Downhill skiing in the French Alps

one of Europe's top ski and board destinations

Downhill Ski and Board Puy Saint Vincent and Pelvoux

Ski boarding in the Southern French Alps

Over 1000 km's of Downhill Pistes

From AlpBase you can access a total of over 1000 km's of downhill pistes, and almost unlimited off-piste action; we are in the middle of the Hautes Alpes, one of Europe's top ski and board destinations.

The skiing is VERY snowsure, the pistes are normally quiet, the locals very friendly, and its much cheaper than the Northern Alps!

  • Pelvoux - 5 minutes drive away - 25Km of downhill pistes
  • Puy-St-Vincent - 10 minutes drive - 75Km of downhill pistes
  • Serre Chevalier - 20 minutes drive - 250Km of downhill pistes
  • Vars/Risoul - 30 minutes drive - 180Km of downhill pistes
  • Montgenevre/Milky Way - 40 minutes drive - 400Km of downhill pistes
  • La Grave - 1 hour away - Off-piste capital of Europe!

WHY ALPBASE?

If you enjoy fun and easy family skiing, powder tree runs or some serious off-piste action you have come to the right place, because our two local resorts - Puy-St-Vincent (PSV) and Pelvoux - have exactly that!

PUY-ST-VINCENT - "BEST FAMILY RESORT OF THE YEAR" GOLDEN SKI AWARD 2004

Distance from AlpBase: 10 minutes drive and our local!
Puy-St-Vincent Mountain data:
Altitude: 1,400 - 2,700m
Vertical Drop: 1,350m
Lifts: 32
Pistes: 75km
Green: 15%
Blue: 40%
Red: 35%
Black: 10%
Artificial snow: 10km
Children's Funpark: Yes
Creche facilities: Yes
Ski School: Yes
Floodlit Skiing: Yes
Floodlit Boarding: Yes
Floodlit Sledging: Yes
Recco detectors used
Off-Piste: Very good
Cross Country Trails: 40km

SKI PASS PRICES: 2014/15
Adult day pass: 30.60
Child day pass: 24.50 (free for under 6yrs)
*Adult 6 day Galaxie pass: 153
*Child 6 day Galaxie pass: 122.40

*The 6 day Puy-St-Vincent Galaxie pass allows you to ski a full day in each of the following resorts: Serre-Chevalier/Briançon, Montgenèvre, Sestrières/la voie lactée, les 2 alpes, l'Alpe d'Huez, la Grave, and Pelvoux.
Details online here: http://ski.puysaintvincent.com/Fichiers/Internet/Cgv/cgv-9001-Tarif-caisse_EN.pdf

PELVOUX

Distance from AlpBase: 5 minutes drive – our real local!
Pelvoux Mountain data:
Altitude: 1,250 - 2,300m
Vertical Drop: 1,050m
Lifts: 12
Pistes: 25km
Green: 20%
Blue: 40%
Red: 35%
Black: 5%
Artificial snow: 5km
Children’s Funpark: Yes
Crèche facilities: Yes
Ski School: Yes
Floodlit Skiing: Yes
Floodlit Boarding: No
Floodlit Sledging: No
Recco detectors used
Off-Piste: Extensive
Cross Country: 35km

SKI PASS PRICES: 2014/15
Adult 1 day pass: 17.80
Child 1 day pass: 14.80
Adult 6 day pass: 81.70
Child 6 day pass: 75.10
Details on line here: http://www.ski-pelvoux.com/5-forfaits-sejour-RM

What's it like?

Based in Vallouise we are sandwiched between Puy-St-Vincent (PSV) to the south and Pelvoux to the north. Located in a lovely setting at the head of the Vallouise valley, with cross-country pistes, quad biking and 7 local restaurants, Pelvoux is perfect for beginners in search of a real “mountain vacation”. But be aware Pelvoux is a very small resort with just 1 main chairlift and 12 alpine ski runs.

