Posted on 03 December 2021
For winter activities in the French Alps, tourists automatically think about skiing and slopes. Yet, those Alpine mountains feature much more. About 55 million skiers visit the French Alps every year, making the mountains one of Europe’s top skiing destinations. Additionally, annual tourism revenue amounts to roughly 50 billion euros and accounts for 10% of jobs in France. This is a staggering amount.
The French Alps achieved this through diversification. Roughly 20 years ago, many local councils realised the French Alps had more to offer in winter than just snow. Additionally, many ski resorts turned into year-round destinations by providing various off-slope activities from Spring to Autumn. So, after a morning on the slopes, whether you want adrenaline-provoking action, relaxing, socialising, or indulging in creative hobbies, let us look at what to do and where to go in the French Alps in Winter.
Fun Winter Activities in the French Alps
1: Step into the Void Skywalk
This tourist attraction operated by Compagnie du Mont-Blanc opened in 2013 and since then has been one of the French Alps most popular off-slope activities. Also called Aiguille du Midi Skywalk, the entrance is free with a Chamonix lift pass. However, this is not for the faint-hearted. Void Skywalk is a glass room with a ceiling and floor.
The box sits off Aiguille du Midi Mountain, which at 3842 metres, is one of Europe’s highest points. Step into the box and look down to see a drop of 1000 metres or admire stunning mountain peaks and views. This attraction is a must-do for your bucket list when in the Alps. While there, visit the nearby museum with mountaineering and climbing memorabilia, and dine in 3842, one of the world’s highest restaurants.
2: Mer de Glance Attractions and Montenvers Train
Nicknamed sea of ice, Mer de Glace, is France’s largest Glacier, reaching 7 kilometres long and 200 metres deep. As one of the most popular attractions in Chamonix Valley, people reach the Glacier via Montenvers train leaving from Chamonix town centre.
When getting off the train, use the cable car to reach the Glacier and the Ice Grotto featuring caves and sculptures. A dedicated exhibition about glaciers, geography, and history makes learning fun for kids. Stop by the restaurant at the Montenvers station because they offer amazing views alongside tempting traditional French cuisine.
3: Combine Skiing Activities with a City Breakaway
Ten ski resorts near Grenoble are Saint Pierre de Chartreuse, Lans en Vercors, Chamrousse, Alpe d’Huez, Les Deux Alpes, La Grave, La Clusaz, Megeve, Serre Chevalier and Les Saisies. So, for an extended day off-slope or an overnight getaway, Grenoble is an excellent city to choose from. As the Alps capital and an official town of arts and culture, the old town section makes for great exploration.
Also, visit La Bastille, reached by cable car since the fortress offers fantastic city views. Finally, those who like to indulge their palette should head to one of many traditional French restaurants to indulge in buckwheat pasta Crozets, Foie Gras Pate, and Caillette meatballs. Meanwhile, Parc Paul Mistral features 67 acres of Parkland and various outdoor family activities.
4: Activities in Aix Les Bains
This makes a great day out from nearby resorts like Megeve, La Clusaz, Chamonix or Chambery. Considered one of France’s best places for Belle-Epoque architecture, the town excels in ancient roman ruins and spa facilities. Many old buildings date from the 19th century, a prosperous time for Aix Les Bains, because they reverted to its Roman status as a significant spa healing centre. The Aix Le Bains tourist office would be a good start for a tour of the 18th-century Atrium, Grand Cercele Casino, Arc de Campanus Roman funeral arch, and the ancient Seysset Castle. The Doctor Faure Museum features many paintings over the last 200 years, while those who like outdoor activities generally indulge in lakeside walks at Promenade du Lac. If visiting on a Wednesday or Saturday, drop by the local market.
5: The Winter Giant Tyrolean Zip-Wire
Sitting in the Orcieres ski resort of the southern French Alps, the giant Tyrolean Zip wire is necessary for adrenaline junkies. However, the 2665 metres altitude and speed of 130 kilometres per hour along the 1.9-kilometre line is not for those who play safe. The line is the only one open in the French Alps winter season, and organisers pride themselves as the fastest and longest. Reached by two cable car lifts, you are given a safety briefing and strapped in, then off you go to land by the lakeside. The whole experience only takes 70 seconds, so be sure to glimpse those amazing landscape views on the way down.
6: French Alps Dog Sledging
If you have been husky dog sledging in Scandinavia, you might think this is the same, but the French Alps involve more hills and physical activity. This is an adventure to either learn yourself or sit back and enjoy the ride. Choose from a 15-minute ride to a full day of exploring. Choose a sleigh from 1 to four passengers, or pitch up to enjoy taking care of the dogs. All trained dogs are friendly with the people they ride with, and of course, all operators hold licenses as qualified dog handlers with expertise on dogs’ health and wellbeing. If you time your visit to the beginning of February, the southern French Alps host various dog sledging events. Dog sledging is available in Chamonix, Courchevel and several other resorts.
7: Paragliding and Helicopter Activities
Of course, the French Alps is all about altitude, especially for ideal snowfall. But to go even higher than your average resort, opt for a paragliding tour. Le Singal Peaks in Alpe d’Huez is a good place to start. After receiving a safety briefing, you will be kitted out and take off with your instructor for a unique tandem ride and those birds-eye views. Rides range from 5 to 20 minutes. Otherwise, choose a helicopter sightseeing tour instead. Although they are pricey, groups can share costs.
8: Traditional and Modern Food
So, all the above take up energy, and there is the extra choice of snowshoeing or ice climbing, but skiers also indulge and put on a few pounds by tasting their way around the French Alps. We recommend starting with traditional alpine food like cheese fondue. Naturally, the French Alps is all about Mother Nature, so everybody goes back for more when the cheese comes straight from the cow. Another alpine dish is Tartiflette laden with potatoes, bacon, crème Fraiche and more cheese. On the flipside, to try modern fine dining, this list of ski resorts featuring Michelin starred restaurants will be of use.
More About the French Alps
Best French Alps Ski Resorts: Whether you want a holiday or somewhere to buy property, the long list of ski resorts in France attracts millions of people from around the world. Forget the old age assumption that ski resorts open just for winter. Once the snow falls away, many resorts offer sports activities and spa and wellness centres. From shops to slopes to après ski, we picked our favourite ski resorts and why they stand out.
About Us: We chose the best ski locations and resorts for our clients to invest in. As well as knowing extensively about winter activities in the French Alps, we continue to be a leading seller of ski property because of our commitment to excellence. We listen to what you want to enable us to deliver excellent ski properties. Our goal is to match what you want with the perfect location and desirable ski chalet or apartment. Contact us today, or follow us on Facebook for more news about the French Alps.