The Underrated ski resort | Serre Chevalier |

Serre Chevalier is not a single resort but 4 distinct and separate villages; Briancon, Chantemerle, Villeneuve and Le Monetier all of which link into the ski circuit and offer a whopping 250km of piste.

We like Serre Chevalier as a refreshing change from the big resorts like Val d’Isere, Tignes, Courchevel, Meribel and so on. In particular the pretty, tree-lined pistes as well as the charming restaurants on and off the mountain. We also love the fact that Serre Chevalier retains a Gallic atmosphere where speaking a bit of French goes a long way. The lower prices are also a big plus.

Serre Chevalier’s ski area is quieter, prettier, and more forgiving than many of the larger super stations.

Ski resort Serre Chevalier
Piste map of Serre Chevalier

PLUSES ABOUT THE SKI AREA

  • 250km is a fair old size and only 50km less than Vald’Isere and Tignes put together.
  • Lots of tree lined runs –It’s unusual to find so many on the slopes of a French resort.
  • Large parts of the ski area are North facing. This is a good thing as the slopes tend to be colder for longer, and hold their snow well.
  • The resort also offers something that sets it apart from other resorts in Europe – Les Cols’Porteurs. These are free 90-minute guided tours of the ski area, every day of the week. Generally only offered to red-run skiers.

WHO BENEFITS MOST?

Intermediates will love Serre Chevalier!

Of the different sectors, Monetier is the most appealing and usually the least crowded. This is the best part of the mountain for accomplished skiers and riders. All the other Area’s offer fantastic skiing for beginners and intermediates.

Serre Chevalier has learnt much from our friends across the pond in North America offering a free ski hosting service called Les Cols’Porteurs. The Hosts take 90-minute tours of the mountain every day and – as long as you can manage a red run – you can join. As well as acting as guides, they’ll also teach you about ski safety and make your time with them fun as well as educational. The second North American influence is piste grooming which Serre Chevalier excels at. They even have their own Grooming School where, in a 20-minute session at the top of the Casse du Boeuf chair-lift, you can learn how to drive a piste-basher yourself.

Ski resort Serre Chevalier
Lots of trees in Serre Chevalier

VERY GOOD FAMILY FACILITIES

Serre Chevalier has good locally-run facilities. EurekaSKI can organise private (English-speaking) childcare for little ones from three months old. For toddlers in Chantemerle, Les Poussins accepts little ones from eight months to six years. Les Petits Aigles is a leisure centre with activities for three to six year olds. In Villeneuve, Les Schtroumpfs cares for children from six months, and Micro Creche takes non-skiers from three months to six years. In Monêtier, Les Eterlous accepts children from six months (18 months during French school holidays).

The ESF Jardin des Neiges in Briançon , Chantemerle , Villeneuve and Monetier  provides a mix of tuition and play for children from three years. New Generation offers a wide range of English-speaking classes for kids aged 4-13. Children’s lessons with Buissonniere ESI are also very good as is the ESI Generation in Chantemerle, which offers lessons for children aged 7 to 11 years.

A bus-service links the various villages: Chantemerle (1,350m), Villeneuve (1,400m) and the adjoining rustic hamlet of Le Bez, Monetier-les-Bains (1,500m), the garrison town of Briançon, and the hamlets of Puy Saint Andre and Puy Saint Pierre.

Chantemerle (at 1,350m) is the best base for families. This is the nearest village to Briançon. It has a pretty historic core as well as a fast gondola to access the slopes and a six-seater chair-lift provides fast access from mid-mountain to the top of the ski area.

Villeneuve (at 1,400m) has some of the best-value accommodation. It also has most of the nightlife, making it the base that attracts singles and groups.

Monetier (at 1,500m) has been a resort since Victorian times, but this is the base that has been most recently updated. It’s a good spot for couples who’d enjoy staying in a traditional farming village with skiing on its doorstep. However it has also been burnishing its appeal to families. It’s now home to a large ESF children’s club, nursery slopes with magic carpet, a newly developed lift base, a spacious restaurant and bar, and a thermal spa for the whole family. This is also where you’ll find the highly-rated British ski school New Generation.

