Val Cenis is one of the internationally less well-known ski areas of France, located on the Italian border in the south east of the country. With a big ski area and modern lifts above several traditional villages it’s an area well worth exploring.
1 – Beautiful Slopes
Val Cenis has some of the most attractive ski slopes you’ll find anywhere. Its upper runs, stretching as high as 2,800m and opening up 1,400m of skiable vertical, offer spectacular views out across the national park. The lower half of the mountain below 2,000m is covered in larch and pine forests giving beautiful tree-lined descents. There are 125km of trails in total, served by fast, comfortable lifts, so plenty to keep you entertained for a week, including a link to the slopes of neighbouring Termignon.
2 – Lots Of Alternatives
There’s plenty to do off the slopes as well as on. The villages are home to two cinemas, a six-lane bowling alley and several ice rinks. You can book a paragliding lesson or a donkey-pulled carriage ride. Back on the snow there are lots of toboggan runs, tubing or you can sign up for a snowshoe hike, perhaps the sunset special or even a night hike taking in a little local astronomy.
3 – Skiing For Everyone
Although it’s fair to say Val Cenis is a particularly good resort for beginners (10 green runs to practise on including the wonderful 10km-long Escargot trail), and that there’s loads of terrain suited to intermediates, advanced skiers and freestyle fans shouldn’t write it off! There’s some excellent north-facing off-piste terrain and two freeride circuits so you can enjoy plenty of powder or moguls. There’s also the chance to visit one of the smaller ski areas including nearby Bonneval, located on the other side of the mountain from Val d’Isère, and a famous freeride powder paradise.
4 – Atmospheric Après-ski
The twin villages of Lanslevillard and Lanslebourg are both genuine mountain communities, which have both remained largely unspoilt despite the expansion of the ski area above over the years. The two villages share around 40 bars and restaurants, fairly evenly divided between them and in most cases small, friendly, family-run establishments serving good local food at reasonable prices – often a very different experience than in the purpose built modern resorts. The local tourist office works hard to build on this community atmosphere hosting a weekly welcome drink for all new arrivals. Through the season there are weekly torch-lit descents for children during the school holidays, shows, sports tournaments and a carnival in February. You can even visit the local cheese farm!
5 – Great Accommodation
There’s a great selection of accommodation in Val Cenis, much of it built in the past few years close to the base of the slopes. Most of these residences are 3 or 4★, many offer ski-in/ski-out access, and several have facilities like swimming pools and a bakery delivery service for that essential morning pain-au-chocolat.
The French Alps specialist offers holidays to Val Cenis from £144pp per week (approx. €167), including Eurotunnel crossings with a free FlexiPlus upgrade. Peak Retreats recommends the 4★ self-catered residence Les Chalets de Flambeau ideally located at the foot of the slopes and with indoor heated pool and spa facilities. Seven nights from 31 December 2016 from £398pp (approx. €462) based on five sharing a two-bedroom apartment and including Eurotunnel.