Winter holidays in France for the non skier

Think of a winter holiday in France and most people’s thoughts will jump to skiing. Piste skiing. Ski alpin. Resort skiing. It isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. But thankfully there are numerous possibilities for a winter holiday in France for the non skier.

I don’t know about you, but my idea of a good winter holiday is one away from the masses, where I can enjoy the peace, quiet and beauty of the French mountains and where I can still get my sporting fix. Thankfully, these requirements are all easily met in the mountains of France.

The mountains of France are spectacularly beautiful in the Winter

The mountains of France are spectacularly beautiful in the Winter

Snowshoeing

Snowshoes or ‘Raquettes’ as they are known in France, are the means to many great adventures in the mountains.

A snowshoe outing up into the mountains is a very rewarding experience

In many areas such as the Beaufortain valley in the Savoie department of the French Alps, waymarked snowshoe circuits for all abilities have been created.

Typical map of waymarked snowshoe circuits in the Savoie department

Typical map of waymarked snowshoe circuits in the Savoie department

It’s a sport that can be enjoyed by all the family with equipment usually available to hire for children as young as 3 yrs.

Snowshoeing on waymarked circuits in the Savoie area of the Alps

Snowshoeing on waymarked circuits in the Savoie area of the Alps

If you have more of an adventure in mind and are confident in your knowledge of mountain conditions in Winter, hire some snowshoes and select a circuit to suit your ability from a site such as Summit Post.  Don’t forget your sunglasses and emergency rations!

Snowshoeing in the mountains of the Pyrénées in France

Snowshoeing in the mountains of the Pyrénées in France

After a day in the mountains, it’s always a pleasure to return to your B&B and a hot chocolate in front of a roaring fire.

Warm and welcoming chalet B&B in the Savoie area of the French Alps

Cross country skiing

Cross country skiing, Nordic skiing, ski de fond, it has many names but whatever you call it, this winter sport involves long skinny skis. There are dedicated ski de fond centres throughout the mountains of France where kilometres of waymarked and graded circuits have been created to take you deep into the snowy mountains.

Nordic skiing circuits in the Savoie area of France

Nordic skiing circuits in the Savoie area of France

On a blue-sky, snowy day, you may well have the mountains all to yourself! Simply heavenly!

Cross country skiing or ski de fond in France

Cross country skiing or ski de fond in France

All of the gear can be hired at these ski de fond centres and tuition will also be available to introduce you to the classic style or the more energetic skating style of nordic skiing. But be warned, the latter will give you the workout of your life!

Both snowshoeing and Nordic skiing circuits have been created in several areas of the Champsaur valley on the edge of the Ecrins National Park in the Hautes Alpes. It is a breathtakingly beautiful, family friendly area and a great antidote to the big resorts of the Northern Alps.

Tobogganing

If you have a young family, look out for centres that have a dedicated ‘luge’ or tobogganing slope.

Luge or tobogganing for children of all ages

Luge or tobogganing for children of all ages

The sledges can be hired on the spot or, if you are lucky, they may be available from your accommodation free of charge. Tobogganing in this safe environment will provide hours of fun for children of all ages.

So, if you are considering a Winter holiday to France, look beyond the usual expensive resort skiing break and open your eyes to the other Winter holiday possibilities that are available in other quieter but still stunningly beautiful mountain areas of France. The opportunities are endless.

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