Monetier is the place to stay if you’re an advanced to expert skier or snowboarder, as this end of the valley is where you’ll find the best off-piste.

Serre Chevalier
Traditional Village of Le Monetier

Briançon (at 1,200m) is a large, old walled town above the gondola station.

The town and commune is called Briançon, but the old walled town is actually called Cité Vauban. This is a UNESCO World Heritage site with considerable charm, but it lacks the atmosphere of a ski resort. However, the old town is changing and there’s a wonderful choice of restaurants, lots of apartments too. But it is less convenient than the new town for accessing the slopes, 10 minutes’ walk up or down the very steep hill.

Serre Chevalier is not a party resort. If you’re looking for non-stop nightlife in this part of the Alps, you’d be better off going to Les Deux Alpes or Alpe d’Huez. The scene consists almost entirely of local bars and the occasional very Gallic disco.

SPA

Les Grands Bains features indoor and outdoor thermal pools, saunas, steam rooms, treatment rooms and all sorts of imaginative extras!

Ski resort of Serre Chevalier
Thermal Baths in Le Monetier

TO CONCLUDE

We highly recommend Serre Chevalier as a ski resort that won’t cost the earth. It has some great skiing for all levels and is family friendly. If you are looking for something different, try Serre Chevalier!

Call one of our experts for some help if you would like to consider Serre Chevalier.

St Anton family ski holidays

St Anton has a reputation as being rather rowdy and not the ideal resort for families with young children. To some extent this is true. However, there is a more genteel and calm part of St Anton that is actually very child friendly. St Anton family ski holidays can be everything a family with young children needs – atmopsheric, great ski schools, good nursery slopes that are easy to access, short airport transfers and great value.

St Anton for families
St Anton family ski holidays – Nasserein is the perfect location for families.

The area known as Nasserein is where you will find the very gentle nursery slopes as well as the ski school meeting point. You will also find the Nasserein gondola which gets you into the ski system quickly and efficiently. At the end of the day you can ski all the way back to meet the kids and then only have a short walk to your accommodation. All very convenient.

Over the past 20 years Nasserein has grown, so much so, it has its own atmosphere, restaurants and apres ski scene. However, after 8pm it is very quiet, another reason why this area appeals to families. The main central part of St Anton is a good 10 minute walk away.

For us, one of the big pluses is the ski school in Nasserein. This has to be one of the best non-British run ski schools that we know. All the instructors speak perfect English whether they are Austrian or any other nationality. Lessons are always made to be fun and for those who ski they will have lunch with their instructor on the mountain. All part of the deal.

Children’s ski courses

  • Bambinis – half day programme for 3 year old’s includes a mixture of skiing, playing and entertainment.
Ski school in St Anton
Super friendly ski school in St Anton
  • Minis – this is almost a full day’s programme for 4 years old’s offering skiing and playtime.
Ski school in St Anton
Great ski school for families.
  • Children’s ski courses – lessons for 5 year olds and above. This is a 4 hour daily lesson and includes an hour for lunch.
St Anton family ski holidays - for all ability levels
Ski courses for all children ability levels in St Anton.
  • For advanced kids there is also a freestyle junior programme for children from 10 to 16 years old.
St Anton family ski holidays - for all ability levels
The excellent ski school in St Anton.

ANOTHER BIG PLUS – children 8 years old and under only pay 10 Euros for their ski pass! (Born 2011 or later for the 2018-19 season). Children born between 2003 and 2010 also get a generous reduction on the cost of a ski pass.

