Trouble is, before you ski down you must first make your way up and there is no place where my awkwardness is more acute than on a chairlift. First, there’s the trying to edge forward in the queue, then the part where it scoops you up too quickly and whacks you on the back, not to mention the over-anxious bar deploying and the sheer panic of scrambling to get off. And don’t even get me started on being dragged up a hill with a spinning disc between the legs. Do you have this trouble?
This is why I was thrilled to discover snowshoeing. No balancing skills are required and no one gives a vin chaud whether your hat matches your goggles. Here are the how’s, why’s and where’s of snowshoeing near Nice.
To head off into a pristine winter wonderland, all you’ll need is waterproof boots, showshoes (racquettes) & walking poles (both of which you can rent), thermal underwear and your thickest old Christmas socks. You’ll also need a guide or someone really amazing with directions.
Because it’s so peaceful. There are no crowds, no schools of 6-year-olds showing you up with their slalom skills – it’s just you and your buddies lost in Narnia with nothing but the sound of trudging feet and heavy breathing. You might feel a bit stupid at first walking in the plowed parking lot with size 20 plastic shoes, but once you’ve hiked up to the enchanting back country and you’re galloping through thigh-deep snow like you’re walking on the moon, you’ll feel like a polar explorer. You can navigate through forests, ping branches back into each other’s faces and enjoy lots of belly laughs watching everyone sink up to their waists. Plus, hoisting yourself up a hill is very athletic. You’ll sweat buckets and earn the right to a calorific feast afterwards.
Well, anywhere where there is powdery snow. The snowshoeing adventure pictured here was at Gréolières, an hour and half from Nice in the back country around Grasses. If you’re unfamiliar with the area and want to avoid getting lost, a guide like this one may be helpful. Even closer to Nice and accessible by bus, you have Saint-Dalmas and the valley of Valdeblore. All info is available on the Randoxygene site.