ER EDITI T N
TIGNES VAL D’ISERE LES ARCS LA PLAGNE STE. FOY LA ROSIERE 3 VALLEES
BACKCOUNTRY BASICS ECO SKIING MARIA MARSA SUMMER
Legendary rider. Legendary performance.
The Grimnir is Terje Haakonsenâ€™s Pro Model helmet. It is the most advanced freeride helmet on the market - a pre-preg carbon fiber beast, tested and certified for selected POV cameras.
Editor: Rob Forbes Writers: Lauren Little, Jemma Harrison, Rob Forbes Contributors: Corinne Mayhew, Rebecca Miles Graeme Langhorne Design: Ryan Mitson
dâ€™Isere, Tignes, Thanks to: The Tourist Offices of Val Foy & Val Thorens Les Arcs, La Plagne, La Rosiere, Ste. rsaphotography.com Front Cover: Maria Marsa - www.ma (see page 12 for the interview) ell Summer Cover: Taken by Rowan Sorr e) mor for 3 e pag ion sect (see summer
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The largest provider of private airport transfers in the Tarentaise Valley servicing the airports of Geneva, Lyon, Grenoble and Chambery and these resorts:
Tignes - Val dâ€™Isere - Les Arcs - La Rosiere Ste. Foy - La Plagne - Courchevel - Meribel Les Menuires - Val Thorens We have been operating for 15 long years and run a fleet of 25 eye-catching Volkswagen Caravelles. You can book your private transfers on our website www.coolbus.co.uk and pay on-line with instant confirmation. We also do fun stuff in the summer mainly involving bikes! You can find out more about us in all of these places :
Les arcs - ski guide
MARIA MARSA INTERVIEW
LA PLAGNE - ski guide
ST FOY - ski guide
TIGNES - ski guide
VAL D’ISERE- ski guide
3 Vallees - ski guide
LA ROSIERE - ski guide
Our resort guides have been completely updated and extended and are packed with more useful info than ever before. As usual we’ve got a bunch of great articles inside too. The big change is that we’ve devoted a third of the magazine over to summer activities. From one end you have the regular Cool Bus winter magazine but flip it over and hey-presto its a magazine dedicated to summer in the Tarentaise!
ACTION PACKED TARENTAISE
As much as we love winter it does involve quite a lot of hard work for us! Once the snows have melted we have a lot more opportunity to take advantage of the incredible mountain playground that we live in here. If you’ve never spent anytime here in the summer we hope you’ll be inspired by what you see.
TALES OF COOLBUS PAST
LES ARCS - BIKE PARK GUIDE
TIGNES - BIKE PARK GUIDE
SAN BERNADO - BIKE PARK GUIDE
3 VALLEES - BIKE PARK GUIDE
SO HERE IT IS
Well this is the second issue that has been completely produced in house. Current and past Cool Bus drivers and staff are responsible for over 95% of the content and 100% of the design work. Luckily we’ve had a pretty talented bunch working for us over the years so the result is another issue that we are all incredibly proud of!
At Cool Bus its very much business as usual for us. We have 25 Caravelles on the road this winter (2 stay in Bourg St. Maurice on permanent standby in case of emergencies). From this years team of 35 drivers, 27 have completed at least one season for us before and this is another thing that we are very proud of. We can’t think of many other businesses out here that can beat this level of staff retention so if you’re a return customer there’s a good chance you’ll see a face you recognise waiting for you in the arrivals hall! As I write there’s lots of talk around here about El Nino and how we should expect record beating snowfalls this winter. If it all turns out to be true then you should be en-route to an epic winter holiday right now (as long as the road isn’t closed due to avalanches of course!). Here’s hoping its your best one ever and we look forward to welcoming you onboard again sometime soon!
ONE HALF THER MAKE UP GE TO RY D N A LA PLAGNE. PEISEY-VALL ALSO INCLUDES ’S FIRST H IC H LES ARCS AND W A RE PARADISKI A BY THE WORLD OF THE HUGE ED TOGETHER K N LI EXPRESS. IT RE A ES THE VANOISE R, CA THE TWO HALV LE B CA N BUS TEAM SO ER, 200 MA T OF THE COOL OS M DOUBLE-DECK R FO RT CAL RESO LOVE IT! IS ALSO THE LO WITHOUT SAYING, WE ALL ES IT GO THE 1970’S E ALL BUILT IN ER W 00 LTI 20 D , 1800 AN SISTING OF MU LES ARCS 1600 NIQUE’ ARCHITECTURE! CON A CL ALL D IN R ‘U APARTMENTS LL A USING SIMILA SM G IN IN HT NOT BE INGS CONTA OFS, THEY MIG RO G STOREY BUILD IN OP SL RVED IN WITH THE WOOD WITH CU EY DO BLEND TH T U B A TE P OF CRETE TOWER E OF THE CON EVERYONES CU M SO N A TH R BETTE S. SURROUNDINGS S YOU SEE IN OTHER RESORT BLOCK
THE NEWER VILLAGE OF ARC 1950 WAS COMPLETED JUST 8 YEARS AGO BY CANADIAN COMPANY INTRAWEST AND THIS INFLUENCE IS CLEARLY SEEN IN ITS ARCHITECTURE. VALLANDRY CERTAINLY WINS THE AWARD FOR THE MOST ATTRACTIVE VILLAGE IN THE AREA AND HAS A UNIQUE, CENTRAL POSITION IN THE HEART OF THE PARADISKI MEANING ITS JUST AS EASY TO HEAD TO LA PLAGNE FOR A DAYS SKIING AS ITS IS TO SPEND THE DAY IN LES ARCS. THE SMALLER VILLAGES OF PEISEY-NANCROIX AND VILLAROGER HAVE DEVELOPED FROM FARMING HAMLETS AND AS SUCH RETAIN A CHARMING TRADITIONAL FEEL BUT LACK SOME OF THE AMENITIES OF THE LARGER VILLAGES. THEN WAY DOWN IN THE VALLEY THE TOWN OF BOUR G ST. MAURICE LINKS INTO THE RESORT VIA A VERY EFFIC IENT FUNICULAR RAILWAY WHICH TAKES JUST 7 MINUTES TO WHISK YOU UP THE 800 METRE CLIMB TO ARC 1600! ITS A GREAT PLACE TO STAY IF YOU ARE ON A BUDGET AND AREN’T FUSS ED ABOUT BEING ABLE TO SKI TO YOUR DOOR AND YOU MIGH T EVEN FIND YOURSELF BUMPING INTO A FEW COOL BUS DRIVE RS WHILST OUT FOR AN EVENING PINT!
The resort has a good mix of pistes for all abilities. Each village has its own beginners area but the best is probably in Arcs 1800 in the new Mille8 area. The best treelined runs are in Peisey-Vallandry, Arc 1600 and over in Villaroger. Arc 1800 and 2000 both have some great red and blue pistes for blasting down. Snowboarders and skiers looking for some good cruising pistes with fun jumps off to the side won’t regret a few laps of the Derby and Grizzly chairlifts! There is an excellent Snowpark between Arc 1600 and 1800. No half-pipe but the kickers and other features are beautifully shaped and maintained by the snow park crew. There’s a line of blue jumps for beginners, red line for intermediates and black line which really is only for advanced skiers and snowboarders. Additional features change from year to year but there’s likely to be a quarter pipe, hip jump, rails and boxes of varying degrees of difficulty, an air bag and the famous waterside outside the Arpette restaurant! There is some incredible off-piste to be had in Les Arcs. Some of this is easy to access and very obvious from the piste and consequently gets tracked out very quickly. To get to the harder to find stuff we would absolutely recommend hiring a guide for the day. If there’s a group of you it can work out pretty cheap. Either way, if you are heading off the piste please make sure you are carrying an avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe as an absolute bare minimum and that you know how to use them (see page 32).
