Not only is this area an outdoor playground for the active adults; there are plenty of activities for the under 10′s.
This section has been written to follow the river valleys North to South, indicating the major places referred to elsewhere in this site. There are operators offering all the activities referred to in this section if you feel that you need expert assistance. We are normally able to help identify English speaking guides for these activities .
Clarée Valley – Nevache
Walking – this is a flat bottomed valley so there are plenty of easy walks in the valley floor; there are lots of places for picnics and barbecues. A slightly more exciting but short walk is to visit the cave, Grotte des Cent Ans. The path to this is signposted off the road between Val de Près and Plamplinet and follows an eroded steam bed with explanatory panels.
Mountain biking – the valley from Pamplinet to the Briancon road is pretty flat, trending downwards with an off road mountain biking route all the way down it. We have found this to be an excellent starting point for rides with children – either on their own bikes (and ours have even done this on stabilisers) or with the children on a bike seat or in a trailer. You can choose how far you go; either doing a shuttle to get cars in the right place; catching a bus back up the valley (check times with the tourist office) or cycling back up the road.
Horse riding – rides and lessons are available at the riding centre in Les Alberts 0492204217
Walks with Llamas – walks of different lengths with llamas. Tel 0492213819
Guisane valley – Col du Lauteret to Briancon
Mountain biking – the valley from le Lauzet to Briancon is fairly flat, trending downwards. For the most part there are good off road tracks; although some of the trail is on quiet side roads. You can start this from the Col du Lauteret, but it is steep and requires a lot of braking. We have often dropped one party off at the Col and others have met them for a picnic in the fields just above Le Lauzet. Again, this is a ride where you can decide how much you might like to do and plan accordingly.
Karting, Villeneuve – the track at Villeneuve has go karts and Quad bikes to rent for over 8′s to give a taste of racing, adults can also enjoy the more powerful versions. There are little electric cars on a small track to pacify the littler children.
Horse riding – the stables next to the track allow you to rent a pony on a leading rein for a walk or there are proper riding lessons available
Adventure Park, Villeneuve – high ropes courses in the trees and bungy jump. From 8 years old. Tel 0492249057
Plan d’eau, Villeneuve there is a kids play ground and a ‘beach area’, pedalos can be hired and ice creams bought from the café on the island, this is a good break on the bike ride down from le Lauzet.
Trampolines etc , Chantmerle – during the summer months when the ski lifts are open there are lots of activities around Chantmerle; trampolining, acrobungies and downhill scooters
Swimming – the swimming pool is located at the side of the river in the ‘Parc des Sports’. There is both an outdoor pool and an indoor pool. The indoor pool has slides, water jets and a lazy river, and the outside pool is set in lawns with a small playground. Phone number +33(0)492200404
Ice rink – the ice rink is also in the Parc des Sports, skate hire is available, and special sessions such as foam parties are held from time to time. During the winter season watching the local ice hockey team, the red devils!, play is a local family event with good natured if noisy crowds and kids playing in the stands whilst the action on the pitch gets more and more heated. Games normally start around 8.30, cost 6-8 euros for anyone over 10, arrive a few minutes early for a good seat, and are advertised widely in town, there is normally a banner on the hill leading up to the old town.
Skate Park – just next to the ice rink/swimming pool complex is a skate park for skate boards and roller blades with ramps and half pipe.
Tennis – also at the Parc des Sports there are indoor and outdoor tennis courts, short tennis is also available and there are week long courses available in the summer.
Museums – the Maison du Parc at the bottom of the Grand Gargouille in the old town has a good display of local fauna and flora, as well as a history of skiing museum, which includes film loops of early skiing holidays with people arriving by steam train and horse drawn sledges.
Pooh sticks – the central road through the old fortified town of Briancon is pedestrianised and there is water flowing down a central channel under grids etc. We have found that agreeing to play pooh sticks is an excellent way of getting the younger children to visit the old town.
Plan d’eau – there is a small lake next to the kayak slalom course /play boat waves at L’Argentiere. There is a large grassy area as well as slides. The lake has a shallow gravel beach and is ideal for learning to paddle and has a flat water slalom course set up.
Via Ferrata – the Via Ferrata on the clock tower of L’Argentiere is an excellent training ground for a first via ferrata. Children of 8 upwards should be able to cope. Make sure either that you go on a proper course or are able properly to safety your child. Any difficulties, they can get off half way up before the steeper section. See also Argentière Via Ferrata
Rock climbing – there are some easy routes on the climbing around the clock tower; however there is no way to put in a top rope without climbing them. However, the French run fantastic rock climbing courses for children from 6 upwards. The children are encouraged to belay and even lead once they reach the required standard. At the end of the courses the children receive badges and a certificate which is part of the national French system which recognises the level they are at. The bolted routes provide a lot of confidence. We recommend a 5 day course (normally half days, mornings) with Azimut, you can book this through Diablo Gyr at the bar Rif in les Vigneaux.
Canyoning – the Canyon down the Fournel is a nice easy canyon; lots of slides with a short 8m abseil. We have done it with young children in high summer when the weather is hot. However, the water is cold so full canyoning wet suits are required as well as helmets and via ferrata gear for the emergency escape route. We normally equip the children with buoyancy aids.
