Businesses are always looking for new destinations for incentive travel experiences, conferences or team-building exercises. Over the past few years, France’s Alpine resorts have developed into real contenders in this segment of the market.
Whether you are staying in Chamonix for the weekend or for a whole week or two, there are many things to enjoy. Chamonix is a very well-known French ski resort but it offers many more activities besides skiing. Here’s a sample of what you can do there.
Discover famous spots
The Mont BlancChamonix is located in the French Alps, at the foot of the famous Mont Blanc (reminder: it is the highest mountain in Europe). Thus, spending your holidays in Chamonix and seeing the Mont Blanc is quite incredible in itself. It is possible to hike on this moutain at a reasonable height or go to the top for those who can hike well, or hike on surrounding moutains, which guarantees an amazing view.
The Aiguille du MidiIn chamonix you can also find another very famous moutain which is the Aiguille du Midi (3,842 meters high). Thanks to a cable car, you can go to the very top of this moutain and experience a unique sensation by “stepping into the void”! A room completely made of glass allows you to admire the Alps with the impression of floating in the air. If you are afraid of heights however, this might not be for you.
The Mer de GlaceIf you like hiking, there is a beautiful path that leads to the Mer de Glace, which is a glacier situated in Chamonix. You can also go there by taking a small traditional train. Once up there (1,913 meters), you can admire the gacier and learn about its history and changes. You can even visit the glacier and go under the ice!
Experience new activitiesIf you want to try new sports or if you are a free-flight fan there are several activities that you can do in Chamonix. For example, you can try para-gliding or hang-gliding to see Chamonix from the air and get a breathtaking view of the Alps. You can also fly over the valley with professionals. If you’d rather stay on the ground, you can golf or go shopping in the numerous stores of the resort. You can also check the dates of famous festivals that take place in Chamonix and sports events like the World Rock-Climbing Cup or the UTMB for example. Finally, if you are staying in a MGM residence for instance, you can enjoy the fitness equipment or the spa to relax.
The French region of Provence draws visitors from all around the world thanks to its wonderful climate, amazing food, rich history, stunning natural landscapes and vibrant arts scene.
Take a tour of Provence and gain real insight into this fascinating place!Provence is a name that’s familiar worldwide, but how well do we really know this region, once we get beyond the stereotypes of flamingos, fields of lavender and fish soup? For anyone wanting to do more than just scratch the surface of a tremendously diverse and complex place, booking one of the many Provence tours on offer has to be the way forward. They’re available in pretty much every shape and size, being tailored to all ages, budgets and centres of interest imaginable! Booking a tour does away with the hassles of itinerary planning and wrestling with car rental or public transport. It also places local guides with expert knowledge at your disposal, enabling you to understand Provence like never before! Many tours cater to the cruise ship market in the form of shore excursions, these tending to be of shorter duration. If you have a little more time to spare, you may be able to draw up a list of sights you’d like to take in, creating your very own ‘made-to-measure’ experience.
Aix-en-Provence – at the heart of the regionAix-en-Provence may not be the biggest urban centre in the region, but its location makes it a good place to start your exploration of the area. Day trips from Aix en Provence offer easy access to many of the region’s outstanding sights. For instance, around an hour’s driving is enough to take you to the astonishing sound and light show at the Carrières de Lumières; the papal palace in Avignon; Arles, with its Roman amphitheatre; the natural paradise that is the Camargue or the charming fishing village of Cassis and the famous limestone inlets of the sea, known as the ‘calanques’, located nearby. Aix-en-Provence itself makes for a great day trip – which you’d expect for somewhere with two thousand years of history under its belt. It was the capital of Provence in the medieval period, and many of its finest monuments date from this time. It boasts a beautiful 13th century Gothic cathedral and is also particularly rich in museums and galleries. The Musée Granet, with works from the 15th to 19th centuries is very popular, as is Paul Cezanne’s studio. The famous Impressionist painter’s studio has been preserved much as it was when he died in 1906 – it’s an absolute must for fans.
Although the Ardèche area of southern France is perhaps best known for the gorge which makes the Ardèche River into a top canoeing destination, the dramatic scenery also makes for great hiking. The Ardèche département is home to nearly 6,000 km of marked walking trails which criss-cross the varied landscapes of this stunning region. Contained within this area are also two parks, the Parc Régional des Monts d’Ardèche, and the celebrated Parc National des Cévennes. Hikers are particularly drawn to the diversity of natural habitats, which range from mountains, high, wind-swept plateaux, a karst (limestone) area pockmarked with many caves and steep-sided valleys and more fertile farming country, characterized by orchards and vineyards. Naturally, this variety of landscapes results in a great diversity of flora and fauna too, including the extremely rare – and very majestic – Bonelli’s Eagle.(more…)
French ski resort breaks needn’t cost the earth!
