Forget skiing. Try speed riding, biathlon and ski joering in France’s Massif de Aravis.

A good bet for an alpine holiday for beginners and advanced alike, here’s why Massif de Aravis in France is the place to go this winter.

The snow

The Les Massif de Aravis comprises four resorts: La Clusaz and Manigod (linked into one ski area); Le Grand Bornand and St-Jean de Sixt.

Between them the area is tailor made for beginners and intermediates. There are plenty of novice-friendly slopes and lifts in La Clusaz/Manigod and Le Grand Bornand.

If you’re an absolute beginner try St-Jean de Sixt – its short, gentle slopes mean there won’t be any pesky more-experienced, faster skiers.

For intermediates, there are some great blue and red runs – and while experts might be itching for something more hardcore, for anyone bar the most top-notch skiers or boarders, the slopes are challenging without being scary.

If you’re into cross-country skiing, Aravis is the place to go. There are numerous trails on the floor of the valley and higher up, providing an easy introduction and some challenging terrain for those who’ve done it before.

Perhaps best of all about Aravis is the delightful scenery. Whatever your ability, La Clusaz/Manigod has one up on many other resorts in that most of the runs are below the tree line – making your trips down the slope far more picturesque.

The activities

Speed riding

Speed riding is a relatively new sport, combining skiing and parachuting into an insanely exhilarating experience.

Put simply, once you’ve got a bit of speed up on your skis you let rip a parachute that’s strapped to your back.

You’ll need months to be as good as the locals who launch themselves off cliffs, but for the rest of us it’s a thrill to do a few tricks with nothing more than a tug of the parachute (See flyeo.com). 

%TNT Magazine% speed riding biathlon and ski joering in frances massif de aravis1

Biathlon

In Le Grand Bornand you can try biathlon – you ski cross country then drop on the ground and shoot at a set of targets.

It’s surprisingly good fun and something novice skiers and shooters can try. In 2011 the town will host a round of the biathlon European cup, which gives you an idea how seriously locals take it.

Ski joering

For something completely different, ski joering is hard to top. Wearing a short and easily manoeuvrable pair of skis, you and a partner hold on to the reins at the back of a horse, and get pulled along through pristine alpine tracks. It’s an exquisite and peaceful way to explore the region, save for the huffing, puffing and whinnying of the horses – though apparently they love messing around the snow.

» Daniel Landon travelled to Les Aravis via Geneva. BABOO flies 11 times a week to Geneva from London City Airport. For information see flybaboo.com. For information on Les Aravis and reservations go to aravis.com.

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