Alpine Rush: Mastering Speed Riding in Chamonix

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.

In partnership with

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

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

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

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
du Montenvers
won’t disappoint. Expect the likes of gamey
guinea fowl served with truffle mash and indulgent fondue

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
, 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’
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

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
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
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

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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