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Bar King Mad (www.bar-kingmad.com) or BKM as it’s become known is the seasonnaire bar of choice in Arc 1800 (Place de Villards). Excellent DRINKS food & cocktails, DJs and Shot Roulette… Say no more! At the other end of Arc 1800 is Chez Boubou’s, a popular and often rowdy little bar which attracts French locals and seasonnaires alike. Nearby on the lower level of shops you’ll also find the Mountain Cafe who serve Guinness (a rarity around here) and often have regular live music slots. The legendary Bar Mont Blanc (www.barmontblanc.com) can be found in Vallandry right next to the piste below the Grizzly lift. Whether it’s something on Sky Sports you just cannot miss, a game of pool, an apres beer on the sun deck or live music you’re after, The Mont Blanc is
where it’s at on this side of the hill. Down on the lower chalet road of Arc 2000 you'll find the only après & late-night bar, Whistlers. Known as "the second home" to most Arc 2000 seassonnaires, Whistlers shows live sports, serves great food and hosts crazy live music nights. Over in Arc 1950, Chalet Luigi (www.restaurantchaletdeluigi.com/english/bar) is a restaurant, bar and nightclub all in one. Party the night away or just have a few quite beers and a game of pool early on. Down in the valley resort of Bourg-Saint-Maurice, the home of the Cool Bus, you can find the popular and lively bar/restaurant of Bazoom. Located right opposite the train station and open early until late, Bazoom is a great place to grab a coffee by day or party by night with live music nights most weeks.
La Vache (situated at the bottom of the Parchey chair lift in Plan Pseiey) is a must visit either at lunch time (it is ski in/ski out) MOUNTAIN FOOD or of an evening if you’re staying nearby. We recommend trying the Falafels and Thai Curry if it’s on the menu. Their burgers are also incredible. If meat is not your thing then the veggie burgers here are a winner too! The place is always busy (which says it all) so it maybe a good idea to book. There’s a large, (hopefully) sunny terrace overlooking parts of La Plagne or sit inside in front of the fire. Bulle Café (www.bullescafe.fr) is a great place to grab a snack or a full blown fresh fish platter, just whatever takes your fancy really! Situated underneath the Arcabulle chair lift in the Arc 2000 sector, it’s right on
the piste and is a dome shaped structure which you can’t really miss unless skiing with your eyes shut! If you’re after something quick head into Arc 1950 to Meli-Snack. You can literally ski up to the door, wolf down and american sandwich and then ski off again! Le Sanglier qui Fume (www.facebook.com/lesanglierquifume1600) located underneath the Mont-Blanc chair lift, just out of Arc 1600 opened recently and has fast become the place to go for lunch and more sophisticated late afternoon/après drinks with tasty bites to choose from the menu to go with your well earned wine and beers at the end of a hard days skiing.
04 79 06 85 03 OR 06 25 50 61 09 CHALET DES NEIGES ARC 2000 8
The Mountain Cafe at the Charvet end of 1800 is an excellent Tex-Mex style restaurant with a great atmosphere. Great tasting, hearty EVENING FOOD Mexican food is just the ticket after full day on the mountain and its also good spot for apres drinks. BKM has to be mentioned again for its food which is served pretty much all day. The burgers, chilli nachos and pizzas are great as is everything else on the menu! Up in 2000 the Kilimanjaro (www.kilimanjaro-arcs-2000.com) is popular for evening food and serves up local speciality dishes. Chez Eux also has a similar sort of menu. In 1950 Brasserie Le 1950 is tipped for good food with a sleek and typical ‘brasserie’ interior, located within the Manoir Savoir residence. Chalet Luigi (www.restaurantchaletdeluigi.com/english/restaurant) is popular with families and offers lots of pasta as the name suggests. Situated on the Marmottes piste as you enter the village, it’s a good place for lunch or dinner. Special mention also to the renowned l’Ancolie restaurant (http://www.restaurant-lancolie-nancroix.com) down in Nancroix below Peisey. If you’re looking for an incredible menu served in beautiful surroundings by friendly, welcoming staff then this is the place!
The Rodeo Park is a 3km toboggan run at 2000m! It’s open to kids and adults over the age of 12 years with a valid lift pass as it OTHER ACTIVITIES starts just below the top of the Transarc and Arcabulle lifts. Grotte de Glace (120m long ice caves) at the top of the TransArc bubble is a cave full of icy sculptures. The Outdoor Ice Rink in Arc 2000 is chilly fun for the family. If all that sounds a but cold the brand new 3800m² Centre Aqualudique in Arc 1800 is an indoor pool with water fountains, spa area and a waterslide for the kids!
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Slide, Swim, Savour, Explore.
ING WHATS HAPPEN
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YUGE! A new service developed for the whole of the Paradiski area which includes a new app, website and facilities within the resort to tie it all 2015 / 16 together. New Wifi terminals have been installed throughout the area so even foreign visitors without data roaming can take advantage. There are photo and video points dotted around the pistes capturing you as you enjoy the mountain.
New Generation Ski & Snowboard School (www.skinewgen.com) in Vallandry is a British run, award winning (Snowvole Ski School of the Year 2013) SKI SCHOOL school that provides group and private lessons for children and adults of all abilities. You can also choose an Adventure day to explore more of the Paradiski area or book a ‘Developer’ session if you’re at an intermediate or advanced level.
The app itself includes all the weather and snow condition data you would expect plus interactive piste map showing your location and that of your friends. It can provide real time lift queue data so you know which lifts are quietest at any point of the day. It will recommend you a route, tell you were the nearest ski shop or restaurant is and much, much more! The App will be available form the app store from December 2015.
These days, most French ski resorts have an Ecole du Ski Francais (ESF) and as opposed to years gone by, most have English speaking instructors. It is worth bearing in mind that group lessons can often be large in number, especially during peak weeks of the holidays (www.esf-arc-1800.com).
The new Mille8 area at Arc 1800 is now complete. Partially opened for last season this area includes a beginners ski area, kids ski zone with toboggans, igloos and a baby snow park, a freestyle area for beginners and more advanced skiers and snowboarders, a new indoor swimming pool, a restaurant, BBQ area and a hair raising toboggan track! What makes Mille8 really stand out is that it is open everyday until at least 7:30pm (8:30pm on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays)! We highly recommend having a bash at the toboggan after dark. Its pretty full-on and braking before the corners is essential if you want to stay on the track. Its also lit up with disco lighting and there’s music playing all the way down. The highlight has to be the strobing rainbow tunnel into the finish area. Surely a dangerous way to round off your apres drinks!
Another French ski school growing in popularity in most resorts is Evolution 2. As with the ESF, Evo 2 (www.evolution2-lesarcs.com) go beyond the normal ski and snowboard lessons as they have fully qualified high mountain guides if you are looking for an off-piste, wilderness adventure. In Les Arcs you can find a branch of both ESF and Evo 2 in nearly all villages across the resort. Fancy a new challenge? Try learning to Telemark with the Ecole du Ski Internationale (www.arc-aventures.com).
