Haute Savoie / France
Just 6km from Chamonix, Les Houches is a great alternative for guests seeking a quiet, intimate resort, but with easy access to big resort skiing and facilities.
If quick access to the slopes is important to you, Les Houches is probably your best bet for a ski-in, ski-out property, although these are still at a premium.
Popular with families, the village, centred around its ancient church, has a great programme of events for children, a good choice of restaurants and wonderful Mont Blanc views.
Eating out is a pleasure - restaurants, both in the village and in the forests, just off the pistes, tend to be family-run and offer home-cooked Savoyard specialities made with quality local ingredients.
If you’re cooking for yourself, there are two small supermarkets in the resort, as well as a good cheese shop and a bakery. For wonderful local produce, try Le Refuge Payot, which is mentioned in the Michelin guide - and they will deliver. More varied shopping is fairly limited, but there’s plenty of choice in Chamonix.
There are several bars in Les Houches, but the evenings tend to be fairly quiet. If you’re looking for something more lively, Chamonix is just 10 minutes away and the bus runs until midnight.
Transport between the villages in the Chamonix valley is free with the Carte d’Hote pass, which will be provided on arrival at your chalet. It covers the SNCF Mont Blanc Express train, which runs about once an hour, and connects all villages from Servoz to Vallorcine, as well as the Chamonix bus, which runs regularly from Servoz to Le Tour .
Although it has great links to Chamonix, Les Houches has great skiing of its own. With 4 blacks, 13 reds, 8 blues, 2 greens, cross-country trails and a snow park, it’s a great choice for mixed ability skiers, boarders, cross country and telemarkers.
There are two main cable cars from Les Houches - one from the centre of the village to Bellevue, and the other from Les Chavants to Le Prarion.
Long gentle descents and tree-lined runs are sheltered from high winds, and there are wonderful mountain restaurants just off the pistes in the forests.
Ski Camp, at the top of the Prarion gondola, is designed just for children - teepees, sledging and snowtubing are arranged around a picnic area, making it a relaxed choice for families. There’s free night skiing at Le Tourchet nursery area, a little closer to Chamonix, every Thursday during French school holidays.
The more experienced can hone their skills on the Verte black run, which hosts the Kandahar World Cup and is a training ground for the French national team.
Skiing and boarding are the main activities that bring guests to chalets in Les Houches in the winter, and in the summer, hiking, biking and climbing are the most popular. But when you stay at an OVO Network property, there is so much more to see and do.
Here are some of our favourite things to do in Les Houches - you’ll find the details below.
The wonderful Merlet animal park in Les Houches is a great day out for all ages, especially in the summer. Take a leisurely walk around the forests and meadows of the park, where you can spot indigenous animals such as ibex, chamois, marmots and roe deer. There are no fences, the animals roam wild. In the winter, you can take a snowshoe tour of the park with a guide. Picnics are not allowed in the park, but there is a restaurant, and picnic tables are available just outside the entrance.
Whatever time of year you decide to visit, the 1.3km luge run at Domaine des Planards is always open! Each luge seats two, and can be used by children aged from three, although those aged up to seven must be accommodated by an adult. Planards is a great place to explore with children - in the winter it’s a ski area, and in the summer the snow is replaced by an amusement park, with water rides, slides, trampolines and much more. There’s a restaurant too, but if you want to bring a picnic, there are plenty of places to eat it.
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. Via Ferrata des Evettes is one of the easier courses, so is ideal for families wanting to give this sport a try.
Children looking for adventure will find it canyoning - scrambling, climbing, jumping and swimming down mountain streams, rivers and waterfalls. You’ll be accompanied by a mountain guide, who will ensure your safety at all times. This thrilling experience is open to children over the age of 10, as long as they can swim and are not afraid of a 4m jump.
Pony rides, playgrounds and a shallow swimming lake are just some of the summer attractions at Le Paradis de Praz, just 20 minutes from Les Houches. In winter, snow rafting is on the agenda! Drinks and snacks are available from the small restaurant.
Fresh tracks and incredible views are guaranteed when you access some of the best off-piste descents by helicopter! These unforgettable descents and routes have been carefully selected by your experienced guides, leaving you free to just enjoy this incredible experience.
You’re on holiday, so why not treat yourself to the ultimate in relaxation - a day at a wellness centre? Whether you’re looking for a relaxing swim, or a day of saunas, spas and thermal baths, massages and treatments to soothe aching muscles, or just some time to yourself, you’re sure to be able to arrange an itinerary that suits you perfectly :
Surprisingly for a mountain golf course, all but two of the 18 holes at Golf de Chamonix, near Les Houches are on the flat. The 6km course features bunkers, water holes, woodlands and streams as well as wonderful views. Check the website for more information.
