Queyras Cross Country Skiing

The Queyras Mountains are found in the Hautes-Alpes department in southeastern France right on the border with Italy. The area is remote and the easiest access in winter via the historic town of Guillestre is along a narrow road perched on the cliffs above the Gorge du Guil. Continuing on the road to Italy the way is barred by the imposing hill top fortress of Fort Queyras, also known as the Château de Queyras, located in the municipality of Château-Ville-Vieille. The fortress was originally built in the 13th century but has been restored and renovated over the years.

Col d'Agnel

Fort Queyras is a remarkable example of military architecture and is one of the best-preserved castles in the region. It guarded the strategic route for trade and military movements between Italy and France. The fortress is open to visitors and offers guided tours, which provide a glimpse into the life of soldiers and lords during medieval times. Due to the remote and enclosed nature of the region the Escarton de Queyras had a quasi independent status from the 14th century until the revolution.

The Queyras is set in a beautiful high mountain landscape with the high cols d’Izoard and Agnel. The region has abundant snowfall during the winter months. Its proximity with Italy means that the area benefits from regular Mediterranean storms that pick up moisture from the sea and dump it as snow on the mountains; the famous retour d’est weather system.

Col d'Izoard

A number of villages in the Queyras Mountains cater for cross-country skiing enthusiasts. The domaine Nordique d'Arvieux and is located at an altitude of 1650 meters. The ski area offers 30 km of marked trails, including 10 km of easy trails, 12 km of intermediate trails, and 8 km of difficult trails which wind through the forests. The site is hilly in nature and requires a bit of technique to be appreciated to the full. You can also climb to the 2350 meter col d’Izoard and descend down to Cervières and beyond along the ancient route des Escartons. Check with the piste services when they have prepared and open this trail as there is a risk of avalanche at the Casse Desert section.


The villages of Molines / Saint-Véran offer 36 km of cross-country trails spread over two very distinct valleys. The trails wind through forests and meadows, with views of the Queyras massif and the Italian border and is very popular with classic skiers. The col d’Agnel is regularly prepared for both classic and skating. Start early and you can climb right to the Italian border at 2744m altitude surrounded by high mountains that form a natural barrier between the two countries. The refuge d’Agnel offers refreshments to weary skiers.

Abriès - Ristolas

Abriès - Ristolas / Haut Guil Valley. The cross-country ski area is located in the upper Guil valley and offers 39.5km of trails which wind through forests and cross open pastures without too much climbing or descent. Ideal for beginners or skiers who just want a relaxed day on the tracks.

The Ceillac cross country ski area is nestled in the Cristillan Valley with an aspect that keeps the snow cold, ideal for skating. It offers over 20 km of classic skiing and 10 km of skating. The trails wind through forests and valleys, with panoramic views of the Queyras massif.

Although remote, the Queyras is well worth the effort for cross country skiers. As well as cross country there are other nordic activities such as snowshoeing and dog sledding and a number of alpine ski areas at Molines/Saint-Véran , Abriès-Ristolas and Ceillac as well as the internationally renowned Vars-Risoul ski domain above Guillestre. Due to the location and altitude it is snow sure during the main winter months but the season often starts at the end of November. Piste preparation is best during the French school holiday period in February - if you want to profit from the high cols this is the best period to travel.

Travel: train to Gap or Briancon (there is also a small railway station near Guillestre). Nearest airports are Turin and Marseille.