We have some news for you: from this season (2013/14) on SnowTrex can offer its customers winter holidays in the French ski area Serre Chevalier. This is one of Europe’s largest ski areas. The valley lays in close proximity to the national park “Les Ecrins” and may not have gained the popularity of the 3 Vallées, Les 2 Alpes or Espace Killy – yet – but it definitively has the potential!
There are 250 km of piste to explore here, all accessible via 63 lifts. Further there are a number of deep powder snow area which will feel like paradise to all freeriders. Many areas weave through beautiful forests and end in small high alpine valleys. All around the area you can find quaint mountain villages which have maintained their cosy charm, yet still offer lively apres ski and nightlife.
13 small villages, dominated by the typical grey stone houses, are dotted all over the valley which is also the natural bed of the Guisane river. The four ski stations Briançon – the second highest located town in Europe, Chantemerle, Villeneuve – a part of La Salle Les Alpes and Le Monêtier-les-Bains offer perfect access to the ski area. As all four resorts provide child-care facilities, ski kindergarten, ski school for kids and practice areas, Serre Chevalier is very popular especially with families. And not only on, but also away from the pistes you will find a splendid offer of activities. Snowshoe hikes, ice climbing, tours on a snow mobile or just a simple toboggan ride – all this is possible here! Le Monêtier-les-Bains is known as spa destination. Here you will find a 4,500 m² large thermal pool complex with indoor and outdoor pools, sauna area and beauty treatments. Villeneuve however is the apres ski hotspot of the area with its many bars and pubs. Briançon is the only French ski resort which can be found on the list of the UNESCO world heritage.
But let’s look at the most important point: the ski area! In 1941 the first lift opened in Chantemerle. Since then 62 further lifts have been added to form a better network over the mountains. The local ski area to the former ski racer Luc Alphand has been host to World Cup events twice, and has also organised various other events, such as the European Cup competition, national competitions and snowboard events. Winter sports enthusiasts will find perfect terrain here. The steep slopes around the mountain peaks provide a good challenge, even to the experienced riders, and the black piste on the Casse du Boeuf down to Villeneuve, or the “Olympique” piste to Chantemerle, or the “Cucumelle” and “Cibout” pistes are known to be quite strenuous. If freeriding through unmarked terrain is not safe enough for you, but still you want to enjoy great deep powder snow and backcountry feeling leading through beautiful forests, then you should try the 9 “Brut de Neige” pistes. Marked slopes, bur unprepared and full of powdery snow.
Freestylers will find four areas they can run riot in. The 700 m long fun park is located at 2,200 m altitude, not far from Villeneuve. Three zones for beginners, experienced and pros are set up here. There are two slopestyle lines with jumps and boxes for trying out first tricks, more experienced freestylers will find kickers, boxes and rails, and the pros have three different lines with similar obstacles and a wallride to test their skills. A chill zone provides a place to relax. Just above Villeneuve there is an additional fun park with natural elements – obstacles designed entirely from locally grown wood. Further there is a boardercross run in Chantemerle and a funnycross piste at Briançon.
For beginners there are eight special practice areas with special practice lifts to be found dotted all over the ski area. Three of these can be found alone in Villeneuve, which is most likely the best place to access the ski area Serre Chevalier for skiers and boarders with less experience. Soft slopes, ideal for the first swings, can not only be found at the valley station, but also at the mountain station, so beginners have a good selection of areas to enjoy. An easy practice piste leads through the forest right down into the valley. Even from the peak of the Serre Chevalier (2,941 m) there are five blue pistes that take you back down to the valley.