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The Top 10 Extreme Sports in the French Alps

The French Alps are the perfect place to try some adventurous extreme sports. From paragliding to heliskiing or even ice diving, you can be sure to find plenty to tick off your bucket list – whatever the season!

Feeling adventurous as you head off to your next mountain holiday? Check out below our top 10 extreme sports to consider trying during your next getaway…

NB: this list includes both summer and winter activities, which may not be available during other seasons. Please check availability with your provider before booking.


Some getting ready to go paragliding in Annecy during a sunset

1. Paragliding

Paragliding is an absolute must-try activity in the mountains. Attached to a wing, paragliders catch natural thermal winds which propel them into the air, allowing them to free fly above the mountains. This truly unique sensation is what makes this experience so popular amongst visitors to the Alps.

Most resorts in the French Alps offer paragliding experiences. Operators provide a selection of different packages depending on your level. If you’re not an experienced glider, for example, you will need to book a tandem flight. This type of paragliding is very popular amongst tourists, as you don’t need any prior experience to try it.

One of our favourite spots for paragliding is Lake Annecy. Departing from the Col de la Forclaz all the way back down to the other side of the lake, you can experience the cleanest lake in Europe from a whole new angle. Discover here everything there is to know about paragliding in Annecy to see what you can expect!


2. Speed Riding

© TVattard, La Clusaz Tourist Office

If you’re looking for advanced extreme sports, are you an experienced paraglider in the French Alps, and looking for a unique twist, then speed riding is for you. Combining skiing and paragliding, this discipline makes for a truly unforgettable experience.

Previous skiing experience is also required for this activity. In addition, paragliding schools offer training classes for speed riding. These will cover some of the basics and safety measures to get the hang of the sport.

Keen to try? Be sure to check with the local tourist office for more information!


3. Skydiving

Skydiving is slightly more expensive than other activities on this list. However, it is definitely an unforgettable one!

Similarly to paragliding and speed riding, sky diving is extremely weather-dependent. Remember to keep your schedule flexible, especially when booking in advance, as it could be moved due to conditions on the day. Always make sure to check the terms and conditions of your flight beforehand.

Our recommended spot for skydiving would be in front of the Mont Blanc. From there, you will be sure to take in incredible views, and a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience the summit from a bird’s eye view. Check out Activ’Annecy and Mont Blanc Skydive to book your flight!

4. White Water Sports

You can be sure to find a whole variety of adrenaline-filled white water sports around the French Alps. Rafting, kayaking and riverboarding are all great fun for the whole family to enjoy the region while keeping cool.

In May and June, water levels tend to be high from snow melting off the mountains. If you’re looking for a bumpier ride, however, we would recommend July, August and September. Water levels are usually lower during these months, as well as warmer temperatures.

Many resorts in French Alps offer white water sports through their “Bureau des Guides”. Beginners will need to book a guided tour, where they will be kitted out with the necessary gear and safety equipment to enjoy their ride smoothly.

Check with your local tourist office for information on guided tours around Alpine waters!


5. Canyoning

Canyoning is a great opportunity to test your inner thrill seeker. Expect to jump into mountain pools, scramble over slippery rocks, or even find hidden waterfalls… all alongside unrivalled views of the lakes and mountains!

Combining hiking, mountain climbing, abseiling and cliff jumping, canyoning is a great activity to try with the family. However, keep in mind that certain height and age restrictions may apply.

Check with the local tourist office for providers, restrictions, and guided tours. Prices will vary depending on the length and group capacity.

6. Scuba and Ice Diving

Scuba diving and ice diving could be considered as extreme sports, and are available across specific resorts in the French Alps. Whether you dive into the water or under the ice will depend on the time of year you go.

If you’re after a more daring experience to write home about, we’d recommend opting for ice diving. Test your limits in extreme temperatures and dive into unique surroundings. Due to its increasing level of popularity, you can now enjoy this experience in Montriond, Val Thorens, Tignes and Courchevel. Head over to this website to book your place.

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7. Wakeboarding and Waterskiing

If you’re longing for a summer alternative to skiing or snowboarding, then look no further! Wakeboarding and waterskiing are surface sports that allow you to skim the surface of the water whilst towed by a boat ahead. Although tricky to master, you won’t need previous experience – just confidence in the water, a moderate fitness level and a sense of humour!

These activities run in destinations such as Lake Annecy, Lac du Bourget in Aix-les-Bains or Lac Léman (accessible from Thonon-les-Bains or Evian-les-Bains). Note that wakeboarding is also available in some cable parks (such as in Albertville and Arenthon).

You can be sure to find a whole range of other watersports available in these areas as well. Check out our guide on the best places for a watersports holiday in the Alps to discover what’s available!


8. Zip Lining

© Álvaro Arcelus

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©

Whiz through the landscape and experience the mountains from a bird’s eye view! This adrenaline-fuelled activity guarantees stunning views of the region and enjoyment for kids and adults alike.

Zip-lining is available in both winter and summer in resorts such as Châtel and Val Thorens. So, if you’re holidaying in the Portes du Soleil or 3 Valleys, it’s well worth the visit. You may also have the option of booking a double flight if you’d like to enjoy the flight with a friend.


9. Mountain climbing

© Yucca Films, Chamonix Tourist Office

Rock climbing is a prevalent activity for mountain lovers around the French Alps. Tuition is often available through the “Bureau des Guides” in most major resorts.

With no previous experience required, Via Ferrata is also a great summer activity for those wanting to try climbing for the first time. Combining hiking and climbing, this activity is a great day out for families with older children.

You will follow a trail that has been cut into the rock face, which you are clipped onto at all times and provided with a helmet for your safety.

The level of difficulty and the cost will depend on the destination. Ask at your local Tourist Office for more information or to book an experience.

10. Heliskiing

© Chamonix Mont-Blanc Hélicoptères, Chamonix Tourist Office

Looking for an unforgettable skiing experience? Then heliskiing is definitely for you. Swap the chair lift and cable cars for a helicopter to reach the highest peaks and remote areas in the French Alps!

Heliskiing is arguably the best way to enjoy the finest back-country skiing in the Alps. Though not available within France itself, you can leave from points on the French border such as Sainte Foy, La Rosière/la Thuile, Val d’Isère and Chamonix. Note that you will need to be a very confident skier to partake in this one.


Other fun activities for your next mountain adventure…

Combining adrenaline with beautiful scenery, these extreme sports in the French Alps allow you to experience the mountains from a whole new perspective. They are also great bucket list activities to cross off during your holiday!

But that’s not all there is on offer around the French Alps. Check out our other suggestions below…

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accommodation in the French Alps…

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