The brand new Mille8 Lodge features a gourmet restaurant, pretty incredible wine bar and a snack bar selling take-away food. Access is via the Villards Gondola which stays open until 11pm on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. 11
Arcs early in the morning and randomly chose Cool Bus. Jelle was my driver. We got chatting on the journey back and figured out that we both like extreme sports. "What if I shoot you on these days?" said I, and we quickly agreed to meet up on the mountain after I’d finished my work! OK so that would have been winter 2014 I guess. No, I think it was 2013. In the end Line Catcher was cancelled, so I had plenty of free time to shoot riders and Jelle was one of them. That was one of the best trips even though we didn't have so much snow. Where in Les Arcs did you get that shot? Whilst hunting down a suitable photo for the front cover of this years magazine we spent quite a lot of time trawling through scores of skiing and snowboarding images on social media. After hours spent gradually going cross eyed one picture suddenly jumped out at us. Closer inspection revealed that it was actually of one of our own drivers, Jelle (you pronounce it like a cockney saying yellow!) and that it was taken in our local resort of Les Arcs! We tracked down the photographer to see if she was happy for us to use the image and to learn a bit more about it… Cool Bus: Hi Maria. Nice to meet you! Can you tell us how you came to be shooting Jelle in Les Arcs? Maria Marsa: Well, several years ago I came to Les Arcs to shoot at Line Catcher (an off-piste freestyle skiing competition held in Les Arcs). I needed to find a good transfer company that could deliver me to Les 12 12
That was taken up above Les Arcs 1800. Had you been invited out to cover the Linecatcher? Yes I was invited as a journalist by Russian extreme sports magazine ‘Verticalny Mir’ So I guess by that point you had already established yourself as a recognised photographer in the ski and snowboard scene. Is it something you have always done or did you start out in a different field? I love extreme sports so much! I love to shoot skiing, snowboard, mountain biking, windsurf, fmx - everything that smells like extreme. Back in Moscow I mostly shoot weddings and portraits but I love that too, its just different! I just love photography full stop. It's my true passion and it's what I want to do till my last breath
I've seen some of your portraits and fashion photography and its pretty amazing. Did you study photography at University in Moscow? Yes. I have a Masters in photography. Finished at Moscow State University of Design and Technology How is the snowboarding and skiing scene in Russia? Have the Olympics made a difference? A bit. Snowboarding is fine. We have really good riders. But if you’re talking about freeskiing unfortunately we are far behind our foreign colleagues. Unfortunately we don't have that much opportunities to train, especially in Moscow. Respect to our riders who build parks and spots for training by themselves. Our freeskiers are really passionate for it. Only a few of them can afford to go somewhere in the US, Canada or Finland for training. I see you've also been to Les Arcs to shoot the B & E Invitational! Was that for a Russian magazine as well? Yes, that was also for Verticalny Mir and for the website www.twintip.ru. I love this event. I’ve got to know all the competitors really well. Les Arcs is an amazing place. My second home! I’ve also been lucky enough to get hooked up with Planks who have supported my photography for the last two years and helped made such trips affordable. Big thanks to Hugh Clow and Rob Embling for that opportunity! Many trips lined up for this winter? Moscow, shooting with locals, then B&E invitational and Nine Knights in Livingo Nine Knights! That looks like a really amazing event. Is that something you've covered before as well? Yes! I love it! I've been there several times. Amazing snow castle, amazing organisation. Big up to Nico Zacek. If you like freeskiing, Nine Knights is a must visit competition What makes a great shot? Have you got any tips for shooting freestyle ski and snowboarding? You need to have a passion for what you are shooting. If you want to shoot skiing or snowboarding you have to be very patient, know the sport well and also the athletes' style. If you want to get a great image then shoot with your heart and soul. Be passionate. And wear comfy clothes! Ha! A lot of standing around in the cold? Absolutely! Well we're pretty chuffed you went out that day to shoot with Jelle. After 3 issues we've finally got a snowboarder on the cover and its in Les Arcs and one of our own drivers! Thanks so much! Thank you! I’m really glad to have your cover shot! I’ve been driven by Jelle several times since then! I really love Cool Bus so hopefully we will see each other again soon! You can find more of Maria’s amazing pics on her website marsaphotography.com and on her Instagram feed instagram.com/maria_marsa_sakvarelidze 13 13
DID YOU KNOW THAT BASED ON SKI PASS SALES LA PLAGNE IS THE MOST POPULAR SKI RES ORT IN THE WORLD? TRUE FACT! IT’S LINKED TO LES ARCS VIA THE VANOISE EXPRESS DOUBLE DECKER CABLE CAR (THE BIGGEST OF ITS KIND IN THE WORLD ) AND COMBINED THEY MAKE UP PARADISKI WHICH IS ONE OF THE LARGEST LINKED SKI AREAS IN THE WORLD (435KM OF PISTES IN TOTAL). BLIMEY , SOMEONE PHONE NORRIS MCWHIRTER !
MBER NE IS MADE UP OF A NU THE RESORT OF LA PLAG T OSE BUILT, SKI IN/SKI OU OF HIGH ALTITUDE, PURP ING RM ALLER, TRADITIONAL FA SM W FE A D AN ES AG LL VI , AMPAGNY-EN-VANOISE VILLAGES INCLUDING CH OF AND MONTALBERT. ALL ES CH CO ES -L IN AV CH MONT TRES OF H HUNDREDS OF KILOME THESE PROVIDE US WIT S ME GREAT RESTAURANT SO G, IIN SK E ST PI FOF ON AND TIVITIES. RE OFF-THE-SLOPE AC MO NY MA D AN RS BA D AN WANT? WHAT MORE COULD YOU
YUGE! A new service developed for the whole of the Paradiski which includes a new app, website and facilities within the resort to tie 2015 / 16 it all together. New Wifi terminals have been installed throughout the area so even foreign visitors without data roaming can take advantage. There are photo and video points dotted around the pistes capturing you as you enjoy the mountain. The app itself includes all the weather and snow condition data you would expect plus interactive piste map showing your location and that of your friends. It can provide real time lift queue data so you know which lifts are quietest at any point of the day. It will recommend you a route, tell you were the nearest ski shop or restaurant is and much, much more! The app will be available form the app store from December 2015 P Royer
Get Your Facts Straight • A large resort linked to Les Arcs by the one-of-a-kind Vanoise Express • Over 50,000 beds in resort • 130 pistes – 10 green, 69 blue, 33 red and 18 black • Snow-sure, high altitude villages • Skiing from 1250m to 3250m • Upper areas open 12th December 2014 and closes 23rd April 201 and lower villages of Montchavin, Les Coches, Montalbert and Champagny open 19th December until 23rd April • Adult lift pass price - €50/day or €246 for 6 days (La Plagne only) • Nearest airport – Chambery (120km) but most popular Geneva (150km) 14 14
La Plagne for some reason has gained a reputation as a resort for intermediate skiers which is best avoided by snowboarders unless you like unclipping and walking a lot! Well we reckon this is far from the truth and to be honest, we love the place! There are some flatter linking pistes where you can run out of steam but as long as you look far ahead enough you can usually charge through these and there is more than enough terrain to keep advanced skiers and snowboarders happy if you know where to look. The lower villages have an abundance of beautiful tree-lined pistes ranging for nursery slopes to roller coaster reds! The greatest concentration of these would have to be over in the Montchavin-Les Coches sector. Throughout the central La Plagne areas and further afield towards Champagny you will find a host of fun, undulating blues and reds that criss-cross each other giving the opportunity to switch between runs at will. Wider, motorway style pistes can be found up at the higher altitudes around Plagne Bellecote and Belle Plagne which are great for charging and carving huge turns. Whilst similar to neighbouring Les Arcs in terms of the total length of pistes, La Plagne is actually much larger in square kilometres. What this means is there’s tons of terrain for the more adventurous to explore between the pistes. The ultimate backcountry playground in La Plagne has to be that found from the top of the highest mountain in the area - the Bellecote. If you wish to explore up here a guide is not just advisable it is absolutely essential as is a full compliment of avalanche safety equipment and the knowledge of how to use it (see page 32). There have been numerous fatalities up here over the years involving even the most experienced of locals who have been caught in freak avalanches.
