Alpine Rush: Mastering Speed Riding in Chamonix

In the high-altitude destination of choice for off-piste skiers, Chamonix devotees are switching poles for sails as they chase thrills on the speed-riding slopes. In partnership with TAG Heuer, we’ve put together an action-packed itinerary for winter adventurers, going off-piste in search of the best spots to catch the wind – with a little help from the ultimate winter sports companion, the TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 200. Ready? Let’s take to the skies.

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Check your ropes, clip into your skis and prepare for lift-off. Welcome to the high-octane world of speed riding, the action-packed upgrade for off-piste thrill-seekers. If you're an ice baby with a proclivity for perilous escapades, can we suggest you make tracks to Chamonix? Because this chocolate-box-pretty high-altitude resort is making a name for itself as the home of winter sports' most audacious new kid on the block.

Blending the best bits of paragliding and skiing, speed riding offers breathtaking vistas and double-speed descents. Harnessed to a paraglider kite, you'll master wind surges and make hair-raising jumps off towering cliffs as you skim the Alps' most devilish slopes. Think you're done? Think again. After gliding down, it's time for a turbo-charged run on the freshest powder - we're talking untouched terrain here. This is skiing with the volume turned up.

Sail? Check. Helmet? Check. Swiss-engineered Swiss-engineered TAG Heuer Aquaracer timepiece? We wouldn't speed ride without it. With its hard-wearing design, the sleek and sophisticated Aquaracer tool watch is our preferred companion on the slopes. After all, skiing in a new dimension requires premium gear - and the Aquaracer is as smart as it comes.

From Bauhaus design hotels to sultry après-ski saloons, by way of snow-capped peaks, daring drops and super-steep bowls, this is Chamonix at its most dazzling.

Get your skis on: our ultimate speed riding itinerary

Day 1: Chamonix town

After landing in Geneva, make a beeline for Chamonix's cloud-tickling peaks - just one hour away by car. Surrounded by some of the French Alps' highest summits - including the majestic Mont Blanc - this well-heeled ski town is the region's speed-riding hub. Unpack at the sleek Hôtel Le Morgane, then ride the aerial lift up the 3,842m-high Aiguille du Midi to wonder at the spectacular views. Itching to test those kite skills? Join the Bambi-legged speed-riding beginners on the Glacier du Rognon's slopes.

For your unforgettable first lift-off, grab your paraglide kite and hitch a ride on the Brévent cable car. Steady your nerves with a strong Italian espresso from Café Alpin's baby-blue slope-side truck, then attach your ski skins and get climbing. Of the four couloirs that converge into the mighty Brévent bowl, the technically tricky Ensa is our pick, offering devilish 42-degree slopes and good winds for a lightning-fast race down the pristine snow.

Back on terra firma, resist the hypnotic beats of La Folie Douce in favour of some refined après-ski action (and a whisky-heavy cocktail selection) at L'Alibi, or skip the schnapps and make tracks for sophisticated Akashon. Highlights from a menu rich in nuanced mountain flavours include the blushing beef fillet in Savoie Mondeuse red wine sauce, and a signature cheese platter.

Day 2: Aiguille Verte

Time to climb. Setting off in a dinky red train, you'll be leaving Chamonix proper behind, sights set on the region's answer to a Kyoto ryokan. The 20-room Refuge du Montenvers is a paragon of refined alpine minimalism. Book the Altitude suite for 17th-century wood panelling paired with soft-industrial touches, plus jaw-dropping views across the 1,250m Mer de Glace.

Today's run will see you skiing at speed across the breathtaking slopes of Les Grand Montets, lifting over jagged granite knolls and racing through virgin powder. Hefty bumps are unavoidable, but the Aquaracer is your ally here, with its heavy-duty design and double-safety clasp keeping the timepiece secure on your wrist.

Still got some energy? Explore the crystalline ice caves of the Mer de Glace - France's largest glacier - and don't skip the Glaciarium for insider intel on this natural wonder's uncertain future. Dinner reservations are limited up high, but the hotel's Restaurant du Montenvers won't disappoint. Expect the likes of gamey guinea fowl served with truffle mash and indulgent fondue savoyarde.

Days 3-4: Flaine

Wake up early and hit the road. Today's destination? The brutalist utopia of Flaine. Bed down at the stripped-back Terminal Neige Totem, then stop by the town's alpine alternative to a farm shop, Chez Bolzi, for an on-the-go lunch of reblochen, mountain salamis and Brasserie Mont Blanc beer. Skip the heart-racing heights on day three and enjoy a leisurely gondola ride to Grandes Platières' Le Désert Blanc. Catch the sunset over a grande chocolat chaud, then race the daylight down the piste for contemporary alpine plates at Les Sevages d'Armelle in the next town over, at the foot of the Carroz d'Arâches ski slope.

Ready to up the ante? Day four sees you striking off-piste and skiing for all you're worth on the Combe de Gers slopes. This steep bowl packs powder-heavy, ungroomed fields. Hit maximum velocity skimming down cotton-wool runs, then catch the breeze for a blood-freezing 700m jump, gliding into the tree-furred valley below.

Days 5-6: Avoriaz

Pack your bags for the hour-and-a-half drive beneath a sky dotted with colourful paragliding sails to high-altitude, big-attitude Avoriaz. In this hedonistic spot, après-ski looks more like Sazerac than schnapps - visit Le Roc Lounge and you'll see what we mean. Our order? The bourbon-based Ambrose, spiked with mountain honey and cinnamon syrup. Come nightfall, seek out the Cos-clothed creatives congregating at the bar, then head over to the scarlet-clad Les Enfants Terribles in avant-garde Hôtel des Dromonts for a suitably left-field feast of yuzu-dashed salmon gravlax, tender veal chops and a deconstructed Mont Blanc meringue dessert.

If you need to bring your blood pressure down post-mind-blowing itinerary, birch-clad MiL8 hotel's heated outdoor pool boasts panoramic views of the snow-capped peaks. And you won't need to remember to take your Aquaracer off - its waterproof. Once you've decompressed, catch 40 winks ensconced in a soothing, mustard-coloured suite, then head back out to join the speed racers on high.

The Lowdown

Get airborne and up to speed with your TAG Heuer Aquaracer, the ultimate luxury tool watch for adrenaline-fuelled adventures. Find your fit here.

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