Adventure Action France

Things to Do on a Winter Sports Holiday in the French Mountains

Boots in the Lake District Snow
Written by Kirstie Pelling

Alternatives to skiing on a ski holiday in the French mountains

Ever thought you’d enjoy a ski holiday more if it wasn’t wholly focussed around the skiing? A holiday rental apartments company is offering the chance to pick and mix some unusual winter sports in three popular French resorts. Pierre & Vacances Make My Day adventures offer fun and active challenges on and off the slopes, bookable on site, on demand. In this advertising post we highlight some alternative things to do on a winter sports holiday in the mountains..

Shooting targets at 10m on a biathlon taster session at Le Grand Bornand, France

The tension mounts as Cameron takes aim on our winter sports taster session of biathlon

Action packed apres-ski

I have been skiing on and off for thirty years but it was only when I visited the French Mountains with teens that I realised apres-ski isn’t all about hitting the bars. As a family we hopped on paret sledges and whizzed down an empty ski slope in the shadow of Mont Blanc. We hit targets and sprinted around a track in a supercharged biathlon challenge. We spent an evening learning ice hockey skills; check out this video to see the carnage:

More than a skiing holiday

Winter activities add value to your ski holiday and give a competitive family a whole new way to beat each other. They also give your ski muscles a chance to rest. On our last couple of French ski holidays we challenged our eyes, ears and lungs to rounds of shooting and Nordic racing.

We disco danced on an ice rink and slid down a mountain on bikes. We even learnt how to make traditional Savoyard cheese. We realised family skiing is more than strapping on two planks and steeling the nerves for an assault on snow every day; it’s about learning and laughing and flying and falling and failing and having lots of fun together.

Ice Rink Disco at the Patinoire in La Clusaz, Haute Savoie, France

Forget about skis and do something different in your resort this winter

Pick and mix adventure

Now a holiday rentals company is making it easy for families like us to enjoy a more rounded kind of ski break. Pierre & Vacances Make My Day experiences offer a range of exciting activities, bookable at the reception desk in a selection of their best and most popular resorts. Here’s how the company can make your day on a ski holiday…

Making my day unforgettable at Val Thorens

We love to bike. And we love to ski. But biking and skiing at the same time? It’s a whole other thing. You will balk at pointing your wheels downhill on snow, and you will wobble to begin with, like a child on their first bike. And then you will discover the freedom of blasting down slopes without worrying about poles or snow plough technique.

Here’s us trying ski bikes for the first time in the French mountains.

Even better, at Val Thorens, the bikes are battery powered. You still won’t catch up with the teen though, unless only one of you has the e-bike or you let down their tyres!

Winter Snow Biking

Fat tyres are perfect for snow..and for teenagers

Two shoes, one glorious world

Meanwhile snow shoeing unlocks an icy door into an alternative world. When you strap on the spiked shoes and head into a trackless distance, you feel someone has turned the volume down and the brightness up. You feel alone, you feel at peace and you feel connected to nature and the elements in a way you will never be on a red run. Val Thorens offers a snowshoe hike at sunset along some of its loveliest peaks, followed by a feast of local specialties. And believe me you will be ready for your dinner…being a hiking yeti uses up more calories than you imagine.

Did someone say dinner? With a Val Thorens Make My Day adventure you can round off you holiday with a memorable evening in a traditional Mongolian yurt after reaching the summit by foot or in a snowcat. At a traditional Savoyard dinner by the fireside, you can tell all your tales of daring activity. Like snowflakes, no two outdoor family adventures are ever the same.

Time to cosy up in the yurt at Val Thorens Time to cosy up in the yurt at Val Thorens

Time to cosy up in the yurt at Val Thorens

Make my day fun at Avoriaz

How do you build an igloo? How do you get the curves? How do you stop the roof from caving in? Will you attract passing penguins with your new found house building skills? That’s what you can find out if you book an out of ski hours Inuit camp experience.It comes complete with mulled wine, delicacies and the satisfaction of having completed something more significant than a parallel turn.

For kids of eight and up, there’s a chance to compete against others in a twice weekly archery championship. Rubber bows and arrows to the ready – there’s no upper age limit to being the best. You can experience the forest as a family  with a sled ride, or if you have mini daredevils who want to go it alone, they can blast around a specially designed racecourse on an electric snowmoto with the Make My Day experiences in Avoriaz. This one is ideal for those between five and twelve with a need for speed.

Boy sledging

Does your mini me have a need for speed?

Make my day zing at Arc 1950

Biathlon brought us so much fun and team bonding that we had to lie down in the snow afterwards. (I also had a little rest at several points during the action!) This Olympic sport is a national institution but it’s not an easy option. Try holding a rife steady when your breathing is fast and furious and adrenaline is pushing through your body. Try and hit a tiny target when you are against the clock and against your son or daughter. It’s a test of fitness, nerve, and a steady hand as you line up a laser rifle on a target and hope your current shot is better than your last. You can try the sport at Arc 1950.

If your aim proves a bit off, then what you need is a big fat snowball. Arc 1950’s Make My Day experiences offer some old-fashioned family fun in a special arena filled with obstacles. Our advice? Wear ten layers of buffs and a balaclava and do a recce beforehand to plan the best obstacle to hide behind.

Snowplay, with out!

Snowplay, with teens…watch out!

Surf the snow turf

Fancy surfing on snow? The experience of airboarding is comparable to bodyboarding in the sea, with the advantage that snow doesn’t have a current. (Unless you accidentally start an avalanche.) Grooves underneath the board enable you to make a sharp turn and stop quickly. We can’t guarantee you won’t face plant but you will have fun doing it.

Sunbathing in the mist on the slopes of Manigod, La Clusaz, Haute Savoie, France

You can fit the skiing in the next morning – or you can just have a snooze


This post is a paid collaboration with Pierre & Vacances. All words, opinion, missing biathlon targets, and falling over spectacularly on an ice rink was all our own.

About the author

Kirstie Pelling

Kirstie is the Editor of The Family Adventure Project. A professional writer and poet, she's the creative and journalistic force behind many of the stories and features published here. She's a co-founder and co-director of The Family Adventure Project and also works as the #poetinmotion producing and performing poetry for print, video and live performance.


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We're Kirstie & Stuart. We share an adventurous spirit, a passion for indie travel and 3 kids. The Family Adventure Project is our long term experiment in doing active, adventurous things together. Find out more...


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