13:39,
Monday,
10 December 2018.

Serre Chevalier, France

Set in the Brianconnais region toward the southern boundary of the French Alps, Serre Chevalier – some historians theorise – could have been one of the last places in France that the great Carthaginian King, Hannibal visited on his quest to cross the Alps and conquer Rome. In those days there were no handy ski lifts and even if there were I don’t think they priced for elephants. And snowboards, skis and mountain bikes hadn’t yet been invented – we think! So travel was on foot as it is for many a hiker now.

Today however, these aforementioned items do exist and Serre Chevalier, a conglomeration of several old villages and the roman garrison town Briançon serve as access points to the perfect mountain environment for charging around on such devices. In winter Serre Chevalier is Frances’ fourth largest ski area and according to many snowsports fans that have had the pleasure “one of its best”. The summer months add kayaking, climbing, hiking, mountain biking and a plethora of other outdoor pursuits to the freesports menu. Sedentary, Serre Chevalier is not although Monêtier-Les-Bains at the north western end of Serre Chevalier is a spa resort in its own right.

Monêtier-Les-Bains is also quieter than the other villages but can also boast being the highest at 1500 meters. An important consideration for winter visitors! Of the two main centrally located villages, working southeastwards from Monêtier-Les-Bains, Villeneuve at 1400 meters and Chantemerle at 1350 meters, the former is reputed to be the livelier. While Briançon just topping 1200 meters resides on Serre Chevaliers’ southeastern tip at the confluence of two major river valleys. The Guisane which runs through Serre Chevalier coming from deeper within the French Alps and the Durance that flows south towards the French Riviera having come from the north east in the direction of the Col de Montgenèvre on the Italian border.

In total 13 settlements make up Serre Chevalier, however the aforementioned are the only ones giving direct access to the lift system while an efficient bus service insures the other satellites are serviced. Each has a broad selection of accommodation with several good hotels available although few at the top end of the market. There are apartments, chalets and Gites of every standard and for those that prefer life a little closer to nature there are campsites throughout the valley.

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