The French Alps are world renowned for their incredible skiing and stunning scenery. Once the stomping ground of the rich and famous, skiing is now more affordable than it has ever been; this is the perfect time to take up this exhilarating sport. Whether you have skied every year since the 80s or are a complete beginner, there is something for everyone in the French Alps. Every budget, ability, age and group size is catered for and with air travel cheaper than ever, why not take the opportunity to book a skiing holiday? With flights to the surrounding airports sometimes only an hour or two from London it is the ideal option.
Two and a half hours from Turin airport, Serre Chavalier France is a highly underrated ski resort. It has over 250kms of excellent runs. Divided into three villages and the historical Briancon, the resort is linked with by ski runs, a regular bus service and lift systems. For value for money, high altitude skiing and beautiful alpine skiing conditions, you will find Serre Chavalier hard to beat.
There are plenty of runs for all levels of skiers and boarders in the resort and only the most thrill-seeking of skiers will find themselves lacking challenging runs.
Perfect for mid-level skiers, there are over forty intermediate runs, so you will always have new terrain to explore. There are also plenty of runs that are perfect for first timers or young children. For boarders there is a half-pipe, free ride situated in Villenueve. Every Friday night during the season you can go on guided night-skiing trips.
Serre Chevalier is an off-piste heaven, but do take care not to stray too far – if you travel off route you may find yourself on the wrong side of the mountain and the walk back from the road to Grenoble is very long and boring!
With chalets, apartments and hotels available at different levels of luxury, you will definitely find something to suit your budget at Serre Chevalier. A peak season stay at the luxurious old farmhouse, Chalet Montalembert, costs around £600 per week per person and is fully catered.
The problem with chalets is that you usually have to walk to catch public transport and when you are carrying skis, poles and wearing heavy ski boots, it can be quite tiring. Chalet Montalembert is quite literally accommodation with skiing on the doorstep. If you are trying to save money, you could try the Chatemerle Apartments which are self-catering. They are just a three minute walk to the ski school and at peak season they cost £370 per week per person (based on four people sharing).
The cost of eating out in Serre Chevalier is varied and suitable for anyone on a budget. For good pizza you can not beat ‘Ca Basa’ in Chantermerle. A small beer will set you back around £2 and a cup of coffee slightly less. For en-piste snacking, ‘Cafe Soleil’ above Chantermerle is great value. ‘Bachus’ is another en-piste restaurant that offers fantastic, reasonably priced sandwiches. Traditional cheese or meat fondues are approximately 25 Euros and a three course meal will set you back on average 35 Euros (including local wines).
The nightlife of Serre Chevalier is surprisingly plentiful. This is a quiet resort, but you can still have a lively night out. Each village offers a variety of venues. Briancon is no Soho, but ‘Saloon’ at the bottom of the main lift is a big apres-ski bar that attracts a lot of tourists. ‘Duo’ is a chilled-out piano bar that is very friendly and ideal for relaxed apres-ski.
In Chantermerle there is ‘The Extreme Bar’, a popular place with frequent live music and occasional hardcore dance nights. If you like a traditional Irish pub then head for ‘Ullivans’. Villenueve offers the busiest night life in Serre Chevalier. The ‘Baita’ night club is quite pricey but is the best option for late night clubbing. ‘Le Frog’ is a great bar with a big TV for keeping track of sporting events.
Serre Chavalier has a Geant (like a French Tesco) which is excellent value. You can also find good deals on ski-wear, skis, poles and snowboards, particularly near the end of the season. Briancon’s main attraction however is its history. It has a Medieval fortress which is well worth a visit. Also in the town is an indoor heated swimming pool which is perfect for soaking your aching bones after a hard day on the piste. Finally, if you just cannot keep away from the gym, there is a fitness centre in the town.
Cheap Ski Holidays is a trading name of Hello Sunshine ABTA number K2931 and an Agent for ATOL Protected Operators. a trading division of Hays Travel Ltd, who are Members of ABTA. ABTA and ABTA Members help holidaymakers to get the most from their travel and assist when things don't go according to plan. We are obliged to maintain a high standard of service to you by ABTA's Code of Conduct. For more information on ABTA, the Code of Conduct and the arbitration scheme available to you if you have a complaint, contact ABTA, 30 Park Street, London SE1 9EQ, Tel 020 3117 0581 www.abta.com.
Cheap Ski Holidays, 3 Byron House, Hall Dene Way, Seaham, County Durham, SR7 0PY. Company Reg. No 1990682