Non-Skiing Activities in French Winter

Away from the pistes

If skiing isn’t for you or you just fancy a break from the slopes, there’s so much to do in this stunning part of the Alps. From go-karting, bowling and Christmas markets to spas, cycling and exploring the incredible cities of Annecy or Lyon, a winter holiday here offers much more than perfect pistes.

Activities & events

Christmas markets

Discover festive treats such as hot wine and gingerbread, plus last-minute present ideas and a fantastic atmosphere at the Christmas market in Annecy old town. If you visit the market located along the canals in the medieval city during late afternoon/evening you can also watch the sound and light experience where images are projected onto the façade of the town hall.

Thônes Christmas market also takes place during December. Thônes is just a short drive from La Clusaz, Manigod and Le Grand Bornand, making this a perfect Christmas market for those who don't want to head down to Annecy. (Dates and times advertised around the village)

Annecy market:

Thônes market:


A trip to the cinema

There are cinemas in La Clusaz, Le Grand Bornand and Thones showing a range of recent releases. Films rotate between these cinemas and programmes are available in many local shops, supermarkets and tourist offices.

Alternatively, the 4 Nemours cinema in Annecy old town shows films in their original language (VO) version. Programme information is available online.

22 Rue Sainte-Claire. Phone +33 4 50 45 47 88.

There is also a Gaumont Pathe multiscreen cinema in the centre of Annecy, showing the latest releases as well as live theatre performances from around the world. These include, ballet from Moscow, opera from New York and French Comedy live.

7 Avenue de Brogny, Centre Commercial Courier, Annecy. 

A visit to Santa

For families with young children, visit Santa’s grotto between Annecy and Geneva, see his workshop and the main man himself. You can even have a snack with Mrs Claus!

There’s also plenty going on in La Clusaz, which hosts a great free festival for kids with an appearance by Santa — Les Pestacles du Père-Noël (during Christmas week).

Visit the French Alps for a white Christmas to remember

A day of discovery

Take a trip to the La Turbine exhibition centre and cinema for a fun and educational day out. Located in Annecy Cran-Gevrier.

Days out in Lyon, Annecy and beyond

A day trip to Lyon

Roughly a two hour drive from the Aravis gets you to the beautiful city of Lyon. There’s so much to do here, including the magnificent Christmas lights, a tour of the Traboules (or passageways), the Confluence museum, plus a fantastic free entry zoo in the Parc de la Tête d’Or. On top of that, Lyon is also one of the best cities to dine out in France!

Lots to do in La Clusaz

The vibrant resort of La Clusaz organises a wide range of entertainments and activities for visitors. Take a look at our insider's guide for more details of what’s on.


Christmas Eve in Le Grand Bornand Chinaillon

A magical evening that culminates in the arrival of Santa Claus. Starting at 5.30pm, there’s free hot chocolate and mulled wine for everyone, plus a torchlight parade that heralds the arrival of Santa Claus. There’s also Mass in the church at 10.30pm, and celebrations in front of the church.


Get goaty!

The goat farm at Les Confins is well known in the area, producing some excellent cheeses. Take a trip there with the kids and they can pat the goats while you sample the cheeses! Situated at the very end of the road from La Clusaz to Les Confins.

Calling all cheese lovers

This area is famed for its cheese, so don’t miss out on sampling some! Contact the local tourist offices in La Clusaz, Manigod, Le Grand Bornand or Thônes for details regarding visits to local farms (meeting with the farmers who make the famous Reblochon, Chevrotin and Tomme de Savoie cheeses, sampling and buying fresh products etc).

Hameau des Alpes

Why not take time to find out more about the area's local history at the Hameau des Alpes in La Clusaz. An interactive learning experience for all the family and they will even let you in on the real reason why Reblochon is called Reblochon.

French cheeses to taste and farms to visit to make tartiflette and more

A day around Lac des Confins

An ideal setting for a day out with the family. Enjoy cross country skiing in  the morning, followed by a delicious lunch in one of the many restaurants overlooking the glacial lake. Or how about a visit to one of the local goat farms, followed by a snowshoe walk down to the lake's edge to build snowmen? Lac des Confins also hosts one of the most exciting events marking the end of the winter season. The Defi Foly, which see’s the competitors shooting down a ski ramp (on anything that slides) to see how far they can make it across the lake before sinking.

