Switzerland in the summertime has lots to offer families. Here’s a hidden gem campsite in the Alps for outdoor adventures or relaxation. It offers walking, hiking, mountain scenery, a traditional alpine way of life, pitches or chalets and hot showers too. Read on for one family’s tips for camping in Switzerland.
- Stunning alpine scenery
- Outdoor living
- Walking, hiking, lake swimming
- Historic home of St Bernard dogs
Who went – Julia, Tom, Finlay 15 and Hamish 12
Where did you go and how did you get there? Julia says: We’ve been camping in Switzerland several times and have had four stays at Camping des Glaciers at La Fouly, in the Valais region, most recently in 2014. We go at the end of August when it’s quieter and spend between four days to a week at La Fouly either as a one-off destination or part of a longer camping trip, combining it with the Loire or the Ardeche.
When This post updated in 2019.
Swiss Alps Camping
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Campsite in the Alps
La Fouly is a small village in the Val Ferret in the Swiss canton of Valais. It lies at an altitude of 1600 metres, close to the borders of Italy and France and beside some imposing mountain ranges. In the winter it has a small ski station with cross-country ski trails. Valais is an alpine region of Switzerland that’s home to the Matterhorn, chic ski resorts and wonderful wine and cheese. Val Ferret is part of the Pays du St Bernard region and the legendary mountain rescue dogs were bred locally.
Julia says: We’ve camped in lots of different places in France and Switzerland but this is the one we go back to again and again. It is a fantastic, peaceful (except for the sound of the river) location with amazing alpine and glacier views.
This is a very old-style outdoors holiday where the kids play around the campsite and we all take day trips by foot or car. The walking is wonderful and caters for all levels and interest.
Alternatively we drive and explore. Champex-Lac, which is close by, has a lake with pedaloes and rowing boats as well as a swimming pool and restaurants and bars.
Slightly further afield there are mountain resorts like Verbier which are worth a visit in summer; they have lots of activities for children.
Camping des Glaciers at La Fouly
The road to La Fouly winds up through alpine pastures scattered with chalets. The village itself is tiny – in winter it’s also a little ski station. In summer there’s a constant stream of walkers as it’s on the alpine Tour du Mont Blanc route.
From the village a little road crosses the river and leads to the campsite. We always pitch in the open meadow which has huge pitches on gently sloping terraces and spectacular views of the glacier. As we often meet up with friends it’s perfect for a group gathering. There’s a range of pitches by the river as well.
The wash blocks are high quality, big and clean with free hot water and showers. We’ve never had to queue though a torch is needed at night! Some pitches have electricity and some don’t according to price.
Bread can be delivered to the site or bought from the village which is a five minute walk away. It has a useful little supermarket but we tend to stock up at the big Co-op in the main valley on the way to the campsite. There’s also a restaurant in the village which does great raclette!
The site is at 1600 m so it’s chilly at night even when it’s been hot during the day. We tend to eat early in the evening and then pile on warmer gear as the sun goes down.
Things to do at Camping des Glaciers, La Fouly
The campsite is surrounded by woods where kids can go off to build camps and there is ample space for games of cricket etc. At the bottom of the site there’s an impressive climbing wall and a really extensive tree top trail with zip lines. There are three routes graded for children from 4 years upwards which are infinitely more thrilling than the ones we’ve tried in Britain. In fact the most challenging route, which I took, was terrifying! The campsite also has bikes to rent.
Walking and hiking from La Fouly
Several trails start or run through the campsite and range from little family strolls to serious hiking.You can choose walks according to your level. Some walks from La Fouly take you up to the alpage, the high mountain pastures where cattle graze in the summer and local cheese is still made.
There are places to stop to buy the cheese and have a welcome drink before you turn for home.
The cable car in La Fouly is only five minutes away and runs during the summer so you can use it to avoid some of the steeper climbing. Alternatively you can drive further up the valley to the start of a walk.
Marmot spotting is an added bonus! At neighbouring Champex-Lac there’s a marmot nature trail to follow with younger children.
St Bernard dogs One of the most spectacular hikes we’ve taken crossed over the passes, climbing 1000 metres, to visit the St. Bernard dogs at the Grand Saint Bernard Hospice. We’re quite experienced hikers but this is a marathon trek, it took us all day.
We picnicked in the alpine meadows and then at about 2000m we stopped at a lake for a quick swim which was a chilly experience. The Hospice is even higher at 2500m and can be bleak but the dogs are fun to see and there’s a café and little museum too.
You can catch the public buses back to camp afterwards or indeed, drive there in the first place if you don’t fancy the serious hike.
If you enjoy walking and hiking how about planning a visit to the Julien Alps? Click here for a family’s summer trip to Slovenia.
How to get to Camping des Glaciers, La Fouly
Julia says: We always drive from London, getting up early to catch the Channel Tunnel train. On the other side it’s an eight hour drive to Geneva, where we sometimes break the journey to see friends. It’s around two hours by car from Geneva to La Fouly. With a younger family we’d definitely do a stopover but we’re all used to the journey nowadays.
The other option is to fly/drive to Geneva and rent a chalet at La Fouly rather than taking camping equipment.
Photos by Julia and family, all rights reserved, unless otherwise credited in captions. Photos may not be reproduced without prior written consent.
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