How sport is done in the French Alps

There’s no shortage of sporting challenges in the French Alps. There’s the standard snow-related sports in winter, and cycling and running in summer, but some other sports that aren’t quite so obvious. Let’s start with Le Grand Bornand, where families can enjoy air rifles!

Air guns in Le Grand Bornand

The description in English starts off well enough:

Discover biathlon, shooting on 10 metres away target with air rifles.

Then it gets weird.

Funny activity for family. It allows you to improve your concentration and your way to handle stress.

Right, so it’s a funny activity and a great way to handle stress. I’m not convinced handing a gun to a stressed person is the best way for them to handle stress. It might be a stress release, but handling the cause of the stress might be better than handling a gun (especially if the cause of the stress is standing nearby).

Differents (sic) options possible: 1 hour shooting initiation…family pack…team building challenges.

Team building? Wow! Let’s hope there’s no-one in that team who holds a grudge and is looking for stress relief, eh?

Meanwhile, Morzine is hosting some sort of the Alpine version of beach volleyball. It’s strip beach volleyball! Here’s what they say about it:

Every time a point is lost, participants have to take off a piece of fancy-dress or wacky clothing provided by the organisers.

Family-friendly strip volley ball in MorzineWacky indeed. Best of all, this activity has Famille Plus status. This is a French tourism accreditation for entertainment for families with children. Yes, bring your kids so they can watch grown-ups strip!

Back to serious sports. Le Bélier is a proper endurance race. It involves running up and down a number of peaks in La Clusaz, with some parts of the trial barely wide enough for faster runners to pass  slower ones. The locals take it seriously. Well, most of them do. Local cross-country World Cup champion, Vincent Vittoz, who has also won Le Bélier before, is probably so fit that he doesn’t need to take it seriously. So, he dressed up as a local Reblochon cheese this year to promote a different competitive angle, as seen in this YouTube video:

Basically, people from the Reblochon cheese-producing region in the Alps (from these parts) are going to run against other cheese-producing regions during Le Bélier. In the video, Vincent is the local cheese and the hero. Cheesy (pun intended) and not of the highest production standards, the video shows both the competitive side of the locals here, as well as the humour, which is always somehow related to local produce or specialties. For example, Candide Thovex (fake-)jumped a cow (and another cow took her revenge). Even the cows have a sense of humour here. You kind of have to when you’re dodging air rifle bullets, burning your eyes on beach volleyball strippers, and being chased by men dressed as cheese.

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I'm a technical author, journalist and writer from Australia who has been living in Europe since 2000 and exploring the world from there. My passions are writing, snow sports and travel.

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About me

Wendy Hollands writer in Annecy, France

I'm an experienced technical writer based in the French Alps. I enjoy learning French language nuances, winter sports and travel. Drop by, my other site.

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