After missing out on snowshoeing in Arctic Norway last year, I jumped at the chance to finally try it out in Les Arc’s Mont Blanc forest. Known for being the world’s oldest snow sport, I was excited to learn that snowshoeing is gaining traction again and is currently the fastest growing winter sport!

My muscles were sore from skiing the previous day, but as I’d spent the morning relaxing in the pool I decided I needed to burn some calories! I wanted to sample a non-ski activity on offer in Les Arcs so I merrily dressed in full ski gear and joined an afternoon tour with Balades du Colporteur. I was picked up at our resort, the Club Med Arcs Panorama, which was around the corner from the starting point.

Our guide handed us our walking poles and snowshoes and explained how to attach them to our footwear. He provided hiking boots to those who hadn’t brought waterproof boots. However, I suggest bringing your own if you have them.

“What are the snowshoes like?” I asked

He described the snowshoes as huge flip flops. They would be impossible to run in and slow to turn in. Though I would find out more about that once I had them on!

My foot span felt like it had suddenly doubled in width and length! However, I was amazed at how quickly I got used to having these strange pink contraptions attached to my shoes.

After a few minutes, I had a rhythm and was making my way through the forest at my own pace. I loved the fact that the snowshoes were allowing me to go off-piste. Knowing full well that it would be a long while until my skiing skills were good enough for that!

It was an opportunity to enjoy the fresh mountain air, and to my astonishment, I found it quite a mindful experience. I got to wander the beautiful forests of Les Arcs with just the birds for company, whilst the guide taught me how to correctly hike up and down the mountains in the snowshoes. I learnt about the history of the region and the mountain wildlife, and stopped whenever I wanted to take photos of the peaks in the distance.

snow shoeing French alps
Smiles all round

I was quickly experiencing how great a way this was to explore this wintry wilderness. Similar to hiking, it was providing me with the opportunity to clear my mind and connect with nature.

It was a beautiful and mild day, but the continuous uphill trekking meant it was easy to break a sweat in all the ski gear I was wearing. I ended up taking off my hat and gloves, and wished I only had one layer on!

After an hour and a half of hiking, we stopped for a break. To my surprise, the guide pulled out a thermos of hot tea and a whole cherry cake! He even had a chopping board and a knife in his backpack…talk about being prepared!

We sat for fifteen minutes, enjoying our cake and mountain views. Not realising that I would soon be enjoying another afternoon tea in Les Arcs for The Great British Celebration!

It was starting to get darker and we had already spent two hours in the forest, so I asked how long the journey back would be. The guide answered: “not long, the car is only 100 metres from here”. I was bemused. We had been hiking uphill for quite some time so I wondered how the car (parked down by the road) could be so close. Suddenly, the guide grabbed his walking poles and quickly made his way down the huge slope we were perched on! I didn’t think it was possible, but I learnt firsthand just how well the snowshoes work on downhill slopes!

downhill snow shoe
It was a long way down!

We hiked 70 metres down through the steep forest. Eventually, we reached a point when the guide asked us if we wanted to try an even quicker way down? Curiously, we agreed and ended up using the snowshoes as a sledge to zoom the rest of the way down on our bottoms!

Covered in snow it was difficult to wipe the smile off my face. I knew right then that I may have just triggered a new obsession! I can’t wait for my next winter wonderland trip to try snowshoeing out again. Would you try snowshoeing?

Curious about Les Arcs? Read more about why you should visit in Spring and learn about other non-ski activities on offer.

girl in red ski jacket, white helmet and red goggles smiling with arms in air on the ski slopes in Les Arcs France

Balades du Colporteur runs a variety of snowshoeing treks in the region from half a day to five days long. Adult prices start from 28 euros.

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Disclaimer: I joined this snowshoeing tour as part of a press trip organised by Atout France and the Les Arcs tourism board. As always opinions are my own.

First Timers Guide to Snowshoeing in Les Arcs, France 1

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