Other things to do for children in St Anton

  • Natural Toboggan trails
  • Ice skating
  • Indoor sports including- bowling, tennis, squash, climbing walls
  • Indoor swimming pool
  • Various walking trails

 

For perfect St Anton family ski holidays we offer both catered chalet and hotel based accommodation options. Some of the holiday companies we offer are family holiday specialists and have their own in-house staff to look after your children. Here is a list of some of our favourite chalets and chalet hotels in Nasserein:

  1. Chalet Alexandra – sleeps 6     Luxury chalet for 6.
  2. Chalet Haus Gamskar – sleeps 8-9    Ski in and out.
  3. Chalet Eisfall – sleeps 10-12  Great location and is very cheap.
  4. Chalet Haus Hochkar – sleeps 10-11   Ski in and out.
  5. Chalet Tschoder – sleeps 14    Very high end chalet.
  6. Chalet Rosmarie – sleeps 19-23    Very convenient location, cheap.
  7. Chalet Hotel Pepi Gabl – sleeps 77-90    Right by lifts and comes with creche and child care.

As some of us in the office have young children we can vouch for St Anton and in particular the area of Nasserein as being the prefect place to get young children skiing. Adults will also find the area exhilarating with plenty of choice.

Do get in touch with any questions or help with your next family ski holiday in St Anton.

Favourite family ski resorts

Valmorel is very underrated but actually is one of my favourite family ski resorts in the Alps. The ski area is undemanding but prefect for beginners and low intermediates to learn and progress quickly in peaceful surroundings. There is also plenty of very good childcare for families with young children. Club Med have one of their best properties right on the slopes where children of all ages are catered for and the ESF also run a comprehensive childcare facility.

Family friendly ski resort
Valmorel was built with families in mind

Although, Valmorel is a purpose-built resort, it is not an eye sore, in fact the village is pleasant with plenty of wood-and-stone buildings with slate roofs (See photo below). The resort is made up of mainly self-catered residences which cluster around a car-free high street but best of all wherever you stay, you’ll never be far from a lift. The ambience is very family orientated and you will never see any drunken youths falling out of bars in this resort.

Family friendly ski resort
Family friendly ski resort of Valmorel

The Grand Domaine area features lots of wide and flattering slopes for beginners and less confident intermediates, with around 43% of the pistes graded blue. The easy- to medium-level skiing takes place mainly around the Cheval Noir, and Valmorel’s ski area is lift-linked to Celliers, Doucy Combelouvière and – beyond the Col de la Madeleine of Tour de France fame – to Saint Francois Longchamp.

The ski area contains three nursery slopes and one free drag-lift. The beginner areas include a 3km green run through the trees to the village of Doucy, which is great for first-timers to gain confidence and really feel they are going somewhere.

Valmorel
Ski Resort Valmorel, France

There are amazingly eight parks in the resort. Two snowparks, one for beginners and the other which contains a 120m half-pipe and funboxes. Two more are skicross courses, and there are three freeride zones, Cross-country skiers have 20km of marked loipe, which begin at Les Avanchers (2km from Valmorel) and continue towards Empyrée and Pierre Laron. Access to the trails is by free shuttle bus.

Valmorel has received the Famille Plus label for its childcare facilities. The main childcare is at Club Piou-Piou, in the village centre, which looks after children from 18 months to three years from Sunday to Friday. Lunch and lunchtime supervision are included, so that parents can ski all day. The children’s snowpark – the Pirates Adventure Zone stretches into the forest to give access to lots of fun activities including a bouncy castle, a beginners’ terrain park and skicross.

Where to stay in Valmorel

Club Med is one of our favourite places that we recommend to our clients with young children as the in-house childcare is amazing and offers age-related activities for children aged four months right up to 17 years. The location is also spot on being ski-in, ski-out and with everything under one roof we bet the only time you will want to venture further afield is when you click into your skis. As Club Med is all-inclusive the only thing you will need to pay for are spa treatments and ski hire.

Club Med ski holidays
Club Med in Valmorel, France

La Grange aux Fees is a comfortable residence set beside the Lanchettes chair in the Hameau des Lanchettes upper area of the village. It has an attractive wood-and-stone interior, a spa and indoor swimming-pool. Valmorel’s only hotel is the pastel pink Hotel du Bourg, which has been here since the resort was first founded but has now been modernised. It has a minimalist interior designed in retro 1970s style, in keeping with the era in which it was built.

