Loire - Forez Cross Country Skiing

The Loire and Haute-Loire departments are centered around St Etienne to the South East of Lyon in the French Massif Central mountain range. The skiing is divided into 4 areas: The Monts du Pilat to the south east of St Etienne, The Ardeche plateau to the South-West, the Forez to the North-West and the Monts de la Madeleine to the North.

mont pilat cross country skiing
Mont du Pilat la Bessat

The Monts du Pilat are less than 30 minutes from Saint-Etienne (50 minutes from Lyon) and are therefore a popular destination at the weekend. The ski trails are located between 950 and 1,300 meters altitude. There are 80 kilometers of marked trails spread over three sites: Le Bessat-les Grands Bois, Burdignes and Saint-Régis-du-Coin. Le Bessat on the Col de la Croix Chaubouret has ski hire, restaurants and a short rope tow for kids. The skiing is pretty confidential. Only le Bessat is pisted for skating, the other sites are classic only and trails are prepared with a snow scooter. The main trails at le Bessat are great for skating, you can do a nice 15km loop via the Troix Croix, but the side trails are a bit rock-n-roll. There are some technical descents but these can be avoided and are well marked.

Monts du Pilat

The high Ardeche plateau has a number of cross country areas. The Nordic domain of Meygal is 55 minutes from St Etienne via the N88 highway close to the town of Le Puy-en-Velay. The 44 km of prepared trails are largely in forests between altitudes of 1200 m to 1450 m. The area generally has good snow and the trails are well prepped.

Just beyond Meygal is the resort of Mezenc/Les Estables. You drive across the beautiful Ardeche plateau to reach the area. Mont Mezenc is a characteristic double summit and all around you are surrounded by "Suc" - the famous exctinct volcanos in a characteristic "sugar loaf" formation. There are xx kilometers of cross-country ski trails but also a small alpine skis area with 9 runs, a snowboard park and 43 kilometers snowshoeing trails. You can even nordic ski tour to the summit of the Mezenc. Les Estables is a charming Ardeche town with restuarants and hotels.

To the south is the Croix Bauzon

The Col de la Loge at 1 h 15 via the A72 (83 km)

The Col de la Loge is located in the heart of the Forez mountains. Here, it is a paradise of wide open spaces and nature, only 1 h 15 from Saint-Etienne. In winter, you can practice cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and discover the wild landscapes of the Hautes Chaumes, or go for a ride on a dog sled or toboggan on the secured slopes. For skiing, you have to go to the nearby resort of Chalmazel which is 20 minutes away (see description below). www.station-coldelaloge.fr

Chalmazel is the only ski resort in the Loire (1100m-1640 m), it is located in the Haut-Forez, a little more than an hour from Saint-Etienne. This small and authentic family resort has 15 ski slopes and its ski area extends over 12 km of slopes. You will also find a snow garden with a conveyor belt (length 30 m), a snowpark at an altitude of 1 530 m, located at the top of the chairlift. The resort offers other activities such as snowscoot, yooner, snowkite, electric mountain bike on snow, sledging, cross-country skiing, handiski, etc. www.chalmazel-hiver.fr

Crêtes du Forez

The Crêtes du Forez ski area is located on a high plateau in the eastern end of the Massif Central mountains about 40 minutes drive from St Etienne. Despite the "nordic" feel to the area The ski season generally lasts from the first snows in December to early March. There is a small alpine area at the Prabouré trailhead and a hire shop and restaurants. You can also start at the Col des Supeyres (1365m) where there is a gite (Chalet des Gentianes); it is possible to eat and buy lift passes.

mont pilat cross country skiing
Crêtes du Forez

One popular trail is the Circuit de la Loge, which is a 6-kilometer loop that starts and finishes at the ski resort of La Loge des Gardes. The trail is suitable for all levels of skiers and offers beautiful views of the surrounding landscape.

** Montoncel Lavoine**

The ski trails are located in the largest forest of the Massif Central with the high point, the Puy de Montoncel at 1 287m altitude. The ski chalet hires cross country skis and snowshoes. The area has 6 trails from a 800 meter green, ideal for beginners to the 10km Pierre qui Danse black. The tracks pass through forests and clearings. A 18km single-track, accessible only with classic skis lets you reach the top of the Puy de Montoncel (1 287 m) and Puy-Snidre (1 232 m).

montoncel cross country skiing

Montoncel Lavoine

Station de ski de fond de la Verrerie The hostel is located 3 km from the village of St Nicolas des Biefs, on the plateau of La Verrerie, between 950 and 1100 m of altitude. has a ski rental shop for skis, snowshoes and sledges. There are four cross country ski trails(green 1.8 km, blue 4 km, red 6 km, black 7.5 km). There is also a picnic room with microwave.

Station de ski de fond de la Verrerie

Nordic Ski Touring

Trans-Ardeche trail.