Mountain Detox: a Seasonal Guide to the Alps
Easter may seem nothing but a distant memory, yet many will be familiar with the aftermath of a proud belly that now prominently protrudes from your middle to caste its own shadow. All those disciplined days of green smoothies and gym workouts were broken by the irresistible temptation to eat chocolate…. and not just a little. Holiday season tends to be a justifiable excuse to let all self control fly out the door. Without even realising, you have gone from high energy and spring motivation to a box of Ladurée macarons, a bottle of wine and the new series of House of Cards on the sofa. Whilst this scenario might have the making of an awesome Friday night, the problem is when it has become the Monday norm. Unravelled in repetitive moments of weakness, bad habits override like a parasite and as you reach for yet another macaron, you attempt reassure yourself that once the box is finished you’ll remove from the indentation you’ve made on the sofa.
It is ironic really, the holiday period is meant to be about rejuvenation, relaxation and re-instating balance. However, somewhere along the lines in our warped culture, it has morphed it into something that we more often than not need to recover from. How often do you hear someone return from a holiday complaining they need to detox because they ate or drunk too much? Admittedly, it doesn’t help that many of our calendar holidays revolve around some sort of feasting.
To make things worse, in our over scheduled, micro-managed lives there is a tendency to engage in holidaying, health and exercise as separate undertakings. So here is a crazy idea.. how about treating your holiday as an actual opportunity to recover from the toxic overload of your everyday life; a chance to find clarity and let yourself heal.
Sometimes the only way to fully recharge is to unplug from the digitally charged pace of modern life. This doesn’t just mean changing up the odd aspect of your daily routine for a week. Tuning out of social media whilst tuning in for evenings of wine and cheese, does not qualify as a detox in any shape or form. To truly reconnect with yourself, you need to take time out by disconnecting from the rigour of your scheduled life.
The nurturing hands of Mother Nature work wonders in achieving this and talking from experience, nothing quite beats the the magnificent Alps. Long recognised for their pure air, revitalising natural environments and breathtaking scenery- these spectacular mountains are diverse in their offerings, seasonally serving up the perfect setting for a detox escape. Actually, French air is thought to be so clean that in 2014 a Chinese businessman sold a jar of it for the equivalent of £500, in a symbolic protest against China’s poor air quality. Perhaps a tad excessive but there is no denying the beauty and tranquility of these mountains.
Although there is no unanimous detox method, a little common sense goes a long way. Ultimately you’re seeking good overall health, so stick the basics: healthy eating, exercise, a stress free environment and proper sleep.
Here is our seasonal guide to Alps help with your holiday planning and entice you to consider a mountain escape.
Spring is magical in the Alps, by the end of April the snow at lower altitudes has begun to melt revealing a vibrant landscape creeping back to life. By mid May, wild flowers are in bloom and there is an energising feeling of new beginnings. As snow and glaciers diminish in the sun, rivers charge down the mountain with force, forming countless waterfalls. The weather is mild but an unexpected dump of snow can still catch you off guard. Yet as summer approaches, so too do the warmer days. If your in need of a good workout and snow is your thing, higher altitudes are still good enough to ski. In fact, it was spring this season that brought the best powder! At lower points, beautiful walks and rides are plentiful. If you’re seeking yoga, pilates and meditation numerous options are available. If staying at a private chalet your host or concierge service should be able to organise a private instructor or class on or off site. Alternatively, there are a wide selection of events you can partake in such as, the Yoga festival in Val d’Isere getting underway at the end of this month.
If tranquility and escapism is what you need, summer is the time for you. The temperatures are idyllic and the weather is more stable. The snow crowds have emptied and there is freeing sense of space. For the more adventurous, challenge yourself to one of the many regional hikes or climbs, or engage in another summer favourite – cycling. From a leisurely ride on undulating slopes, to an endurance climb or a technical mountain bike course, the diverse mountain terrain accommodates for varying levels of fitness. But perhaps you’d rather take a dip in a pristine glacial lake or follow a river downstream in a kayak. Or maybe all you’re after is to feel the warmth of the sun on your face, breath the fresh air and enjoy the luxury of quietness. Whatever it is you seek, you will be hard pressed not to find it in the French Alps.
There is a stillness about autumn, like the calm before a storm. The mountains are a spectacle of colour and the scenery is truly breath taking. Autumn is the perfect reminder to accept change and let the uncontrollable be. There is an eery morning mist that evaporates as the sun rises, rolling back in again as the afternoon cools. In late autumn the high lifts open for eager skiers & boarders to steal an early ski. At lower altitudes there are many beautiful walks to be had amidst the falling leaves. The cooler temperatures see in evenings around a fire with a blanket and a cup of tea. In this peaceful stillness you are guaranteed a holiday of good sleep.
Obviously with winter comes the crowds, however, this is not to say you cannot find or create your own little sanctuary of tranquility. If there is ever a need to escape the dull monotony of your everyday routine- it is during winter. In the darker, colder days everything seems so much more effort. So why not flip the winter blues on their head and escape the dreariness of the city to rediscover all that is beautiful about this season. Book into a private chalet and enjoy a view over snow dusted trees from your bedroom. Create a bespoke menu of fresh, nutritious food, prepared by a knowledgeable top chef. And to burn off a few calories, simply ski-in and out to the slopes from your front door. Be sure to choose somewhere with its own gym, jacuzzi and/or pool and discuss with your host about arranging to have a massage or beauty treatment onsite. Needless to say this type of holiday is at the top end of the market and for smaller budgets there is a extensive range of alternatives. However, if you’ve got the cash, this is the crème de la crème in tailor made detoxing.