I discover a whole summer playground in Verbier, says Rowena Cooper, travel writer
It is wonderful to see the lush green meadows, spectacular waterfalls and sparkling lakes in the Alps. Previously, I had only seen them in winter dressed in snow and wondered what it would be like to visit in the summer.
Switzerland really is unlike anywhere else in Europe. It’s just a short flight or an interesting rail journey from the UK. Although it’s also quite expensive it has the most dazzlingly landscape of mountains, lakes and alpine flowers.
I am staying in Verbier, Valias. The beautiful location of the popular ski resort is hard to beat. It lies on a wide plateau opening to the south onto views of the peaks in Italy and France and Switzerland. At an altitude of 1,500m – it is higher than our Ben Nevis.
Here from to spring to autumn the air is full of birdsong and the sound of cowbells. However, far from going into hibernation waiting for the skiers to return, in summer the mountains become a playground for walkers, bikers and world-renowned international art and music festivals
Throughout the summer months the lifts are open every day, ideal for hiking and biking. There are over 500kms of marked paths to discover. I enjoyed taking in the breath-taking views, enjoying the cool fresh air and getting some exercise on these mountain paths
Mountain biking is a big thing here. Not feeling quite as strong as these younger cycling enthusiasts, I rented an electrical bike (e bike) for the day. Without too much effort I enjoyed riding along the tracks and up into the mountains without breaking a sweat! Even overtaking younger cyclists on some climbs.
The early morning weather was clear; the Combins and Mont-Blanc ranges were awakening also the alpine wildlife. I encountered – squeaking marmots, the sight of a stately ibex and even a glance of an eagle.
Being a spectator is fun here, be it watching the amazing paragliders soar like birds down the valley or the amazing down hill antics of the daredevil mountain bikers.
Relaxing and wellness is important too so an afternoon in the W Hotel spa recharged my energy levels.
Verbier is fun, inspiring or relaxing– you set your own challenges and agenda. There is something for all ages and abilities.
Music in the Mountains
The cosmopolitan Verbier Festival is an opportunity for music, culture and education. It brings magic to an intimate setting in the Swiss Alps.
This is where the world’s leading classical musicians are invited to get together and perform with the best of the next generation. The concerts provide a unique opportunity to learn and be inspired in a truly alpine environment.
Some of Europe’s premier jazz, classical and operatic musical acts feature in the programme. During the 17 days of the festival you can attend up to 53 world-class concerts and workshops many of them free.
There is a great atmosphere in the town with music and musicians everywhere during the summer.
Art in the Park
Way up in the mountains, at an altitude of 2,300 meters is the 3D Sculpture Park. These contemporary art works are created by international artists and are set within the mountains illustrating intriguing stories within an amazing backdrop.
Great Swiss Hospitality – a taste of luxury
As expected, they certainly know how to spoil you here. The Hotel Mirabeau was relaxing and friendly with great views over the village. I instantly felt at home here.
The region supplies the very memorable specialties such Bagnes cheese, wine, meats, rosti and Chanterelles mushrooms
The mountains are a perfect inspirational summer environment even without snow and are filled with great food, fun and above all exciting challenges for every level.
Verbier Fact Box
For more information visit www.verbier.ch/en
Hotel Mirabeau+41 27 771 63 35 http://mirabeauhotel.ch
Flights: Return flights from London Heathrow to Geneva are available from £92 with Swiss Air.
Flights available from many regional airports to Geneva.
Train: Return train transfers from the airport or border railway station directly to destination are available with the Swiss Transfer Ticket that is priced at 141 CHF (£98) www.myswitzerland.com
Biking and Other activities:
E Bike rental: Backside http://nobounds.ch/fr
Bike Guide: MTB VERBIER www.mtbverbier.com
Verbier 3-D Sculpture Park and Residency www.3-dfoundation.com
Verbier Festival Concert www.verbierfestival.com/concert
Spa at W Hotel +41 27 472 88 88 www.wverbier.com
Alpine Cheese Diary
Chez Martin +41 27 771 22 52 www.chezmartin.ch
Fer à Cheval +41 27 771 26 69
La Promenade +41 27 778 12 www.bonatchiesse.ch
Le Carrefour +41 27 771 55