Really the main event is definitely PSV, which we will talk about now. Okay we have to be brutally honest here otherwise we lose all hope of impartiality ‌..er..it’s brilliant! No okay, failed. Here is what the bible says (The Reuters Guide – Where to ski and snowboard 2005): “Puy-St-Vincent’s ski area may be limited but we like it a lot‌.. it offers a decent vertical, including steep stuff. Provided you pick your spot with care, it makes an attractive choice for a family holiday – an underrated little modern resort with some serious slopes”.

Puy-St-Vincent has two centers, at 1400m. and 1600m. It has an excellent variety of runs and is located within its own microclimate that produces both good snow and sunshine in large quantities. There are some great off-piste tree runs for snowboarders, the night skiing runs throughout the season and the locals are friendly. People like the fact that it is not huge because that is what makes it simply a nice place to ski.

The slopes between 1400 and 1600 are gentle. Most of the skiing is above 1600m. A fast quad chair rises above the tree line to about 2000m and from here you can go back down on some thrilling reds, or the green takes a less direct route back down. Alternatively, continue up via a long chair to the top station of 2700m, serving open reds and genuine black runs.

PSV is one of the more challenging resorts in France - the black runs, particularly the Rocher Noir, are renowned for their steepness and are guaranteed to excite even the expert skier. But PSV is really an intermediate skier’s paradise, with a variety of enjoyable slopes both above and below tree-line. For those wishing to tackle more testing runs, there are some challenging reds from La Pendine at 2700m and a long run through the larch woods back to 1600. The friendly ski school instructors make learning to ski in PSV a happy and fun experience. The nursery slopes of the resort are centrally located at 1600 with an excellent snow record. Puy-St-Vincent is great to for children, winning “Best Family Resort Of The Year” – Golden Ski Award in 2004.

We also find PSV gets a lot of snow because of its northerly orientation, and keeps its base right through until the end of the season. That’s the reason The English Ski Council held their annual championships at PSV from 2002 to 2005 inclusive. In an average year the lifts are shut down at the end of April. But you still get the sun till 3 p.m., and it definitely feels warmer than say Chamonix. In 1991 when there was a real lack of good snow anywhere in the Alps, the French ski team went to Puy-St-Vincent because it was the only place with decent conditions. Interestingly enough, it is always the resort of choice when there is bad or windy weather in the region.

PSV is cheaper pro rata than the big local resorts – the savings start from ₏ 20 for an adult ski pass compared to up to ₏ 30 elsewhere. So you could save up to ₏ 50 per adult per week’s skiing. Having already done a photo shoot from PSV for a UK-based corporate we can safely say that the views towards the Barre des Ecrins (4,101m) are simply stunning.

Finally, if you are into cross-country skiing there are pisted trails (both skating and traditional) at both resorts. PSV has some great prepared trails between 1400m and 1700m from green to black in difficulty. Cross-country ski tracks can also be accessed by walking a few minutes from pretty much any of our winter accommodation.

SKI HIRE
KINGS – Our local ski shop here in Vallouise La Casse is offering 10-15% off all ski hire equipment for AlpBase guests depending on size of order. This will hopefully match or better any special Internet ski rental offers. So if you need to hire any ski or board equipment just email them at contact@kings-shop.com. Or phone the shop on 0033 4 92 23 31 20

Have lived and skied here as a family every winter since 2003 we are hooked on this area for family skiing and especially our local resort of Puy-St-Vincent. But why take our word for it. This article by Clover Stroud appeared in the Telegraph on 8th December 2010:
The Telegraph
Skiing Puy St Vincent, France: Children and family-friendly slopes
08 December 2010

Here is the link:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/snowandski/france/8189134/Skiing-Puy-St-Vincent-France-Children-and-family-friendly-slopes.html

For full details on Puy-St-Vincent and Pelvoux open the tab adjacent to this one marked WHY ALPBASE

At AlpBase.com we have a travel cot, high chair, 3 wheel all terrain buggy, and changing mat available for our young guests’ comfort. We also have sledges, some toys and books, and are experts on making igloos. We are happy to baby-sit (details on request) whether for 1 hour or a whole day. We charge â‚Ź 5 per hour or part thereof in the evening, and â‚Ź 7 during the daytime.

