Skiing in France
France is a multifaceted country. It is no wonder why my French friends do not travel often abroad. Why would they? They have everything they might want right here. From glamorous Paris with everything you might want in a city to tiny picturesque and sleepy villages. In terms of landscape, France has it share too. From paradisiacal beaches and forests to volcanoes and snow covered mountains.
I live in the centre of France which makes it easy to travel around the country. In only a couple of hours I can be enjoying the Atlantic sea beaches, the Mediterranean seaside, the volcano lands or the skiing mountains. A well connected train and road service makes it possible for anyone to enjoy all this in comfort.
Le Lioran: Le Massif Cantalien
The Massif Cantalien
The Massif Cantalien is located on the West side of the Massif Central area of France. It is located in the heart of the largest volcano in Europe. The Massif Cantalien is made up of valleys, plateaus and mountains.
A Ski Vacation to the Massif Cantalien at the Lioran
Last week I went for the first time to ski in the Auvergne. We choose the skiing resort of Lioran in the Cantal Mountains or as the French call it, the Massif Cantalien. The landscape there is awesome; the ski resort of Lioran is amidst a pine forest in the biggest volcano of Europe. This French skiing station is one of the best equipped in the Auvergne; it has 150 hectares, between 1250 m to 1850 m above sea level. It comprises 60 km of groomed runs: 7 black, 15 red, 14 blue and 8 green ones.
Among the facilities, Le Lioran skiing resort has 22 ski lifts from which 1 is a cable car, 13 are drag lifts and 8 are chair lifts. There is also 1 free telebaby (tire-fesses) for beginners.
A family orientated winter resort
Le Lioran is not just about skiing, it is more than that. The Lioran is a very family orientated winter resort where you can choose from a range of activities for all ages and abilities. From skiing schools for beginners to cross country skiing, skidoo, snow shoeing, dog sledging, ice skating, snow biking, elastic trampolines and many other fun activities that will keep you and your family busy. There is even a crèche for children from 3 months to 5 years old.
Le Lioran in the Heart of the Cantal in Auvergne
How to get to Le Lioran if you are driving:
From Paris, 5 hours by motorways A71 and A75 -
Exit Massiac 45 km from Le Lioran
From Montepellier, 3 hours by motorway A 75 (free) - Exit St Flour 40 km from Le Lioran
From Lyon, 3h30 by motorways A72 and A75 - Exit Massiac 45 km from Le Lioran
From Clermont-Ferrand, 1h15 by A75 (free) - Exit Massiac 45 km from Le Lioran
Lioran Ski station
I arrived at le Lioran on Friday, almost at midday with a group of French friends. Of course, being all French the first thing we did was to stop for lunch. We decided to have a light lunch so we could go skiing in the afternoon. The light lunch, French style, lasted for about 2 hours counting the aperitif, main course, wine, desserts cheese and coffee. Come on, we were in the Cantal and we had to taste the specialities of the region!
The weather was fantastic, plenty of snow, and with a temperature of 5°C, it was rather warm. By 2pm the advanced skiers in the group went straight to ski while the beginners -me included- went to hire our skiing equipment. There are several shops to choose from for renting skiing and snowboarding equipment. I paid 35 euros for 3 days rental of skis, poles and boots. Once we all had our equipment ready, we went to hire a private tutor. There are several skiing schools available in the resort, and for 35 euros an hour you can have your private ski tutor to guide you at any level of proficiency.
Hiring a private tutor was a good bet as I picked up very quickly on the basics and I was able to enjoy myself. I was not as good as my friends, but I had lots of fun. After an afternoon skiing, at the fall of dawn we took the “cheese road” or “route du fromage” along the Cantal mountains to go and visit some of the cheese making facilities of the area. There are 5 AOC cheeses in the area, the Cantal, the Salers, the Bleu d’Auvergne, the Saint Nectaire and Fourme d’Ambert. There are many others but those are the main ones.
Me Learning the Basics:
Le Lioran Prices 2009/2010 (in euros)
Magret de canard: This is a filet of duck breast dried and treated in a similar way to ham. It is salted and perfumed with pepper and other spices.
Foie gras: it is a made of duck or goose liver specially fattened. The foie gras resembles a pate but it has a richer buttery taste.
The Gastronomic Route
On Saturday we went skiing again. I had a few more lessons without too much success this time. Still, it was a good day especially when we stopped for lunch where I enjoyed a delicious three duck (duck breast, magret of duck and foie gras) salad followed by a Grand Marnier crepe.
After lunch we had a lazy afternoon, only a little bit of skiing discovering the resort and we did the dog sledding. You can discover the snow covered landscape and the gentleness of the huskies who pull your sledge for 9 euros per person for a 10 minute trip. For a longer trip into the forest be prepared to pay up to 57 euros for 1-2 people.
Dog sled in Lioran, France
There is so much to do in the Lioran that you don’t know where to start. It is definitely a place where you could spend more than a weekend or a whole week without getting bored. There is always something to do, something to see in the Lioran.
For more details of my Lioran trip you can check the unedited blog.
A rest after a day of skiing
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