14:17,
Saturday,
19 September 2020.

Serre Chevalier, Skiing &...

Serre Chevalier is France’s fourth largest ski area and for many of those that have ridden here one of its best. The terrain is suitable for skiers and snowboarders of every level from beginner right through to world cup champion downhill racers. I speak of Luc Alphand, the famous French downhill racer for whom Serre Chevalier has always been home. He won five Alpine Skiing World Cup titles between 1995 and 1997 including overall champion, super-g champion and downhill champion. So maybe Serre Chevalier would be the ideal place for budding racers to holiday! Whatever aspirations one has, with knowledge of Serre Chevaliers’ 250 kilometers of piste and extensive off-piste, its’ enviable snow and sun record plus the truly fabulous scenery, the palate of most winter sports fans should be well whetted.

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Beginner

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Each of the main bases, Briancon, Chantemerle, Villeneuve and Monêtier Les Bains has there own nursery area. The latter two have theirs located at village level while the former pair have theirs situated a short lift ride further up the mountain. Chantemerle and Villeneuve are best for improvers as they offer long confidence building green runs that wind their way through the forest back to the valley floor. These greens are ideal for rapid development. Improvers should quickly graduate to early intermediate and the numerous blue pistes which will allow all mountain roaming.

Intermediate

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With mile upon mile of well linked cruising pistes intermediate riders should be pretty pleased with what Serre Chevalier has to offer. There are plenty of top to bottom runs that can be tackled combining any mix of red, blue and green pitches that will really get the thighs burning. For those feeling super fit and confident why not throw in a short black piste for good measure. There’s certainly enough to keep most intermediate skiers and boarders occupied for a week but if you fancy a change of scene for a day then Montgenèvre which is part of the vast Milky Way ski region is only a short drive from Serre Chevalier. Also La Grave, Les Deux Alpes and Alpe d’Huez are within striking distance for those with a car.

Advanced

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Serre Chevalier offers advanced riders a feast both on and off-piste. There are 14 black pistes spread throughout the area although the vast majority of these are found on the centrally situated slopes above Chantemerle and Villeneuve. Mogul men and women will find pleasure on the slopes above Villeneuve as will freeriders and off-piste aficionados. On Rocher d l’Yret above Monêtier Les Bains there are several back country options easily accessible from the top of Yret chairlift.

Freestyle, Skier and BoarderCross

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With a cross track, a couple of parks and plenty of natural hits to be found around the mountains here freestylers should find something to keep them occupied for quite some time. Serre Chevalier was in fact one of the first resorts to acknowledge snowboarding when it was a nascent sport and subsequently one of the first to develop a fun park.

Touring

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It’s worth noting that Serre Chevalier is situated on the north eastern extremity of the Ecrins National Park, a vast area of wilderness boasting some of the highest peaks in France. It’s certainly possible to undertake some serious expeditions here with many a mountain hut offering nocturnal refuge where required but there’s also plenty of day touring options for those that demand the comfort of a fine restaurant, cosy bar and comfy bed after a hard day on the hill. One highlight for dedicated mountaineers has to be the heavily glaciated 4102 meter giant, Barre Des Ecrins. This is a mountain in good company with close neighbours like 3982 meter La Meije which can be accessed relatively easily – to a point – by lift from La Grave or the mighty Mont Pelvoux that despite being 150 meters shorter than Barre Des Ecrins poses a considerable technical challenge for would be summiteers.