Winter adventure & activities Aravis Mountains – France

Last month I revisited France for a winter sports holiday for the 7th time in my life, and as you could have read in my previous Annecy Mountains blog I did much more than only ski during that trip. We visited the Aravis Mountain area and stayed overnight in both Le Grand-Bornand and La Clusaz, which together with Manigod and Annecy form the Annecy Mountains, with a total ski area of 210 kilometers.


Perfect for a few days of skiing for both beginners, medium level skiers, as dare devils, with their wide range and variety of slopes, free-ride areas and fun parks. But no worries if you're not a fervent snowboarder or skier, there are also many other (winter) activities offered here for people like me, who like to mix it up!

Get an impression through this video of the area and some of the fun activities we did during our 3,5 days here.


Aravis Mountains trip video compilation



Besides souvenir shopping, exploring the heritage, culture, arts, culinary delights, and enjoying the Spa’s and wellness of these authentic villages, about which I wrote extensively in my previous blog. There’s also a big range of activities, from adventurous to more accessible, you can do in the Aravis Mountains, which I’m happy to share with you in this blog.


Adventure


One of my favourite things we did here was the:


Paragliding Experience


Also known in French as parapenting, which is possible in Le Grand-Bornand, as well as La Clusaz. We did it from the Beauregard Plateau in La Clusaz with Aravis-speedriding.



Even though the flight itself only takes 15 minutes, the panoramic views over the Aravis range, the Mont Blanc and the village of La Clusaz were breathtaking and an unforgettable experience. Soaring over the mountains, after taking off on ski is a real bucket list experience, and because you’re accompanied by an experienced paragliding guide who takes care of everything, there’s not much to be scared of, as you can see here:)



Fatbiking

Another sensational activity, offered in Le Grand-Bornand on a normal ATV fatbike with large under-inflated tires, or a mountain bike with electric assistance on dedicated slopes and snow trails.


Ski Joering


We tried this authentic Nordic activity in la Clusaz with Mat Ski. Ski joering is derived from the Norwegian word skikjøring, which means as much as ski driving, and consists of a horse being guided by 1 person, pulling the other person on ski's, hanging behind the horse, quite remembling waterskiing.



It was actually harder than it looks, but unique to experience, especially surrounded by these beautiful snowy landscapes. And quite exhilarating when the horse runs up the trail in full speed!



Night skiing

Possible in the combined ski area of La Clusaz and Manigod, available all season in the weekends from 4 to 9 PM with stunning sunset views from the slopes. In February the largest nocturnal area of the Savoie Mont Blanc, with 7 slopes, 3 chairlifts and 2 draglifts is even open and fully lit every night. For €28 you can also book a combination with a traditional dinner at Bistro Le Happy Chalet, like we did.



Snowtubing

This new sensational activity in Manigod lets you go down a special slope on these big inflatable buoys. It kind of resembled bobsledding in my opinion, and is certainly not for the faint at heart!



Ski Jumping, speed – and free riding


I'm actually not a daredevil myself, so this was not for me, but for the real adrenaline junkies there are several activities offered in both Le Grand-Bornand and La Clusaz, as you can see here:



For more adventurous hiking in Le Grand-Bornand you can do a guided mountaineering experience, a combination of climbing, with different high mountain and alpine techniques. You can also go for a group glacier hike, or even ice climbing on frozen streams and short waterfalls. Something I really want to try next time!


Other activities


Cross-country skiing


Ski Nordique Le Grand-Bornand pic credits: David Machet

A very popular activity here, for which the Nordic ski area opened last year already on December 14th, and will probably stay open until April 17th, depending on snow conditions.

The wild nature area of the Aravis Mountains with abundant forests, dotted with historic chalets, makes the perfect scenic setting for it. Le Grand-Bornand has 58 kms of special Nordic ski runs, with 3 main access points to explore all this area has to offer.


Biathlon

Biathlon Le Grand-Bornand pic credits: Clement Hudry

Also a big activity in Le Grand-Bornand and the reason why many groups come to this area from afar each year. This combination of cross-country skiing and rifle shooting is well accommodated here through several special courses. Yearly championships are held in Le Grand-Bornand and produced many a local champion already.


Snowshoeing


The best way to truly immerse yourself in the natural surroundings of the Aravis Mountain Range, while exploring the heritage of Le Grand-Bornand and La Clusaz at the same time, passing by the hundreds-year-old chalets and chapels in the area. With rackets under your feet, ski poles for support and your own personal guide you will be able to explore more than 95 kms of marked snowshoe trails in the Massif des Aravis.


Aravis Mountains showshoeing pic credits: Clement Hudry

Perfect for that true winter wonderland experience in the snow covered forests! It enables you to get to all the spots usually not accessible on foot or ski, and is also possible to combine with sledging, yoga or a night experience with a real Savoyard dinner.


Hiking and panoramic viewpoints


A good way to discover and enjoy those breath-taking panoramas of the Aravis. Several easy family walks are offered, but different day tours with a guide as well. All trails are freely accessible and can be followed with a tour map, available for €3 at the tourist office, or online.

From the Plateau de Beauregard in La Clusaz you can admire the Mont Blanc and get a 360° panoramic view over the Aravis valleys from the Tête du Danay.



A recently opened and unique viewpoint in La Clusaz is the Sky Walk, located on the Col de Balme, the highest point of this area. A glass viewing platform was suspended here offering a spectacular view over the Mont Blanc massif.


Be careful when skiing down from there, as this area with its red and black slopes only is not suitable for beginners. Therefore it can be quite challenging, but with fresh snow provides the perfect setting for off-piste lovers.



But there are many more fun things to be done here, like skitouring, a Segway sightseeing tour, horse carriage rides and sledging in wintertime. And in summer a big variation of activities is offered as well, such as hot-air balloon flights, rafting, archery, yoga, nordic walking, trail running, other equestrian activities and more. Can’t wait to come back to try all of them!


Aravis Mountains sledging, pic credits: Clement Hudry

You can discover everything in detail on the website of Aravis.com and AnnecyMountains.com. And for more daily pics of the French Alps you can follow me on social media as well, through the icons at the bottom of this page.


What do you think of these activities in La Clusaz, Manigod and Le Grand-Bornand in the Aravis Mountains? Did you know there was so much to do here besides skiing, and which activities would you like to try? Let me know here or via social media.

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