Many people ask us at what age should they start their children skiing, and if it is possible to have a good ski holiday with young children. We would say that any children over 18 months should thoroughly enjoy themselves, plus there are enough facilities for the adults to have time for their own enjoyment. We have a young family ourselves, (girls aged 13 & 16) so have plenty of experience and understanding of what constitutes a good day for all.

So what's available locally for children?

Skiing with your children
Many people ask us at what age they should start their children skiing, and if it is possible to have a good ski holiday with young children. We would say that any children over 18 months should thoroughly enjoy themselves, plus there are enough facilities for the adults to have time for their own enjoyment.

Pelvoux Ski Resort and Puy-St-Vincent Ski Resort
We have plenty of experience and understanding of what constitutes a good day for all. We live 5 minutes from Pelvoux, our local ski resort, and only 15 minutes drive away from Puy-St-Vincent, winner of “Best Family Resort of the Year” – Golden Ski Award 2004.

So what's available locally for your children at PSV and Pelvoux ski resorts?

Babies Under 18months: Babysitting

18 months - 5 years: Snow garden / babysitting
N.B. In the snow garden the children experience playing in the snow, snowmen, igloos, and are introduced to skis using various games. Inside they will be involved in various types of creative play. Price: Approx. 15-20 for half a day.

6 - 12 years:
a) Mini Clubs - mostly during school holidays
N.B. These usually run between 11.00 - 16.30hrs. There are different activities each day ranging from identifying animal tracks, snowshoeing, construction of proper igloos, husky sledge rides, trying local crafts such as pottery and wood engraving and trips out with the pisteurs who teach them about the mountains in winter such as snow conditions, and avalanche safety. Price: Approx. 25 per day.

b) Ski school
These are run through the Ecole Du Ski Francais (ESF) with many English speaking instructors, at Pelvoux, our local. This small friendly resort is really child-friendly, with access to the beginner’s slopes right by the car park. ESF ski school is also available up at Puy-St-Vincent (PSV), with a very large purpose-built children’s’ ski area.

For a definitive list of ski schools and creches at Pelvoux and Puy-St-Vincent check out this page:
http://www.ifyouski.com/france/resorts/puy-saint-vincent/skischoolscreche.aspx

SKI HIRE
KINGS – Our local ski shop here in Vallouise La Casse is offering 10-15% off all ski hire equipment for AlpBase guests depending on size of order. This will hopefully match or better any special Internet ski rental offers. So if you need to hire any ski or board equipment just email them at contact@kings-shop.com. Or phone the shop on 0033 4 92 23 31 20

Also check out our Winter Gallery activities here:
http://www.alpbase.com/gallery_categories/by_section/1

Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing:
We have over 25 km’s of prepared trails for both activities literally from our doorstep. Both skating and classic styles are catered for, as well as organised snowshoe safaris for little ones. There are also many kilometres of trails at PSV, Pelvoux, around Serre Chevalier and in the Queyras. You can hire all the necessary equipment for children from age 4 upwards. If you hire at Kings, our local outdoor gear shop, you get 10% discount if booking through AlpBase.com.

Other Winter Family Activities:
In addition to skiing, you have Motoneige (quad bikes on ice), skidoo rides, husky sledge rides, ice climbing (minimum age 12), swimming, ice skating, and of course the famous Serre Chevalier “Grotto De Glace” with fantastic animal ice sculptures. There are also 3 swimming pools locally, as well as a large leisure complex open 12 months of the year.

SERRE CHEVALIER
Distance from AlpBase: 20 minutes by car

Mountain data:
Altitude: 1,200 – 2,800m
Vertical Drop: 1,603m
Lifts: 77
Pistes: 250km
Green: 20%
Blue: 20%
Red: 50%
Black: 10%
Artificial snow: 30km
Cross Country: 45 km of trails
Recco detectors used

What's it like?
Located 15km from the Italian border, Serre Chevalier is one of the most southerly resorts in the Alps. Its north facing slopes reach high above the tree line. The snow comes often and in large amounts in January and February, thanks to its southerly location; wet air from the Mediterranean is pushed northwards and lands in Serre Chevalier as champagne powder. If it doesn’t there are extensive snow making machines on the lower slopes, making the resort snow sure.