In Plagne 1800 you’ll find La Mine Bar (www.bar-lamine.fr) which, as the name suggests, has a mine theme! The bar is decked out with old DRINKS lights and mining tools in an English pub style which is kind of a novelty in these parts! It’s a really cosy, dimly lit place, that has played host to some pretty serious parties over the years! Spitting Feathers (www.spitting-feathers.com) has fast become the place to go in Plagne Bellecôte not least because the guys there provide a shuttle service to pick you up and drop you back to your accommodation! If you’re in Plagne Centre, the resort’s busiest village for nightlife, be sure to check out Igloo Igloo (www.facebook.com/bar.iglooigloo) in Galerie du Pelvoux which provides tasty cocktails and a funky atmosphere - think penguins and polar bears in an Igloo shaped room! Also in Plagne Centre and popular with seasonnaires and young holidaymakers alike is the British run Scotty’s Bar (www.facebook.com/pages/ Scottys-Bar-La-Plagne/197070837615). Its the kind of place you go for après and end up leaving in the early hours of the morning…
Of course it goes without saying that all the villages have their own nursery slopes as well and there is a good selection of green pistes and easier blues to take your skiing or riding to the next level. 15 15
Up in Plagne Soleil the best restaurant in the whole resort in most peoples opinion is Au Coin du Fer although perhaps foie gras and bone marrow is not to everyone’s tastes!
In most French ski resorts there seems to be a restaurant called Le Refuge and La Plagne is no exception! Serving traditional and local dishes, the one in Plagne Centre is an excellent choice with a friendly, welcoming atmosphere. Le Grizzli is another favourite for French specialities in Plagne Villages. Over in Montchavin-Les Coches, in the lower village of Montchavin you will find the Hotel de Bellecôte (www.hotel-bellecote.fr/en) which has a superb restaurant that is popular with locals and holidaymakers and is known for its local dishes.
Le Plein Soleil (www.lepleinsoleil.com) on the pistes of the Montchavin-Les Coches EVENING FOOD sector has long been a favourite for mountain food stops. With both traditional French food and French/German Alsace influences, notably the Strudels, it’s well worth a visit. At the bottom of the half-pipe just above Plagne Bellecote is Les Chalet des Colosses restaurant. Known for its good old British post box and varied international menu, it’s a good spot for lunch on the terrace which over looks the Bellecôte snow front. On the pistes above the village of Champagny, right on the edge of the resort of La Plagne and overlooking the pistes of Courchevel, you will find an excellent self-service restaurant with adjoining snack bar called Le Roc des Blanchets. The food and the views are pretty impressive. 16
ESF (www.esf-plagne.com/ski-school-la-plagne) is the largest ski school provider in La Plagne. Oxygene Ski School SKI SCHOOL (www.oxygene-ski.com/en/la-plagne) is also a favourite in these parts too. Olivier at Evolution 2 (evolution2-montchavin.com) in Montchavin-Les Coches speaks excellent English and will provide some great off-piste guided adventures should you so wish. El Pro (www.elpro.fr) is a small independent school in Belle Plagne which has been established for 20 years. Local outfit, Reflex Ski School (www.reflex-skischool.com/en) have a great reputation and guarantee no more than eight people per group. They are also number 1 on Trip Advisor! British run outfit New Generation (skinewgen.com) have just expanded into La Plagne for the 2015/16 season and their team of fully qualified, English speaking instructors are on hand for group lessons for the kids, a technique refresher, and anything in-between and have the local knowledge and skills to help you get the most out of your skiing holiday. E Sirparanta
ING WHATS HAPPEN
If there’s one thing you must do whilst visiting La Plagne then its visit the Blacksheep Igloos OTHER ACTIVITIES (www.blacksheep-igloo.com) up above Plagne Villages. You can choose to stay the night or just eat a traditional fondue meal in one of the fully equipped ‘restaurant’ igloos. Prices start at €49 for the evening meal or €99 for the evening meal and a night in a fully equipped (think comfy cushions, furs and candles) ‘bedroom’ igloo.
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Need an adrenaline alternative to skiing or snowboarding? How about a different form of snow sliding? Plagne Bellecôte and Plagne Centre both have ‘parks’ specially dedicated to sledging. The Eldorado and Colorado parks are open most afternoons and cost €10 for two runs. The Grotte de Glace (www.grottedeglace.com) or Ice Caves on the Bellecôte glacier are a little more chilled, literally! Check out ice sculptures and more, high up in the mountains. In Champagny-Le-Haut an artificial 24m high ice tower is constructed each winter for ice climbing. Believe it or not this is open to all. Even if you have no climbing experience whatsoever you can still book yourself onto an initiation session with their experienced instructors. If clinging to a vertical ice face by just the very points of two ice axes and a pair of crampons sounds a bit much to you its worth stopping by for a look anyway. Its quite a spectacle, particularly at night when the tower is floodlit. Did you know? La Plagne has an Olympic Bobsleigh track and you can have a go! If you enjoyed the film Cool Runnings then you’ll love the Bob Experience! Try hurtling down this 1.5km long track that has 19 G-Force filled bends…
IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR A QUAINT, TRADITIONA L SKI VILLAGE THEN SAINTE-FOY CERTAINLY FITS THE BILL. A SMALL AND FAMILY FRIENDLY RESORT WITH AN ABUNDANCE OF AMENITIES, SAINTE-FOY HAS EVERYTHING YOU COULD NEED DURING YOUR HOLIDAY. Philippe Royer
Ste. Foy has an excellent beginners area with two magic carpet lifts, surely the easiest way to get back up the slope when you are learning! Above this four chairlifts feed 20 odd top notch pistes. There’s some good easy blues for beginners to advance on and some harder but fun blues and reds for cruising down, a lot of which are treelined. Higher up you’ll find some harder reds and blacks that do not get groomed giving you the chance to get some powder turns after a recent snowfall.
Its off-piste where Ste. Foy really excels and for which it has gained a big reputation in recent years. As always, hiring a guide for the day will allow you to really get the best out of the mountain (a bit of local knowledge here goes a long way!) and don’t even think about going off-piste without all the appropriate safety equipment (see page 32). There are some epic off-piste runs to be had and with a bit of hiking you can easily rack up over 1500m of vertical descent. We regularly come here for day trips. For a taste have a look at this edit on our vimeo channel - https://vimeo.com/125559705
Get Your Facts Straight • An off-piste Mecca of the Tarentaise valley • 4 chairlifts • Most accommodation in the village is ski in/ski out • Skiing from 1550m to 2620m • Resort opens 19th December 2015 and closes 17th April 2016 • Adult lift pass prices - €30/day €162.50/6 days • Nearest airport – Chambery (125km) but most popular Geneva (160km)
At Chez Léon, the best place to eat is on the terrace which overlooks the monstrous mountain of Mont Pourri. Warm up with MOUNTAIN FOOD a traditional dish like tartiflette, or go for gratins or lasagnes cooked in a wood oven. Brevettes is next to Chez Léon at the top of the first lift out of Sainte-Foy and offers a rustic atmosphere in a busy setting, you can’t be in a hurry during the lunchtime rush! For a quick bite and conveniently located at the top of the Arpettaz lift is the Fogliettaz Snack Hut which serves up hot food like paninis and good hot chocolate. It’s handy if you’re feeling the need for a sugar hit on the hill.
