- Snow Reports
A somewhat underrated resort, Serre Chevalier has a smorgasboard of goodies to offer its visitors. From a laid back style and friendly locals to excellent food and cheaper prices than those of its northernly neighbours, and, an abundance of quality and diverse terrain – all in all it’s really quite something. If the journalists love it, you know you’re onto a good thing and many are a fan of Serre Chavalier.
The ski area is not a single resort, rather, it is made up of a dozen villages including Briançon, Chantemerle, Monêtier les Bains and Villeneuve which are connected by a bus service. The area comprises 250km of well-linked pistes along the Serre Chevalier Valley between Briançon and Le Monêtier-les-Bains and forms part of the Grande Galaxie ski area. This vast region provides access to 530km of alpine skiing, with 264 individual pistes and is served by 151 ski lifts.
The resort’s altitude ranges from 1200m to 2800m so you can enjoy great skiing in a high mountain atmosphere. The runs, cut in and above a large larch forest, are on the North side of the high long ridge. There are loads of bowls, valley descents and high off-peak faces. Serre Chevalier has phenomenal tree skiing too and is famed for its off-piste.
Snow cover is exceptionally good which is down to the resort’s north facing position. Slopes are colder for longer and they tend to hold onto more of the white stuff. The majority of the skiing is on the top half of the mountain and the trees protect the lower slopes. Snow making machines protect the base of the valley pistes and the grooming is consistently well done.
Snowboarders love it here too and there is a dedicated freestyle zone, located in the ski area next to Villeneuve, which is divided according to level of expertise. There’s also a boardercross zone in Chantemerle with banked turns and modules which are perfect for slalom addicts. If you’re not quite ready to bomb down the mountain, there are many highly regarded ski schools which can help you reach your goals. We rate Ski Connections and ESI Monetier.
Serre Chavalier is an attractive resort, with narrow cobbled streets and pretty shops lining the village’s main road. Most of the accommodation consists of small chalets, family run B&B’s, or is self-catered.
One of the best things about the resort is its suitability to all levels of skiing ability. And there’s heaps of terrain - tight, open trees, couloirs visible from the lifts, limitless banks and gullies, natural hits everywhere and a huge natural funpark.
Much of the area is covered in openly spaced larch forest, that is, trees without needles in the winter. The effect is that you can see what’s in front of you for hundreds of metres which translates into hitting the steeps without having to exercise too much caution. Yay speed! The forest also provides a solid training ground for those venturing off-piste for the first time and is accessible from the Bachas chair lift.
Beginners have easy trails next to all of the villages and separate beginner slopes up the mountain. These are generally crowd free which gives newbies ample space in which to practice. We like the green runs around the Frejus charlift. On the downside there are a number of drag lifts to contend with.
Intermediates have access to long cruising trails of up to 10km in length. At the Bachas chairlift above 1500 there are lots of pistes criss-crossing down through the larch forest . Recommended runs include the Cucumelle, Le Petit Alpe, Grand Gargouille and Bois des Coqs.
Once you’ve weaved through the trees you can head to La Grave in just 30 minutes, and Montgenevre isn’t far from Briançon. The lift pass includes Montgenèvre on the Italian border, and if you purchase an add-on pass, it’s possible to ski, if conditions are right, all the way over to Sestrière and Sauze d'Oulx in Italy.
Advanced skiers and riders, particularly those who love freesking, have masses of terrain to sample including the extensive backcountry and cross-country for which a number of guiding services are available. There are five cross-country routes in the valley of varying length and difficulty. Those who like marked runs will enjoy blasting down the Olympic Luc Alphand run – it’s one of the fastest on the mountain. Expert skiers can also test their mettle on hairier challenges such as Jacksons or the Tête de Grand Pré and Montagnolle descents.
For fresh tracks make your way to the fields and trees off the Cibouit chair lift in Monêtier – take skier’s right across the black run and use the shoulder above the Tabuc black run.
Good restaurants can be found throughout Briançon and the surrounding villages, providing visitors with a range of dining options to suit most budgets.
Briançon offers the greatest choice of restaurants, although a favourite is Chalet de Pra Long which serves regional dishes and the best blueberry pie.
In Le Bez, Le Bidule has excellent seafood and fish dishes, indulgent desserts and a rather good wine list.
Above Villeneuve is the superb family run Le Pi Maï. With a gorgeous sunny terrace, locally sourced ingredients and typical mountain fare, this is a good place for either a quick-ish pit-stop (it can get busy so be prepared to wait) or a longer more relaxing lunch. We recommend the cheese sandwiches which are oven baked.
Above Chantemerle, located on the on the Luc Alphand slope, Cafe Soleil offers homemade food laid out in a buffet style. The restaurant also offers table service from 12-2.30pm.
Serre Ratier is popular, has good food, and a large sun terrace. There is a pretty dining room inside.
Above Le Monêtier Peyra Juana serves traditional hearty fare in simple, friendly surroundings.
Since the accommodation in the region is quite dispersed, rampant après-ski is not on the cards but there are a number of decent spots.
The Blue Bird Cocktail Bar offers delicious concoctions, a cozy ambiance and jazz. For afternoon drinks, the bar does a hot chocolate cocktail creation, and have beautiful tasting plates with fresh local produce.
Every day the resort offers 90 minute tours of the ski area. Your guide or “peddlar” will take you from piste to piste, linking the Valley, while explaining the inner workings of a ski resort. Advance booking of at least 24 hours is required.
KM Night Skiing
KM Snow Making
5240 SERRE CHEVALIER
Phone: +33 (0)4 92 24 98 98
Snowboarders heading to France on holiday will want to check out the country's top boarder-friendly resorts before booking a stay. ... More