Serre Chevalier is one of the world's big ski areas 250km of trails) and comprises thirteen villages, including Briançon, Chantemerle, Le Monetier and Villeneuve. The resort spreads out for 6km along the Guisane Valley from the old town of Briançon, the location of France's first ski school in 1902, up to the Col du Lautaret. You come in this way if approaching from Grenoble.

Serre Che as the locals call it is NOT another concrete monstrosity like many French ski resorts, and you will find many traditional houses and farms spread throughout the area.

There are more than a dozen points to gain access to the runs, and we can tell you about the best one’s to go for. There is definitely something here for everyone spread around the mountains. From simple windy green “roads” to off-piste down the Cucumelle.

For powder head for the Monetier-area with the highest peak in the valley – Pic De L’Yret 2830m. Here the snow is colder and of course, deeper than elsewhere. Ask us and we can tell you about the back bowls accessible from the Yret lift.

The other big thing is the tree runs – great for boarders and skiers in search of powder stashes! The lift pass also takes in Montgenèvre on the Italian border and a link into the Italian Milky way (400km of pistes). See Montgenèvre below.

Serre Chevalier is home to Luc Alphand (Lucho to his mates!) was the world downhill champion from 1995 to 1997. His images are everywhere in the resort, even more so now as he has recently won one of the categories of the Paris to Dakar motorsport race. Luc’s brother Lionel runs one of the restaurants in Vallouise and you can even drink his own label beer, brewed locally! For snowboarders there is a bordercross, two half-pipes and a big air jump as well as loads of of-piste. “The World Snowboard Guide” gives it an overall rating of 10 out of 10 both on and off the slopes.

Driving on ice at the Circuit de glace and skating on ice are just two well-loved winter pursuits! You can also go horse riding, swimming at the amazing hot baths of Monetier-Les-Bains, snow scooting and parapenting. You can even learn to drive a piste groomer!

Nightlife:
Plenty and various from Le pub to everyone’s favorite The Alpen, run by two very friendly French guys it is a must for Après Ski. Or if you are into cocktails check out Gotcha, the bar of Le Signal Du Prorel - great music, happy hour from 4:00 until 5:30 everyday, tequila-night every Monday! Or try the Baita disco open till 5am!

MONTGENEVRE
Distance from AlpBase: 40 minutes drive

Mountain data:
Including The Milky way
Altitude: 1,850 – 2,825m
Vertical Drop: 1,330m
Lifts: 92
Pistes: 400km
Green: 5%
Blue: 11%
Red: 65%
Black: 19%
Artificial snow: 75km
Cross Country: A total of 100km of prepared trails
Recco detectors used

What's it like?
Good points:
Virtually always has best snow conditions in The Milky Way because it is high
Often not crowded when nearby resorts are
Lots of red runs
Great opportunity to explore The Milky Way if you fancy a change and have a car

Bad points:
Resort runs right alongside the busy main road from Turin to Briancon
Little for the expert off-piste people
A little soulless
It does often have a lot of snow, there is a lovely old village tucked away off the main road, and you can easily experience a bit of Italian snow sport for a refreshing change.
It can’t be that bad anyway as the 2006 Winter Olympics are going to be held here!

RISOUL/VARS
Distance from AlpBase: 40 minutes drive

Mountain data:
Altitude: 1,660 - 2750m
Vertical Drop: 1100m
Lifts: 56
Pistes: 180km
Green: 20%
Blue: 40%
Red: 30%
Black: 10%
Artificial snow: 30km
Cross Country: 25km of trails
Recco detectors used

What's it like?
We like this place. Unknown to the Brits this place is often uncrowded, and offers big open skiing and snowboarding. Very sunny and warm even in midwinter, has the feel of a local resort rather than a big league one, yet offers a huge amount of terrain for the money. Lift operators have time to chat and we always find people are extremely friendly, polite and helpful.

