We often tend to associate snow holidays with skiing or snowboarding.
But for those who do not practice sliding sports, there are other activities to enjoy and discover the mountain!
Among other things: snowshoeing.
Formerly made of wood, snowshoes are now made with composite materials allowing weight gain and better resistance.
Their snowshoe shape (hence their name) increases the lift on the snow, and thus allows the hiker to tire less.
Equipped with steel jaws and studs, they provide very good grip on the ice. The binding of the snowshoe is mounted on a pivot, which facilitates the rolling of the foot, and makes walking almost natural.
The snowshoes that we rent from Ski Top are also equipped with climbing wedges. This wedge, positioned under the heel, reduces fatigue during the ascent. But we'll tell you how to use it, before you leave the store.
As for shoes, after-skis of the "moon-boot" type are not accepted: too wide, they do not pass through the bindings. We recommend, ideally, waterproof mountain boots (the ones you use in summer for example), or après-skis that hold your foot well. If necessary, we can rent you suitable shoes.
Finally, we will equip you with sticks. They provide stability, and also allow you to manipulate the wedges.
By renting from Ski Top, located in the heart of La Croisette, in Les Menuires, you can go snowshoeing. After leaving the station, you will very quickly find yourself in a peaceful universe, with the only sound of animals.
Many routes leave from the center of the resort (la Croisette) and allow hikes from 30 minutes to several hours.
The Balcony trail or Bernadette trail (about 1 hour)
If you are new to snowshoeing, we recommend the Balcon trail (or Bernadette trail) which starts above the Brelin residence. Relatively flat, it allows you to familiarize yourself with snowshoes and enjoy the view over the whole valley. At the end of this path you can admire pretty Montagnettes (local houses used by shepherds in the past). Allow 1 hour of walking there and back on this easy trail.
Lac du Lou hike (about 1h30)
If you are a hiker accustomed to steeper terrain, we suggest the hike that leads to Lac du Lou. Leaving from the Ski top store on the Croisette, you join the Plan de l’eau cross-country ski trail. From there you set off to discover the Lac du Lou and its refuge. The path is generally clearly visible thanks to the frequent passages. However, make sure you take the winter route and not the summer one (too exposed to avalanches in winter). Count 1h30 of walking to reach the refuge.
The municipality (Saint Martin de Belleville) launched a vast renovation project of the refuge in 2016. The new Lou refuge will be operational in 2018. The old refuge will remain in use during this construction period. But in winter it is not open to the public.
For the return, you can also take the ski lifts and return to the resort via the snowshoe trails. To do this, you will need to buy a pedestrian pass from the ski lift office in the Les Menuires (or Val Thorens) resort.
Hiking maps are available at the Tourist Office.
At Ski Top, ask Jérémy or Carole for advice, depending on the conditions at the time...and your condition!
Preparing for your hike
Before leaving, we also advise you to take something to cover yourself warmly (the weather in the mountains changes very quickly). A backpack with a bottle of water, sunscreen and a few cereal bars will help you have a good time. If you have a pair of binoculars, even better! Chamois sometimes show the tip of their noses...
And if you want to buy your own rackets, we'll show you the different models we sell.
To rent your snowshoes: https://www.location-ski-menuires.fr/rub_5_location-accessories -les-menuires
For the Saint Martin de Belleville, Les Menuires, Val Thorens trail map: http://media2. lesmenuires.com/2013/12/map-of-sentiers.pdf