Escape to the French Mountains this summer
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Growing up in a big family, Keycamp moulded my childhood - and do you know what? I wouldn't have it any other way. If you're not familiar, they were a company in the 90s - are they still around? - which does budget camping holidays round Europe, and France was my family's favourite destination. So, from an insider's point of view, what does France really have to offer? Well, quite a lot actually, but not neccessarily in the places you might expect. With the highest mountain in Western Europe, Mont Blanc, Chamonix is a brilliant little find. If you're after authentic French cuisine, La Maison Carrier won't disappoint, with its rustic look and the promise of grandma's recipes, you know that means the food will be delicious. If you're more interested in where it is you'll be partying, you could try Le Tof Nightclub, which advertises as being gay-friendly (always a positive!) and also hosts fancy dress and theme nights. All the costumes.
Or perhaps you'd prefer the small town Morzine. With bags of character, Morzine boasts quaint chalets and a beautiful lake for you to skate on! If it's a rustic, family-friendly getaway you're after, then this is for you. You may also be tempted by the charming little city of Annecy, with breath-taking archetecture, vast lake and inspiring canals to walk along. If that's not enough, eat some Raclette. If you don't know what Raclette is, imagine a standard dinner of meat and veg. Now smother it in delicious, gooey cheese. That's it. If you're really looking for the mountain experience, Tignes has opened a mountain biking trail for adrenaline-seekers. Tignespace Sports Centre will keep you active with rock climbing, badminton & swimming, or head for an evening of bowling before stopping at the Grizzly Bar, where you can let your muscles relax beside a log fire.
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Not into bikes? No issue, swap it for a llama. Don't read it again, you read it correctly the first time. Valloire own a trio of llamas to help children on short mountain walks, whilst Montgenevre and the Chartreuse Natural Regional Park have donkeys to help with the bags and huskys for, well, for a friend. If you are an animal lover - head to the 700-hectre safari park in the Southern Alps, home to the only horse that man has never managed to tame. So why go for an action packed adventure holiday? Well that's exactly why - for the adventure. Memories come from new experiences, whether that be riding through luscious hills horse-back, or putting on some skiis and heading up the mountain, before ending the day with a cheese fondue by the aforementioned log fire. As well as the usual skiing and snowboarding, there's rafting, climbing, biking, even taboganning if you fancy re-living Cool Runnings. But you're not imited to action-filled entertainment. Between the 20th - 25th August is Europe's biggest kids' festival in Au Bonheur des Momes, or for those of you looking for a more adult challenge, you could join the Reebok Spartan Morzine Trifecta Weekend on 1st - 2nd July. Of course, you can also expect to find cheese. And wine. Cheese and wine and chocolate. I'll stop there before I book my flight. There are plenty of cafes, restuarants & bars to keep you going after a long day on the slopes. There's something for everyone. But how much does all that cost? Well, that depends on how much you want to spend.
If, like myself, you're a budget hunting "Keycamper", you can head out to Annecy for seven nights for less than £500. But, if you prefer a little more luxury, you could go for seven nights in a traditional chalet-style hotel in Tignes for just over £750. Now if you really want to push the boat out, you could even spend over £2,500 on a hotel in Chamonix Mont-Blanc - hot tub and bathrobe included. But who says you have to stay in a tent or even a chalet? Believe it or not, you could be spending the night in a tipi next to a marmot (or as I like to call it - mountain beaver) hotspot, or a concept hostel which brings together the class of Chamonix Mont-Blanc with the price of a keycamper. Last, but definitely not least, you could spend the night up a tree, in a cabin or a real life hobbit house. (http://www.bol-d-air.fr) Whatever you budget, for relaxation or escapade, why not try something a little different this summer? With three new flights per week launching from Ryanair at just £12.99 each way, you could be in the Alps for the price of fish & chips for two. Alternatively check out France Montagnes, an agency specifically designed for the French mountains. For more information, head to http://en.france-montagnes.com.
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