For snowboarders it's great – off-piste couloirs, open terrain, powder bowls and yes even a jib park, bordercross and half pipe. The World Snowboard Guide 2001 rates it 6 out of 10 and says, “it’s a cool place to ride”. We love the guide’s note on the nightlife – “head to the Yeti (little Holland), where you must drink more booze than the Dutch dude, then leave him on the floor and take off with his girlfriend.”

Risoul has a flying kilometer run for speed skiing so if you fancy some 100kph action go for it! Observing speed skiing freaks is another positive experience that is absolutely free.

LA GRAVE - LA MEIJE
Distance from AlpBase: one hour by car

Mountain data:
Altitude: 1,500 – 3,550m
Vertical Drop: 2,150m
Lifts: 4
Pistes: 5km
Green/blue: 100%
Artificial snow: 0km (it doesn’t need any)
Cross Country: 10 km of trails
Recco detectors used

What’s it like?
Let’s be quite clear what this place is all about – off-piste heaven! No lies, this place is internationally renowned. Whenever we ski or board here we always meet foreigners, and I am not talking French people! It’s huge, open, magical and yes sometimes serious. You have to take avalanche transceivers, probe and shovel, but don’t be put off – off it is simply beautiful and a massive adrenaline rush! If it hasn’t been snowing for a while it’s just like a normal unmarked open ski resort. But after a fresh dump of powder it is simply the best, and it feels like you have the whole huge mountain to yourself. As mentioned the easily skiable vertical is over 2000m (that’s 7,000 feet in old money) and full of drops, cliffs, gullies, chutes, steeps, trees and bowls. There are so many couloirs, it's pointless to name them, but some names that spring to mind are the Trifide, the Couloir du Lac, and the Banane. But one thing about La Meije is that you really should ski with a guide if it’s been snowing. You can access Les Deux Alpes from La Grave or vice versa, and if you would like a three day ski or board safari between La Grave, Serre Chevalier, Alpe-d’Huez and les Deux Alpes we can easily arrange it using local British or French guides.

Too many to mention - literally!

Here are some good relevant websites but really like everywhere else in the Alps these resorts pack in the fun all season long.

Puy-St-Vincent:In a normal season PSV will open the second week-end of December and shut the third week of April.Pelvoux: The resort normally opens the week before Christmas Day so around the 17th or 18th December and closes in mid March.

In an exceptional Winter like 2008/2009 and 2009/2010 it will stay open until end of MarchSerre Chevalier:The resort opens its gates at the end of the first full week in December, so typically the 11 or 12 of the month. It closes at the end of April, typically the start of the last week, so around the 25th of April.MontgenèvreMontgenèvre local ski area (65kms) opens right at the start of December and closes at the end of April, typically the start of the last week, so around the 25th of April.

The Milky Way opens in the first week of December and closes normally the start of the second week of AprilLa GraveThis amazing all mountain ski area opens the week before Christmas (around the 18th December) and closes the very beginning of May!

SKI HIRE
KINGS – Our local ski shop here in Vallouise La Casse is offering 10-15% off all ski hire equipment for AlpBase guests depending on size of order. This will hopefully match or better any special Internet ski rental offers. So if you need to hire any ski or board equipment just email them at contact@kings-shop.com. Or phone the shop on 0033 4 92 23 31 20

SKI SCHOOL AT PELVOUX AND PUY-ST-VINCENT

These are run through the Ecole Du Ski Francais (ESF) with many English speaking instructors, at Pelvoux, our local. This small friendly resort is really child-friendly, with access to the beginner’s slopes right by the car park. ESF ski school is also available up at Puy-St-Vincent (PSV), with a very large purpose-built children’s’ ski area.

For a definitive list of ski schools and crèches at Pelvoux and Puy-St-Vincent check out this page:
http://www.ifyouski.com/france/resorts/puy-saint-vincent/skischoolscreche.aspx

Adults
ESF Ski School at Puy-St-Vincent and Pelvoux:

http://esf-puy-st-vincent-pelvoux.com/fr/

ESI Ski School at Puy-St-Vincent:
http://www.ecoledeski-puystvincent.com/fr/

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AlpBase, Southern French Alps

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