Serre Chevalier is a popular Alpine ski resort, where pure air and clean snow accompany a smorgasbord of activities for the whole family to enjoy.
A true gem among French Alpine destinations, the expansive and bustling ski resort of Serre Chevalier Vallée Briançon is a giant playground for winter-breakers and snow sports enthusiasts.
Spanning an altitude of 1,300m to 2,800m, it enjoys a wonderful natural setting at the edge of the Ecrins Natural Park and comprises a cluster of authentic mountain villages, plus the historic 17th-century old town of Briançon with its Vauban fortifications.
There is a sense of timelessness in the villages’ olde-worlde feel. Yet, with its modern accommodation and ski transport options, it seemlessly doubles up as a vast, modern ski domaine of almost 4,000 hectares. Its pretty woodland trails feature hundreds of kilometres of varied ski runs to explore – 81 runs in total, of which 13 are black, 30 red, 25 blue and 13 green.
Pure air and plenty of snow here are a given – the broad Guisane valley in which it sits is a year-round sun-trap, while 80% of the runs are at 2,000m or above, which guarantees excellent snow coverage.
On and off the pistes, there are all manner of activities to enjoy, depending on your need for speed or desire for more sedate downtime.
For the adventurous on the upper slopes there is ice driving, ski karting, bobsled and Deval’Bob: a wacky, vertiginous descent through the larch forest. Night-skiers can descend under starry skies while Snooc is a new Serre Chevalier speciality combining ski-touring and sledding. You can even test your nerve and aim with snow paintballing (with eco-friendly paint, of course).
The snowpark, meanwhile, has four areas, from beginner to experts, plus there is a bespoke boardercross area for rapid racers. Pickier piste lovers can even (safely) explore the special ‘Bruts de Neige’ zones of virgin snow on marked runs.
For a more leisurely exploration try ski-joering: get your sled or skis hooked up to a pony or horse on specially-prepared tracks and watch the paysage unfold. Snow shoeing is popular, too, and provides a back-to-nature tour at your own pace, with the reward of a hot meal in a mountain refuge at the end of your walk.
Even more restful is a spa session at the Grands Bains de Monêtier, where the mineral-rich, 44°C spring waters sooth aching limbs after a day on the slopes. In Briançon, meanwhile, there is the play pool aquatic centre, complete with massage jets, waterfalls and geysers!
Entertainment is high on the agenda in Serre Chevalier, with an annual jazz festival, spectacular ‘torchlight’ descents, as well as heritage tours of the area’s historic sites. Visitors have plenty of gastronomic options too, from superb restaurants to special delivery raclette or fondue from melted cheese fanatics Allo Raclette.
Among the resort’s innovations for the 2018/19 season are the six-person Côte Chevalier ski lift, which will make travel around the upper slopes and Monêtier easier; and GoCryo, a whole body cryotherapy centre, which brings a whole new, -80°C therapeutic take on ‘chilling out’.
Dates: The heart of the Serre Chevalier ski area opens from December 7-9 and then the whole domaine from December 15 through to April 22, 2019.
For more information visit www.serre-chevalier.com