France. The name itself invokes incomparable feelings of awe and beauty and marvel. This is the land of the Louvre, land of Sartre and Beauvoir, of the Eiffel Tower, of luscious, buttery food and even the land of Ratatouille! And while the fecund greenery of Lyons might beckon you, the wines of Provence might tempt you, the streets of Paris might call out to you, for your next holiday; try treading on a less common path.
France is, undoubtedly, the hub of all things gastronomic, cultural, architectural and historic but it is also home to the French Alps, peaks of glistening snow-capped wonders with rays of sun shining in blinding brilliance, the tranquil landscape dotted with mesmerising lakes and pockets of picturesque mystery in the forms of caves.
Although the Alps are famous for vacations that revolve around winter sports, even in the summer there are plenty of options for an activity holiday in France that cater to various needs ranging from family vacations with possibilities tailored specifically with children in mind to solo trips. So, whether you are a planning a holiday for your special someone or you just want to have an adventure with your mates, pack your clothes and your gear, come to the French Alps and let it blow your mind. Here’s a list of the best activities to indulge in while you are basking in the Alpine sun.
A typical summer activity, canyoning in the southern French Alps is for ones looking for the special streak of adrenaline hit in their vacation. A canyon is a gorge created between mountain cliffs over generations of erosion resulting from flowing water. Consequently, most canyons have some kind of water body nestled beneath them. Canyoning in the Alps can be done in three ways, if the texture of the mountains so permits, you can simply jump in, if there are toboggans, you can slide down or if the cliff is particularly steep, then abseiling down is the option.
The French Alps are famous for their charming resorts that offer breath-taking views of the nearby peaks as well as provide ample opportunities for several winter sports, most prominently skiing. Some of the best places to visit if skiing is your top priority would be Chamonix, Vercors Regional National Park, Val d’Isère, Cirque du Fer-a- Cheval and Portes du Soleil Ski areas. Megève is also a very tempting resort to visit given that it offers opportunities for downhill skiing as well as cross-country skiing.
While exploring a cave may not sound like a very inviting activity, venturing into the cool darkness on a hot summer’s day, stepping into pristine pools of water, marvelling at stalactites and stalagmites, all the while manoeuvring ropes and equipment, makes spelunking an activity that is not only filled with beauty and joy but also requires that you employ skill. It is an activity filled with pleasant contradictions; you get the tranquillity of a cave without compromising on the thrill of an adventure sport. One of the best places to indulge in cave exploration would be the Devoluy massif, a majestic limestone mountain housing hundreds of caves.
This is one of those unique activities that you will be able to do in very few places except the Alps. This particular breed of dog, the Huskies, is legendary for their strength and agility and has been known to navigate human beings through treacherous snowy passes for ages. This activity offers you the opportunity to bond with adorable quadrupeds as well as learn the intricate art of how to manoeuvre a sledge. Champsaur and Valgaudemar valley are well-known for sledging.
Having an activity holiday, while exhilarating, might also get exhausting very quickly, especially if the time is packed with high-intensity sports. It is to assuage this exhaustion that one must pepper one’s vacation with relaxing activities such as that of fishing. With its treasure trove of incredible water bodies, the French Alps are home to an inimitable technique of fishing trout: fly fishing. While fly fishing may not involve a large amount of energy or stamina, it certainly demands stealth and skill on your part and is a fun sport to indulge in.
Igloo Building and Expedition
This is the stuff of childhood memories and fairy tales. How many times have we seen these inexplicable structures in books or movies and wondered in awe of them? Well, here’s a prospect of actually being able to build an igloo and stay in it! You can traverse the snow-capped wilderness, build an igloo and spend the night there. It is hard work and a task of survival but woven into this gruelling activity is the romanticism of the stories of your childhood and if you happen to have your partner with you, a romantic evening as well!
Here’s a sporting activity that never goes out of style, and when combined with the beauty of the French Alps, there is nothing quite like it. If you are hoping to spend some quality time in the Alps, participating in exciting ventures but do not like the constraints of time or season, paragliding is the choice for you. The time of the year does not matter; experiencing a view of Alps while gliding weightlessly is the sky is as enthralling in the summer as it is in winter.
Once again, an old school classic the does not depend on the vagaries of the weather. The French Alps boast of some of the most stunning hiking trails in the world. While hiking in winter can involve equipment, guidance and the ability to withstand extreme temperatures, hiking in the summer can be a solo activity with very little preparation. Either way, the view from the top at the end of a hike makes this activity as soulful as any other activity in the French Alps. Aim for the trails in and around Mont-Blanc, for they offer the best options in terms of intensity and beauty.
One of the most popular activities during the winter months in French Alps is cross-country skiing. The beautiful valleys of French Alps house a lot of long trails for you to enjoy this widely popular and highly challenging sport. During the months of January, February and March, even the lower valleys of French Alps get covered with snow, turning the whole area into essentially a huge skiing trail. The thrill of skiing through the long stretches of powder for hours and hours without no one in sight, being surrounded by the beautiful white snow and then finally reaching your desired destination gives you a sense of adventure like no other sport.