For a small resort, Sainte-Foy and its surrounding villages are full of excellent restaurants. The first on the list has to be EVENING FOOD Le Monal (www.le-monal.com) which is situated in the lower, original village of Sainte-Foy Tarentaise. An institution for 130 years, this restaurant serves traditional dishes with a twist and has a substantial wine cellar. Chez Mérie is also located out of the ski station itself in the hamlet of Le Miroir but is well worth a visit. Back in resort, La Grange is an olde-worlde, traditional Savoyard establishment, think old stones and wood fires. Try the pan-fried Reblochon with almonds…
L’Iceberg (www.l-iceberg.fr) is conveniently situated near to the ski school and is a popular après ski bar. Serving delicious snacks, it’s the type DRINKS of après establishment that you can ski straight to and end up dancing the night away in your ski boots! You may even get carried away with the karaoke. L’à Coeur is relatively new on the Sainte-Foy scene and is already proving popular for après and evening drinks with a good happy hour and tasty food.
For such a small resort Sainte-Foy has an abundance of ski schools to choose from and SKI SCHOOL they are all within walking distance of all accommodation in the village. Your typical French ski schools in the ESF (www.esf-saintefoy.com/en) and Evolution 2 (www.evolution2saintefoy.com) feature. There’s also Snocool (www.snocool.com/en) who are a smaller operation, with English speaking instructors, who offer a few different options like freestyle courses for example.
Relax and unwind in Sainte-Foy at the Ô Pure Spa which is a serene place to escape from the hectic slopes and the cold of the OTHER ACTIVITIES winter. In fact, there is a special winter treatment called the ‘Grand Froid’ for face and body with warm oils, alternating stretches and deep movements for intense muscular recuperation. Mountain Equilibre (www.mountainequilibre.com) is an English run company offering exercise sessions off the piste including reflexology, pilates and massage. Contact Sarah on +33 (0)687 82 33 36 for more info and bookings. For the whole family Igloo Outings can be arranged through with Snocool. TarentaiseTours.com are an excellent choice for all things mountain based. Snow-shoe walks, ice-climbing initiation, bobsleigh initiation and chopper flights around Mont Blanc are just a few of the possibilities on offer to make your stay even more memorable.
St Foy Tourist Office
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A SNOW LOVERS DILEMMA
Skiers and snowboarders: by our very nature, we love nature. But is our winter past-time killing off the environment we love? (The answer, irritatingly, is yes.)
would be to pitch up in a tent made of hemp and make like Sir Ranulph Fiennes up to the top ridge. Only once you’d walked all the way from Heathrow, mind.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the earth’s temperature is rapidly increasing and has gone up by 0.8 degrees celsius in the last century. In even worse news, the Alps are taking a bigger hit than most areas. If we look at the French city of Annecy for instance, a century ago the average temperature there was 9.6 degrees and now it’s 10.8 with local meteorologists saying the winters are much milder with far less snowfall.
It sounds like a nice adventure to me, but tourism would plummet and I can’t see it catching on. However you’re in luck, because the ski and snowboard industry is filled with entrepreneurial, earth-loving folk who are taking on all of the hard work. So if you are green and keen, you can still hit the snow with your morals intact.
Human activities like burning fossil fuels, deforestation, industrialisation and pollution are considered to be the main factors for global warming. Unfortunately, knocking down a load of trees, replacing them with lifts, building a heap of underground car parks and lux chalets and then herding in thousands of people to fill them every weekend is EXACTLY what you shouldn’t do. It’s quite a tricky predicament for skiers with half a conscience. The only real way to be kind to the environment and still get your snow fix
The first and biggest problem to grapple with is the “getting there”. Around 73% of the emissions we can attach to any ski break is as a result of transport. This mass-migration of snow loving holiday makers every weekend puts a tremendous strain on the Alpine environment. You may notice travelling through the valleys that speed limits are often reduced on a Saturday and Sunday to try and combat all the smog and pollution. Handily someone over at the Ski Club of Great Britain has actually worked out how much CO2 you use for all the different types of transport from the UK. It’s a bit of a laborious read, so I’ll come
straight to the point. Hopping on the train from London to Bourg St Maurice is best, but only if the train is full. A close second is to take the bus (no thanks) but after that it’s a short-haul charter airline, like Tui, but one that is full to capacity. Getting up the mountain to resort should be done in groups in an eco-friendly vehicle. Do either of these and you’ll be using less than 200kg of CO2 for the return journey apparently. The worst thing to do, according to them, would be to drive over to the Alps in a big 4x4 on your own, with a boot full of bricks or anvils or something.
(the combination of Les Arcs and La Plagne) became one of the world’s first ski areas to use 100% renewable energy for not only it’s 141 lifts, but also in all it’s restaurants, shops and hotels. A new bio fuel heating facility for the buildings in La Plagne Centre has reduced CO2 emissions by 4000 tons. This serious commitment to green skiing has meant it is now a member of the “QSE league” (Quality, Security and Environment League), which is a pretty big deal.
It’s pretty obvious stuff, but airline carriers and transport companies in the Alps are so worried about the effects of this they’re doing all they can to help. Being fuel efficient, also means being cost efficient, after all, so it’s in their favour. Airline Jet2, for example, have recently ripped out all their heavy seats, shaving off an average of 500 kilos per flight and transfer companies in the Tarentaise Valley have formed close working relationships in order to try and cut down on the number of empty journeys their vehicles make each winter.
But what can you do once up in resort? Aside from making sound decisions like turning off lights, and putting on an extra jumper - you’d be surprised. Buying eco-wax for your skis and boards, buying from local clothing companies, supporting the bio-lodges rather than the mass purpose built hotels… all these things add up. We’ve done a tidy little round-up of a few of our favourite local companies who are all striving to make you look and feel cool as well as being an eco champion.
Once up the mountain, the companies who run the resorts are getting a handle on things, especially in our little pocket of the Alps. Paradiski
A SNOW LOVERS DILEMMA
OUR ECO WARRIORS OF SKIING AND SNOWBOARDING CAN YOU LOOK RAD AND SAVE THE PLANET? THE ANSWER IS YES WITH THESE TRAILBLAZING COMPANIES…
FUNI Headwear brand Funi began in Bourg St Maurice in 2008, in the same house as CoolBus as it happens! Named after the funicular snow train that runs up to Les Arcs, the beanies are now knitted by a fleet of grannies in the UK. This company sources all of it’s yarn from the north of England and everything from their packaging to vegetable ink in their printers is environmentally friendly. Plus they donate £1 from every pompom sold to combating the effects of global warming and radiation. Headwear with a heart. Check them out at www.funiwear.com
PICTURE CLOTHING A great brand, who started off in 2008 selling 100% organic cotton clothing. Since then the company has grown to be at the forefront of sustainable outerwear and has a fistful of awards for their eco-friendly outlook. Their recycled polyester jackets sell-out in weeks. Oh and they come from Annecy. www.picture-organic-clothing.com
HEAD Globally known HEAD sportswear cofounded Cool Earth, a charity organisation that protects endangered rainforests while working with local indigenous villages. Through this, HEAD has managed to save 7000 acres of rainforest each year since it began
headwear BUTTA Starting in Tignes 5 years ago, wax company Butta has a deep-rooted respect for the environment. Their eco wax is fluoro-carbon free and totally biodegradable, plus Butta also run their workshop entirely on solar power. Not only that, but it’s really very good wax, used by Olympic skiers and snowboarders. Fast and friendly. Winner. www.butta.com
STRIDING EDGE SNOWBOARDS Selling eco-friendly, sustainable bamboo-core snowboards, this Lake-District based company promise to be carbon neutral by 2016. Quite a big and impressive call.
