Simply put we are in a walking paradise, where the majority of outdoor activists are mountain hikers. In our valley there are over 740km of marked paths, and in the Hautes Alpes a total of 6,800km. The trails vary from a family circuit taking less than an hour through to major multi-day routes. The season runs from April until November and with 300 days of sunshine good weather is almost guaranteed! On our doorstep is the Ecrins National Park (30 times larger than the Chamonix Valley) with a huge range of wildlife including Chamois, Ibex and Golden Eagles, and 1,800 varieties of plant life and flowers including Edelweiss and alpine orchids.click here for walks in Gerendoine, Ailefroide and Ecrins National ParkView full details
If you have never done a via ferrata, click on the notes tap for a description. They are great fun - somewhere between scrambling anf climbing. However you do not need any experience apart from a basic introduction. Anyone from the age of about 5 can participate, and its a great family activity. teenagers love them!View full details
Snowshoeing in Winter is the perfect way to experience the mountains. Whether it's a gentle walk on a snow covered path to areas that are simply unreachable by car, or an easy stroll along the marked trails by the side of X-C ski pistes, snowshoeing will guarantee you amazing beauty, a real sense of alpine Winter and a huge appetite!All you need are a pair of snowshoes and ski poles, available for hire at any of our local outdoor gear shops. If you stay in one of our chalets or apartments you can literally walk from your doorstep.Snowshoeing is for anyone, no matter what your age. It is great for couples, groups and families. If you have children take some sledges and have a walk to find the best slopes or someplace special for that giant snowman. It's a hoot and a grand day out!Check the tab NOTES below for ESSENTIAL INFO!View full details
In the words of the European crag climber’s bible - The Jingo Wobbly “Europe” guide book: “The (Durance) Valley makes power climbing here a soft summer recreation, with beer intervals! 300 days of sunshine a year = a wobbly paradise”. These words inspired me to relocate our family to the Southern French Alps in 2003. And I am happy to say this area has just got better and better each year as new crags, sectors, routes and multi-pitch playgrounds continue to be developed. Currently there are 80+ actual climbing sites (crags). Most of which have at least 3 different sectors and each sector has between 10 and 20 actual routes. Plus there are 6 different rock types – Limestone, Granite, Conglomerate, Gabbro, Quartzite, and Gneiss and the grade range runs from Fr.3 routes just for children to Fr.8c+. Route length is anything from 2m. high boulders to 650m. Big Wall routes!View full details
AlpBase is surrounded by mountain cols and beautiful cycling tours, the most famous of which is the Col de Lautaret (2,057m) regularly used in the alpine section of the Tour de France, as well as local events such as the Giro d'Italia, and the Luc Alphand Sportive. Other killer cols around us include the Col du Galibier (2,642m), one of the highest in France, and the very long Col d'Izoard (2,360m) – enough to satisfy the leanest and meanest! I have ridden every month except December and January here in the Hautes Alpes. It's a huge area and the centre of Alpine road cycling. That's why the Tour de France comes through this region every year. Enjoy!View full details
You can take a tandem discovery flight, do a course or just watch other people. The take of point locally is directly above Vallouise, and the landing site is in the field next to Alpbase. You can fly in Summer, or fly from the top of Puy Saint Vincent on skis in the Winter.View full details
Here in the Hautes Alpes Mountain Biking is now very developed. From early April until mid November you can access thousands of kilometers of specialist lift-assisted downhill courses, all day All Mountain trails, multi-day X-Country itineraries and gentle family routes that take as little as 30 minutes!The variety of terrain is huge including high altitude trails, forest roads, and big gutsy descents, and other than July or August you won't see a soul! We mountain bike regularly as a family, and so we have explored most of the area's gems. We are always on hand to offer advice and trail topos, and from most of our chalets and apartments you can ride straight out onto a waymarked trail.View full details
The South Alps is a superb area for white water activities. The water is bigger volume than the UK with a mixture of wider larger volume rivers and smaller creek type rivers. The water, being snow melt is cold, but the higher air temperatures and sun shine make for a very pleasant experience with wonderful scenery. The white water activities offered comprise kayaking ; open canoeing ; rafting in large paddle rafts on the bigger rivers or special mini-rafts on the smaller rivers, hot dogs – one or two person inflatable boats – and hydro-speeds – a French invention which is basically swimming in the water protected by a full wet suit with a toboggan- like float to protect and support the body and propelled by flippers.View full details
