Haute Savoie / France
This busy market town is in the heart of Reblochon country — the soft cheese for which this area is famous. It’s also great country for walking and mountain-biking; there’s a huge choice of paths between the Tournette Massif and the Aravis mountains.
In the winter, the Alpine pastures are transformed into great ski resorts: choose from La Clusaz, Le Grand Bornand and Manigod.
Thônes in Haute Savoie is also perfectly placed to make the most of the medieval town of Annecy and its lake — reputed to be the cleanest in Europe.
From Thônes, it’s less than 12km to the Aravis ski resorts of La Clusaz, Le Grand Bornand and Manigod.
Skiing at La Clusaz is focused on five peaks — Beauregard, Manigod, La Balme, l’Etale and l’Aiguille, each offering pistes that vary in length, width and difficulty. Choose the peak which best suits you.
In addition, La Clusaz and Le Grand Bornand share a great-value, combined Aravis Ski pass that provides 220km of skiing and 95 lifts with slopes suitable for all levels, including extensive off-piste areas. Take a look at the La Clusaz piste map for more information.
As well as the downhill action, the Aravis area has a massive network of cross-country ski circuits (ski de fond). Other activities include ski joering (skiing behind a pony), speedriding areas, tandem paragliding, dog sledging, night skiing, sledging, ice skating, outdoor swimming in the heated swimming pool, and snow-shoeing.
When you stay at an OVO Network property in Thônes in the summer you can try your hand at everything from canyoning and paragliding to tennis, yoga and watersports.
In the Aravis Massif, you can choose from mountain biking, paragliding, via ferrata and climbing. There’s also the Bun-J Ride bungy jump, high ropes, canyoning, diving, paintballing, road biking, and more. Those after a slower pace of sports can enjoy golf, mountain hiking, flora and fauna walks, swimming, tennis and yoga.
In Annecy, just 20km to the west of Thônes, the lake is the perfect place to try watersports such as canoeing, stand-up paddle boarding, water-skiing, wakeboarding, diving and more. If you’d rather just kick back and relax, why not hire a boat and cruise to one of the beautiful lakeside villages, such as Talloires, for a meal, or enjoy a swim from one of the many beaches.
Thônes has long been a great favourite with walkers and hikers. The French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau stayed in the town, and rumour has it that his "Rêveries du promeneur solitaire" were partly inspired by the area. Here are some of our favourite walks, many of which depart from the town centre:
The tourist information office is the best place to pick up a guide to marked trails, or you can download them from the visorando website.
Also take a look at our guide to some of the local walks.
Annecy (20km): The medieval town of Annecy lies on 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 have time, catch a boat and visit one of the spectacular lakeside villages such as Talloires, Veyrier or Menthon-St-Bernard.
La Clusaz: Just 11km away, the charming village and ski resort of La Clusaz is well worth a visit. If you go on a Monday, you’ll be able to pick up fresh local produce at the market in Place de l’Eglise. Busy streets lead off the village square, with plenty of interesting shops, restaurants and nightclubs.
Talloires This beautiful village on the banks of Lake Annecy is just 17km from Thônes. It’s the perfect place for a meal on a sunny day, enjoy a swim from the beach or you could hire a boat and explore other villages dotted around the lake.
Menthon-Saint-Bernard This pretty lakeside village, just 14km from Thônes, is dominated by its chateau, which has breathtaking views of the lake. Built in the 13th century, it was the birthplace of Saint Bernard of Menthon, the patron saint of the Alps. It is said that Walt Disney was staying nearby when he saw the castle, and used it as inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s castle! The castle is private, but is opened to the public from May to September.
Children from as young as three right up to teenagers and their parents will enjoy a range of tree-top adventures at this park just outside Thônes. Open from May to October, prices range from €16.50 for a junior, €23 for an adult, with discounts for groups.
