2012 Mountain activities

Steep gradients - dreaded by hikers and cyclo-tourists - are adopted by thrill-seekers.

Steep gradients - dreaded by hikers and cyclo-tourists - are adopted by thrill-seekers.

The mountain has an undeniable natural advantage for thrill-seekers looking for speed and drops.Mountain biking can now be compared to winter sports, particularly with the variety of different forms it can take -descent, 4X, cross country, trailing… In the summer, bike parks like the Jump Park at Les Gets attract riders from all over France, whilst the aerial components of the new black run of the Crêtes at Les 2 Alpes - despite being only just finished - are already a subject of discussion on specialist blogs.  In other resorts, such as Tignes and Val-d’Isère, bike parks have been linked to offer 150 km of runs for enthusiasts.Those looking for steep gradients should go to Alpe-d’Huez on the Mégavalanche which totals 2610 m of descent without stopping.Inspired by local hero, Julien Absalon (double Olympic cross country champion!), people living near the Vosges can ride at La Bresse with its 60 km of runs and 1600 m descents.Mountain bikers from the Massif Central will be in their element at Super Besse with its 15 km exclusively dedicated to descents whereas riders from the Pyrenees can take the cable car to the Pic du midi and treat themselves to 11 km of descent and 1 800 m of drop, without stopping.  

Amongst white-water sports, canyoning - which takes place in torrents, waterfalls and slides - has found its place in the Hautes-Pyrenees and its 290 km of passable rivers.Luz-Saint-Sauveur is considered to be the most beautiful spot for this sport.In the Alpes du sud, the Ubaye valley and in particular the Blache ravine, cut into the limestone, attracts the more sporty types thanks to its abseiling descents and strong water flows.Further north, you need to have a strong stomach to tackle 9 metre jumps in the Ecot canyon in Haute-Maurienne-Vanoise.Finally, it is on the Isère river, level with Bourg-Saint-Maurice, that rafting, kayak and white-water swimming enthusiasts can face the eddies of this torrent which has hosted several world kayak championships.  

In the upwards direction, the climb also reserves its share of thrills for vertigo enthusiasts.Equipped cliffs such as the Duchère at Les Contamines are accessible from 4 years old.There is also a long abseil of 50 m, open to all levels on the site.Similarly, the via ferrata will charm those who want to try climbing without first learning the techniques.The Roc du Vent via ferrata, located at Arêches-Beaufort, which counts an elevation of 547 m, is renowned for its Nepalese bridge perched 35m high.  The views over the Pierra Menta, the Roselend dam and the Mont-Blanc won’t spoil the pleasure of arriving at the top.To fly high, this time thanks to aerial currents, go to the paragliding base at Talloires with its view over the Annecy Lake.With the training courses offered by the six local paragliding schools, you can fly independently after 3 days.


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