Where to eat in Valmorel

On the high street, Le Ski Roc restaurant and wine bar is one of the places to eat typical Savoyard fare in a chalet setting. South American-themed Jimbo Lolo is for tapas and Tex-Mex, and it also serves bison steaks and burgers.

Le Savoyard and Le Petit Prince feature Savoyard dishes such as salads and pasta. For pizzas the choice lies between Le Cafe Alpin and Le Perce-Neige.

Club Med contains three restaurants: the buffet-style Le Celeste and Les Cerfs with dishes from around the world, and gourmet La Laiterie which is a la carte.

There are four mountain restaurants in the immediate Valmorel ski area, including Les Voiles du Nant, at the top of the Altispace chair-lift, which serves good burgers. Also on piste is L’Altipiano,   offers Asian wok dishes. Another favourite place to eat is O Pôt Agé, in Les Avanchers, where everything is cooked using seasonal local produce. You can take a bus or ski here from Valmorel.

For some après ski your first stop should be either La Cordée at the bottom of the piste or Le Café Alpin. Then there is a handful of bars along the pedestrianized high street, including Le Perce-Neige, which has outside seating and heaters. We also recommend stopping at the Hotel du Bourg for a drink in their cosy pub.

South American-themed Jimbo Lolo has a bar with wooden swings for seating, and palm trees. Le Sound Pub and Club is divided into two separate sectors: the first is a pub with billiards, table football, karaoke and quiz evenings, whilst the other is a club that’s open until 4am and often holds themed evenings. Club Med has an in-house bar and puts on live shows every evening – non-residents having dinner here can join in too.

Why bother with ski resort guides?

Ski resort guide editor Chris Gill reflects on his wasted career.

I’ve been in the ski resort guide business for over 30 years, first as the Editor of the original consumerist book, The Good Skiing Guide (not to be confused with the Good Ski Guide), then as co-editor of Where to Ski and Snowboard and now as editor of a new series of related smaller books, starting with Where to Ski in Austria . So I know a bit about resorts, and guides to resorts.

Ski resort guide to Austria
Chris Gill’s latest ski resort guide

My books have provided me with a living, but in other respects have been a waste of time, I’m now told. I got into an exchange on Facebook the other day with a guy who was firmly of the opinion that guidebooks and other organised presentations of information and advice about ski resorts are to be avoided. The best source of help in choosing a resort, he asserted with absolute confidence, is a lively online forum.

He was putting this view forward in response to a post of mine publicising Where to Ski in Austria. Had he read it? No. Had he even seen it? No. But he knew from experience that all such guides were fatally flawed.

The gist of the guy’s argument was that the author of a guidebook can get hung up on a particular aspect of a resort, and it may be an aspect that doesn’t matter to you, the individual reader. Thus, the advice you get is likely to be misleading. On the other hand, if you go to a forum you’ll get advice from many quarters, automatically eliminating that kind of bias.

Well, that’s one way of looking at it. When I go to forums and feedback sites, what I see is a bit of a mess, out of which I find it difficult to extract sense. I find a lot of strongly expressed views, often conflicting, resulting from the random experiences of people whose background, prejudices and competence are unknown.

Contrast that with what guidebooks offer: organised presentation, clear and consistent evaluations, and the knowledge that you are reading the considered views of someone who is dedicated to figuring out the merits of different ski resorts – and figuring them out for different people with different requirements.

I’ve visited every important resort in the Alps multiple times. I do it by spending weeks of the winter on the road, moving from resort to resort every day or two (depending on how big the ski areas are). And I’m in resorts to observe, not to enjoy myself. (OK, mainly not to enjoy myself.) I think this means I’m better placed to arrive at balanced, impartial judgements than people on holiday.