From AlpBase you can access a total of over 1000 km’s of downhill pistes, and almost unlimited off-piste action; we are in the middle of the Hautes Alpes, one of Europe's top ski and board destinations. The skiing is VERY snowsure, the pistes are normally quiet, the locals very friendly, and its much cheaper than the Northern Alps!Pelvoux - 5 minutes drive away - 25Km of downhill pistesPuy-St-Vincent - 10 minutes drive - 75Km of downhill pistesSerre Chevalier - 20 minutes drive - 250Km of downhill pistesVars/Risoul - 30 minutes drive - 180Km of downhill pistesMontgenèvre/Milky Way - 40 minutes drive - 400Km of downhill pistesLa Grave - 1 hour away - Off-piste capital of Europe!View full details
Cross-country skiing Ski from the door of your chalet! The ski area of Vallouise and Les Vigneaux has over 30 km of groomed, marked pistes and is an ideal site for both beginners and experienced cross-country skiers to enjoy skiing in the forest. You can also cross-country ski in the Puy-Saint-Vincent ski area, at the site of Ailefroide, and in the ski area in the valley of Freissinières.View full details
Ailefroide for kids Sous la fissure: Nice dark granite slab. Well protected from rockfall. Majority of routes are in grade 3 and 4. Bolting adapted to the size of the small giants :-) . Perfect for families with little kids. Some very easy lines for the children, some 2-3 pitch climbs for the more experienced to get used to friction climbing and multipitch climbs. Mosquitoes and the afternoon sun (hits the bottom of the surface around 1pm) are the biggest danger out here. Les Etoiles: Nice and clean slab at the foot of Mont Pelvoux (3946 m, the first 500m can be climbed in a very nice multipitch line/ Riviere Kwaï. A must do!). About 15 lines perfectly bolted. The top belays are easily accessible, which is very useful for teaching purposes. Depending on the snowfall in winter and temperatures in summer, there can be a small snowfield at the bottom of the slab. Big fun! But sometimes difficult on climbing shoes. Ecole Buisonière: A 4-year toddler can learn to lead here starting at grade 3. If he/she is growing in technique and confidence, bolting is adapted with climbs up to 6a. The bigger brothers can try 5a-6a around the corner (Greenpeace), and there is 7b and 8b a little bit lower (Rainbow Warrior). Draye: 80 routes from 4c up to 7c, most in grade 5 and 6. Wall facing west = can become hot in the afternoon. Remember you are in alpine environment! Kids can play here, but should not wander to far off. Wearing a helmet can be useful here. Petittes Dalles: Very good training in slab climbing! Perfect playground under the trees at the bottom of this slab. Very easy to access. Grandma can come here pushing the pram with the youngest. Had enough exercise on maximal friction on your feet? Fingers and arms can be trained on the thousands of boulders scattered around here.View full details
Look at this link in English on the Vallouise Tourist website. it is very good:View full details
The list is endless, but from our experience the most popular activities are rafting, high ropes (forest sensations) climbing, and swimming, both in the local swimming pools but also at the “ beaches” at the various local lakes.
We can organising rafting and all other guided activities with local English speaking guides. Best to speak to us directly and we can advise according to the ages of your children.
Below are a few of the activities on offer in the area.
Walking – local walk up the Onde river to a big waterfall. A flat walk which takes approx. 15 – 20 mins to get there. Many other easy walks with an “aim” of something interesting on arrival!
Mountain biking – the trails along the side of the Gyronde and the Onde are excellent trails for families with either children on the back of the bike or in trailers or on their own bikes. This is all off road.
Rock climbing – Ailefroide is both a lovely place to visit but also a great place for bouldering and there are a number of well bolted ‘school ‘crags.
Via ferrata – Many in the area but the best for beginners is Puy St Vincent – the Via Ferrata which starts on the road from Vallouise to Put St Vincent 1600 is a mixture between a Via Ferrata and a gorge walk. Again it is ideal for adventurous children, but you do need to be properly equipped with via ferrata equipment.
High ropes course – Puy St Vincent – this is an excellent high ropes course which can be reached from above Puy St Vincent 1600m. There is a number of different courses, including ones for smaller children. From 6 years equipment is provided. Tel 0682459228.
Quad biking – quad biking is becoming more popular around this area. Touskigliss – firstname.lastname@example.org normally offer this during the summer months.
