21.03
2012 Mountain activities

Snowmobiling allows you to benefit from the peace and quiet of the wilderness while experiencing the excitement of high speeds and feeling a rush of adrenaline. Normally, this activity is practiced after the closing of the pistes, at nightfall. Experience the joy of gliding through the snow in a whole new way!

Conquest of the great outdoors

Snowmobiling allows you to benefit from the peace and quiet of the wilderness while experiencing the excitement of high speeds and feeling a rush of adrenaline. Normally, this activity is practiced after the closing of the pistes, at nightfall. Experience the joy of gliding through the snow in a whole new way!

Conquest of the great outdoors

Trail, performance, or touring…there are many types of snowmobiles, but the image they bring to mind is always the same: speeding along snowy trails through the wilderness. Of course, France is not Canada or Lapland, but the sensation of freedom that comes from driving a snowmobile is no less intense than in the northern countries.

“At La Féclaz, we drive in a loop through the forest, far from the resort accommodation facilities. We hardly see a soul apart, from a few hares or deer,” says Frédéric Boidin, a guide based in Aix-les-Bains who also offers tours in the neighbouring station of Saisies. From Avoriaz to Deux Alpes, from Samoens to Praloup, without forgetting Chamrousse, Valmeinier, Courchevel, Montgenèvre, les Arcs and Auron, a snowmobile tour is a fun, memorable winter activity. Tours are led by a professional guide who heads a pack of several snowmobiles, ensuring safety and maintaining a steady speed.

“It is very important to move at a steady pace, but fast enough that the machine does not lose momentum or drive in fits and starts. This is why I ask my clients to always leave five metres between their snowmobile and the one in front of them,” says Christian Rondeau, of the Centre Pyrénéen de Scooter des Neiges, at Saint-Lary.

Easy Driving

The mechanics of snowmobiling are very simple. “To speed up, you push an accelerator with your thumb, like on a quad. To brake, there are hand grips, like on a bicycle,” explains Christian Rondeau.

In general, the speed varies between 20 and 60 km/h – but with a real sensation of rapidity. “The acceleration is very powerful, a bit like on a motorcycle, it is easy to get jolted backwards from the force. And when one accelerates to quickly, there is a possibility of skidding out. That is why is it so important to follow the rhythm of your guide, who can judge when one must be vigilant and when it is safe to give it more power,” says Frédéric Boidin.

Just for Fun

Although the adrenaline-charged sensation of driving a snowmobile appeals to motorcycle enthusiasts, this activity is proposed more for its fun, recreational side. So much so that aficionados might be disappointed. “Modern snowmobiles have four-stroke engines, which are really very quiet. With a helmet on your head, you hardly hear the motor,” says Frédéric Boidin. Snowmobile tours are often held at night, and are a real getaway from the everyday of the pistes. “We cross over the alpine ski pistes, but at night, guests often don’t recognize them. We can also take advantage of a beautiful night view over Saint-Lary and the surrounding villages,” says Christian Rondeau

Impatient to give it a try? Note that you must be at least 18 years of age (21 in certain cases) in order to drive a snowmobile. Legally, a driver’s licence is not required, although it is preferable for insurance reasons. Passengers – there is room for 2 on a snowmobile – must be at least 12 years old (14 in certain cases.)

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