Cross-country skiing Portes du Soleil

Portes du Soleil in the French Alps has the best conditions for a successful winter sports holiday which can include skiing, snowboarding and cross-country skiing, also known as “fond de ski". Cross-country skiing is fairly easy to learn and less expensive than skiing or snowboarding. There are cross-country ski trails, the loipes, in Portes du Soleil and are in most cases on French territory. These routes go through beautiful landscapes with forests, streams, and lakes. There are approx. 260km of trails from your holiday home awaiting you. They are divided into different levels of difficulty.

Cross-country skiing, a popular winter sport

Cross-country skiing is the sport of walking and sliding on slats and is very popular:

  • It takes little time to master the basic skills
  • Cross-country skiing is also very good for your health. You use more calories than in skiing or snowboarding
  • The load your joints receive is also much smaller than the load due to skiing
  • The risks when practicing the sports are also much smaller than the risks you encounter when practicing skiing or snowboarding.
  • You avoid the hustle and bustle of the slopes and the queues at the ski lifts
  • The monetary investment in material is lower
  • In most cases you do not need a ski pass for cross-country skiing

Basic equipment for cross-country skiing

You will already have the basic equipment if you have been on a (winter) sports holiday before. The only thing you will need to do when wanting to go cross-country skiing is rent or buy cross-country skis.
If you are going for the first time, it is wise to buy or rent various items of clothing. The necessary clothing items are items such as thermal clothing, ski socks, a midlayer (optionally one with a hard-shell) and ski pants. Also think about taking items such as a hat and windproof gloves. At a local ski rental, you can usually rent a cross-country ski set, which consists of special cross-country skis, poles, and shoes. Cross-country skis are longer and thinner than normal skis. There are two types of cross-country skis; classic skis and skating skis. Once you have made a choice, you can start!

  • Thermokleding
  • Skisokken
  • Midlayer
  • Muts
  • Winddichte handschoenen
  • Ski's
  • Stokken
  • Schoenen

Cross-country skiing in the Alps: classic or skating

There are two types of cross-country skiing: the classic style or the freestyle, also called skating. In classic cross-country skiing, you "walk" on the skis through two tracks in the snow and use your poles for guidance. To ensure that the ski does not slide backwards whilst walking forward, both skis have a profile, called scales, underneath the ski. Skating, however, uses a different technique, you make movements as if you were skating and you may or may not use poles. For skating you do not use the same tracks as with classic cross-country skiing but, instead, you make use of an approximately 2m wide slope. Another difference is that the skis are shorter and have no scales.

Classic cross-country skiing style for beginners

The classic style of cross-country skiing the simplest to learn and therefore the best for beginners to start with. This is because you have tracks which help you move forward, and it is in general less tiring than the skating style of cross-country skiing. On the other hand, it is easier to start with the skating style of cross-country skiing if you are an experienced ice skater. If you cannot decide which style you want to pick up first, it is easiest to rent skis first and then try out whether classic cross-country skiing or skating suits you best.

Different difficulty levels

The difficulty levels of cross-country skiing vary considerably. You can go cross-country skiing for recreation or join tours or marathons. For beginners and experienced cross-country skiers there are plenty of trails in the area of La Chapelle d'Abondance, Abondance and Châtel. The area surrounding the villages of Morzine, Avoriaz and Morgins also have beautiful trails. If you are an experienced cross-country skier, then we recommend the 12km long "Croix des Combes".

Ascent and descent in the French Alps

The trails often cover hilly terrain. Travelling down a slope on skis goes automatically and with a slight slope you already develop considerable speed. If you go too fast, get off the track and make a "pflug" with your skis. Place the fronts of the skis together in the shape of a pizza tip and you will brake.
Going up a hill is more difficult. If you have enough speed, you can already go quite a bit up the slope, the remaining part you can walk up by placing the skis diagonally outwards, just like you would do when skating. If this does not work, place the skis next to each other and perpendicular to the slope and walk up.


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