Living in the mountains is awesome. Between my husband and me, we have done over 30 winter seasons and we have lived in the Alps year round for the past 3 years. We have visited many different resorts and recently moved from Val d’Isère to the Portes du Soleil region. We love our alpine lifestyle and we love bringing up our children in the mountains. Physically, culturally, historically and socially, the Alps have it all.
Number 10: Accessibility
The French Alps are served by a number of airports including Lyon, Grenoble, Chambery and Geneva. Living in the alps gives us easy access to some incredible places, both in France and across the rest of Europe. Nearby, we benefit from beautiful towns and cities such as Annecy, Evian and Geneva. The rest of France is accessible by road, plane or train and Italy and Switzerland are also on our doorstep, which means easy weekend getaways.
Number 9: Food
France is well known for its excellent food and alpine produce certainly contributes to this reputation. From french baguettes and croissants to fondues and raclettes, from steaks cooked over an open fire to garlic laden escargots, there are so many delicious options and delicacies available.
Living in the mountains, there is a huge choice of both local and seasonal produce. Moderate altitudes make ‘growing your own’ very easy, and the fruit trees have been in abundance this autumn. For the more health conscious it doesn’t have to be all red meat and cheese. There are more and more restaurants offering alternatives to the traditional ‘savoie’ cuisine. I follow a plant based diet, which although is not easy in France (which lacks well behind the UK in terms of offering meat and dairy alternatives) it can be done.
Number 8: Wine
This is France after all. Need I say more?
Number 7: The Scenery
We are surrounded by natural beauty. The Alps are stunning year round with breathtaking views that change with the seasons. Living in the mountains is truly magical.
Number 6: Aquatic fun
Mountain lakes, rivers and waterfalls offer us both tranquility and stunning scenery, as well as sports and leisure activities.
There are a large number of water based activities to enjoy, including swimming, stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, fishing, water skiing, sailing, ice diving, open water swimming, giant inflatable obstacle courses, hydro-speeding and white water rafting. There really are so many options available.
Number 5: Friends
Living abroad usually means being apart from family which can be tough at times. Being surrounded by people in the same boat builds strong bonds and a close community. Friendships tend to be extra special because in the absence of our families being nearby, we rely on each other.
Number 4: Healthy lifestyle
Did you ever read the story of Heidi? She was a healthy little girl growing up in the mountains with her Grandfather. However, she was sent to live in the city as companionship for another little girl named Clara. Clara was a pale, sickly child who was confined to a wheel chair. To cut a long story short, when Clara and Heidi return to the alps, Clara thrives. Due to the fresh air, good food and friendships she becomes fit and well and no longer needs her wheel chair. Whilst this fictional novel may be a little far fetched, it captures the healthy alpine lifestyle perfectly.
On top of the fresh air and outdoorsy lifestyle in the mountains, the french generally work to live, not live to work. They have a a great work-life balance however, this does not necessarily run true for seasonal workers who often have to make most of their income in just a few months of the year. Downtime in the inter-seasons generally makes up for this though.
Of course, leading a healthy lifestyle is a choice. If you eat nothing but red meat, baguettes and cheese, washed down with copious amounts of red wine, toffee vodka and jager bombs you may not quite fall into the healthy lifestyle category! C’est la vie!
Number 3: Family friendly activities
The mountains are a giant playground. Year round we play outdoors, after all as the saying goes ‘there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing”. There is so much to do at very little cost and we benefit from family friendly activities year round.
In the summer we have the lakes, beaches, mountain hikes, picnics and outdoor pools, plus the numerous peak season sports, activities and fetes that take place. In the winter we have alpine sports, ice rinks, sledging, snow shoeing and winter walks. In between the tourist seasons we can visit autumn fairs, playgrounds, pools and nearby towns. The list of things to do throughout the year could go on and on and the alpine exploration is endless.
Number 2: Language skills
My children will grow up bilingual. My 4 year old already speaks better french than I do! I feel that it is a great gift to be able to speak two languages.
Number 1: Skiing
For both me and my husband, it was the allure of skiing that brought us to the alps. My husband fell in love with skiing when he first hit the slopes as a teenager and started training to be a ski instructor in his twenties. I was talked into to doing a season as a chalet girl when I was 21 and my love affair with the mountains started from then. Our oldest daughter has been on skis since she was two years old and it won’t be long until our youngest joins us too.
Skiing on our doorstep has got to be our number 1 awesome reason for living in the mountains.