The fast and furious thrills of the Alps are not just for skiers, as a summer break at this luxury mountain chalet will prove. Snuggled away in the beautiful Alpine village of Montriond, La Ferme du Lac Vert is a luxurious chalet popular with skiers seeking to enjoy the slopes of nearby Morzine. But, whisper it quietly, when temperatures rise and the powder melts away, the converted French farmhouse becomes a hidden gem for those who know that summer in the Alps can be just as adrenaline-fuelled as the most hair-raising black ski run.
The chalet is the creation of British couple Rob and Lucy Mundell, who fell in love with Montriond after winning a ski holiday to the area in 2003, and later bought the dilapidated 18th-century dairy farm. Determined to create a guest experience they felt was lacking in the region (abuse of the word “luxury”‘ was a particular bugbear) they painstakingly restored the house before furnishing it for total comfort – think big stylish rooms, bathtubs rather than showers and lovely plump-pillowed beds.
Since opening in late 2010, it has gained a stellar reputation with the ski set – but what of its summer attractions? Director’s first day was spent mountain biking down ski runs. Bikes can be rented from Torico Morzine (www.toricomorzine.com) for €79 (£65) a day and the ski lifts are equipped to get you to the top, with staff clipping your bike on for you. Every bravery level is catered for – from relaxing blue runs through deserted forests, to white-knuckle black runs for body-armour-clad adrenaline junkies. We settled for a moderately speedy red and loved every mud-churning second.
Back at La Ferme, we discovered another hidden gem in the kitchen – former Masterchef quarter-finalist Sharif Gergis, who creates a superb pop-up restaurant menu for guests during summer (catered stays must be booked one week in advance). His delicious hot muesli is the perfect morning fuel for a day of gravity-powered adventure sports.
On our second day we set off for the nearby river Dranse and a morning of invigorating white-water fun with Frogs Rafting (www.frogsrafting.com). Qualified guide Jeremy Helvic knows every ripple and rock of this stretch and will point out rapids to swim across and boulders to leap from. It’s soon clear that a boat isn’t the only fun way downstream.
After towelling off, we were offered an afternoon choice of ‘Via Ferrata’ – allowing rock-climbing novices the thrill of ascent via a steel cable and iron ladders – or an 80km/h, face-first descent from a mountaintop on the ‘Fantasticable’ zip-wire. Choosing the latter, we soon discovered that the wire beats catching a ski lift any day – though at 200m high in places, it’s not for the faint-hearted. For those seeking a more serene break, there are visits to fromageries, foraging mountain walks, swims in the lake and Morzine’s Les Granges Germaine Spa. Sounds tempting, but first – another go on that zip-wire…