Skiing-only is over … The ski resorts now offer holidaymakers the chance to practise multiple non-skiing activities in the setting of an authentic mountain village with a rich, preserved heritage surrounded by unspoiled and sublime nature. The new trend for French ski resorts is also to develop the four-season concept where you have activities all-year-round.
If skiing is synonymous with pleasure, it also is synonym, for some, with aches, fatigue, endless queues at the ski lifts … Even in the wilderness, it is possible to find some unpleasant urban symptoms! Why not take advantage of the mountains differently, by simply leaving your skis in their lockers this year? Because going to a resort without skiing has even become a trend these days, so let us give you a little overview of non-ski offers, from the most common to the most original.
The mountains in winter are not just for skiing …
The mountains in winter are often associated with skiing. However, this has not always been the case. At the beginning of the 20th century, tourists went to Chamonix in the winter months for the typical mountain atmosphere of this Alpine village, the calm revitalizing the summits and the magic of a stay in the snow …
With the advent of winter sports resorts, skiing has developed and become more democratic. It remains, of course, the main reason for the vast majority of stays in the mountains, but not only … There are those who do not ski and who go to the mountains to discover an exotic and rejuvenating setting while enjoying the many activities offered by the resort. Today, the French mountains offer many alternatives to skiing to discover or enjoy the mountain, but also its way of life. This is another way of looking at your stay in the snow.
The mountain for non-skiers
And yes, let it be said, the mountains in winter are not just for skiers, far from it. Between the various activities offered by the stations, whether sporting, cultural, well-being or even artistic, the exceptional mountain setting, the change of scenery guaranteed by the traditional atmosphere of the surrounding villages and towns, or even of the station itself for some, and the activities and festivities of the tourist office, non-skiers will find in the resort what to make the most of their stay.
Follow us according to the 15 main activities found in most ski resorts…
15 activities to do in a ski resort when you are not skiing
A multitude of activities are offered in or near the resort, from the most traditional to the most original, so do not hesitate to contact the Tourist Offices of the resorts once there or consult their website beforehand. There is something to suit all profiles!
➽ Snowshoe outings: sport and healing
Whether they are supervised by a guide or free, snowshoe outings are an opportunity to meet in the great outdoors, away from the ski slopes to enjoy a moment both sporty and rejuvenating.
➽ Themed pedestrian trails on groomed snow: discover the natural heritage
Many ski resorts offer their guests to explore the local natural wealth by walking a thematic trail. Lined with educational panels explaining the ecosystem that surrounds you, you can then enjoy a moment of relaxation while learning to observe. Nb: on foot yes, but make sure you are equipped with high, warm walking shoes that hold your ankle securely.
➽ Sledging: timeless
All ski resorts have their toboggan runs, often reserved for this timeless relaxation activity and generally secure for the greatest happiness of children and parents. Toboggans have evolved since the first wooden models and there are now models with double seats and steel brakes, just to spend moments of frank fun with friends or family.
➽ Ice skating
skating A beautiful ice rink, ice skates and voila: slides, arabesques for the most gifted and fun moments for all.
➽ Driving on ice
Driving or in buggies, driving on ice (safe, don’t worry) is always very entertaining. Go hop: controlled skid!
➽Driving a team of sledge dogs through the forest has something magical: know how to listen to the pack and let yourself be transported by the tranquillity of the place.
➽ The activities and festivities of the resort: ask for the program…
The tourist offices redouble their imagination to introduce you to this or that game on snow, to make you dream during a magic show, ice sculpture, magical strolls through the alleys in the evening, without forgetting the traditional mulled wine on the snow front in front of the torchlight descent of the ski instructors.
➽ Aqualudic centres
Swimming pool, slide, whirlpools, spa areas (jacuzzi, sauna, hammam, massages), sports and fitness room, aquagym classes…: relax and take care of yourself.
Classic but essential to escape the time of a good movie.
➽ A snowmobile ride
Wake up the adventurer in you with a snowmobile outing.
➽ New boardsports equipment to try: snow scooters, yooner, snakegliss…
Sliding is now practised in different forms: snow scooter (inspired by Bmx, you slide on a large skate, directing the machine using a handlebar), yooner (hybrid halfway between luge and skiing), snake gliss (toboggans connected to each other and hurtling down the track, undulating like a snake). It’s up to you…
➽ Ziplines: beware, warm in front!
Ziplines are fashionable in the mountains and this is not to displease the more adventurous. Because these are thrills. So take a deep breath and let go!
➽ Going out to the casino, bowling alley and games rooms.
There is no shortage of places to go to the resort: bowling and the various games rooms at the casinos, you can’t get bored.
➽Tobogganing on rails: guaranteed sensations
Hitting a tobogganing circuit on rails is a bit like a fairground carousel, the magical setting of the mountains!
➽ Discovering heritage: culture, art and traditions
Architecture, cheese making, museums, tasting at the farm, pottery, tastings … The heritage of our resorts is generally protected and claimed. There is no shortage of cultural and gastronomic outings.
For example, in the Karellis, you can discover a reconstruction of life in the past in the old village of Montricher (5 km downstream from the station). If you are on the Valloire side, guided tours with “The heritage guides of the Pays de Savoie” are available for groups or individually. Nothing better than to discover with professionals the reading of landscapes, architecture and traditional housing… There is something for everyone, even for creative people and eager to interfere behind the scenes of crafts local. You can, for example, try carving with a knife on wood with a professional transmitting the knowledge and know-how of the ancients.
Some ideas that stand out from the crowd to enjoy the mountains without skiing…
➽ Mountain cuisine
Each resort has good places to have fun and taste a typical mountain dish. But why not try to get your hands dirty? Benefit directly from the local know-how of renowned chefs through culinary workshops. In Megève, Emmanuel Renaut, two Michelin stars and chef of “Flocons de sel“, offers lessons that he gives on certain days of the week. This is also the case in Courchevel with Michel Rochedy from “Chabichou“, one of the pioneers of mountain gastronomy. Same thing in Les Menuires with René Meilleur in his establishment “La Bouitte“ who can receive you for the day. In addition to the production, tasting is obviously on the menu.
➽ An unusual stay
Nature lovers and adventurers alike will be delighted! Bet on originality with an atypical habitat by offering you one or more nights in unusual places in the mountains.
For example, the resort of Combloux (Haute-Savoie) offers to sleep under a huge transparent bubble, facing the majestic Mont Blanc range, set back on the edge of the forest.
➽ Have you always dreamed of a trapper’s life? Spend the night in an igloo!
After a snowshoe approach, the village of Igloo in Semnoz awaits you for an aperitif in the open air in front of the campfires and a traditional dinner before sleeping surrounded by ice, but still warm! Or in La Plagne with a mulled wine around the fire, Savoyard meal and comfortable night. Other alternatives are possible in resorts, all more surprising than the others, like the Pod (wooden hut with a particular shape) in the heart of the Aussois ski area.
So non-skiers: excited about a trip to the mountains this winter?