COOL BUS If you’re reading this there’s a good chance you’re currently sat in one of our new super-efficient T6 Cool Bus minibuses. This latest generation from Volkswagen features stop/start technology, regenerative braking and an engine that can achieve up to 47 mpg, but running super efficient vehicles is only half the story… We have balanced all the carbon dioxide produced by our fleet of vehicles since January 2015 by paying money to Climate Care, an organisation that specialises in carbon offsetting. They are one of the leading companies in this field and have been funding projects for 18 years which have improved the lives of 6 million people worldwide and achieved a total reduction of 16.5 million tonnes of carbon emissions. The carbon offsetting industry is a minefield to negotiate but we are convinced that in Climate Care we have found a company that are doing it right. Unlike some other companies, we don’t ask our customers if they wish to contribute towards carbon offsetting. The funds have come from our side and as such are automatically allocated for every journey we make. As one of the few transport companies in the Alps committed to reducing their carbon footprint, every decision made at CoolBus HQ takes in to account the impact it will have on the environment. Here’s a few more examples of small changes making big differences: *Where legally possible, our office is paperless and any remaining waste paper and packaging is recycled and made into fire-bricks which fuel the Cool Bus house. *We buy all of our oil and screen-wash in 200 litre drums and then siphon it into smaller containers that we use over and over again. This is saving well over 100 5litre plastic containers every winter for our screen wash alone. *Our drivers uniforms are made by Anvil, another company dedicated to the environment who use organic cotton and polyester derived from recycled PET plastic. They own the majority of the factories where their garments are produced meaning they can ensure a minimum impact on the environment and a fair wage for all of their workers. *Over the last 5 years we have steadily developed initiatives and relationships with the local suppliers in our area in order to help us all cut down on the empty journeys our vehicles make. For us this has resulted in a reduction of over 15% in kilometres travelled without passengers onboard. *We’re even using our old tyres to terrace the Cool Bus garden! Plans for next year include installing a roof load of solar panels to generate electricity and hot water at ‘The Pink House’ where a third of our staff live during the winter. Ultimately we are looking towards a day where we can viably use hybrid vehicles that run partly on electricity generated from our own solar panels. It may not be as far off as you think! 23
TIGNES HAS LONG BEEN A FAVOURITE AMONGST BOTH BRITISH AND FRENCH SNOWSPORTS LOVERS AND ITS NO WONDER WHAT WITH ITS HIGH ALTITUDE LOCATION, SNOW-SURE VILLAGES, GLACIER (WHICH IS OPEN FOR SUMMER SKIING TOO), BOTH FREESTYLE AND FREERIDE SCENES AND A LIVELY APRÈS/NIGHTLIFE VIBE! Andy Parant
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Get Your Facts Straight • Part of the large and very famous Espace Killy area • There is a sunken village underneath the Lac du Chevril • Skiing from 1550m to 3450m • 150km of pisted runs with 87 lifts to get you to the top • 21 green pistes, 65 blue, 44 red and 24 black • 5 free lifts to give beginners a taste of what’s to come
The terrain throughout the resort of Tignes really does offer something for everyone. It is one of the few European resorts that can boast glacier and tree-runs, beginner slopes and black moguls, progressive freestyle parks along and world-class back country. Tignes hosts the Freeride World Qualifying tour each season, and was chosen as the perfect spot to hold the European winter X Games for three successive years.
perfectly moulded side hits are formed after each snow fall. The runs are super wide and provide plenty of space for everyone, even during the busy new year and February holidays. Palafour and Grattalu are the popular spots on the 'sunny side' above Tignes Le Lac and Val Claret, and for good reason! With consistently excellent snow, the runs on the glacier also provide a great playground of blue runs, with the red 'double M' run becoming a little steeper as it heads back down to Val Claret.
With several areas specifically for beginners, and a host of cruisey green and blue runs for progression, Tignes is the perfect training ground for those new to snowsports. The beginner slopes in Tignes Le Lac and Val Claret are serviced by gentle chairlifts and provide a decent length of run, allowing for maximum practise time. The beginner run in Tignes Le Lavachet is serviced by a button lift and accesses the Lac slope. The new lift over the beginners piste in Tignes Le Lac will be ready for this winter. The new beginners run in Tignes 1800 proved to be a massive success last winter, especially with the new cafe nearby for pit stops!
When the heavy snow days roll in, head down to treelined runs in Les Boisses or Les Brevieres! Make sure you avoid the multitude of cliff faces just off the side of the piste though. It's best to stick to the marked runs in this area.
There are several blue run areas in Tignes, the cruiser's paradise. These also double up as jib-heaven for all the freestylers out there, as 24 24
If you do plan to head off-piste it is absolutely essential to hire a guide and carry all the necessary safety equipment. The faces are steeper than in some other resorts, which leads to some serious avalanche danger. However, there are some un-pisted black runs, which can prove to be great fun after a fresh dump of snow! 'Bus stops' tracks the face on the sunny side of Tignes, from the top of the Merles chairlift down to the lake, whilst the couloirs off Mickey's Ears are excellent when the conditions are primed.
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In Val Claret, right at the bottom of the slopes is Le Dahu (www.restaurant-tignes.fr) which is a good stop for lunch. With a big MOUNTAIN FOOD (hopefully sunny) terrace at the top of the Chaudannes chair lift from Tignes Le Lac, Lo Soli is a self-service restaurant offering Savoyard specialities and also has a warm and cosy inside dining area. L’Alpage is also at the top of the Chaudannes lift and is a big stone, chalet-esque building where you can eat gourmet regional dishes. You can’t get much higher in altitude (3032m) than Le Panoramic (www.jeanmichelbouvier.com), a restaurant on the Grande-Motte glacier which is a real culinary treat. The stunning panoramic views are a definite bonus too. It’s pretty cool to see all of the friendly staff decked out in their traditional Savoyard berets! There is a snack bar too for those on-the-go. In Le Lac Rendez-vous is a Savoyard speciality eatery which also serves good steaks. Tignes Cuisine (www.tignescuisine.com) EVENING FOOD is a great little take-out where you can grab some Asian delights. The noodles and Thai curry are spot on! They will even deliver to your door if you’re too shattered after a day on the hill. Le Brasero (www.restaurant-brasero-tignes.com) is a ski in/ski out bar and restaurant in Le Lavachet with outdoor seating in a great sun trap. If you want quality food and chilled après drinks at affordable prices then look no further. Their excellent menu includes savoyarde, crispy fries, juicy steaks, seafood poultry and loads of wonderful desserts. Just opposite, La Queue du Cochon (laqueuedecochon.fr) is great for posh-nosh in a cosy setting. As the name suggests you can even get roasted pigs tails! Also, Le Bouchon Montagnard (montagn-art.pagesperso-orange.fr) serves good meat dishes, notably beef and duck and is very ‘local French’.
