Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the French Alps

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Nature and Outdoor ActivitiesSporting ActivitiesMountains

Klassisk eller ”skøyting”, langrennsforholdene på Saisies byr på storslagne panorama.
© Thuria Skating - OT Les Saisies - Klassisk eller ”skøyting”, langrennsforholdene på Saisies byr på storslagne panorama.

Reading time: 0 minPublished on 11 March 2024, updated on 1 June 2024

Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are key activities for this 2022-23 season! More and more people are enjoying the mountains this way: it's suitable for all ages and abilities, prioritises health and wellbeing, encourages reflection and meditation while keeping fit, and champions nature through stunning landscapes like forests and high plateaus. From the Vosges to the Pyrenees, via the Jura mountains, the Alps or the Auvergne, we have found the best Nordic skiing spots for you to admire the landscape peacefully.

The most connected: Les Rousses, in the Jura

Discover one of the largest cross-country ski areas in France, with 220 km of trails. Awarded 5 nordics, the highest level of the Nordic France label which distinguishes the quality of the sites, the resort is located in a real white paradise, in the Haut-Jura Natural Park.

The resort is linked to the neighbouring areas of Hautes-Combes, Bellefontaine and Suisse Romande and is characterised by its large expanses and high altitude forests. Between the snow-covered peaks, take pleasure in combining effort and skiing, in a peaceful and soothing atmosphere.

Note that the resort of Les Rousses is a stage of the Grande Traversée du Jura, in the fields of cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and Nordic ski touring.

Les Rousses

The most historic: Les Saisies, in the Alps

The domain of Les Saisies is inseparable from its Olympic past: it is here that the cross-country skiing and biathlon events of the 1992 Olympic Games took place. Today it is the playground of biathletes Justine Braisaz and Julia Simon. In addition to its historical DNA, the resort benefits from privileged snow conditions due to its altitude (between 1650 and 1720 m). On the programme: 120 km of pistes for all levels, along which you can enjoy magnificent views of Mont Blanc or soak up the mountain spirit of Savoie.

Les Saisies

The most family-friendly: the Lac Blanc, in the Massif des Vosges

Panoramas ou forêts de sapins à admirer au Lac Blanc dans les Vosges.
© OT station du Lac Blanc - Panoramas ou forêts de sapins à admirer au Lac Blanc dans les Vosges.

In the Kaysersberg valley, let yourself be enchanted by the Lac Blanc Nordic domain and the diversity of its panoramas. 12 slopes (2 green, 6 blue, 3 red and 1 black) offer you 62 km of pleasure in the heart of the Ballons des Vosges Natural Park. You can choose between views of the Alsace plain and the Black Forest if the sky is clear, or a peaceful and enveloping atmosphere in the heart of the fir forests.

Thanks to its human size and its tranquillity, it is ideal for families looking for a space combining calm, conviviality and safety. Sledging and snowshoeing are also on the programme, with several learning areas.

Note that not far away, the La Bresse-Lispach ski area is also full of magnificent places to ski!

Lac Blanc

The most honoured: Font Romeu, in the Pyrenees

In Font Romeu, the vegetation is different from that of the Alpine massifs. The wide open spaces are surrounded by pure air and intense light. Discover 103 km of marked out trails and paths for all levels. In total: 22 loops (7 green, 10 blue and 5 red) between the vast plateau of "La Calme" and the Estanyols forest. Enjoy the sun-drenched trails with views of the peaks or in the forest, along the frozen river.

A special highlight is the 2.4 km long blue run of La Calme, named after Martin Fourcade. The five-time Olympic biathlon champion made his debut here. It has a learning area.

The largest: the Sancy Nordic area in Auvergne

Ski de fond dans l'Espace ski nordique du Sancy.
© P. Soissons/Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Tourisme - Ski de fond dans l'Espace ski nordique du Sancy.

Welcome to one of the largest Nordic ski areas in the Massif Central. It covers the resorts of Super-Besse, Mont-Dore and Chastreix Sancy. Labelled "Nordic France", it offers more than 250 km of runs spread over 2 sides of the massif, 6 communes and 8 sectors connected by links. A white immensity to enjoy the most beautiful reliefs of the Auvergne between forests, plateaus and ancient volcanoes. A change of scenery guaranteed!

Espace nordique du Sancy

The most confidential: Champsaur-Valgaudemar, in the Alps

Eblouissante, la vallée du Champsaur-Valgaudemar !
© Gaetan Theveniaud - Eblouissante, la vallée du Champsaur-Valgaudemar !

Dive into the heart of a valley with character where Nordic skiing is highly developed. The Valgaudemar ski area extends over some twenty kilometres and offers runs for all levels, from green to black. You can ski in the undergrowth, along the waters of the Séveraisse and the charming hamlets which follow one another. It is also an opportunity to discover the local culture and its typical villages where the welcome is warm!

Le domaine du Valgaudemar

The most relaxing: the Plateau d'Hauteville, in the Jura

Enter the heart of this mid-mountain plateau, situated between 850 and 1,234 metres in altitude. Labelled as a "Station Verte" and "Village Neige" and classified as a climatic resort since 1924 for the quality of its air! On the multi-activity Nordic site of La Praille, you can take advantage -among others- of the 53 km of marked cross-country ski trails for skating and alternative skiing. And after the effort, the comfort: head for the wellness area, where Swedish baths in the open air and a sauna await you (remember to book!). What more could you want?

Plateau d'Hauteville

Good to know:

Nordic skiing can be practised in two ways: in the classic way, by sliding with parallel skis on the already marked out runs, or with the "skating" technique, i.e. by progressing with divergent skis, on the plane smoothed by the groomer.

The advantage is that it is a very complete sport that demands your endurance, strengthens your cardiovascular system, promotes blood circulation and is not very traumatic for your joints. Another advantage is that it is very affordable, as the cost of a day's skiing is between £5 and £10!

By Blandine Prigent

France.fr web editor