Nordic Skiing in the Alps
Nordic skiing is the term used to define all cross country skiing, as in not downhill skiing, and in France the term Nordic skiing refers particularly to cross country skiing in undulating 'Nordic' style terrain. It has taken off all over the Alps, and in areas with large valleys and gentler mountain topography like the Southern French Alps, it is becoming more and more popular. For more information about the different terminology for cross country skiing and nordic skiing, read our blog.
We have made a distinction between practising this sport off piste and on groomed pistes with cross country skiing, being the term used to describe skiing on groomed pistes, whether that be using the skating technique or the classic technique where you slide one foot in front of the other in grooves and nordic skiing being used to describe the 'classic' technique adapted for going off piste with slightly different skis and equipment.
The big advantages of being able to practice a traditionally Scandinavian sport in the Alps are the much longer days and better climate!
All in all, if you are looking for new sensations in the well preserved Alpine valleys or if you grow tired of crowded ski resorts, Nordic skiing could be the perfect solution for you!
When is the best time of year to come Nordic skiing in the Alps?
As you will do Nordic skiing in lower parts of the valleys, we recommend you come in the months of January, February or March when the snow cover is good at lower altitudes.
Who can do it?
Nordic skiing is not designed for big ascents and descents - that comes under the category of ski touring. As such, most routes are relatively flat or undulating, making this accessible to average skiers with a reasonable level of fitness. A total beginner would be advised to try cross country skiing on groomed pistes before venturing off piste to learn the basics of balance and control.
Nordic skiing tours
As Nordic skiing becomes more and more popular, tours and events for all levels are becoming available in the Southern French Alps. The most famous tour is called "La Traversée du Champsaur". This 3 nights / 4 days tour is about 40 kms long (about 25 miles) and will take you through some of the most beautiful parts of the Champsaur Valley, alternating between small paths, long descents, deep forest and the frozen banks of the Drac river.