With its 300 days of sunshine, pretty villages, and 250 kilometres of groomed pistes, the Serre Chevalier is the laid-back country cousin of the more luxurious resorts of Val d’Isere or Courchevel, which was previously featured in an article on French ski resorts. Although smaller and less technologically advanced, the 13 villages of Serre Chevalier more than make up for it with perfect tree-lined slopes and plenty of Gallic charm.
The ski experience
Even in an unseasonably warm late March, the snow cannons hold the pistes all the way down to 1,200 m and made skiing a lovely experience. The north-facing slopes of Serre Chevalier’s Guisane valley is unique in the sense that they are relatively dry and sunny, but also have the nearby glaciers of the Ecrin National Park to make a microclimate that preserves snow well into April.
As for the runs themselves, they are very well connected, with terrains for all abilities. Among the greens, I would recommend highly Barres as one of the best for beginners, while Eychuada is an amazing blue to explore. More advanced skiers will delight in Clot Gauthier, Cucumelle, and Bois de Coqs. Some of the brilliant black runs in the area are the Pylones and the Olympic Luc Alphand. Freeskiers will also enjoy extensive masses of off-piste freeskiing terrain in back and cross-country, with On Board Magazine citing Serre Chevalier’s freeride terrain as the resort’s best feature.
The slopes are lined with immaculately groomed larch forest reaching higher altitudes than the Alpine norm. Larch forests don’t have needles in the winter, which allowed me to see hundreds of meters ahead without trouble and too much caution. The maximum altitude is at 2,800 m, which means great skiing in high mountain atmospheres.
One thing that might pose as a challenge though is getting around the ski domain. Although the area is very well connected, the chairs are a bit old and skiers will likely experience some drag. It’s important to plan your way around this to minimise hassle.
I think this video says it all about the skiing!
Off the slopes
When you’re not skiing, there’s plenty to do in the homey villages of Serre Chevalier, which are connected by bus service and home to friendly locals. Briançon is the highest town in Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage town, and it’s worth a visit for its picturesque shops and cobbled streets. Check out its arthouse cinema and the Michelin-starred Peché Gourmand.
In addition, On the Snow shares that Monetier-les-Bains is home to a fabulous thermal spa complex with a natural hot spring. Le Monêtier, meanwhile, is home to special music festivals at different times of the year. There’s also ice skating, karting, and trekking for visitors of all ages.
Accommodation here at Serre Chevalier is mostly family run B&Bs and low-key chalets, which make for an authentic French experience. Make sure to get tons of rest in between days filled with skiing and adventures and don’t take rest for granted. Leesa explains that sleep is essential to recover from daytime activities, which in turn will also help you sleep soundly the next night. This is important to ensure the best possible ski experience during your stay.
All in all, the Serre Chevalier is an excellent skiing experience for anyone looking for a laid-back setting, excellent food, and more affordable prices than the resort’s northern neighbors. The abundance and diversity of Serre Chevalier’s terrain is one of the highlights of my trip, as it offers so many opportunities to explore and enjoy the snow.