The French ski resort of Val Thorens is famous for its high-altitude slopes (it’s based at some 2300 metres above sea level) and enormous ski area (as part of the 3 vallées area). What may be less well-known about ski holidays in the French Alps is that they’re not necessarily the preserve of the well-to-do. There are many ways of reducing the cost of your next skiing vacations. Probably the most effective of these is to shop around when looking for accommodation. Sometimes it’s worth contacting a given ski resort directly to see if they have any special offers. The average French ski resort does have quite a wide range of accommodation categories which are designed to suit all budgets. At Val Thorens, for example, there are 3, 4 and 5 star hotels, ski-in apartments in larger ‘residences’, self-catered flats with room for 10 or more and even a youth hostel! Ski holidays in the French Alps for family-friendly fun! No matter where you go in the French Alps, whether on ski holidays or summer vacations, you’ll find that French ski resorts are very much planned with families in mind. For those looking for cheap ski holidays for families, a great place to start is the official Val Thorens ski resort website which offers a range of special packages, including ones aimed at family groups. These will typically cover both accommodation and ski passes. (more…)
The French Alps are the place for winter sports of all kinds. There are many different resorts scattered throughout the region, but Chamonix, as one of the oldest of all, has a special place in many people’s hearts. This is reflected in the way in which the town caters to virtually every pocket and every kind of visitor. From 4 stars hotels in Chamonix to self-catering apartments and bed and breakfasts, there’s an embarrassment of quality accommodation out there. If you’re a real winter sports fanatic, finding a location that’s close to the relevant ski lifts and cable cars is crucial. Four star hotels and similar luxury establishments are often strategically placed. For example, the Hôtel Les Grands Montets is, as the name suggests, sited at the foot of the famous Grands Montets ski area, which has some superb off-piste skiing to enjoy.
Getting off-piste in the Grands Montets ski areaChamonix
has a total of four large ski areas and is also home to world-class competitions like the Freeride World Tour and Kandahar – the Men’s Alpine Skiing World Cup. If you’re not quite in this league, you can still enjoy a range of winter sports:
- Ice climbing
If you’ve chosen a 4 stars Chamonix hotel for your stay, the chances are you’re looking to be pampered after a hard day on the slopes. Many 4 stars hotels in Chamonix offer all-inclusive packages with just that in mind – access to spa facilities, massages and more. Pamper yourself with in-hotel spa facilities Lastly, Chamonix is also known for its lively après-ski scene and fine dining.
If you are planning a trip to St Peterbourg but would like something more than a generic booked tour, you might want to consider renting a flat to stay in while you are there. There are many short-term apartment rental options available right in the center of St Peterbourg, that will allow you to be in a convenient location while experiencing a local feel to make your trip that much more special.
Reasons for Renting a Flat in St PeterbourgFounded in 1703, the city of St. Peterbourg has retained its historic charm and splendour to this day. With its beautiful architecture and the numerous canals, the city has been included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Hence, it would be a shame not to experience the magic of this stunning city firsthand. Staying in hotels is the most obvious option but hotels can be impersonal and soulless. Renting your own apartment during your trip lets you absorb the local atmosphere while making you feel at home at the same time. It leaves you the option of coming and going as you please and you do not have to plan your day around hotel check in times or cleaning schedules. Hotels require you book two or three rooms if you are travelling with your family, so renting a flat can prove to be more economical if you are on a budget. The apartments will generally have a kitchen, so there is the added advantage of cooking your meals in your own time and according to your own preferences, which is exceptionally useful for people who follow a specific diet.
Options in the Center of St PeterbourgThere are many companies and agencies that help tourists find the perfect house for their stay in St Peterbourg. PiterStay has a selection of beautifully furnished one- to five-bedroom flats that you can rent for as less as two days. Petersburg-Lodging is another great site that has a huge selection of apartments, so whether you need a small two-bedroom house, a comfy studio apartment or a huge luxury flat, there is something for everyone. These agencies provide information about long-term flats as well, besides offering help with visa and transport. The center of St Peterbourg is a convenient location as the shops and restaurants are at a walking distance, and transport is easy because there is bound to be a metro station near your place. You can spend the day at the Peterhof Palace and Garden or plan an impromptu trip to St. Issac’s Cathedral. Eat at the Palkin restaurant and behold the grace of Russian ballet at the Mariinsky Theatre. At the end of the long day, you can come back and relax in your own apartment and feel at home in the glorious city of St. Peterbourg.
