Other Activities / Sport & Activities / The Alps

What to do in the French Alps when there’s poor snow cover

The French Alps, a timeless winter wonder, have long been celebrated for their snow-covered peaks and world-class skiing. As winter enthusiasts flock to these majestic mountains, the allure of traditional winter sports takes centre stage. But what happens when the snow cover is less than expected, or skiing is not an option?

Fear not, for the French Alps have a hidden treasure trove of winter delights waiting to be explored. In this guide, we unveil the magic of the Alps beyond the slopes, showcasing a diverse range of non-skiing winter adventures that promise an enchanting winter experience, no matter the weather.

Visit the Alps this winter


6 Non-skiing winter activities in the Alps

1. Explore the Alpine villages

Venture to nearby locations and discover the charm of Alpine villages like Chamonix, Megève, and Annecy, as well as lesser-known gems like Manigod and Saint Gervais. Immerse yourself in the historic architecture, unwind in cosy cafes, and soak in the vibrant local culture. Explore local markets bursting with Alpine flavour and indulge in the delicious offerings of the region’s cuisine.

Two people walk through the snowy streets of Annecy
Annecy is a winter wonderland under the snow © Lac Annecy Tourisme

2. Snowshoeing adventures

Swap skis for snowshoes and embrace the joy of traversing picturesque Alpine landscapes. Discover the best snowshoeing trails that lead you through serene snow-covered forests and offer breathtaking vistas. Feel the sense of tranquillity and connection to nature that snowshoeing uniquely provides.

Plus, snowshoeing is a fairly inexpensive activity, so it doesn’t have to break the bank!

Two people snowshoeing in the mountains
If the slopes are lacking powder, why not try snowshoeing instead?

3. Spa and wellness retreats

Prioritise relaxation amidst the Alps’ serene backdrop. Indulge in luxury at the region’s top spa and wellness centres, immersing yourself in tranquillity. Explore the healing properties of natural thermal baths, such as Les Thermes de Saint Gervais, allowing the soothing waters to rejuvenate the mind and body.

For a truly unforgettable spa experience, head to QC Terme in Chamonix. With breathtaking views and top-class facilities, you’re guaranteed a day of relaxation.

Find your perfect winter chalet


4. Winter hiking and nature walks

Embark on a winter hiking adventure, discovering trails suitable for all skill levels. Revel in the beauty of the Alps, where snow-kissed landscapes and breathtaking mountain views await and experience the peacefulness of the winter landscape away from the ski slopes.

A man walks through a snowy forest
You don’t need thick snow to enjoy a winter walk – photo by Laura Adai

5. Alpine cuisine and wine tasting

Delight your palate with delicious Alpine cuisine, featuring iconic dishes like fondue and raclette. Dive into the world of wine with tastings at local vineyards and cellars, and immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere of food and wine festivals during the winter months.

If you want a slightly more refined experience, why not treat yourself and visit one of the many Michelin-starred restaurants across the Alps? Find out more with our handy guides below:

A woman's hand holds a plate of well-presented food
Explore the rich fine dining experience in the Alps – photo by Jay Wennington on Unsplash

Find your dream winter chalet


6. Cultural experiences

Uncover the rich cultural tapestry of the Alps through visits to art galleries and museums such as the Centre d’Art de Flaine or the Mechanical Music Museum in Les Gets. Immerse yourself in local festivals, music events, and theatre performances that showcase the region’s vibrant cultural scene and explore the historical roots and traditions woven into the fabric of this remarkable Alpine landscape.

Traditional mechanical instruments displayed in a museum
Discover over 900 mechanical instruments at the Mechanical Music Museum, Les Gets © Mel Carle, Les Gets Tourism

In the French Alps, the absence of abundant snow does not diminish the enchantment; it merely redirects your focus to an array of winter activities beyond skiing. Embrace the magic of the French Alps in a different light, away from the traditional winter sports scene. Whether you seek relaxation, cultural immersion, culinary delights, or the simple joy of walking through snow-covered landscapes, the French Alps beckon with open arms.

If you’re yet to find your perfect winter accommodation, browse OVO Network’s selection of partner properties below…

Book your stay in the Alps


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