Not everyone who loves mountains and snow, likes to ski all day long. So what is there that doesn’t involved racing down those snowy white slopes? Here are our top tips for non-ski activities that will make your cheeks rosy and mean you can really enjoy the snow without the skis! From adrenaline-fueled to totally chilled…
Fabulous and fun things for non-skiers to do in Les Arcs
Snow-shoeing and hiking
In my search for off piste adventure, I headed into the forest to give snow shoeing a try. Snow-shoeing is diverse, brilliant fun and not as hard as you may think. You need a good pair of boots and a guide who will supply you with snow-shoes and poles.
My first guide was Antoine who offers a whole host of snow-shoeing and hiking activities (www.baladesducolporteur.com). You can snow-shoe for as little as an hour or for a whole week. There’s a wonderful day long snow-shoe hike which involves a fondue lunch at an Alpine chalet. Plus, there’s night snow-shoeing. And, an overnight option to sleep in a log cabin in the mountains.
Antoine’s style is pretty relaxed. He clearly knows these mountains and their heritage well, and he’ll soon have you snow-jumping, and bouncing down steep descents which you never thought you’d be capable of. Although perhaps his most impressive feat is producing a large and delicious cake from his backpack along with hot tea at 2,000m!
With Mont Blanc in the distance, you can walk in the Mont Blanc forest, in the Beaufortain mountains opposite Les Arcs and up the Petit St Bernard pass along the French Italian border. Antoine caters for varying levels of fitness and stops often – to point out a bird, a particular tree or a mountain. And nothing beats the fact that you’re high up and off the beaten track, in amongst the pines, listening to the silence of the snowy mountains.
My second guide, Marie was much more spiritual (Facebook: Marie.Randos). A botanist, Marie’s style of snow shoeing resembled Nordic walking as she taught us to use our poles and ensure we got a full body work out. Marie explained the energy of the forest, the detail of the botany and we stopped to practice Qigong, yoga and meditation along the way. It was just as enjoyable as snow-shoeing with Antoine but a very different experience.
Visit La Passerelle
With its peak at over 3226m, the Aiguille Rouge is the highest peak in the Paradiski valley, and they’ve just installed a breath-taking viewing platform, La Passerelle.
To get there, you just take the Varet cable car from Arc 2000 – although check the weather first because it’s not always open. At the peak, you feel like you’re stepping into air as you enjoy 360-degree views across the top of the mountains. But beware, it’s cold at the top – even if it’s warm and sunny below!
If you’re not sure you want to spend a whole week in the peaceful serenity of the mountains on foot, don’t despair, you can still get your adrenalin fix. From December to April, you can go dog sledding with a team of Alaskan Huskies, including a discovery trip and night rides. en.paradisled.com/
And how does 3 km of toboggan track with banked turns, alternating fast and sliding sections sound? Impossibly hard for the beginner (I seemed to do most of it backwards), you do need a valid lift pass but it makes an interesting change to skiing! www.lesarcs-peiseyvallandry.ski
Relax at the Nama Springs
Tucked away in Eden Arc 1800m, is the Nama Springs spa. It has a hammam, four different saunas, a salt flotation pool and two outdoor pools. On a cold day, be warned that while swimming in the snow is wonderful, you’ll need nerves of steel to strip off and dance through the ice to get in and out of the pool.
The Club Med Les Arcs Panorama resort opened in December 2018. It seems to melt into the mountainside of Les Arcs 1600. The inclusive resort has got pretty much everything you could expect and beyond. Snacks and drinks waiting for you as you ski off the piste. There’s food and drink of every description and an endless supply of jollity and entertainment. And, of course, kids’ ski classes and a locker service that’ll have your kit ready to hit the slopes the moment you arrive. If you’re here with your family, they really have got all bases covered! And off piste there’s an open-air jacuzzi and spa facilities.
Lunch with a view
Chalet de l’Arc (Arc 2000). The joy of Les Arcs is that it’s largely pedestrianised and you can walk to this altitude restaurant across the slopes. It’s set in an original farm building and oozes local charm. The portion sizes are gigantean. And, the local speciality “Le Chausson du Boulanger” (particularly Le Savoyard one made with cabbage, sour cream, Beaufort cheese and sausage) is a must. Although, you will never fit into your salopettes again!
By the time you feel ready to roll down the mountain, it’ll be time to head back to Club Med for a 4-course dinner! But at least with all the activities you’ve done, you feel like you’ve earned it!
Arc 1800 is the liveliest village for night life and bars. For something a bit different head to the Village Igloo at Arc 2000. Open from 09.00-17.00 a unique ice grotto, bar and restaurant plus mini hotel where you can enjoy an icy aperitif. Complete with ice sculpture and carvings it’s a fun visit. From 19h they offer evening activities including an overnight stay and fondue dinner. Wrap up warm for this one – it’s chilly in the igloo!
And, for those who can’t resist a ski session, Les Arcs’ slopes are seriously varied. Whatever level you’re at from beginner to expert, there’s something to suit all. Les Arcs is part of the huge Paradiski area, with stunning views to Mont Blanc and all villages are ski-in/ski-out.