Visit Berlin in 3 Days If you are in need of a short break to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, Berlin is the perfect European destination. With fantastic transport links and a top class range of accommodation options, the German capital city has a wealth of attractions to suit every budget. Indeed, over 135 million people make a visit to Berlin every year, which makes it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. However, with such a vast range of sights to see and places to visit, it can be difficult to know how to best spend your 3 days in Berlin. Here are a few tips to help you on your way. Travel Passes and Discount Offers One of the first things you should do if you want to visit Berlin for 3 days is to buy one of the city’s 72 hour travel cards which allow you to use any public transport within zones A and B of the city. This is perfect for a whistle stop tour of the metropolises and also has the added benefit of offering significant discounts on certain major cultural attractions. With your transport sorted you can start to properly explore the city. Walking Tours For first time visitors it is a good idea to book onto a guided walking tour. A number of different operators work in the city, but there is a very reliable English language tour that sets off from the Zoo train station on a daily basis, or a free tour that meets outside Starbucks every day at 11am. This is a great way to witness some of the main landmarks, including the Brandenburg Gate. The Reichstag is couple of minutes walk from the Brandenburg Gate, and the old Parliament building is a must see attraction due to its breathtaking views and turbulent history. Arts and Culture If you enjoy arts and culture then you certainly won’t be disappointed when you visit Berlin. The aptly named Museum Island is home to five of the most internationally renowned museums in the world and can keep you occupied for hours. The Berlin Wall is another piece of cultural history that you simply cannot miss when you visit Berlin. The East Side Gallery serves as an international memorial for peace and freedom, and is one of the best preserved sections of the wall today. Tiergarten park is a great place to take a stroll and unwind later on in a day before you have your evening meal. Finally, if you enjoy a good night out make sure to visit some of the city’s electric nightclubs on at least one occasion during your 3 day stay.
Situated a short distance away from the American border, Montreal is also close by other major destinations, such as Ottawa and Quebec City. There is much to see and do in this historic location. However, when you want to spend an entire week in Montreal, you may be unsure about what to do. As there are a considerable number of attractions, here’s a guide about what you could do. Experiencing a wonder of nature An approximate forty five minute walk of six to seven kilometres, Mount Royal offers panoramic views of Montreal. Situated in the centre of Montreal, Mount Royal has an elevation of over seven hundred feet. Found at the summit are many attractions which will entertain people of all ages. Not only can you see Smith House which has heritage listing which informs visitors about the history of Mount Royal, but you can also ice skate during the winter on Beaver Lake. If you venture to Mount Royal on Sunday mornings from May through to October, an outdoor drum jam takes place. Enjoy many festivals which are held throughout the year As with other major Canadian cities and locations, you can see many festivals which take place during the vast majority of the year. Happening at the end of February is the ‘High Lights Festival’. During this very popular festival which attracts thousands of people, events are held throughout the city, such as ice skating, fireworks and live music. Taking place until 4am, this festival could be a very memorable way to end your entire week in Montreal or as a perfect way to begin your stay. Helping to whet the appetite Montreal proudly boasts many public markets which are found throughout the city. The best local produce can be purchased here and at affordable prices as well. If you want to enjoy delicious food but you don’t want to exceed your budget, this is possible because of these public markets. Such popular markets include Atwater Market and the Jean-Talon Market where you can buy breads, meats and tasty cheeses. As these and numerous other public markets are open throughout the vast majority of the week, you could visit many markets during your stay in this fabulous city. As this city has many other attractions, you’ll discover that spending an entire week in Montreal is simply not long enough and you will want to extend your holiday for much longer.
Istanbul is a remarkable and interesting city – one that should not be missed if you travel to that part of the world. For it is here that east meets west in a delightful mix of modern comfort, familiar ease, and exotic relaxation. Great Time in Istanbul If you would like to have a great time in Istanbul, some careful planning should be in order. The last thing you want is to find yourself overwhelmed by the many tempting sights and sounds that you are ‘pushed’ to visit, not to mention the barrage of last minute advice you hear from the people who claim that they hold the key to the secret of having a great time in Istanbul. Must See If you are a history buff and would like to set your eyes on Istanbul’s many ancient monuments, start by visiting the Haghia Sophia museum and church. This is truly an imposing 1400-year old building, with a huge, impressive dome that is adorned with mosaics and frescoes from the Byzantine era. Then, proceed to the nearby breathtaking Blue Mosque. Also ancient, it has six remarkable minarets and is decorated to the nines with the most beautiful architecture. Next, walk over to the Topakpi Palace not too far away. Once a dwelling of royalties, you need a long stretch of time to savour what you will be seeing here – harems, courtyards, meeting rooms, and many, many more. If this is the type of place that captures your interest, then, there are numerous other similar places to explore like the Kucuk Ayasofya Camii, sometimes referred to as the Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus. This is a calm and peaceful place of worship, adorned by some live ducks in the courtyard! Similarly, there is the Ortakoy, which is a pleasant neighborhood that houses old buildings that have been renovated. Must Experience To keep the trip interesting, it is best to alternate between seeing and experiencing. If the Haghia Sophia is a must-see, then the Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hamam is a must-experience. What is a trip to Istanbul if you do not indulge yourself in a traditional Turkish bath? Upmarket hamams like the Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hamam are simply lovely. You will feel relaxed and pampered as the attendants splash soothing water on your tired body. Just soak the moment and enjoy. Another great must-see and must-experience is to immerse in some delightful Turkish dances. For this, you need to spend time at the Hodjapasha Culture Center, where you can feast your eyes on great dancing costumes and engross in the fantastic sound of Turkish live music. Then, stroll into the exhibition in the foyer, where you can learn all about Turkey’s dance culture history. Enjoy Istanbul This is just a sample of how you can enjoy Istanbul. What you need is to plan your days well ahead. Good planning will definitely result in a great time there!