Youngsters and adults with a need for speed could find their needs met at this kart park. It’s open all year round, from 10am to 7pm in school holidays, and from 2-7pm during term times. Prices start from €15 for 10 minutes, although children aged from eight to 10 karting for the first time will need an induction course (€28).
Whether you are looking for a full-day trek, lessons or just a pony ride for youngsters, the Thônes Equestrian Centre can help you out. The centre also has a petting zoo with goats, sheep, chickens, geese and rabbits, which keeps young children entertained.
This is a unique summer experience for the whole family — quiet and relaxing. You can borrow fishing rods, and anything you catch can be prepared for you so that you can take it home for dinner, or if you prefer, you can eat it at the on-site restaurant, La Cabane. There are also children’s games, deck chairs for soaking up the sun, bowling and lots of green space.
On a rainy day, head for Le Monde des Art’Ravis, a craft shop which offers workshops where youngsters can try papier mache, manga drawing, graffiti and much more.
This is a great family day out in the Aravis. Collect the donkeys, load up their huge panniers with a picnic, drinks, binoculars, and sun cream. You’ll also be given brushes so that you can give your donkey a brush down when you stop for lunch. Keep your eyes open for a great glimpse of Mont Blanc.
Delight your taste buds with some gourmet offerings. Loved by locals and visitors alike, Hotel du Commerce offers relaxed dining in spacious surroundings. The menu provides more than the typical Savoyard offerings, plus a daily special. Expect to pay a little more; your tastebuds will thank you.
Getting there is half the fun! You’ll need a car to drive until the road runs out, then hike for 10 minutes or call the restaurant to pick you up. Meals are hearty and delicious. Enjoy the terrace at sunset in summer or a chance to meet the baby goats at the end of winter, then sledge back to the car (bring your own sledge).
Head for this restaurant in Rue des Portiques for excellent pizza — the pizzaiolo came runner-up in a national competition! They also do pasta, salads, Savoyard specialities such as tartiflette and fondue, and homemade desserts. Many of the dishes are also available to take away.
This family-owned restaurant specialises in South American food - try their arepas or corn cakes with a variety of fillings. Dishes can be ordered to take away.
Pop in to this simple restaurant in Rue des Clefs for a great choice of savoury galettes or sweet pancakes. Vegetarian options are available, and dishes can be taken away.
Popular with locals, O'Fresh is a burger bar that goes beyond beef — with chicken, salmon and vegetarian burgers available, as well as weekly specials. O'Fresh also serves paninis, hot sandwiches, very tasty salads and home-made desserts. On a hot summer's day, stop by for a homemade ice cream.
This French tea room, located between the tourist office and Carrefour City on Place Avet, serves bakery treats, sandwiches and lots of tea and coffee, including organic options, with indoor and outdoor seating.
There is a small Carrefour City in the centre of the town for all your everyday needs, and a larger Carrefour Market 10 minutes' walk away. There is also a Lidl and a Bio Monde (organic shop). There are two pharmacies, some banks, a medical centre, and two tabac-presse where you can buy English language newspapers and magazines. There is also a huge range of individual shops — some of our favourites are below.
A great selection of accessories and clothes from the local area and around the world - jewellery, clothes and candles at 1 Rue de la Saulne in the very centre of town.
Head to Rue de la Saulne for local specialities such as galettes and pralinettes as well as an appetising selection of bread, croissants and cakes.
Pop into Le Farto early enough, and you can watch the cheesemakers produce Reblochon and other local cheeses from the windows above the kitchen. As well as a large variety of quality cheeses, Le Farto sells local dried sausages, local alcohols and gifts such as boxes of chocolates and biscuits. They can even vacuum pack your cheese!
Whether you stay in Thônes or one of the nearby villages, take a look at the self-catered chalets on offer from OVO Network. Our hand-picked rental properties all meet our high standards so that you can relax and enjoy your holidays in the French Alps — whether you're out exploring the mountains, lakes and rivers, or reading a book on a comfortable couch at home.