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If there is a time of year during which Cantal really deserves its moniker of "Pays des grands espaces" (the land of wide open spaces), it’s winter.
The huge plains overlooking the glacier valleys are a blaze of white, with steep slopes punctuated with ice walls. Swept by the winds, the snow builds up forming drifts and the countryside puts you in mind of the Arctic and the wide expanses of Spitsbergen. And can you think of a better way of getting away from it all than by snowshoeing or cross-country skiing over this vast area? And in the evenings, huddled over a nice glass of mulled wine in front of the fire, winter hikers can enjoy the comfort of the inns located in the little villages nestling in the hollows of the valleys.
Leaving the mountain villages, the Col de Prat de Bouc, the Col du Pertus and the Col de Serre, and the high basalt plains, with Le Puy Mary and Le Plomb du Cantal on the horizon, the Cantal massif is also a wonderful place for Nordic activities in specially developed areas.
The ski resort of Le Lioran is the perfect place for people who enjoy winter sports. For downhill skiing, the area is spread out over 150 hectares. 42 pistes over 60 km are available for skiers of all abilities. The number of lifts is constantly increasing and is currently made up of 1 cable car, 1 detachable chair lift, 8 chairlifts and 13 ski tows.
To ensure as much snow cover as possible, 12 km of pistes have snow cannons. A snowpark, a big air jump and a boardercross are all set to be added, as well as a timed slalom stadium. For cross-country skiing, there are 20 km of marked pistes from the Cirque de Font d’Alagnon and more than 75 km from the Col de Prat de Bouc.
And there’s more: snowshoeing, dog sledding, snow biking, ice climbing, quad biking, balneotherapy, the déval’luge Alpine coaster, an ice rink and more.
The department of Cantal also has various Nordic areas for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.