As one of France’s designated ‘ville fleuries’ and the only French mountain resort to be classified as a national heritage site, Samoëns is simply charming in the summer. The pedestrianised town square, dominated by its famous 500 year-old lime tree, is a profusion of flowers set against a backdrop of traditional stone buildings decorated with colourful window-boxes; a picture-postcard base for all kinds of activity, from water sports, cycling, mountain biking, canyoning, caving, golf and hiking, to the gentler pursuits of walking, shopping and dining.
Steeped in history and famed for its stonemasons, the ancient church, medieval fountains and statues ensure it retains an authentic Savoyard charm and intimate feel. The beautiful, traffic-free square and main street are full of chic interiors shops and gourmet specialists that make whiling away an afternoon so easy to do; cheese shops, charcuteries, patisseries, chocolatiers, and a market selling local produce every Wednesday – one of the largest in the Haute-Savoie – is a foodie’s delight.
Home to 5000 varieties of alpine flowers from across the world, the Jaysinia Botanical Garden is set on the south facing side of the mountains overlooking the village and is a haven of tranquillity. A walk in its grounds takes in the ruins of the 12th century Tornalta Castle, an 18th century chapel, fountains, cascades and landscaped trees.