11 unusual ways to experience the mountains

Fancy skiing at twilight, trying an airboard session, or going ski-joëring, dog sledding or snowshoe hiking? This winter’s a great time to swap your traditional mountain activities for something a bit different…

Airboarding in Val Cenis

An airboard is a kind of inflatable sledge, on which you lie and whizz down the slopes after they’ve been closed to skiers and snowboarders. Equipped with Kevlar edges, it’s easily manoeuvrable and steers on the slope with the dynamic movement of the body to one side or the other. It’s great fun and suitable for everyone including kids from eight years and up, whether you’re a skier or not – and will satisfy the adrenaline hunters among you!

Airboarding in Val Cenis (External link)
Video: Airboarding (External link)

This activity is also available at other resorts.

Cosmojet: the longest toboggan run in France!

Situated in a beautiful valley in Val Thorens, this six-kilometre toboggan run provides huge thrills during the day or evening, accessible to everyone including kids from five years and up. After an eight-minute climb via the Péclet funitel, you start the run from the foot of the magnificent Péclet glacier at 3,000m, and enjoy a spectacular 45-minute descent.

Cosmojet in Val Thorens (External link)
Video: Cosmojet (External link)

Many other resorts also offer toboggan runs.

Horse-riding and ski-joëring in the Portes du Soleil

You don’t have to be a great skier or snowboarder to go ski-joëring, an ancestral activity offered in all resorts in the Portes du Soleil that involves being towed on skis by a horse. The pace of the horses can be adapted to the level of the skiers, whether walking, trotting or cantering. Children from seven years old with basic ski skills can learn in tandem with a guide.

Video: Ski-joëring (External link)

This activity is also available at other resorts.

Skiing at twilight in Alpe d'Huez

'L'heure bleue', as it's known in French: twilight. While resorts typically close their slopes at 4.30pm, Alpe d'Huez stands out by offering visitors the chance for more activities when the sky turns its prettiest blue. Starting from the foot of the Herpie at 2,712m, you can ski for a further two hours under the first stars up as far as the summit, facing the Grandes Rousses. Once at the top, watch the colours change over the valley, a natural spectacle in its own right. Read more here (External link) .

Hiking to spot chamois in Les Deux Alpes

This hike of two and a half hours is, surprisingly, suitable for the whole family – and allows you to observe a wintering area at the heart of the Ecrins National Park (External link) where chamois take up residence. You’ll learn almost all there is to know about this emblematic animal and its adaptation to the different seasons of the year, in the company of a mountain guide (External link) . The hike comes under the ‘National Park Spirit’ label, like many other winter activities offered in the Vanoise (External link) , Mercantour (External link) and Pyrenees (External link) National Parks.

Snowshoeing through the firs of the Vosges

Dubbed 'the pearl of the Vosges', the Gérardmer area is ideal for family strolls among the fir trees alongside typical chalets, and recharging your batteries by the lakes. There are many trails dedicated to snowshoe hikes, sometimes located in places usually inaccessible on foot. Three areas are available: Mauselaine, Xonrupt and Bas-Rupts. Children as young as three can enjoy the beauty of the surroundings thanks to perfectly adapted hikes. Find out more here (External link) (French only).

Meet the Jura's dog sledders

Slipping into the shoes of a famous dog sled leader and slipping along the snow through the mountain landscape... it's a seductive image. With its luminous valleys and forests stretching as far as the eye can see, the Jura's the place to be for this activity. Try it with the family for a day or a weekend, learning to steer a pack of huskies along the snowy ridges. The area also offers children a full immersion into musher life by teaching them about pack life and getting them involved at mealtimes! Find out more here (External link) (French only).

Ice floating in Val Cenis

This winter season, this supremely relaxing Finnish activity will be available for the first time in France, in the resort of Val Cenis. Don a drysuit and stretch out on the crystal-clear waters of the lake - at around 5°C - as you admire the mountain landscape. Experience a feeling of weightlessness in the water and completely switch off.

Ice floating in Val Cenis (External link)

Icefall climbing in Lans-en-Vercors

Explore a unique site in France and don your crampons to climb the icefall at the heart of the resort. With its 12 secure routes of varying difficulty, this 30-metre-high rock, completely covered with ice, presents a real challenge for both mountaineering pros and thrill-seeking beginners. Introductory sessions in ice climbing (from aged 10 upwards) and sports and improvement sessions for groups or companies are available with a mountain guide.

Icefall climbing in Lans-en-Vercors (External link)

Wizz Luge in Les 7 Laux

This all-season toboggan run connecting Le Pleynet to Les 7 Laux will give you a real thrill. After a 300m climb (46m in tunnels) and up to a dizzying 30% incline, the sledges descend 723 metres through a beautiful natural setting, with plenty of twists, turns, chicanes, jumps and a top speed of 40km/h. Try it alone or with friends and family (accompanied kids accepted from age three) - it's a great way to get to know Les 7 Laux!

Wizz Luge in Le Pleynet (External link)

Mountain yoga

There are countless different types of yoga, but doing it in the open air adds something special. In a mountain environment, the body reacts differently and adapts, the breathing deepens, and there’s a greater sense of reconnecting with yourself and regaining perspective in such a humbling landscape.

Some yoga classes take place on restaurant terraces, such as the Belvédère in Les Gets (External link) (1,570m) and 1580m in Sainte-Foy-Tarentaise (External link) . Sessions in nature are also available in Montgenèvre, Vaujany, Le Val-d’Allos (including a light lunch made from locally sourced ingredients) and even on the Pyrenees' Pic du Midi. Novice yogis can get started at Saint-Gervais (External link) , Combloux (where the focus is on breathing), Morzine (External link) (a full day of snowshoeing interspersed with yoga breaks and a fireside meditation session) and Serre-Chevalier (External link) .

Your safety and wellbeing are our top priorities

All staff in the French mountains are doing their utmost to ensure you experience an unrestricted and hassle-free holiday, and are at your disposal from the very first steps of your booking.

Specific protocols dedicated to the winter season have been drawn up by professionals from within different sectors. Everyone is adapting to the unique situation in innovative ways, committed to guaranteeing visitor safety while ensuring their full enjoyment.

For more details on the measures in place in French ski resorts, click here.

Further information for your family skiing holiday: