There's no doubt that skiing and snowboarding are the most popular activities for anyone heading out on a snowsports getaway. But just because you love swishing down the mountain doesn't mean skiing and snowboarding are the only things you can do during your trip to the Alps. In fact, many people like to take a few hours, or a whole day, to try something new during their winter holiday.
If you're really looking to get the adrenaline flowing, there are several alternative snow sports you might want to consider, which will get you moving faster and higher than ever before. Here are some options to consider:
For many years now, kiteboarding has been growing in popularity at the seaside. Using large kites, surfers harness the power of the wind, enabling them to move above the water and enjoy some enormous jumps.
Now, the kites are being brought to high altitudes, and the results are amazing. There are designated snow-kite pistes across France, Italy and Switzerland where you can learn the sport and put your newfound skills to the test, flying, spinning and twisting through the air as a snow kite pulls you up and down the mountain.
This sport might look like normal Alpine skiing at first, but you'll have special bindings that only attach the front of the boot. This allows more flexibility and freedom - especially in the turns. The technique isn't easy to learn, but once you've mastered it, you'll enjoy a more natural and unrestricted feel to your skiing.
Also known as parapenting, this is one of the world's fastest-growing air sports and is particularly popular in the Three Valleys area, which includes resorts like Val Thorens and Courchevel.
To get started with paragliding, you'll probably begin with a few trips flying in tandem with a qualified instructor. Once you get the hang of the activity, you can also go solo.
You begin by running downhill, gaining speed until the parachute lifts you into the air. Then, you can sit back and enjoy the view, while catching wind currents to carry you upwards and allowing you to glide for longer.
You can also try ski-paragliding, which allows you to pick up even more speed. Chamonix is a popular location for paragliding, with the best conditions in May and June.05/01/2017
There are plenty of high-adrenaline sports that visitors to Val Thorens can try throughout the year, from skiing and snowboarding in the winter through to paragliding and mountain biking in the summer. But if you're looking for something a bit more calming, then maybe you should give yoga a try.
Yoga is an activity that aims to connect the body and mind. Various postures, also known as asanas, and breathing techniques (pranayama) are used to achieve a sense of harmony and improve wellbeing. According to those who practise yoga, it can provide numerous benefits. For example, stretching techniques can loosen up the body and are said to have a positive effect on glands and nerves. Asanas can also help to release physical and mental tension may leave people feeling more energetic.
In addition, yoga experts also say that if practised regularly, the asanas can result in calmness, vitality and inner peace, while pranayama purifies and revitalises the body, calming emotions and enabling mental clarity.
One of the great things about yoga is it's something anyone can do. The various poses can be adapted to suit your own abilities and goals and it's believed to be able to help with things like back problems, insomnia, depression, stress and fatigue. Many who take part in yoga claim that the activity can achieve even better results when surrounded by nature. They say that the fresh air and beautiful landscapes boost calming and revitalising effects. So, a holiday in the Alps is the ideal time to take part in the activity - whether you're already an expert or trying it for the first time.
If you're visiting Val Thorens and would like to take part in a yoga class, then there are a couple of options available. Escale Zen hosts classes throughout the year and combines yoga with other activities like climbing, canyoning, kayaking, hiking and snowshoeing. Meanwhile, Nathalie Peynichou offers yoga classes that also incorporate singing and dancing for a unique fusion.
Hiking in the Alps is a rewarding way to spend the summer months. After all, it's a great way to get out in nature, enjoy some fresh air and see some beautiful scenery. Plus, you'll get in some exercise too! Of course, anyone who goes walking in the mountains should be sure to go prepared, with plenty of drinks and snacks, as well as the right equipment in case something goes wrong. The only problem is that carrying all that gear can become a chore. So, why not enlist a bit of help for your next alpine hike - by bringing along a donkey?
These friendly animals are known for their long ears, long muzzles and friendly nature. They're great at rambling and make for great companion animals - so it's no wonder they've been used as pack animals for thousands of years. What's more, donkeys can also be ridden by small children - so if you're worried your youngster might get tired on a long walk through the mountains, they can take a break by climbing up on their new four-legged friend.
If the idea of a short donkey trek sounds like a great idea, then Val Thorens could be the alpine destination for you. Donkeys are available to hire at La Croisette every day from 10am to 12pm and 1:30pm to 5pm, and you can choose from a short ride for a child or a quick half-hour outing, through to hour-long journeys, half days or full days. These intelligent, and sometimes stubborn, animals are sure to provide some fun and unusual memories from your holiday and they'll help to take the load off if you don't want to spend your hike lugging around a heavy backpack.
Choose from a variety of guided walks, like a trip to the Lac du Lou - this picturesque valley refuge is situated next to the largest lake in the Vallee des Belleville and is a fabulous spot for a summer picnic. Evening outings are also available.
Some people would say that this is actually the highest resort in Europe, but its lifts don't quite manage the same reach towards the sky as Tignes. Having said that, Val Thorens' highest lift is 3,200 metres and it's the setting of the village that's the highest in Europe, standing at 2,300 metres. Like most resorts in the Three Valleys area, some of Val Thoren's accommodation is ski-in/ski-out. If you'd like to take advantage of this, then you'll look to book your stay at Le Sherpa, which is roomy and comfortable for all the family.
The benefits of ski-in/ski-out lodging are fairly obvious, as it means that you don't have to spend much - if any - time walking around carrying your skis and other essential gear. Simply give yourself a nudge out the door and off you go towards the lifts and up to the top of the slopes. If you are going to be travelling with children, who are on their very first snowsports holiday then Val Thorens is perfect for you, as it has several convenient nursery slopes that are very close to the ski-in/ski-out chalet.
Val Thorens is one of the most modern resorts in the Three Valleys, as its lifts are fast and run on up-to-date technology. But, the modern twist isn't just saved for the chairlifts because the resort also benefits from state of the art snowmaking, which is essentially man-made snow. The experts at the resort use this in order to enhance the already excellent natural snow cover to ensure that you and your whole group have the perfect conditions every day of your holiday.
It's a particular hot spot for those who enjoy taking their holidays off-piste and onto terrain that others simply find daunting. As a place that's known for having friendly locals and instructors, you'll notice the difference yourself, as it can be subtly encouraging - enough to take on the dizzying heights of the slopes that aren't open to those who are merely beginners. Val Thorens also tends to be cheaper than some of its other counterpart resorts, which is great considering the appeal of its slopes and the fact that it's the highest mountain range in Europe.
What's even better about the conditions in Val Thorens, is that the cold and dry climate at the top of the mountain provides some of the lightest powder snow you're likely to see anywhere. Due to this, the resort's season often runs as late as May, meaning that it's a popular choice for those who like to go on holiday with the family, over bank holidays and before the summer kicks in.
However, if you are going to be trekking up the mountain in search of the best off-piste skiing experience, it's recommended that you bring a guide with you. According to On The Snow, this is particularly important if you're going to be heading off to the Peclet and Claviere glaciers, as they can have hidden pitfalls. Even if you're a confident skier, it's still advisable that you bring an expert from the resort with you on your trails, or at least have someone who has skied in the area a few times join you as a safety companion. Not only this, but they're going to have excellent knowledge of the pistes and will know the best places to look for, heightening your overall experience.
One thing to remember as well, is that this is a resort that's very well known for its off-piste offerings, so don't forget to set your alarm clock early to get the best of the fresh snow.