Beginners or experts, you will all fall for cross-country skiing

18 January 2023

Cross-country skiing, a complete sport to discover in the Nice Côte d’Azur resorts

Cross-country skiing is the Nordic discipline par excellence, practised for a very long time in the countries of Northern Europe, initially to get around in a snowy environment. It has become a sport that was first included in the Olympic Games in Chamonix in 1924.

Winter is the opportunity to discover cross-country skiing, a very complete sport accessible to all, in the resorts of the Nice Côte d’Azur Metropolitan Area, in Vésubie or in Tinée.

You are spoilt for choice to find the sport that suits you best, the best approach being to try it out by hiring equipment at the start to find the right fit!

Where to go cross-country skiing?

The Boréon Nordic Centre

Close to Saint-Martin-Vésubie, at an altitude of 1500 m, the Boréon Nordic centre is a reference for cross-country skiing enthusiasts on the French Riviera.

With about twenty kilometres of groomed and marked trails: green, blue, red or black trails, you can choose and evolve according to your desires. A border cross track allows you to discover a discipline where cross-country skiing is practised on a more uneven terrain with bumps.

The Boréon site offers good snow conditions thanks to its location in a wooded valley. You can rent your equipment at the entrance of the site in the ticketing area.

The Boréon valley, at the entrance to the Mercantour National Park, is an area of spruce and larch forest. Rich in numerous animal species, it is a remarkable environment in all seasons.

Other activities :

Several snowshoeing routes await you from the Nordic centre.
The artificial ice fall is an opportunity to discover this discipline, depending on the weather conditions.
Finally, you can take advantage of your stay in Boréon to visit the Parc Alpha and its Mercantour wolves.

The Nordic site of Saint-Dalmas-le-Selvage

Saint-Dalmas-Le-Selvage, the most northerly village in the Alpes-Maritimes department, has a Nordic walking site at an altitude of between 1,500 and 1,800 metres, with very good snow cover.

2 cross-country ski trails are freely accessible, the green circuit of La Coulié (1 km) and the blue loop of Lavoutre (4.5 km). The tracks are groomed for skating and marked out for classic skiing.

The green trail runs along the river and the blue trail runs through hay meadows, offering clear views and varying levels of difficulty.

The nearest equipment hire companies are in Saint-Etienne-de-Tinée and Auron (7 and 14 km from Saint-Dalmas):

  • Magasin Burlet Sports in Saint Etienne de Tinée au +33(0)4 93 02 44 53
  • Magasin Ski Set in Auron au +33(0)4 93 23 28 38 91
  • Find our ski rental companies on the website Auron – sport shops

Additional activities

The Nordic site is known for its beautiful snowshoeing routes which are also the starting point for ski touring.

The snowshoeing routes are prepared and on the Col d’Anelle and Gianto itineraries, day shelters are available for hikers to eat in the warmth of a small wooden chalet (free access, unguarded day shelters).

Le site d’escalade de cascade de glace du vallon de Gialorgues est un site naturel à découvrir avec les guides locaux.

Information :

Cross-country skiing in Roubion – Col de la Couillole

Roubion promises fresh air and activities in all seasons! Why not discover the Nordic circuits of the Col de la Couillole.

With a magnificent panorama, you can use the cross-country skiing or snowshoeing routes.

It is advisable to call the resort’s information office beforehand on +33(0)4 93 02 10 30 to find out about snow conditions.

And what about the alpine ski resorts?

To get off to a good start in this discipline or to improve your skills, the French Ski School (ESF) is present in the resort of Isola 2000, Auron and La Colmiane and offers you cross-country skiing lessons.

Throughout the season, cross-country skiing courses are available at the start of the pistes or at altitude, depending on snow conditions.

Ask for advice in our information offices and check the slope bulletins.

In la Colmiane, ESF ski monitors can adapt to your requests for alternative cross-country courses, skating, orienteering, Nordic walking or telemark.

In Isola 2000, the ESF offers introductory or advanced courses in both cross-country skiing disciplines, classic or skating, on a 5 km loop.

Finally in Auron, the Blainon trail offers a magnificent view of Mont Mounier. The 4 km cross-country ski trail is accessible by the Blainon chairlift: 5 € return ticket.

ski de fond à Auron @OTM NCA

Did you know?
Cross-country skiing or ski touring, how do you know the difference?

Cross-country skiing is a discipline that is practised with skis that are thinner than alpine skis and with much lighter and more flexible boots. The back of the foot is detached from the ski and is free. The ski is held to the boot from the front. Cross-country skiing is practiced on groomed and/or tracked courses and on relatively flat tracks.

Ski touring is practised in the open air, off groomed routes. The skis and boots are similar to alpine skis in size and width. There are two positions for the binding of the boots on the skis: the heel is free for the ascent but fixed for the descent, which makes it possible to go on sloping routes. On the way up, we stick “seal skins” under the skis (don’t worry, they are synthetic and the connection they have with seals is the name!) in order to grip on the snow. For the descent, the “sealskins” are removed.

Ski touring is a sport that requires supervision to begin with, in order to evolve in complete safety. Be aware of the state of the snow cover and remember to carry the essential avalanche rescue equipment (avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe).

Skating or classical, find your style

Classic or alternative cross-country skiing is done on tracks laid out on a flat groomed track or a track with a very slight difference in altitude. The skier moves by alternately pushing his right and left leg, hence the name. The skis are equipped with scales on the underside to allow them to slide forward but not backward.

Skating is said to be more physical and is practiced with smooth skis and a sideways step with the skis spread out. The whole body is used, with the chest thrusting forward and the arms pushing on the poles. The skier can thus quickly reach a high speed and move upwards.

In both techniques, cross-country skiing is a sport that demands all your muscles and works your cardio. It requires breathing power but the movements are smooth and gliding and spare your joints.

As you can see, the advantages of classic or skating skiing are numerous, you keep in shape and you move through magnificent mountain and forest landscapes.

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Visitor advisor at the Saint-Dalmas Le Selvage Information Office, Nice Côte d'Azur Metropolitan CVB