On reflection, the sales and support Where to Ski and Snowboard enjoyed for 20 years encourage me to think it hasn’t all been a waste of time, after all.

Convinced? Not quite? If you’d like a taste of what Where to Ski in Austria has to offer, register here for a link to a downloadable chapter.

http://www.wheretoskiandsnowboard.com/the-book/

http://www.wheretoskiandsnowboard.com/sample/

The Best Ski Runs In Whistler with Guy Hetherington of Alltracks Academy

Guy Hetherington is the Head Coach at Alltracks Academy ski school in Whistler, and a long-time Whistler local. He leads an unrivalled coaching team who coach on ski instructor courses, off-piste skiing, and all-mountain ski improvement courses. With years of experience in the resort, Guy is an expert and knows all the best ski runs in Whistler. Here he let’s you in on his secret list of top trails.

Ski school Whistler
Guy Hetherington head coach at Alltracks Academy, Whistler.

Whistler Ski Runs

Whistler, Blackcomb is blessed with over 200 ski runs making it the largest and most diverse ski area in Canada. Like all vast resorts, new visitors can become slightly disorientated and sometimes miss the best options due the sheer size of the area and the amount of runs available.

If you are planning an unforgettable ski trip in Whistler this winter, make sure you are well-prepared with Guy’s top three ski runs in this amazing area. Let the countdown begin…

Ski school in Whistler
Alltracks Academy for off-piste and all mountain ski improvement courses

In 3rd Place: Gun Barrels

If there has been heavy snowfall overnight, there is no time to waste on some gentle cruisers first thing in the morning. Other skiers are competitors for powder, so your run choice has to be on point!

Every morning, I check the Whistler snow alert, and if there has been 20cm of snow or more, Gun Barrels is my go-to ski run. Located on the outer ridge of Harmony Bowl on Whistler Mountain, the “Barrels” are only a few minutes ski away from the well-located Harmony Express lift. Amazingly, the barrels are usually quiet and skiers are able to find fresh snow throughout the day.

Ski school in Whistler
Alltracks Academy can teach you how to ski in powder.

In 2nd Place: Lake Side Bowl

I have been fortunate enough to Heli-ski multiple times, and I know how much the guys on the Alltracks Academy off-piste courses enjoy their time with Whistler Heli-Skiing. If you are craving the Heli-Skiing adrenaline rush, a few runs at Lakeside Bowl should satisfy your cravings. 

Located just beyond the resort boundary, on the Blackcomb side, Lakeside Bowl offers up a true off-piste feeling with deep snow, steep chutes and some exciting cliff drops.

Ski school in Whistler
Take an Alltracks Academy off-piste course and you will soon be skiing like this!

In 1st Place: Surf’s Up 

I would like to pretend I had to think long and hard over my top choice. But to be frank, it was an easy decision. Surf’s up on Blackcomb regularly boasts the very best snow in the entire Whistler Blackcomb area. But it is not just about the snow. It is significantly exposed due to cliffs. There is also a no-return entrance if you catch my drift. Naturally, this run is for strong, confident skiers and snowboarders. 

Once in the couloir, you will need to nail a couple of jump turns (or straight-line it if you are up to that). After this, you will be welcomed to a slightly convex slope offering up the opportunity for some great turns.

When you reach the bottom, promise me you will look back and enjoy the fine view of this magnificent slope and your tracks upon it! 

Hotels in Whistler

If you are thinking of booking a ski holiday in Whistler check out our hotels in Whistler. There is a wide range of accommodation options in this world-class resort to suit most tastes and budgets.

About Guy Hetherington & ALLTRACKS 

Guy is a director and Head Coach at Alltracks Academy. He is one of a handful of CSIA Level 4 Examiners, a Rossignol International Athlete and recognised as one of the finest ski instructors in the country.

Alltracks Academy offer a variety of ski courses. Ski Instructor Courses, Off-Piste Ski Courses and All Mountain Ski Improvement.

For More info:
[email protected]

+44 (0)1794 301 777