Sport in France is ageless

Sally Ann Voak shows her free ski pass with son, Tom, who runs Alps accommodation in the Grand Massif ski resorts

French people are seriously in love with the great outdoors and it is a great place to stay fit and young. Sally Ann Voak discovered the benefits of being active when her family moved to the Alps and speaks to others on their ways to keep healthy

The Gallic passion for enjoying activities in the fresh air is part of their national identity and extends into the “golden years”.

The opportunities for trying something adventurous are limitless at any age. To maintain or even improve your bien-être, the best medicine is le sport, and it is fun to combine sport passion with seeing more of France and sampling different local cuisines.

I am 75 and an enthusiastic skier and “after 40 years of sitting on my bottom as a journalist, I decided I would rather spend my seventies up a mountain than up the pub!”

In the Grand Massif, as in many other ski stations, ski passes are free for over-75s and my free pass is as  precious as my London bus pass!

It means I can glide down 140 pistes next season without paying a euro and, as my family have shown me the benefits of real cardio activity in the mountains, in summer, it gives free access to mountain-top randonnées.

La randonnée pédestre is an obvious choice of activity for retirees, but climbing, cycling, white water rafting, orienteering, canoeing, skiing and snow shoeing are not seen as daft or risky for a healthy older person.

But, as I have found, there are many other options and, when back in the UK, I have even taken up ice skating after 60 years...

Sue and Malcolm Hudson, Haute-Savoie

Sue and Malcolm Hudson have enjoyed cycling holidays as well as having great rides near home

Seven years ago Sue Hudson, 71, moved from Northamptonshire to Samoëns, Haute-Savoie, with her husband, Malcolm, 73, and are enjoying their leisure time so much they “feel ready to tackle anything”.

The couple worked seven-day weeks in the UK running their successful shoe business, so did not have time for taking up sport properly, although they both enjoyed cycling.

“It became more and more of a hassle because of increased traffic and lack of time so I sold my bike,” Sue said. “When we moved here to be near our son and daughter, who
run chalet holiday companies in the Alps, the first sport I tried was snow-shoeing”

“Our elderly guide offered his flask of a potent local liqueur to flagging stragglers. When he led us behind a breath-taking waterfall the stragglers ...

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