Each ‘village’ in Tignes has its own little scene and there are busy bars in whichever village you are staying.
Starting in Le Lavachet there are a few options choose from. Just up from the Tignes Spirit shop, So Bar is a cosy little place serving quality spirits and wines and with a dart board made out of YES snowboards it’s definitely a cool hangout. Just next door, TC’s (www.tcsbar.com) is really popular amongst seasonnaires and young holidaymakers and is guaranteed to be a messy affair. Onto Tignes Le Lac and the first place of choice amongst many is The Loop Bar (www.loopbartignes.com) which has a great après atmosphere which continues late into the night. There’s always something going on here and the live music they provide is probably the best you’ll find in resort. Up on rue de la Poste near the bottom of the Palafour lift you’ll find The Marmot Arms (themarmotarms.com) which has real ale on tap! They serve up some incredible gourmet burgers. Its a great spot for cheap apres drinks and they often have DJ’s on until late. High up in Val Claret is the Couloir (www.couloirbartignes.com) which has had a refurb and is a bit more swanky nowadays. Carefully selected wine and good beers on draught too. Open until 4am are the Melting Pot and Blue Girl nightclubs in your typical French style! Down in Tignes Les Brevières head to The Vault for après drinks and the rest! Open until 1.30am expect lots of live music, karaoke, quiz nights, BBQ evenings and much more! Vincents is also a buzzing spot, and the go-to hangout for a few beers after a day on the slopes. Andy Parant
If you’re in Val Claret or fancy getting the bus up there to eat out of an evening then head to Saint Jacques which may set you back a bit, but is well worth the cash in our opinion. It’s been a favourite with locals for a long time, maybe in part because it has such an extensive Belgian beer selection! 25 25
Perhaps different to nearby resorts, Tignes has a genuine snowboard vibe and there are a couple SKI SCHOOL of really good, snowboard only schools here so it could definitely be the place to learn. Fresh Snowboarding (www.freshsnowboarding.com) offer group or private sessions for beginners to experts, in freestyle, off piste & kids courses. New for 2015/16 are their performance camps with an innovative mind, body, board approach to coaching. Or you could ‘join the Rebel Alliance’ with Rebel Alliance Snowboarding (www.rebelalliancesnowboarding.com) who run operations in both Tignes and Argentina with English speaking instructors. The guys here specialise in performance courses and freestyle and off-pistes sessions. Back to skiing and there are plenty of schools to choose from. New Generation Tignes (www.skinewgen.com) is a British run ski school that offers high quality tuition. BASS (www.britishskischool.com/BASS_Resorts/Tignes) provide instructors with the highest level of qualifications to satisfy your every needs on the slopes. Ultimate Snowports (ultimatesnowsports.com) run group lessons for all levels of ability, but also offer private sessions if required. Andy Parant
TIGNESPACE (www.tignespace.tignes.net/en) is a new sports centre in Le Lac which offers awesome climbing facilities. Different sections OTHER ACTIVITIES of the wall are reserved for different levels with a sixteen metre high wall for the pros! You can also rent out the huge trampolines, badminton courts and football pitches by the hour, if you still have energy at the end of the day! The Lagon Centre is a popular indoor swimming pool ‘complex’ that is located in Le Lac, right opposite the Maison de Tignes and next to the Tovière lift. A wellness centre, gym and fitness suite together with the swimming pool, water slides, bubble pools and water jets here and there means both kids and adults can enjoy some aqua fun. Also in Le Lac there’s Jack’s Bowling Alley which is actually in the bar/nightclub of Jack’s just next to the sports centre. If you’re looking for something very different to add to your winter holiday experience then it can’t get much cooler than an Ice Diving! This can be organised by Evolution 2 Tignes (www.evolution2.com/tignes/en/adventure) and involves lowering yourself through a hole cut out of the frozen Lac de Tignes, with an instructor by your side, in order to marvel at the underwater ice formations below. Day or night dives are available from €80. Sounds blooming freezing! Monica Dalmasso
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Val d’Isere Tourist Office
RIGHT AT THE VERY TOP OF THE TARENTAISE VALLEY, VAL D’ISERE IS ONE OF THE MOST WELL-KNOWN SKI RESORTS IN THE WORLD. IT HAS A REPUTATION LIKE NO OTHER FOR ITS WORLD CLASS ACCOMMODATION, APRÈS-SKI, FINE RESTAURANTS AND SHOPS AND, TOGETHER WITH TIGNES, MAKES UP THE HUGE ESPACE KILLY SKIING AREA.
IT IS ONE OF THE OLDEST AN D MOST ATTRACTIVE TOWNS IN THE AREA. THE LO CAL CHURCH DATES TO THE LATE 17TH CENTURY AN D SKIING TOOK OFF HERE WAY BACK IN THE 1930’S! MA INLY CONSISTING OF FREE STANDING CHALETS BU ILT IN TRADITIONAL STYLE AND NESTLING IN A ST UNNING VALLEY AT THE HEAD OF THE ISERE RIVER, IT DOES ALSO CARRY A PRICE TAG AS IT’S ONE OF TH E MOST EXPENSIVE FOR ACCOMMODATION AND FOOD & DRINK.
Despite being well known for its steep blacks, Val d'Isere still caters for the beginners out there! The Solaise area has a large beginners slope with plenty of space for veering off to one side and several green and blue runs, perfect for progression. As the name suggests, these runs catch the sun whenever it makes an appearance, so are great in January when temperatures can drop. The long pistes running from Toviere down to la Daille are a great way to rack up the miles and will have your legs burning by the end! The glacier at Le Fornet provides some of the best cruising runs, especially if you go from the top of the glacier, all the way down to the village in one go! Any time the visibility disappears, it's time to head over towards the forested areas of Laisinant and Le Fornet. There's always somewhere to ride on the Espace Killy, no matter what the weather! Even on a clear day, the tree-lined runs between Val d'Isere and Le Fornet will offer some of the most fun pistes of your holiday, especially if the powder is stacked up! The Tour du Cugnai and Tour du Charvet are classic, famous off-piste routes in Val d'Isere. Whilst they can get busy later in the day, the views and snow are amazing if you get there earlier in the day. Guides are essential when going off-piste in Val d'Isere, due to the steep terrain, cliffs and avalanche danger. There are plenty of day touring routes in the Val d'Isere area, with mountain huts positioned in the most beautiful locations. If you have good weather and can hire a guide, this is definitely worth a day of your trip and will allow you to explore the real off-piste of the Espace Killy! 28 28
Get Your Facts Straight • A range of accommodation from budget apartments to some of the world’s most expensive chalets • Skiing from 1500m up to 3450m • 146km of pistes in local area with 300km total in Espace Killy • 15 green runs, 32 blue, 21 red, 13 black & 1 snowpark • Opens 29th November 2014 and closes 3rd May 2015 • Adult lift pass price - €54/day €270/6 days for the whole of Espace Killy • Nearest airport – Chambery (145km) but most popular Geneva (180km)
Val d’Isere Tourist Office
If, like us, your main priority after skiing is good grub then Val d’Isere is definitely the place to come. You cannot expect to pay MOUNTAIN FOOD ‘normal’ prices for food here because, well it is Val d’Isere after all, but that shouldn’t put you off because it is definitely possible to get your money’s worth. There are options for everyone – plenty of ‘snack shack’ style establishments, posh burgers that won’t break the bank all the way up to Michelin starred tastiness. L’Avancher (www.hotel-lavancher.com/valdisere_restaurant) is a great place to go on chalet night off or for a treat, serving quality French bistro cuisine and local speciality dishes mainly involving lots of cheese. Located in the centre of Val in the Galerie des Cimes, there’s a really quirky eatery called Dans les Jardin des Alpes (www.danslejardindesalpes.com) where one could be fooled into thinking that they are dining a l’exterior because of the garden under the stars theme. You can pick up a tasty 900g sandwich called Le Hunger Breaker from the sandwich bar which will set you back just under €10 or grab something from the delicatessen for dinner. La Taverne d’Alsace located within the Kandahar Hotel (www.hotel-kandahar.com/uk/le-restaurant) is a local favourite even with Jean-Claude Killy, the legend of whom the resort L’Espace Killy is named after! If it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for us! La Taverne which translated means pub does definitely have that old pub feel and is warm, cosy and comfortable. Plus the food is a mix of French and German with the Alsace connection - think Duck Shepherds Pie, Veal Ribs or maybe Calf’s Head perhaps and Alsace specialities such as Sauerkraut with varying accompaniments. Le Perdrix Blanche (http://www.laperdrixblanche-valdisere.com) is a long-standing favourite for their seafood and oysters in particular but also their fine meat dishes.