Tobogganing – or luge d’été and karting using the ski lifts to gain height is offered at Puy St Vincent certainly great fun for an afternoon.
Horse riding – vallouise equitation +33(0)630044501 offer riding lessons and courses. You can also just take a pony out on a leading rein up the river with your child on your own.
Plan d’eau – there is a small lake next to the kayak slalom course /play boat waves at L’Argentiere. There is a large grassy area as well as slides. The lake has a shallow gravel beach and is ideal for learning to paddle and has a flat water slalom course set up.
Via Ferrata – the Via Ferrata on the clock tower of L’Argentiere is an excellent training ground for a first via ferrata. Children of 8 upwards should be able to cope. Make sure either that you go on a proper course or are able properly to safety your child. Any difficulties, they can get off half way up before the steeper section. See also Argentière Via Ferrata
Silver mines – Fournel valley – a trip underground in this silver mine which is slowly being restored. From 6 years old. Guided trips last 2 hours. Tel 0492230294
Rock climbing – there are some easy routes on the climbing around the clock tower; however there is no way to put in a top rope without climbing them. However, the French run fantastic rock climbing courses for children from 6 upwards. The children are encouraged to belay and even lead once they reach the required standard. At the end of the courses the children receive badges and a certificate which is part of the national French system which recognises the level they are at. The bolted routes provide a lot of confidence. We recommend a 5 day course (normally half days, mornings) with Azimut, you can book this through Diablo Gyr at the bar Rif in les Vigneaux.
Canyoning – the Canyon down the Fournel is a nice easy canyon; lots of slides with a short 8m abseil. We have done it with young children in high summer when the weather is hot. However, the water is cold so full canyoning wet suits are required as well as helmets and via ferrata gear for the emergency escape route. We normally equip the children with buoyancy aids.
Swimming pool – there is a small indoor and outdoor swimming pool with grassy area in L’Argentiere close to the Slalom Course.
Durance valley – L’Argentière to Embrun
Plan d’eau, Roche de la Rame – small lake by the side of the road. Warm water, beach area with small slides and pedalos, there is also a café and a hut selling drinks and snacks.
Plan d’eau, Eygliers – small lake; pedal boats; good for flat water kayaking. Also a horse riding centre, children’s playground and crazy golf.
Mountain biking – easy mountain bike ride up one side of the river to the aerodrome and down the other bank back to the plan d’eau at Eygliers You can visit the petrifying fountain at Réotier on the way back. Visit the aerodrome at Champcella to watch the gliders being towed up by aeroplanes.
Marmottes – Mont Dauphin- very tame marmottes at the side of the road at Mont Dauphin. Also there are easy rock climbing routes around here. In the summer there is a special recreation of 18 th century warfare at the fort with mounted soldiers in period costume, this is normally at 5 pm but ring the tourist office for details of the son et lumiere.0492454240. There are also guided tours of the underground tunnels linking the defences. The Sentier des Marmots is a fun route up to the fort from the main road, and then you can descend through the old defence systems on the road that clings to the cliff above the lower Guil gorge.
Rock climbing – Excellent rock climbing for children above the small aerodrome at St Crepin at Chanteloube. This site has a lovely flat area at the bottom and pitches can be rigged by walking around the top and putting up a rope without having to climb the pitch. There is also an overhand where abseiling can be set up. The problem with this site is that it is used regularly by PGL, the English adventure holiday specialists for children and they can monopolise the routes. It is also quite hot during the middle of the day. Given these factors it is often best to visit this area in the late afternoon/early evening. PGL normally finish by 4pm.
Hairboating/duckies/rafting – Normally the rafting operators will take children from 8 to 10 years old, depending on the section.
Swimming – the swimming pool is located at the side of the river in the ‘Parc des Sports’. There is both an outdoor pool and an indoor pool. The indoor pool has slides, water jets and a lazy river, and the outside pool is set in lawns with a small playground. Phone number +33(0)492200404
Ice rink – the ice rink is also in the Parc des Sports, skate hire is available, and special sessions such as foam parties are held from time to time. During the winter season watching the local ice hockey team, the red devils!, play is a local family event with good natured if noisy crowds and kids playing in the stands whilst the action on the pitch gets more and more heated. Games normally start around 8.30, cost 6-8 euros for anyone over 10, arrive a few minutes early for a good seat, and are advertised widely in town, there is normally a banner on the hill leading up to the old town.