Just 5km from Les Houches, the rock-climbing park at Les Gaillands has about 140 routes of varying difficulty. The sunny south-facing climbs are all bolted, and there are plenty of easy climbs, making it a great choice for beginners. There’s a free car park and a picnic/sunbathing area by the lake where you can relax if you’re not climbing. Children as young as four can get their first climbing lessons at Koalagrimpe in Les Houches - check their website for packages to suit your group.
In the summer, the mountains become a magnet for cyclists. Experienced mountain bikers will find plenty of challenge, as many of the trails are steep and technical, but there are trails for all levels. Bikes can be taken on many of the lifts, and on the Mont Blanc Express train. Try the locals’ favourite run, from the top of the Priairon gondola down to St Gervais and Le Fayet. From St Gervais to Le Fayet take the Pipeline - the route follows a large water pipeline from the bottom of the Le Bettex cable car - expect tight switchbacks and wooden steps. The tourist office is a great place to start when looking for routes and advice.
Visit Les Gorges de la Diosaz for a stunning walk along suspended footpaths, past impressive waterfalls. It’s a great choice on a sunny day, as much of the path is in shade. It’s a bit of a climb, but with so much to stop and look at along the way, you’ll hardly notice it.
The Wine Factory (19 Place de la Mairie, 74310 Les Houches, tel +33 9 62 66 12 82) Taste the best Savoyard wines as well as local meats, cheeses and soups at this laid-back wine bar. Wines are available by the glass or the bottle, but a full range of other drinks is available too, including craft beers, soft drinks and tisanes. The friendly and knowledgeable staff are only too happy to advise you on wine and food pairings. Closed on Mondays.
Le Basilic (105 Place de la Fruitiere, 74310 Les Houches, tel +33 4 50 54 41 85) This cosy little restaurant near the Bellevue lift (free parking) prides itself on using the best ingredients to deliver classic French dishes including local specialities such as tartiflette, raclette and fondues, However, much of the menu depends on what produce is available at the time. Vegetarian and vegan options are available
Kitsch Inn (77 Place de la Fruitiere, 74310 Les Houches, tel +33 4 50 34 41 74) Mexican dishes, salads, Sunday roasts and burgers are all available at this British pub/cafe-style bar, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. There’s also a children’s menu, with classics such as chicken and chips, tomato pasta, and fish fingers. With live music in the evenings, it’s a popular apres-ski stop.
La Taniere (Plan du Crets, Les Houches, tel +33 6 83 42 93 43) Not your typical mountain restaurant, this restaurant offers quick lunches, French classics and Argentinian specialties. It’s only accessible by skis, snowshoes or in the summer, walking, but is somehow still busy - a testament to the great food.
Le Delice (130 rue de l Eglise, 74310 Les Houches, tel +33 4 50 91 52 06) Food from around the world features on the menu here - South African bobotie, Japanese gyoza and Spanish patatas bravas are all popular choices. If you’re looking for something less exotic, there’s a choice of great burgers. A children’s menu is available, and there are options for vegans and vegetarians. If you fancy a raclette party back at your chalet, they can deliver, as long as you book 24 hours in advance.
Le Solerey Brewpub (81 avenue des Alpages, 74310 Les Houches, tel +33 4 56 37 46 85) For great beers, music and brisket burgers head to this microbrewery! As well as making the craft beer, the landlord also smokes the meat himself. The small menu changes regularly, and as well as superb burgers (with vegan and veggie options), you’ll also find salads, Asian dishes such as Thai curry and Udon noodles.
Although shopping is fairly limited in Les Houches, you’ll find a good choice of sports shops and delis. There’s also a bank, pharmacy, a newsagent and cashpoint, but for a greater selection of shops, you might be better taking the bus or train into Chamonix.
By air - Geneva is your best choice - there are regular bus and train transfers. Cham Express and Altibus offer regular coach services. If you’re looking for a private taxi transfer, try Mont Blanc Transfers or Taxi Lion.
By Bus - A bus service, Chamonix Bus, runs regularly up and down the valley, serving ski resorts and hiking areas. In high season, you shouldn’t have to wait longer than 20 minutes.
By Train - The Mont Blanc Express train is a great way to get around in the Chamonix valley. Running from Vallorcines to St Gervais Le Fayet, it’s quick, scenic and regular, especially in high season. What’s even better, your Chamonix carte d’hote, which you will receive when you arrive at your OVO Network chalet, entitles you to free bus and train travel between Servoz and Vallorcine!
Find out more on the Les Houches Tourist Office website.
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