Swimming pool – there is a small indoor and outdoor swimming pool with grassy area in L’Argentiere close to the Slalom Course.
Walking – the Eychauda walk can be an excellent walk with the older children as with care you can scramble up the side
Mountain biking – the trails along the side of the Gyronde and the Onde are excellent trails for families with either children on the back of the bike or in trailers or on their own bikes. This is all off road.
Rock climbing – Ailefroide is both a lovely place to visit but also a great place for bouldering and there are a number of well bolted ‘school ‘crags.
Via ferrata – Puy St Vincent – the Via Ferrata which starts on the road from Vallouise to Put St Vincent 1600 is a mixture between a Via Ferrata and a gorge walk. Again it is ideal for adventurous children, but you do need to be properly equipped with via ferrata equipment.
High ropes course – Puy St Vincent – this is an excellent high ropes course which can be reached from above Puy St Vincent 1600m. There is a number of different courses, including ones for smaller children. From 6 years equipment is provided. Tel 0682459228.
Quad biking – quad biking is becoming more popular around this area. Touskigliss – email@example.com normally offer this during the summer months.
Tobogganing – or luge d’été and karting using the ski lifts to gain height is offered at Puy St Vincent certainly great fun for an afternoon.
Silver mines – Fournel valley – a trip underground in this silver mine which is slowly being restored. From 6 years old. Guided trips last 2 hours. Tel 0492230294
Horse riding – E qus +33(0)630044501 offer riding lessons and courses just over the road from the slalom course, the children also brush, feed, water the ponies.
Durance valley – L’Argentière to Embrun
Plan d’eau, Roche de la Rame – small lake by the side of the road. Warm water, beach area with small slides and pedalos, there is also a café and a hut selling drinks and snacks.
Plan d’eau, Eygliers – small lake; pedal boats; good for flat water kayaking. Also a horse riding centre, children’s playground and crazy golf.
Mountain biking – easy mountain bike ride up one side of the river to the aerodrome and down the other bank back to the plan d’eau at Eygliers You can visit the petrifying fountain at Réotier on the way back. Visit the aerodrome at Champcella to watch the gliders being towed up by aeroplanes.
Marmottes – Mont Dauphin- very tame marmottes at the side of the road at Mont Dauphin. Also there are easy rock climbing routes around here. In the summer there is a special recreation of 18 th century warfare at the fort with mounted soldiers in period costume, this is normally at 5 pm but ring the tourist office for details of the son et lumiere.0492454240. There are also guided tours of the underground tunnels linking the defences. The Sentier des Marmots is a fun route up to the fort from the main road, and then you can descend through the old defence systems on the road that clings to the cliff above the lower Guil gorge.
Rock climbing – Excellent rock climbing for children above the small aerodrome at St Crepin at Chanteloube. This site has a lovely flat area at the bottom and pitches can be rigged by walking around the top and putting up a rope without having to climb the pitch. There is also an overhand where abseiling can be set up. The problem with this site is that it is used regularly by PGL, the English adventure holiday specialists for children and they can monopolise the routes. It is also quite hot during the middle of the day. Given these factors it is often best to visit this area in the late afternoon/early evening. PGL normally finish by 4pm.
Hairboating/duckies/rafting – Normally the rafting operators will take children from 8 to 10 years old, depending on the section.
Plan d’eau – a lovely lake with grassy banks; showers; bar restaurants; pedalos; mini golf; acrobungies; trampolines; outdoor swimming pool with slides. An excellent place to spend a pleasant afternoon waiting for kayakers to arrive.
Sailing base CNA – http://cnasp.free.fr This base offers equipment hire but also 3-5 day courses for children in dinghies (optimists); catamarans and windsurfing – from age 5 upwards. It is a great place as there are opportunities to sail both on the small lake at Embrun and on the large lake of Serre Ponçon and a shady beach to watch the fun on the lake from. Also similar activities offered at the lakeside near Crots on Serre Ponçon
Water skiing and wake boarding – available at lake Serre Ponçon for the older children. Ski et Bouées is signposted off the road just past Boscodon. It is also available with L’Ancre Bleu at Savines.
Boat rides – on the lake at Savines le Lac, either on the Carline or get Mum or Dad to hire a small motor boat at the L’Ancre Bleu
High ropes course – in the woods at Crots just south of Embrun.
Paintball – in the woods at Crots 0620884172, a favourite birthday party activity with our kids!
Quad biking – circuits for children and trips for adults.
Kite-surfing courses – for older children at the school at the beach at Boscodon Powair.
Marmottes Park and other animals – at Le Sauze du Lac. Follow the road from Savines towards the Ubaye; 10km after Savines le lac. Le Montagne de Marmottes 0492443200 acts as a local rescue centre for these endearing rodents and other wild animals. There are fine displays of birds of prey with flying to a lure in a special arena overlooking the Ubaye arm of the lake. Other wise the collection contains small animals and a variety of chicken as well as some interesting displays which must reflect the eclectic interests of the well travelled owner. There is a good play area and a small café. You entry ticket allows as many entries as you like during the season as well as reductions on the entry prices of other attractions in the area. The nearby beach of Port St Pierre is good for a refreshing dip and afterwards, you can often see parapents on the opposite side of the lake playing on the thermals above St Vincent les Forts.