Top 13 Winter Experiences in The French Alps

Top 13 Winter Experiences In The French Alps

The French Alps are home to some of the best ski resorts in the world. These fabulous winter destinations offer world-class skiing and snowboarding whether you’re a complete beginner or a seasoned pro. However, there is more to French ski resorts than their fantastic slopes.

Each French ski resort offers a range of winter experiences. These are great for those who want a break from the slopes, non-skiers, or anyone wanting to do something unique during their trip.

In this article, we will highlight our favourite winter experiences. We will also tell you the best places to do them, so you can ensure you don’t miss out during a trip to the French Alps. Let’s get started.

1. Snowshoeing

Snowshoeing through the forest is the perfect option for those looking for a peaceful and serene activity. It offers a unique way of seeing the mountain landscapes. You can often see Alpine wildlife, such as Chamois, Ibex, Marmots, and birds of prey, as you wander around the forests, lakes, and mountains.

You can hire snowshoes in most resorts and follow designated routes to find your own hidden gem. But to make the most of your snowshoe adventure, it is best to explore with a snowshoe guide. A guide will take you to the best places for the current snow conditions and your fitness level.

Our favourite spots for snowshoeing include Lake du Tueda in Meribel, Chamonix Valley, and La Rosière. So if you’re heading to any of these ski resorts, strap into a pair of snowshoes for a unique experience.

2. Dog Sledding

Dog sledding is an incredibly fun way of seeing the French Alps. Sit in a specially-made sled pulled by a team of dogs through the snowy forests. Some dog sled companies let you take control of the dogs and sled, adding a whole new level of enjoyment to the experience.

For dog lovers, attending the incredible annual event of La Grande Odyssée is a must. The 20th edition will take place from January 13 to 25, 2024. The race goes through multiple resorts, including Les Carroz-d’Arâches, Les Gets, Megève, Pralognan-la-Vanoise, La Plagne, Val-Cenis, Aussois, Bessans, and La Léchère.

If you’re staying in Les Gets, Megève, or La Plagne, you’ll have the chance to witness this incredible event in your own backyard. Don’t miss it!

One of the best French ski resorts to experience dog sledding is in Les Arcs (see video below).

3. Snowmobiling

Snowmobiling is the perfect activity for adrenaline junkies and petrolheads. Climbing aboard one of these machines is sure to get your heart racing before blasting off into the mountains. Snowmobiling usually happens in the evenings when the slopes and lifts are closed. So you can still enjoy the experience without missing a day on the mountain.

Most ski resorts offer snowmobiling, but we recommend Alpe d’Huez, Meribel, and Val Thorens for the best snowmobiling experiences.

4. Hot Air Ballooning

Hot air ballooning offers a more tranquil experience compared to other activities. Gently drifting over the snowcapped French Alps in a hot air balloon is one of the best ways to see the landscape. It is a breathtaking and unforgettable experience that will leave you in awe of the natural beauty surrounding you.

As you rise gently into the sky, the towering peaks of the Alps are spread out before you in all their glory, with their snow-capped mountains and deep valleys that cut through the rugged terrain.

In our experience, Megeve and Courchevel offer some of the best spots for hot air ballooning. Floating over the mountains is tranquil and peaceful, with only the sound of the hot air balloon’s burner and your camera clicking to break the silence. You may even be lucky enough to spot wildlife roaming through the forests and fields below, such as deer, foxes, and mountain goats.

5. Tobogganing

For a fun activity for all ages, tobogganing is a must-try and great for families visiting the French Alps. A few different types of tobogganing are available, depending on which resort you go to. Nevertheless, they all involve sliding down a designated hill at great speeds.

Just about every single ski resort offers tobogganing. But we believe Courchevel Moriond racing track, Meribel Black Forest, and Val Thorens toboggan run (France’s longest toboggan run) are the best.

6. Scenic Flight

Jumping into a helicopter is an excellent way of seeing the Alps from above. A scenic flight gives you the ultimate bird’s eye view of the surrounding mountains.

Buzz around the local peaks or fly between resorts to see what other Alpine destinations have to offer. The Altiports in Meribel, Courchevel Altiport, and Megève offer some of the best views of the 3 Valleys, Mont-Blanc, and the Chamonix Valley.

7. Ice Driving and Ice Karting

Another great activity for petrolheads is drifting around an icy track on four wheels. Val Thorens and Tignes are the best resorts to try this thrilling activity. You can race your friends in karts with specially designed tyres or learn how to get a car sideways on ice (with control) with an instructor.

Ice driving and ice karting are incredibly fun activities after a day on the mountain and before you head to the aprés bars.

8. Bun J Ride

The Bun J Ride in Tignes is not for the faint of heart. It’s a unique and thrilling experience combining bungee jumping and zip lining. Imagine standing on the edge of a platform, with nothing but the vast expanse of the French Alps below you.

You ski down a large ramp with the Bun J cord attached to your waist. You then plummet towards the scenery off the end of the ramp. But just when you think you’re about to hit the ground, the cord will pull you back up, and you’ll soar back up towards the sky. You’ll experience a sense of weightlessness you’ve never felt before as you bounce up and down, suspended in the air.