Go-karting in Thônes

Get behind the wheel in any weather with family and friends and unleash your inner Lewis Hamilton or Olivier Panis! Located on the road from Thônes to Saint-Jean-de-Sixt. Phone +33 6 08 34 69 36.

Ecomusee du Bois et de la Foret

Enjoy a visit to this beautiful natural environment. Situated at Lieu dit Les Etouvieres, Montremont, Thônes.  Phone +33 4 50 32 18 10.


Eating out

This area is famed for its food, with Le Grand Bornand, La Clusaz and Manigod boasting some fabulous restaurants. Add to this Annecy old town, which is full of restaurants, cafes and bars, plus a wonderful atmosphere and you have something to suit all tastes. We strongly recommend booking tables in advance if you plan on eating out. Visit our Insider’s Guide for a growing list of OVO Network’s favourite places to eat out.

Boat trips around Lake Annecy

A fantastic way to explore Lake Annecy, please check that your preferred boat trip is running before you head to Annecy as some do stop during certain weeks in winter.

Cycling in Annecy

Through most of the year, you can hire bikes and electric bikes to cycle around the lake on the cycle path. Segway tours should also be operating, but again please check with the rental companies.

Bike hire Basecamp Talloires:

Segway tours:

You can also read more about cycling on our page dedicated to cycling in Annecy.

Things to do in Annecy and the French Alps in summer and winter

Bowling alley

La Clusaz has a bowling alley at the top end of town —a fun activity for all the family off the piste. If you prefer a full-size bowling alley or you're part of a large group, why not make a day of it and head down to Annecy with all the family to Le Bowl.


Laser game fun in Annecy

An adrenaline-pumping, fast-paced activity that is played in the dark. It will keep you on your toes whilst you track down your foes (friends and family)!

Rainy day activities for kids

La Forêt Enchantée in Annecy (Grand Epagny) is great fun for kids on a rainy day.

Ice skating in Annecy, La Clusaz and Le Grand Bornand plus ice hockey

Skating fun

For budding ice queens or kings, enjoy ice skating in La Clusaz, Le Grand Bornand or Annecy. In Annecy, you can also watch the local ice hockey team, the Chevaliers du Lac, take on the competition. It’s a great evening out!

Le Grand Bornand:

La Clusaz:


Annecy ice hockey:

Outdoor swimming in La Clusaz

Enjoy the thrill of swimming outside (or inside) in a mountain environment, with wonderful views. There’s also a sauna and hammam to enjoy.

Horse riding

Take to the saddle, with a choice of horse riding stables at Thônes, La Clusaz and Annecy le Vieux.

Annecy le Vieux -

La Clusaz -

Thônes -


Indoor action

If your family loves swimming, climbing, shopping and eating, head to Vitam Park on the way to Geneva for a fun day out.


Magical Evian

Evian is transformed every winter for a festival with a difference, taking place from early December until early January.



Take to the air and view this beautiful area from the sky.

Find out more at

Spas and health centres

There’s a great choice of spas and health centres in the area, perfect for some rest and rejuvenation.


La Clusaz:

Le Grand Bornand:

Manigod and Thônes:

Spa treatments and days in the Aravis — La Clusaz, Le Grand Bornand, Annecy, Manigod and Thônes

Craft activities

Enjoy creating something special with a range of crafts available in Le Grand Bornand.

Or why not take part in a pottery course in Manigod with Laurent of Atelier Polkadot. Your chance to create something genuinely unique. If you can’t manage a course, her beautifully located workshop and gallery are well worth a visit.

Take to the skies

Choose to fly over Lake Annecy, the Aravis or Mont Blanc with experienced pilots — an unbelievable way to view this part of the Alps.


Wherever possible we have included links to English sites, however where this has not been possible you may find a French language link. We have tried to check all information is up to date, but please check availability/programmes and opening hours before visiting any of the above.