Tag Archives: mountains

Grand Massif, French Alps

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Grand Massif, French Alps, a set on Flickr.

Here are a selection of images taken over several visits to the Grand Massif ski area in the Northern French Alps. You can find our full resort reviews by following these links to Samoëns, Les Carroz, and Flaine.

All images © Roger Moss, MountainPassions.com

Published today, on Amazon and Apple iBook Store: ski writing par excellence…

Today sees the publication of Skiing The Edge, a compilation of what Editor Jules Older describes as the work of:  ‘great writers, not just great ski writers, and they’re at the top of their game…

As Editor of MountainPassions.com I’m delighted to have been asked to contribute a chapter. Not being, if I can help it, a near-to-death skier, I hesitated initially, unsure of precisely what I could bring to an exacting brief. And then I recalled an experience which happened to me years ago, while  en-route to an appointment with fate in Québec. Or, more precisely, a few days spent learning to ski from zero.

I’ll spare you the details (I know, I’m such a tease), except to report that along the way things didn’t turn out quite as planned. To say the least. Despite which, the trip was a turning-point – once I’d learnt to turn – in my life, for I did indeed become a skier.  And at last I’m coming clean about how I very nearly didn’t.

In the book you’ll also share other people’s life-changing moments, whether humorous, humiliating, heart-stopping or bordering on the holy. In short, it’s a great read…

Skiing The Edge is available from Apple iBook Store and Amazon

Mountains of things to do…

Ski resorts are finding more and more ways to attract and entertain visitors and this year we’re seeing plenty of new ideas. We recently tried the hugely entertaining Mountain Twister at Les Saisies – a 750 m roller coaster style luge descent suspended high above the mountainside (there’s another called the Monty Express at Montgenèvre which runs for 1400 m). For budding freestylers, there are several new Big Air Bags providing a  much-needed soft landing to even the most timid beginner, as at Piau Engaly in the Hautes-Pyrénées. Here  they also entertain people at the end of the season with a water splash where it’s best not to stand too close as even the audience ends up getting wet. Among the host of other unusual activities we’ve tried are ski-joering, snow-shoeing, snow-kiting, dog-sledding, and some we haven’t yet plucked up the courage to try such as  parascending, speed-riding (Valfréjus), a Tyroléan cable (Orcières), ice-diving (Tignes, Piau Engaly), or ice-driving (Serre Chevalier, Val Thorens). Orcières is a great family resort where you can not only try ice-diving, but you can even spend a night in their igloo village or experience the thrill of dog-sledding. Visit Undiscovered Alps, specialists in multi-activity holidays which can be tailor-made to your requirements.

What’s also become apparent is a growing number of festivals. After Méribel’s hosting of the popular Altitude Comedy Festival, the show moves to a different ski resort each year, while Méribel’s attentions turn to music with its Little World Festival starring well-known international acts and staging over 40 gigs throughout the week.  After several successful years the Rock the Pistes music festival in the Portes du Soleil area, has become established taking place in March each year

While temperatures are thankfully dropping again, the action’s hotting up in the mountains….

Cross-Border Skiing from La Rosière

The fine weather has followed us to La Rosière, whose snow cover remains surprisingly good despite the long period since the most recent falls. It’s just as well, since we headed off yesterday in high spirits to ski over the Franco-Italian border to La Thuile.

Our previous attempt had been thwarted by mist and high winds, not a happy combination. This time, though, we accomplished all we’d set out to do and more, including a pause for lunch at Lo Riondet, in every sense the definitive Italian mountain restaurant. In summer it’s beside the road over the Petit Saint-Bernard Pass, but in winter the road is transformed into a long, sweeping cruise for skiers heading to La Thuile and the Aosta Valley.

Not that we took it easy all the time, you understand. La Thuile isn’t exactly novice territory, and we dropped in via a steep Black piste and a couple of entertaining Reds which took us through pine forest.

We had a fantastic day, skiing much of the area’s varied piste network, all of which is set among the most dramatic mountain scenery we could wish for. The adventure finally concluded with a glorious run back to France against a lazy,  sinking sun.

Once back in La Rosière we knew exactly why this place is so popular with British visitors – and many other nationalities, it seems. And we’ll see a little more of it today, just in case there’s anything essential we missed first time around.

Our thanks to La Rosière’s Office de Tourisme and to our friends at Ski Collection for organising our visit, including our stay at the excellent 4* Le Refuge. http://www.skicollection.co.uk/Ski/La-Rosiere.htm

Valfréjus: more great Alpine snow…

Maybe like us you know the name, but little else about this great ski area in the Maurienne Valley of the French Alps. Well, our knowledge has just expanded considerably, after we spent a day skiing around the varied slopes we’d been itching to try for some time now.

Brilliant sunshine (and a shiny new high-speed gondola lift) minimised the effects of the early morning bitter cold, as we climbed from the village to the Plateau d’Arrondaz. Even before we emerged we knew that we’d found another great snow-magnet, and one which can hang onto what it receives until the next falls.

It didn’t stop there. An onward chairlift haul to the Punta Bagna (2737m) rewarded us with a vast snowy panorama of the surrounding mountains, both French and Italian. If the long-term plan to link to Bardonnechia ever comes to fruition Valfréjus is certain to be one place we’ll all be doing much more than merely hearing about.

As it is, the 65km or so of groomed terrain are varied enough to keep us entertained, and on our toes too – there are some longish steeps to go with the expected Red and Blue-graded cruises. Add a nicely planned (and maintained) village and you see why we’ve come here specifically to add Valfréjus to our expanding list of Independent Resort Reviews.

Next stop: La Rosière – and another foray into Italy.

Combloux, Saint-Gervais and Les Contamines

Just put up a new gallery of images from the Evasion Mont Blanc area including Combloux, Saint-Gervais, Mégeve and Les Contamines-Montjoie.

Montgenevre & Serre Chevalier, Hautes-Alpes

View our latest gallery of pictures from Montgenèvre and Serre Chevalier in the Hautes-Alpes. Viist MountainPassions.com for our full resort reviews.