When howling winds and blustery snow flurries signal the arrival of winter, outdoor enthusiasts in Switzerland flock to the slopes. Locals and tourists alike seem immune to the tooth-numbing cold that drives the more faint of heart indoors at this time of year. We recently discovered first-hand that the Swiss definitely can deliver on their promise of some pretty spectacular winter activities, not the least of which is sledding – or as it’s more commonly called here, sledging. For some wild hair-raising fun, head to Le Moléson for some of the best sledding in Switzerland!
But sledding is for kids, you say.
Perhaps if they’re daredeviling Whovenile delinquents. Or maybe you just have one too many, because sledding in Switzerland is elevated to an extreme sport, one clearly intended for adults and not just children.
Sledding in Switzerland at Moleson sur Gruyeres
The day that Travis and I went sledding at Moleson, we had already spent the morning touring La Maison du Gruyere cheese factory, which is nearby. We were so excited about an afternoon on one of the best and longest toboggan runs in Switzerland that we arrived an hour and a half early at our sledding destination – Moléson-sur-Gruyères.
While waiting for our friends to show up, we investigated a promising snowshoe trail near the parking area, built a snow fort and our own sledding track, and Travis briefly took a nap in a snow bank.
The man can sleep anywhere.
Trav and I play in the snow near a frozen waterfall while waiting for our friends to arrive.
Location and parking
Driving is the easiest way to get to the sledding runs at Moleson.
Make sure to navigate to the Moleson sur Gruyeres inclined railway station or to the Parkplatz there and not to the village or the peak itself. Many things in the nearby area are named “Moleson.”
Parking is free at the Parkplatz.
Sled rentals at Moleson sur Gruyeres
Once all seven of our friends (+1 non-Whovenile delinquent) arrived, we bought tickets and piled inside the main office to choose the best (ie, fastest) sled. Wait ’til you try to cart them awkwardly through the electronic turnstyle.
The cost to rent a single sled/toboggan at Moleson is 10 CHF.
Budget Travel Tip: Bring your own sled to save the 10 CHF sled rental fee.
Riding the funicular to Plan Francey
Because the sledding runs at Moleson are located high up on the slopes of the mountain, you’ll need a way to get there from the Parkplatz. The clever folks in Switzerland have gotcha covered.
Your sledding ticket includes a ride on their funicular, an inclined train that slowly transports you up through the clouds to the top of the sledding route at a midpoint called Plan Francey. From here, you’ll hop off to start your death-defying sledding adventure.
Other riders will likely get off the funicular and file into a line for the cable car to the top of the peak for skiing.
The funicular is so small, our group of 10 was just barely able to squeeze into the few remaining air pockets in the tram before the doors closed and we were whisked uphill.
A few minutes later, we spilled out into the brilliant sunshine and stared up at the giant hulk of Le Moléson peak in awe.
We’re terrible about getting selfies.
Many thanks to our friend Ivan, who took this photo of us at Plan Francey below the peak.
The sledding run at Moleson
After snapping a few photos, we all gathered at the start of the sledding run and figured out how to sit on and steer our sleds. Then, laughing and excited, we shoved off.
The first few hundred feet of the trail brought a smile to my face as our sleds gently swished along.
This is great, I thought.
Just like when we were kids!
Coasting to a stop, those in the lead waited until our party regrouped for the next stretch.
Emboldened by excitement and the gentle pitch of the first section, I catapulted onto my sled headfirst and launched down the hill.
Headfirst? What in Heaven’s name was I thinking?!
Just because the others were doing it…
But so much FUN!
Despite all I have seen and experienced, I still get the same simple thrill out of glimpsing a tiny patch of snow in a high mountain gully and feel the same urge to climb towards it.”
Edmund Hillary, first climber to summit Everest in 1953
It took us nearly an hour and a half to work our way down the entire sledding route, which drops 500 meters (1640 feet is a lot) over the course of the 4 kilometer run.
Once at the bottom, we all piled back into the funicular for a second go-round of heart-pounding, kidney-bruising, tailbone-busting fun.
Paolo shows no fear as he flies past.
Ivan – 0
Despite the frequent and complete inability to stop, hairpin corners, steep drop-offs, the occasional barbed wire fence along the route, and a single spectacular crash when I plowed over Ivan, none of our friends died.
I can’t remember the last time I had so much pure fun or laughed so hard I had tears in my eyes.
After all, if you’re not crying a little, you’re not really having fun.
Interested in other things to do in winter besides sledding in Switzerland?