The mountains in winter - some original ideas!

  • © ATOUT FRANCE/Jean François Tripelon-Jarry

    © ATOUT FRANCE/Jean François Tripelon-Jarry

  • © ATOUT FRANCE/Stéphane Frances

    © ATOUT FRANCE/Stéphane Frances

The mountains in winter - some original ideas! 73500 meribel fr



Ski resorts are full of imagination. Indeed, a snow-capped mountain of ideas!


A veritable winter wonderland


The Jura Mountains, a cross-country skier's paradise, offer lots of other activities, such as a wintertime adventure course among the trees at Métabief or a fun, spelunking exploration of Rousses Fort's underground network of tunnels! You can also try ski-joëring (skiing behind a horse in a flat field!), ski-jumping (this is the centre of French ski-jumping), or even go "mushing" with a team of sled dogs!


In addition, the Rousses Ski Resort offers a fun cross between trekking and cross-country skiing, the "baladaski": a 13 km loop, interspersed with picnic areas and tourist sites and organized like a cultural treasure hunt, with enigmas to solve along the way. Perfect for a family outing! Finally, the Nordic Park obstacle courses are a fun way for children to learn how to cross-country ski. 


Chiens de traineau


Several ski resorts in Auvergne, the Pyrenees, the Vercors and Savoy offer the possibility of practicing the "Telemark turn". Telemarking, invented in Norway in the 19th century, is an elegant, retro style of skiing. Though still a minority sport in France, there are certain advantages to telemarking. If interested, your best option would be to contact a telemark club for more information; there are also certified, ESF (École du Ski Français) instructors and sporting-goods shops renting the necessary equipment (in La Clusaz or Courchevel). The straight telemark skis are coupled with soft, lightweight boots and toe bindings. A few hours are usually all that are needed to learn this new technique and descend blue or red runs with ease...
(the ESF website, listing French ski schools)



Evening escapades


Most ski resorts offer the unique experience of spending the evening in an isolated, mountaintop chalet. The rustic chalet is usually reached after a half hour's trek in snow shoes or cross-country skis (or after a moonlit chair-lift ride), where a delicious meal in cosy surroundings awaits. After dinner, guests have the option of either spending the night (if the chalet doubles as an inn) or descending by lamplight back to the resort (a toboggan ride is sometimes another possibility).

The charming ski resort-village of Combloux, near Megève, offers no less than 3 such restaurant-chalets. There's also the 2-star Pi Mai chalet-hotel at Serre-Chevalier, the Sauget Inn at Montchavin / La Plagne, the 3-star Igloo chalet-hotel at Saint-Gervais, the chalet-refuge at Gers Lake near Samoëns, and more. 


The Roc de la Pêche Mountain Refuge, above Pralognan-la-Vanoise, offers a spectacular change of scenery after two hours of snowshoeing or off-track skiing. This particularly comfortable "refuge", complete with a sauna and jacuzzi, is located in the heart of the remote, pristine Vanoise National Park.



A fun activity to try after a day on the slopes, on a special snowmobile course or cruising a precise route respectful of the environment (after 5 p.m. and on marked paths in remote areas). With only about forty rental agencies, each operated by conscientious professionals, this motorized sport is not pursued in the same unbridled manner as in the wide open spaces of Canada. Snowmobiles provide an exhilarating evening excursion; however, if used inappropriately, they can be a nuisance to others. Every outing is therefore supervised by a qualified instructor. The powerful machine is easy enough to operate, so long as you keep cool!

- Rental agency in Courchevel

- Rental agency in Méribel

Tour the resort installations


A marriage of winter sports and industrial tourism: a unique and popular activity.

- In Meribel, the jewel of Trois Vallées, a ski lift operator offers curious vacationers a tour of its installations (high-tech snow machines and gondola lifts). Simply ask at the lift window at Chaudane (Wednesday evenings). Or again, just show up at 5:30 p.m. (no telephone reservations) for a ride in one of the small, track-driven repair vehicles (maximum of 2 persons for 2 machines). During the one-hour outing, discover the highly-specialized skills needed to handle one of these high-powered machines (200+ hp), with a cockpit worthy of a spaceship. 

- The operator for Paradiski (La Plagne and Les Arcs ski resorts) also offers a tour of its impressive, ultra-modern lift machinery (the most advanced in the world): Vanoise Express (multi-level gondola for 200 passengers) 

In addition, exploring the glaciers in small off-road vehicles are another option for non-skiing vacationers: at L
Alpe dHuez, Deux Alpes and Courchevel.

Look ma, no skis!

There's lots to do at French ski resorts besides just skiing: take a swim in a heated outdoor pool (don't forget a warm towel!), go ice skating (learning to ice skate requires the same sense of balance as does skiing), take yoga or water painting lessons, go bowling... or break your piggy bank and sign up for an airplane or helicopter ride!

- There are lots of activities on offer at the Courchevel ski resort:

- Information for the more than 100 other French ski resorts:



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