We take you to discover this destination and its activities accessible to all, even in a wheelchair!
Annecy - A great place to live
Let's start here: Annecy is a city where life is sweet! At the foot of the mountains and on the edge of the lake, the colourful alleys of the old town intertwine on either side of the Thiou. In the early morning, the sun illuminates the Pâquier, an area of green grass that comes to life with the rhythm of walkers and sportsmen during the day and becomes a festive gathering point on summer evenings.
Spending several days there allowed us to discover the rich history of Annecy. From the 12th century castle to the Imperial Palace built on stilts in 1935, many buildings have survived the centuries and have sometimes had several lives. This is the case of the Palais de l'Isle, which was used as a prison on several occasions until the liberation of the town in 1944. It is a pleasure to stroll through the streets before going to taste a delicious Savoyard speciality in one of the many restaurants in the old town!
But let's get to the point: as much as we love this city, what we love most is the multitude of extraordinary adventures that its surroundings have to offer! Out-of-the-ordinary experiences made accessible to all, with or without disabilities, by committed local actors.
Discover cross-country skiing at the Domaine Nordique des Glières
About thirty kilometres east of Annecy, we take a winding road that climbs the mountainside. At the bend in the road, the black fir trees that line the road give way to an expanse of sparkling, windswept snow: the Glières plateau stretches out before our eyes.
High place of resistance during the Second World War, the plateau is today a paradise for hikers in summer, and a renowned Nordic domain in winter for its 30 kilometres of perfectly groomed slopes!
So we admit, Nordic area means cross-country skiing. And cross-country skiing in a wheelchair, we didn't really see how it could work... But we didn't count on a specific equipment, recently developed by a company of the region! We discovered it thanks to Florian from Activ'Handi, which offers outdoor experiences accessible to all in the Annecy area. The concept is very simple: I am sitting in an adapted ski shell, installed on the classic bindings of two cross-country skis. Once I am well seated, I use two poles (classic, but equivalent to a child's size) to advance.
The effort to slide on the snow is intense from the first meters on the flat! Fortunately, I can count on the help of my teammates for a helping hand on the climbs: the extraordinary landscapes of the plateau are worth all the effort in the world. Once I've tamed the bike and got off the false flat behind the monument to the resistance, it's a great pleasure to pick up speed on the descent!
Going down the slopes of Manigod
Alpine skiing can be practised in three ways for people with reduced mobility: independently on a uniski (a shell attached to a ski), semi-accompanied on a kart-ski (an able-bodied person secures the machine with a rope connected to the brake) and finally accompanied by a pilot, on a tandem ski.
It is in tandem that we walk the snowy slopes of Manigod, a family resort on a human scale whose slopes are adapted to all levels and allow everyone to ski at their own pace. Eric, the pilot of Sport Adapté Sensations, with his feet fixed on the skis, manoeuvres this machine with agility and it only takes a few seconds to find sensations worthy of a professional skier! The ground passes at full speed under the hull and the turns raise snow sprays, on the piste as well as in powder: an incredible moment accessible to all, whatever their handicap!
Exploring the Glières plateau by dog sled
After a night spent in the new Auberge des Glières, we set foot outside again. The snow has fallen during the night and a thick white coat now covers the fir trees that border the plateau. In the early morning, we are the only ones outside. Nothing moves, great silence: the view is breathtaking.
For this new experience, we are accompanied this time by 10 teammates! Under the snowflakes which continue to fall and in an atmosphere of great Canadian north, we leave in company of Rémy (D'Oumiak Aventures) and his dogs on board his sled. Before the departure, the excitement is so strong that they nibble the rope to leave without us, between two barks of impatience! Once the brake is released, the 36 legs sink together into the snow, without a sound... Our guides have only one objective: to take us through the powder snow to offer us to explore this exceptional site.
In the ambient silence, we can only distinguish Rémy's orders, whose voice does not rise any more than if he was trying to talk to us, who are only a few centimetres away from him. At each sound, the crew immediately changes course in perfect harmony, guided by the leader of the pack. Another point of view, and new gliding sensations.
Annecy blows us away every time we visit! Whatever the season, we are overwhelmed by the beauty of its landscapes and the intensity of the emotions experienced in the middle of nature... Each departure makes us want to return for new discoveries!
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Visit the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region