Skate Park – just next to the ice rink/swimming pool complex is a skate park for skate boards and roller blades with ramps and half pipe.
Tennis – also at the Parc des Sports there are indoor and outdoor tennis courts, short tennis is also available and there are week long courses available in the summer.
Museums – the Maison du Parc at the bottom of the Grand Gargouille in the old town has a good display of local fauna and flora, as well as a history of skiing museum, which includes film loops of early skiing holidays with people arriving by steam train and horse drawn sledges.
Pooh sticks – the central road through the old fortified town of Briancon is pedestrianised and there is water flowing down a central channel under grids etc. We have found that agreeing to play pooh sticks is an excellent way of getting the younger children to visit the old town.
Plan d’eau – a lovely lake with grassy banks; showers; bar restaurants; pedalos; mini golf; acrobungies; trampolines; outdoor swimming pool with slides. An excellent place to spend a pleasant afternoon waiting for kayakers to arrive.
Sailing base CNA – http://cnasp.free.fr This base offers equipment hire but also 3-5 day courses for children in dinghies (optimists); catamarans and windsurfing – from age 5 upwards. It is a great place as there are opportunities to sail both on the small lake at Embrun and on the large lake of Serre Ponçon and a shady beach to watch the fun on the lake from. Also similar activities offered at the lakeside near Crots on Serre Ponçon
Water skiing and wake boarding – available at lake Serre Ponçon for the older children. Ski et Bouées is signposted off the road just past Boscodon. It is also available with L’Ancre Bleu at Savines.
Boat rides – on the lake at Savines le Lac, either on the Carline or get Mum or Dad to hire a small motor boat at the L’Ancre Bleu
High ropes course – in the woods at Crots just south of Embrun.
Paintball – in the woods at Crots 0620884172, a favourite birthday party activity with our kids!
Quad biking – circuits for children and trips for adults.
Kite-surfing courses – for older children at the school at the beach at Boscodon Powair.
Marmottes Park and other animals – at Le Sauze du Lac. Follow the road from Savines towards the Ubaye; 10km after Savines le lac. Le Montagne de Marmottes 0492443200 acts as a local rescue centre for these endearing rodents and other wild animals. There are fine displays of birds of prey with flying to a lure in a special arena overlooking the Ubaye arm of the lake. Other wise the collection contains small animals and a variety of chicken as well as some interesting displays which must reflect the eclectic interests of the well travelled owner. There is a good play area and a small café. You entry ticket allows as many entries as you like during the season as well as reductions on the entry prices of other attractions in the area. The nearby beach of Port St Pierre is good for a refreshing dip and afterwards, you can often see parapents on the opposite side of the lake playing on the thermals above St Vincent les Forts.
We have the great pleasure to have teamed up with a fantastic painter; Dawn Pretty to be able to offer a special weeks painting holiday this Autumn in Vallouise to capture the fantastic Autumn colours here. This course is open to all abilities but limited to 6 people maximum.We have the great pleasure to have teamed up with a fantastic painter; Dawn Pretty to be able to offer a special weeks painting holiday this Autumn in Vallouise to capture the fantastic Autumn colours from many different viepoints. Alpine meadows, with backdrops of stunning mountain scenery, beautiful lake vistas, and local market scenes. With enjoyment as a priority, all abilities are welcome and you will be nurtured in your own style with levels of tuition to your taste. Terrified beginners will be introduced to the life enhancing skill of playing with paint and awakening the senses to see the beauty of everyday life. This course is open to all abilities but limited to 6 people maximum. You will be staying in our best chalet " Chalet Chabrand" which is situated in the centre of Vallouise in a fully inclusive package which will include transport, full catering, and tuition. Dawn is a very talented artist in all disciplines, and a lovely person to boot! Programme proposed; studies of light on ancient architecture; sharp angular perspectives; soft distant mountains and cloud; splashing intuitively using watery ways with tumbling rivers and silvan scenery; deep focussed botanical depictions. A variety of techniques, to carry home in your repertoire, to continue painting any subject confidently. Sat - Fly to Turin, transfer to Vallouise France to settle in, relax and converse over dinner. Sun – Friday we will alternate subject matter and locations, watch inspiring and informative demonstrations and make your own holiday masterpiece memories on paper. Sat - Transfer to Turin, fly to UK (option to stay in Turin if desired) Tutor – Dawn Pretty has ten years experience of bringing the best ouView full details