Advantages Good variety of runs
Disadvantages Snowfall seems to have reduced
I have been to Serre Chevalier, more specifically Chantemerle 1350, 3 times now.Serre Chevalier is in the southern alps on the border with Italy and has always supplied good snow and sunshine when I have been. It is split into 3 different stations with Chantemerle being, in my opinion, the best as it is a picturesque little village at the base of the Luc Alphand black run. I have never used a UK tour operator, I have always booked direct, driven and met up with some French friends. This probably gives me a different angle on the place. In the 1st 2 weeks in January you could get (I presume it is still available) a "forfait neige". This was 1900FF for lift pass, equipment, lessons and accomodation. The accomodation was self catering, small, basic but clean.
Getting there by car can be difficult as if there has been lots of snow the passes are sometimes closed meaning a long detour via Gap in the south. Every time I have been, I have had to use snow chains as well, so be ready for this.Once there you find yourself in a quiet picturesque village with all amenities available. I always take my own equipment so have never used the hire shops.
The snowboarding has always been excellent here but when we have been there has always been lots and lots of snow meaning awesome powder trails through the trees. My advice is use the Luc Alphand black during the day and not just for the blast back to base as there is usually more traffic than on the M6 from 4-5pm esp as green runs cross the piste as you go down. It is a very good run that is appreciated even more when it is empty.A particular favourite run of mine was Pylons, basically a black run underneath a chairlift. This was fast and gave opportunities to get some air. You could also cut across through the trees to diferent runs either side.
As well as the Chantemerle area the lift pass covers joining resorts including Briancon. You could quite happily set off in the morning and return at 5pm without haveing boarded the same terrain twice.There is a wide variety of runs here for all levels and quite a bit of safe off piste. We took lessons but these ended up more like guided sessions as our level is quite good. This meant we saw some spectacular scenery, boarded some quieter runs, trekked in waiste high powder and did some runs that were more extreme than we would have done by ourselves.
There are some small restaurants, pizza places and bars but when snow was this good we didn't want to miss any because of hangovers so we ate in the appartment (Raclette, Fondue or local produce from the market).In summary:
I have never had bad snow but friends of mine have and they hated the place because if there is no snow there is not a fat lot to do (like most ski resorts!!)Give it a go and pray to the snow gods!!!!
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