Serre Chevalier is one of five resorts making up the Grande Galaxie ski area in France. With a 6-day lift pass in any one of the resorts, you can ski a day in all the others completely free of charge. Last week, the team in Alpe d’Huez fancied something a little bit different and decided to make the trip south-east towards the Italian border to make the most of our free day’s skiing in Serre Chevalier.
The drive between the 2 resorts actually only takes an hour and twenty minutes and it is a pretty spectacular route to take. You start by descending the 21 bends of Alpe d’Huez, famous as being one of the toughest parts of the Tour de France in the summer. You then drive part way up the Deux Alpes mountain road, but at the Lord of the Rings-style dam, you cross the reservoir to pass the infamous off-piste mecca of La Grave. Traversing the Col de Lautaret, you eventually end up in the Serre Chevalier valley.
There are four villages that make up this resort – Monetier-les-Bains, La-Salle-des-Alpes, Chantemerle and Briancon. They are all quite different, from very small, quaint and traditional to the big and bustling town of Briancon. The ski area stretches along a long, south-facing valley above these four areas, and consists of 250km of pistes, very similar size to Alpe d’Huez, however at a completely different altitude. Alpe d’Huez ranges from 1250m at its lowest point, right up to 3330m at Pic Blanc, whereas Serre Chevalier’s pistes sit between 1200m and 2800m so much lower. However, do not let this put you off. The charm of Serre Chevalier is that half of the runs are tree-lined – something that we have so little of in Alpe d’Huez. Above the foresty heaven, there is a nice big open expanse, just like we find in Alpe d’Huez and Les Deux Alpes. Skiing in Serre Chevalier is an absolute dream. We skied none-stop all day to make sure we got to see as much of it as possible and got our intake of tree-lined runs for the season! We challenged ourselves to make it all the way from the Monetier-les-Bains end of the resort to the Briancon end, and it is possible! Don’t worry, we didn’t forget a stop for pizza and beer along the way.
The nice and quite unique thing about the resort is that we seemed to be the only Brits there! Not once did we sit on a chairlift and understand what anyone else was saying! Serre Chevalier is quite a quiet French resort, popular with locals, but particularly the Italians, who come from just over the border. We also heard some Eastern Europeans and even some Spaniards, but no Brits. I definitely feel that we are missing something here. Serre Chevalier is a very quaint and picturesque resort with lots to offer both in the towns and on the mountain, and the fact that it is not too busy and full of tourists means it is a pleasure to spend the day there. Serre Chevalier is certainly a hidden gem which is a must-do whilst staying in Alpe d’Huez for the week. I will be recommending to all our future guests!
Words: Elise Butterworth
Alpe d’Huez Resort Manager