Serre Chevalier resort guide - a general overview
Serre Chevalier is one of those rare French gems, which is generally overlooked by the British and is certainly very under rated. Described by some as Provence in the snow with lots of small family run hotels and restaurants housed in old stone buildings. It is made up of three main traditional villages (there are 13 in total) spread along a 8km valley with 250km of mainly North facing slopes rising to 2,780m. What really makes Serre Chevalier so special is the amount of genuinely enjoyable woodland and tree lined runs which cover over two thirds of the mountain. This makes it a superb resort to visit when the snow is falling or the wind is blowing - great skiing can still be had here in these conditions when many other resorts would be brought to a virtual standstill.
Serre Chevalier is a skiers' resort with few off-slope diversions and a limited nightlife. However, of course there are a few lively bars and this is enough for us to enjoy ourselves in the evenings. It's about the skiing after all. As an alternative to apres you can relax in a luxurious hotel or chalet in Serre Chevalier. There are a wide choice of packages from the UK tour operators, but those wishing to experience the real rustic, old world charm should head for Le Monetier (or Serre Chevalier at 1,500m) which is less developed than the more conveniently placed Villeneuve (1,400m) and Chantemerle (1,350m). The last resort in the chain travelling from Grenoble is the Seventeenth Century fortified town of Briancon (1,200m) which has a gondola link from the centre of the resort into one end of the large ski system.
In our opinion Serre Chevalier is very underated as a ski resort, as not only has it got great skiing for all abilities it retains a French atmosphere which sadly many resorts in France have lost over the years.
1,200m - 2,735m
Level of skiing
- Snow sure
- Ski area
- Charm factor
- Resort layout
- Fine dining
- Short transfer
- Resort value
- Big mountain with well linked ski/boarding terrain offering something for all standards
- Interesting mix of terrain with wooded lower slopes and upper open bowls - superb off-piste
- Some of the several villages that make up the resort have atmospheric old centres
- There are good value hotels and chalets in Serre Chevalier
- Briancon leisure complex: pools, sauna, hot tub & the outdoor thermal baths in Le Monetier
- Can get crowded at weekends during the French school holidays of February
- Too many slow chair lifts and gondolas
- A busy main road runs through the resort villages linking them together
- Limited nightlife in Monetier and the smaller villages
Serre Chevalier Resort Restaurants
The older more atmospheric village of Monetier has some good dining. The panelled restaurant of the Alliey offers great food at very reasonable prices whereas the pricier Auberge du Choucas is recognised as the best in town. In Villeneuve the Swedish run Vieille Ferme offers stylish dining and the Marmotte, a tiny stone building with classic French cuisine in the old part of town offers good food and good value. The Refuge does good Raclettes and Fondues and there are also a couple of good creperies such as the Petit Duc and Manouille. In Chantemerle the Couch'ou is good value and has a pizzeria, the candle lit Crystal is the smartest and the Rustic Ricelle also worth a visit.
Serre Chevalier Mountain Restaurants
If mountain eating is your thing then you should plan your day's ski itinerary with some care. The central sector of Villeneuve is where the best on-slope restaurants can be found. L'Echaillon is a chalet style restaurant with open fireplace, table service and excellent food. Just above here the Bivouac is also good offering indoor and outdoor dining from either a table service or self-service section. On a bad weather day visit Pi Mai in the hamlet of Frejus. In the Chantemerle sector try the busy Soleil and in the Briancon sector you should visit the attractive Pra Long chalet. In the Monetier area the Bachas makes a quick and easy refuelling stop for those that are keener to maximise ski or board time.
Serre Chevalier Apres Ski
The apres ski scene simply revolves around the local bars. Some say it is a little quiet but we have always found what's on offer to be lively enough to enjoy a beer or two straight off the slopes. In Le Monetier the British run Alpen has a good Happy Hour. In Villeneuve most of the pubs at the foot of Aravet run offer some form of live music with Le Grotte taking the majority of punters, the Loco Loco and the Frog are also worth trying. In Chantemerle a new English-run bar called The Station is where its happening with live music from 4-6pm, free snacks and cheap drinks.The Kitzbuhel shows all the sporting events and a good atmosphere. In Briancon the Auberge Mont Prorel right at the gondola base is the buzziest place to be at the end of the ski day. Live music and popular with the Brits and Scandies.
Serre Chevalier Nightlife
In Monetier the Que Tal Bar warms up later on. When all else is closed and the evening is on a flyer there are also a few karaoke bars if you really feel like making a night of it. Apart from these venues the late night partying is really had in the same bars that you visit right after skiing. There are no nightclubs worth mentioning - if anyone finds one then do let us know!