Tag Archives: resort reviews

Puy Saint-Vincent: don’t tell everyone…

Skier on piste with Puy Saint-Vincent 1600 visible below
Even the highest pistes filter safely back onto sheltered tree-lined return runs.

Why do I love skiing in France – apart, obviously, from having some of the world’s greatest mountain terrain from which to choose? Well, after having visited around fifty French ski resorts (and counting) I’m still surprised at what I discover along the way. A couple of seasons ago we decided to head over to the Southern French Alps, to discover just what most mainstream skiers, who tend to set their sights rather further north, might be missing. Great snowfalls, clear blue skies and unpressured pistes were just some of the things which bowled us over and convinced us that we’d stumbled upon a huge but relatively undiscovered area which deserves to be much better known among leisure skiers.

Places like La Joue du Loup, Superdévoluy, Pra Loup, Foux d’Allos, Les Orres, Orcières, Vars, Risoul, Montgenèvre and Serre Chevalier all revealed to us their own distinct characters, and we’d still only scratched the surface. Obviously it’s just not possible to press on and do it all at once (but we can dream..) and in any case we try to maintain a balance in our resort review coverage. So our first trip of this season would take in just two ski visits in the Hautes-Alpes area: one involved returning to complete unfinished business in Serre Chevalier, and the other would take us to somewhere much smaller nearby, and which had so far eluded us.

The phrase “small is beautiful” could have been penned with Puy Saint-Vincent in mind. The original village, clinging to the sides of a deep valley, is nothing if not authentic, with centuries’-old chalets at every turn. Continue up to the ski villages at 1400, 1600 and 1800m altitude, however, and things begin to look more like a serious ski resort should. Even so, first impressions give little hint of the vertical drop on offer: 1350m or around 4430ft, much of it below the tree-line, where safe glade-skiing opportunities beckon among silent larch and pine forests.
True, the lower villages have much of their accommodation in large units, but in their respective settings they’re not unattractive. Skiers staying in the 1800 village, though, have not only chalet-style architecture but also the welcome bonus of ski-in/ski-out convenience.

We enjoyed our time here, as you’ll see just as soon as our full Resort Review goes live. For now, though, I’ll merely say that while big-league Serre Chevalier grabs all the media attention, its near-neighbour Puy Saint-Vincent quietly gets on with offering great, high-value skiing in a truly beautiful setting…

Our base in Puy Saint-Vincent 1800 was a cosy piste-side apartment in La Dame Blanche, for which we thank SARA and our friends at French Ski Specialists Ski Collection.

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

Orelle: rapid access to skiing in Val Thorens…

Today we drove down to Orelle in the Maurienne Valley and took the long ride skywards on the Trois-Vallées Express gondola lift. Around fifteen amazing minutes later we stepped out onto soft powder snow and knew that this was going to be quite a day. And it was; a simple onward chairlift ride took us to an unforgettable overview of Val Thorens.

The sky was steely blue and the quality of the snow beneath our skis confirmed that we had indeed landed in Europe’s highest ski area. For the next few hours we toured the highest peaks, skied some epic descents and found time to enjoy our best-ever on-mountain meal in La Fruiterie.

Working our way back towards our starting point offered an opportunity to ride the Cime de Caron téléphépherique, still the world’s biggest and highest cable-car. From the summit we gazed, awe-struck at our surroundings before blasting down the Black-graded Combe de Rosaël piste. At the bottom, feeling elated at having accomplished this testing descent, we took just one more chairlift ride to ski some of Orelle’s own excellent terrain, before boarding the gondola back down to Orelle. You wouldn’t believe half of what we saw and did,  so we’ll be supplying photos – stay tuned…

Trois Vallées, French Alps

The latest of our galleries is the Trois Vallées, French Alps. See stunning images of Courchevel, Méribel and St Martin de Belleville and visit MountainPassions.com to read our resort reviews.

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.


Tarine cows in the Beaufortain, French Alps
Tarine cows in the Beaufortain, French Alps

Welcome to MountainPassions blog pages. Keep up to date here with all the latest news about skiing and mountain holidays in France. Get an insight into how we do our independent reviews of ski resorts throughout France. Plus, if you are interested in seeing the French mountains in all seasons, stay with us as we find out what a summer mountain holiday can offer you.