The Bun J Ride is only available in Tignes and is an absolute blast. It is a winter experience you won’t forget anytime soon. It’s a must-try for anyone looking for an adventure and wanting to get out of their comfort zone. So, if you’re ready for a heart-stopping, jaw-dropping, and unforgettable experience, the Bun J Ride in Tignes is waiting for you!

9. Eating at a Mountain Restaurant

France is famous for its excellent cuisine. But when you combine it with breathtaking alpine views, the dining experience is enhanced immeasurably.

When sliding around ski areas, you’re never too far from a mountain restaurant. Some are pretty basic, designed to refuel skiers and snowboarders who want to get back on the slopes quickly. However, you’ll also come across mountain restaurants offering world-class dining experiences.

Mountain restaurants mainly serve local delicacies. But there are some that put their own twist on traditional recipes, such as Le Clos Bernard in Meribel and Chez Pepe Nicolas in Val Thorens. Others offer unique menus and entertainment, setting them apart from the rest, like l’Antigel in La Rosière.

You should also check out La Fruitière Restaurant – La Folie Douce. This is a small chain of establishments with a reputation for serving fantastic food and unrivalled ambience. After lunch, start your après early with live music, dancers, and a lot of Champagne. You can enjoy La Folie Douce in Alpe d’Huez, Val d’Isere, Val Thorens, Meribel, Avoriaz, Les Arcs, and Megeve.

10. Paragliding

As we’ve already established, seeing the Alps from the air is one of the best winter experiences. But there’s another way if hot air ballooning and helicopter flights don’t appeal to you.

Paragliding is one of the purest forms of flying. Imagine catching thermals and soaring above the mountains and valleys. You feel the wind rushing past your face as you take in the stunning vistas below. It’s an experience that will leave you feeling exhilarated and inspired.

When you see a paraglider over the mountains, you may think it is pretty extreme; and it can be. You are strapped into a harness along with a qualified paragliding pilot, who will take care of you. The pilot may offer you a “sensation” flight, which comprises many dramatic maneuvers, such as spins and flips.

However, you don’t have to do anything scary if you don’t want to. You can opt for the standard flight, which is tranquil and pretty relaxing once you’ve settled into it, allowing you to enjoy the views.

Any of the French ski resorts offer stunning views when paragliding. Still, Les Gets and Chamonix are particularly known for providing breathtaking views of Mont Blanc and the surrounding peaks.

11. Spa Treatment

Sometimes you just want to stop and relax; you are on holiday, after all. You may be surprised to learn that many French ski resorts offer plenty of opportunities for pampering.

Why not indulge in a spa treatment at one of the many 5-star luxurious hotels and chalets we offer? After a day of skiing or snowboarding, there’s nothing better than a relaxing massage, a soak in a hot tub, or a refreshing sauna. Many of our properties have on-site spas and wellness centres, offering a range of treatments and services designed to help you unwind and rejuvenate.

12. Staying in a Luxury Refuge

The thought of a mountain refuge may conjure images of large cold shared bedrooms, outside toilets, and no hot water. But, a stay at a luxury refuge, such as the Refuge de la Traye in Méribel, will change your mind.

Nestled in the heart of the French Alps, The Refuge de la Traye is a magical place where luxury and wilderness coexist. A unique and once-in-a-lifetime experience you will never forget, The Refuge de la Traye is a dream destination for those seeking an authentic alpine experience. It is best to spend two nights there to take full advantage.

This stunning mountain retreat is a charming and rustic wooden chalet that blends seamlessly into the breathtaking natural surroundings. The views are simply spectacular, with endless vistas of snow-capped peaks and valleys stretching out in all directions.

The chalet’s interior is equally impressive, with its beautiful woodwork and plush furnishings creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Its rooms are spacious and elegantly decorated, with cosy bedding and modern amenities that make your stay both comfortable and enjoyable.

But what sets The Refuge de la Traye apart from other luxury accommodations is its location. Situated in the middle of a pristine alpine wilderness, the chalet provides easy access to various outdoor activities that allow you to immerse yourself in the beauty and serenity of the mountains.

13. Skiing down La Vallee Blanche Off-Piste with a Private Guide

Chamonix is one of the most iconic mountain destinations in the world. It is home to some of the best off-piste terrain you’ll ever see. So if you visit Chamonix and like off-piste skiing or snowboarding, you have to experience La Vallée Blanche with a private guide.

La Vallée Blanche is a classic route every skier or snowboarder should experience. The journey to the top is an experience in itself, catching the Aiguille du Midi cable car and walking down the ridge before stepping into your skis or snowboard and taking the plunge.

With a private guide, you’ll have the opportunity to explore some of the most stunning off-piste terrain in the world, skiing through glaciers and narrow gullies and taking in breathtaking views along the way. It’s an experience that will leave you feeling both accomplished and awe-inspired. If you’re lucky, the snow conditions may allow you to ski all the way back into town, adding to your feeling of accomplishment while extending your run dramatically.

Final Thoughts On Winter Experiences In The French Alps

The French Alps offer many activities and experiences for its visitors. Whether you’re looking for high-octane adventures or indulgent relaxation, there’s something for everyone. From snowshoeing in the forest amongst frozen lakes to skiing down La Vallée Blanche with a private guide, each experience is unique and unforgettable.

Contact us for more advice from our experienced luxury travel experts. We will ensure your trip to the French Alps is one to remember.




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