Moun­tains

While ski­ing and snow­board­ing are of­ten top of the list when it comes to win­ter sports, you’ll find plenty of other pos­si­bil­i­ties to choose from too. Here are just a few of the other ac­tiv­i­ties avail­able across France

Living France - - LIFESTYLE -

1. TAKE A RIDE ON A DOG SLED

Whether you are look­ing for a fam­ily ac­tiv­ity or an ex­hil­a­rat­ing ride, a dog-sled ride is a great way to see the moun­tains. Pulled by teams of huskies across a net­work of tracks through wood­land and across fields, the sleds of­fer a unique ex­pe­ri­ence. In Peyragudes in the Pyrénées you can book a 20- or 40-minute ride with a musher who drives the 10-12 huskies for you, or in Le Grand Tour­malet you can try driv­ing the sled your­self af­ter in­struc­tions from the ex­perts. Other ar­eas you can ex­plore on dog sleds in­clude Flaine, Or­cières and Val-Louron. peyragudes.com

2. AD­MIRE THE VIEWS FROM A CA­BLE CAR

Moun­tain ca­ble cars aren’t just a way for skiers to get to the top of a run, they also of­fer spec­tac­u­lar views and ac­cess to ar­eas you wouldn’t oth­er­wise be able to see – and there is no obli­ga­tion to ski down to the bot­tom, you can al­ways ride the ca­ble car back! Be­gin­ning in Cha­monix and as­cend­ing 3,777m, the Aigu­ille du Midi ca­ble car of­fers breath­tak­ing views of Mont Blanc and the sur­round­ing Alps over a 20-minute jour­ney. Once you reach the top you will find a restau­rant, mu­seum and sev­eral ter­races to take in the panoramic views. The brave can lit­er­ally ‘step into the void’ with the lat­est at­trac­tion – a glass room sus­pended from the high­est ter­race with a 1,000m drop to the moun­tains be­low. The ride costs €58.50 for adults. Pic du Midi de Big­orre, Greno­bleBastille and the Vanoise Ex­press all have ca­ble car rides worth try­ing too. com­pag­niedu­mont­blanc.co.uk

3. FOL­LOW A HIK­ING TRAIL

To ex­plore the snowy peaks at a more se­date pace, try fol­low­ing some of the hik­ing trails. A great place to ex­plore on foot is the vol­ca­noes of Au­vergne in the Mas­sif Cen­tral, with a num­ber of hik­ing trails rang­ing from a se­date ram­ble to a day-long hike. A good place to base your­self is Mont-Doré in the heart of the Parc Na­turel Ré­gional des Vol­cans d’Au­vergne, from where you can ac­cess the high­est point in the Mas­sif Cen­tral, the Puy de Sancy. When hik­ing in win­ter, be care­ful to pick a trail that suits your fit­ness, wrap up warm and take the right equip­ment. It might be a good idea to check at the tourist of­fice if the trails are ac­ces­si­ble. You could also try the Mer­can­tour Na­tional Park and the Sain­tJac­ques pil­grim route from Le Puy-en-Ve­lay. au­vergne-tourism.com

4. EX­PLORE A TRA­DI­TIONAL ALPINE VIL­LAGE

As well as re­sorts ded­i­cated to skiers, the Alps boast a num­ber of pretty and tra­di­tional vil­lages to ex­plore, with de­signer bou­tiques, Miche­lin-starred restau­rants and plenty of history and cul­ture to dis­cover. One of the pret­ti­est Alpine vil­lages is Megève ( pic­tured be­low), built in the 14th cen­tury and offering cob­ble­stone streets, a his­toric church and chocolate-box houses. A weekly mar­ket takes place on Fri­day morn­ings and there are plenty of shops sell­ing lo­cal prod­ucts, plus gas­tro­nomic restau­rants to sam­ple. Ex­plore on foot or take a ro­man­tic ride around the vil­lage in one of the Dis­ney-style horse-drawn car­riages. Other Alpine vil­lages to visit in­clude Samoëns, Sixt-Fer-à-Che­val and Bon­neval-sur-Arc. en.megeve.com

5. RE­LAX IN A SPA

Most moun­tain re­sorts of­fer spas for those who want to ease their aches and pains af­ter a hard day’s ski­ing, or those who sim­ply want some rest and re­lax­ation. As well as th­ese pur­pose-built spas there are a num­ber of spa towns in the moun­tains which de­vel­oped around the nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring ther­mal wa­ters, one of which is Bag­nères-de-Lu­chon in the Pyrénées. The heal­ing prop­er­ties of th­ese wa­ters were first dis­cov­ered by the Ro­mans who built ther­mal baths in the town. Th­ese have now been de­vel­oped into a spa and well­ness cen­tre offering a va­ri­ety of treat­ments. Other spa towns to re­lax in in­clude Aix-les-Bains and Cauterets. uk.lu­chon.com

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