The Southern French Alps is perfectly adapted to cross country skiing with its large gentle valleys meandering under a majestic backdrop of high mountains. There is an extensive network of cross-country routes passing through some of the most stunning parts of the Southern Alps valleys and high alpine plateaux, including a circuit at 2300m.
When to Come Cross Country Skiing in the Alps:
As most cross-country skiing is lower down the valleys than the actual downhill ski resorts, it is best to come in the months of January, February or March when the snow cover is good at lower altitudes.
Types of Cross Country Skiing:
The term "cross-country skiing" can actually mean different things for different people. There is skating, ski touring, Nordic skiing, back country skiing and biathlon!
To find out what these all mean, have a read of our blog article, Nordic Skiing and Cross Country Skiing - what's the difference?
For the purposes of what cross country skiing means in the Alps, we are talking about skiing on groomed, managed pistes in undulating terrain rather than steep mountains using either the skating technique or the classic technique where you slide one foot in front of the other keeping the skis parallel. This is accessible to all levels and abilities and no experience of any form of skiing is required to get started.
If you are interested in going away from the groomed pistes, but are not confident about going into the high mountains, then you might be interested in light touring or off piste nordic skiing. Previous cross country skiing experience and a reasonable level of fitness is recommended for this but you don't need to be a downhill skier.
Competent downhill skiers looking for a skiing adventure in the mountains may also be interested in ski touring, which is like downhill skiing but using a binding that releases your heel and special skins to ski uphill instead of using ski lifts. A high level of fitness and downhill skiing ability is necessary to go ski touring in the Alps.