There are two different techniques – classic and skating. Classic is the easiest for beginners; you simply place your skis in two parallel groves, push off and glide around the trails. Skating is more energetic and a slightly harder skill to grasp; you push your feet out to either side as though you are ice skating and use your poles simultaneously to gain momentum.
You can hire the comfortable boots and lightweight skis and poles fairly inexpensively from most sports shops and book a group or private lesson to learn the basics from most ski schools or private instructors. For those used to downhill skis, at first you feel precariously balanced and downhill sections are definitely more exciting on narrow skis with no edges! The skis are lighter and slimmer than downhill skis and the boots are much softer and more comfortable.
The tranquility of cross country (also known as Nordic) skiing is perfect for anyone who enjoys peace and quiet, or finds the downhill pistes too crowded or too steep. It is a great form of aerobic exercise and one can be as energetic or slow as one likes, while the relaxed pace makes it a more tranquil way to enjoy the surroundings!
Cross Country Skiing (Ski de Fond) in Courchevel
Once you have grasped the essentials, head off for the 67km of prepared cross country trails in the valley which are all regularly groomed and marked.
From Le Praz there are 3 loops: Green (2km) starting opposite the ski jumps; Red (7km) and Black (8.5km), starting from the Tourist Office.
From Courchevel Village the Les Brigues / Chantery (5km, red) track runs through the forest.
From Courchevel Moriond the Boucle Bleue du Belvedere (5km) starts next to the Granges draglift, providing an easy itinerary passing farmhouses along the way.
From Courchevel itself there are several options including the Col de la Loze loop (2.5km, blue), the Bouc Blanc itinerary (5km, blue), the Courchevel / Meribel Altiport run (17km, red), and the Courchevel / La Tania run (15km, red).
The tracks are groomed regularly and offer parallel tracks for classic cross country skiing and a prepared surface for skating technique. The trails are free to use, and you can pick up a guide booklet and map from the Tourist Offices.
CROSS COUNTRY SKIING IN MERIBEL
Once you have grasped the essentials, head off for the 33km of prepared cross country trails in the valley; situated at the Lac de Tueda in Mottaret and around the Altiport area of Méribel. A total of 90km of trails are available in Meribel, Courchevel and La Tania. Both classic and skating forms of the sport are accommodated, usually side by side. The trails are free to use and you can pick up a guide booklet and map from the Tourist Offices. Pistes are maintained each night and walkers are requested not to use the marked trails. The ESF (French Ski School) offers private or group lessons in cross country skiing in both Meribel and Mottaret.
CROSS COUNTRY SKIING IN VAL THORENS
Val Thorens only has 4km of prepared cross country trails, but they accommodate both classic and skating styles and are perfect for beginners or those who just want to spend a few hours trying something a bit different. Best of all, the trails are free to use! You can pick up a guide book and trail map from the Tourist Office. Go further down the valley to Meribel to find 33km of prepared cross country trails, situated at the Lac de Tueda in Mottaret and around the Altiport area of Méribel. A total of 90km of trails are available in Meribel, Courchevel and La Tania.