m, taking in the Glacier des Bossons, Mont Blanc, the Aiguille Verte, and the Aiguilles de Chamonix. At the top, if you dare, you can step into the void - a five-sided glass box which will give you a real sense of altitude! Check the website for opening times.
A round of golf Mountain golf courses offer something a little bit special - fabulous views, clean crisp air and some challenging terrain. There are several golf courses to choose from within an easy drive of Combloux, including the Mont-d’Arbois course at Megève, and the famous Chamonix course.
White water fun The Arve river, near Combloux, is the ideal playground for a whole range of white water sports for all ages. Kayaking, hydrospeed and canyoning are just a few of the sports available. You can choose your level of adrenaline, but if you’d prefer to take things a little easier, try stand-up paddle boarding at Lac de Passy, or just sit back and take in the view.
Annecy (80km): The medieval town of Annecy lies at the northern end of Lake Annecy, said to be the cleanest lake in Europe. The canals that run through the town are reminiscent of Venice, and in the summer the lakeside beaches are a perfect place for a swim, a picnic or watersports. If you time your visit well, you may catch one of the many markets - local produce, antiques, or bric-a-brac. If you’ve time, catch a boat and visit one of the spectacular lakeside villages such as Talloires, Veyrier or Menthon St Bernard.
Via ferrata You don’t need any experience of climbing to conquer the mountains when you try via ferrata - a sort of vertical hike around cliff faces on wire trails. It’s all totally safe as you’re attached to the rocks by a wire harness. There are several places where you can try via ferrata in the Combloux area - here are some of them.
High ropes adventure Just 20 minutes from Combloux, this high ropes course at the Lac de Passy is a great family day out. There are courses for all ages and abilities, from toddlers to adults, as well as climbing walls, trampolines and the human catapult!
Visit a farm Young children will love meeting the pigs, cows and goats at Les Montagnards, in Combloux, and you can also find out how to make Reblochon cheese - a local specialty. Produce is available to buy straight from the farm, but there’s also a stall on the market at Combloux.
Make a splash Swim in the majestic reflection of Mont Blanc at France’s first mountain ecological swimming lake - the Plan d’Eau Biotope at Combloux. This stunning lake, filtered by plants rather than chemicals, is a great day out, with something for all the family. As well as the swimming, there are play areas and picnic spots (bring a blanket), as well as buggy-friendly walks around the lake. Yoga, tai chi and Pilates sessions are all the better for this stunning backdrop - check the schedule at the tourist office.
Come into the garden Whether or not you’re a keen gardener, you won’t regret a visit to the fascinating Jardin des Cimes, which is a 30-minute drive from Combloux. The family-friendly walk around the landscaped site takes in beautiful views, woodland and kitchen gardens from around the world. There’s also a cafe and a shop where you can buy plants, seeds, and honey from the garden’s own beehives. The garden is open from the end of May to the end of September - check the website for opening hours.
Go sledging Whatever time of year you decide to visit, the sledge run at Megeve is always open! This four-season toboggan, which runs on rails, reaches a maximum speed of 36km/h - it’s great fun during the day, but as night falls, the lights and music come on, making for a party atmosphere!
Restaurant Le Dandy (Plan d’eau Biotope – 74290 Combloux) Whether you’re spending the day at the swimming lake or just fancy a meal out, Le Dandy is a great place to enjoy good food with Mont Blanc and lakeside views. The menu is an eclectic mix of French, Asian and Italian food. Pop in for an ice cream or a sharing platter for a relaxed lunch, or go all out with cocktails and an elegant four-course set menu for dinner. The children’s menu offers ham, steak or burger and chips, followed by an ice cream for €12, and on Sundays they serve a Champagne brunch.
Restaurant La Ferme (62 Chemin de la Promenade, Combloux) For local specialties in a traditional Savoyard setting, this is a great choice. Raclette, tartiflette and fondue are favourites here, and while portions are on the generous side, space isn’t, so make sure you book in advance.
Au Petit Cuchet (3800 route de la Cry Cuchet, 74920 Combloux) A great lunch stop if you’re skiing, with fabulous views from the terrace, but it’s also a popular choice for dinner. They specialise in local dishes as well as French classics and great salads, but as you’d expect from a restaurant which likes to use local produce, there are seasonal changes. Although there is plenty of space here, make sure to book ahead, especially if you want to eat on the terrace.
Le Coeur D’Or (Chemin Rural N 4 de Creve Coeur, 74920 Combloux) This slopeside restaurant is a great ski stop in the winter, or in the summer, a lovely walk from Cuchet. It offers all the local specialities you’d expect - fondue, tartiflette, charcuterie - as well as salads and burgers etc and there are great views from the terrace.
Although shopping is limited in Combloux, you’ll find everything you need for your holiday, as well as some nice gift shops and clothing. For a little more choice, head for Sallanches, which is just a 10-minute drive away, or Megeve (20 minutes).
Gaec Val Mont Blanc (46 Route de l'Épine, 74920 Combloux) A great choice of local and Savoyard specialities here, much of it from the family’s farm. Take your pick of cheeses, yoghurt, charcuterie and cider for a great picnic lunch.
Le Petit Casino (46 Route de l'Épine, 74920 Combloux) This little convenience store in the village has all the essentials for your self-catering holiday, including fresh and local produce. It’s open seven days a week.
Les Temps de R’Zules (2950 Route de Cordon) Pop into this shop in nearby Cordon to try a local speciality - best eaten warm, R’Zules, or rissoles, are made of puff pastry filled with a compote of apples, pears or jam. This is also the place to get your farcement - a curious sweet and salty dish composed of grated potatoes, bacons, prunes and grapes.
Fromagerie Leon Rey (60 Impasse du Couvent, Sallanches) It’s worth a trip to Sallanches just to visit this wonderful shop, filled with cheeses, wines, conserves, charcuterie and honey from the Mont Blanc region.
La Boutique aux Chocolats (176 rue Charles Feige, Megeve) This delightful chocolaterie has been in the same family for three generations. You’ll struggle to choose from their amazing selection of glossy homemade chocolates, but don’t forget to try their nougat and their marrons glacés too.
Bus - A free shuttle bus runs between the tourist office in Combloux and the slopes at La Cry every 15 minutes during the ski season.
Train - nearest station is Sallanches (6km)
Taxi - Taxi Bottollier Pisard Tel +33 (0)6 08 32 08 17. This family-run firm offers air-conditioned cars or minibuses for local journeys or airport transfers.