Winter in Vallouise - The Southern French Alps


Snowshoeing in Vallouise French Alps

Snowshoeing at Vallouise in the Southern French Alps


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!

Vallouise sits in a high mountain open plain, at the junction of two large valleys. So you can easily snowshoe from the doorstep if staying in the Vallouise Valley. Check the tab "Areas" opposite this one for details of local winter hikes with snowshoes.

Pretty much all of the routes described in the tab "Areas" ca be completed by families with children as young as 5 years. So much depends on the actual child and what he or she is used to.

The local hikes around vallouise are ideally suited to young families and offer everything from 30 minutes to 3 hours of entertainment!

Routes around Vallouise, Puy St Vincent and Pelvoux


There is an extensive network of cross country ski trails in the area which can make up part of many other routes (see local XC ski leaflet “Sites Nordique – Freissinières, Puy St Vincent, Vallouise). The prepared trails generally consist of a pair of indented grooves for ‘Classic’ style and a wider track for the ‘Nordic’ skating style.

Cross-country skiers pay to use the prepared trails and understandably are not best pleased when their tracks are messed up by inconsiderate usage by pedestrians or snowshoers.However, it is possible to use the edges of many prepared Ski de Fond (cross country) tracks, unless it says is specifically not permitted.

Walk in single file, on the edge of the piste, always furthest away from the grooved tramlines. Cross the pistes at right angles to the track, avoiding damage to the tramlines. If signs indicate off-piste routes for ‘Piétons et Raquettes’ use them. Warning: On downhill stretches, skiers can come down at quite a speed.


a) The Vallouise Plain
Time: One hour
Height difference: 0m.

Difficulty: EasyFrom the bridge in the centre of Vallouise the ski de fond trail runs towards the Vallée de l’Onde. It is possible to walk on the trail as far as the Chalet Accueil (the hut which provides information for skiers).

Cross the bridge beyond the hut, turn left to walk along the Onde, to the point where it joins Le Gyre at the Maison du Parc. If you turn left here to walk upstream, you will return to the bridge at Vallouise.

The Plain area is criss-crossed with ski de fond trails. The Chalet Accueil staff may be able to advise where else it is acceptable to walk or snow shoe.

b) Vallouise to Pelvoux Time: 1 hour

There are many small local events for snowshoers throughout the winter season.

The best site for regional information concerning events is the Paysdesecrins website:

The snowshoeing season really kicks off in early December when the high passes and cols are closed and the entire Ecrins National Park becomes a showshoer walkers paradise!

The season usually finishes by the end of March, although you can still use snowshoes as late as mid May if you trek up high in the Ecrins Massif.


1. As with all mountain activities, have a considerable respect for the mountains and an awareness of potential dangers

2. Check the weather forecasts (available from Jerry and Jackie at AlpBase) or posted up daily outside the Tourist Office in Vallouise) and be aware of snow conditionsMountain weather can change very rapidly and unexpectedly, so always carry sufficient clothing, food and safety equipment.

REMEMBER Avalanches are an ever present danger throughout the winter season. North facing slopes can hold deep powder and South facing ones are obviously affected by direct sunlight. Wind slab is also a common occurrence especially after a long, dry spell and they must be watched especially when descending.

3. Ecrins Massif Mountain Rescue phone numbers:

THE number to ‘phone is: +33 (0)492 22 22 22
Briançon Hospital: +33 (0)4 92 25 34 56
Briançon Hopital A and E: +33 (0)4 92 21 16 51
La Grave: +33 492 21 10 42 (Gendarmerie)
Briançon : +33 492 21 36 36 (PGHM)
L’Argentiere: +33 492 21 10 42 (PGHM)
Gap Hospital: A and E +33 (0)4 92 40 61 20 (if climbing at Les Orres near Embrun)

Hints and Tips on Snowshoeing:

1. Wear gaiters – they stop snow from getting into your boots
2. Use ski poles or walking poles for balance and assistance.
3. Travel slowly and steadily. In soft conditions let snow compact under your snowshoes
4. Be aware that what is hard frozen snow in the morning can become soft and laborious in the afternoon
5. Don’t necessarily assume that your tracks will be there to guide you back. A blizzard can quickly cover your tracks
6. Finding marked summer paths in winter can be difficult unless previously walked. However, also be aware that other people’s trails might not be ones going your way!
7. If making a new trail, it is hard work, especially going uphill. Rotate the lead
8. It can be quite a benefit to work out a way of fastening your snowshoes to your rucksack for times when they are not needed.
9. Watch ou



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