The first and very obvious suggestion is Folie Douce/Fruiterie (www.lafoliedouce.com) which is pretty much world famous for its EVENING FOOD during/après-ski party on the piste. A large building with an even larger terrace includes two restaurants. The best (and most expensive) is La Fruiterie which takes inspiration from old mountain dairies and the second is called Nuvo Self which is probably one of the ‘trendiest’ self-service establishments in the Alps - it does have a DJ booth! La Folie Douce is the collective name for the restaurants and the bar/terrace which is just one big lively, happy place! It’s not the type of establishment you go to for a quick lunch or one drink really, it’s like a little trap of good food and lots of alcohol. You can eat from 12 noon and the bars stay open until 5pm (they only close because there is so much carnage that everyone has to be ushered off the mountain before the pisteurs can go home) and in-between, there’s dancing on the tables and spraying of champagne guaranteed! La Folie Douce is located at the top of the Daille cable car and is also accessible for those who don’t ski, as you can buy a return pass for that lift alone for around 10 euros. Another couple of restaurants on the hill in Val worth visiting include La Peau de Vache (restaurant-lapeaudevache.com) which is half way down the famous La Face run above the town. Its burgers are something special and the place is also known for its welcoming, friendly host. You can’t miss Le Signal (www.lesignalvaldisere.com) as it’s a strange looking wooden cube-like building, so why not head there for lunch? Decorated with a freshness in comparison to most French mountain restaurants, this great mountain top restaurant is right near the glacier and can be accessed by foot from the cable car. It’s pricey but worth it for the location, service and a varied different menu. Les Tufs (www.lestufs.com) is a dining experience right on the slopes, located at the bottom of the Funival just a stroll up from the Telecabine de la Daille. The décor is clean in a ‘neutral chalet’ style and the terrace is a lovely spot for lunch when the sun’s out. Pizzas start at €14 and there is a reasonably priced ‘Tufs’ menu for €21. 29 29
Val d’Isere Tourist Office
Dicks Tea Bar (dicksteabar.com) is something of a Val d’Isere institution! The debauchery has been in DRINKS effect since 1979 and the place is still as popular as it always has been. This summer has seen some renovations to the club including the addition of a new bar - The Bunker - which promises a more relaxed vibe to the rest of the club. Elsewhere expect the usual mix of booze, beats and bodypoppin’! Le Petit Danois (www.lepetitdanois.com) sells itself as the No.1 party bar in Val and lives up to that name by providing après-goers with live music 6 nights a week and a free shot for every drink bought between 4-7pm… sounds dangerous!
Leading Edge Ski School (www.leadingedgeski.com) is a new, British-run establishment and the guys there offer friendly tuition, aiming to give you the best experience on the mountain. Whether you’re a total beginner or you want to explore the nether regions of the Espace Killy, Liam or Chris can help. New Generation Tignes (www.skinewgen.com) is a another British run ski school that offers high quality tuition.
Saloon Bar (saloonbar.com) underneath the Hotel Brussels is a popular bar on the snow front that you can ski straight to. If you’re so up for après that you don’t have time to drop your skis back at the chalet then no need to worry, the Saloon will take them in and look after them for you, rather like a cloak room in a nightclub back home. Sweet!
Probably the most well known amongst Brits is BASS - the British Alpine Ski & Snowboard School (www.britishskischool.com/BASS_Resorts/ValdIsere). With 25 successful years teaching in the Alps, their school in Val offers individual lessons and courses to brush up freeride skills and more.
Café Face (www.cafeface.com), La Folie Douces' presence down in the village of Val is a well-priced spot, with chilled music to start après and getting livelier until closing at 2am. Regular DJ nights are on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Progression Ski and Snowboard School (www.progressionski.com) is ‘Val d’Isere and Tignes leading ski & snowboard school’ and they offer the full range of lessons in both disciplines plus heli-skiing options, telemark instruction and corporate trips.
The Doudonne has steadily made a name for itself over the last few years and has played host to some pretty big name DJ sets including the Freestylers, A-Skillz and Rudimental. We are certainly looking forward to see who they can bring in this winter! Cocorico – the newest place to be for apres, Opening last winter, you can ski right into this hip new joint, which is right at the foot of the Face black piste at the centre of the village. The huge sunny terrace has been extended over the summer so that even more people can dance on the tables in the sunshine! 30 30
Because of its influx of British holidaymakers in the winter, Val has a plethora of English speaking ski schools to choose from.
Val d’Isere Tourist Office
Val d’Isere Tourist Office
Aside from skiing there are plenty of other activities on offer in Val. Most OTHER ACTIVITIES non-skiers might like to head to the sofas and sunloungers of the bars and restaurants overlooking the snow front but there’s more to Val than partying! As you come into the town itself, look out for the Val d’Isere Ice-Driving Experience on the right. It’s a specially made driving circuit (sponsored by BMW) where you get to slide and skid around in their 4x4 vehicles on the snow. Everyone loves a good skid! There’s also Ice-Karting, a driving simulator and you can even have a go at driving a piste basher! The newly up-graded, indoor Aquasportif Centre in town, just next to the massive L’Olympique gondola lift is a really impressive building that includes all sorts of alternative activities for both adults and kids. Obviously there are pools, spas and wellness areas and a great big climbing wall. There’s a gym and a weights room if you really want to beast yourself whilst on holiday! Try the golf simulator if you’re a fan. Val d’Isere Tourist Office
WHATS HA1PPEN DAY
• Criterium de la Premiere Nei ge: December The opening ev 11th-19th: ent of the inte rnational ski ra calendar is no cing w in its 60th ye ar! • 22nd Classica val Music Fest ival: 26th – 28th Ja nuar y and 8th – 10th March For over twen ty years people ha ve been enjoyi event in a won ng this classica derfully magic al location l music
• Frost Gun Invi tational: 16th – 18th Februa Freestyle Big ry: Air competition on names from ar the Bellevarde ound the glob Face attracting e. Big shows in big the evenings w ith DJ’s. • Altigliss: Mar ch 19th-26th: The Student Sk i and Snowboar d World Cup hi ts Val d’Isere • Wintergolf: March 28th-A pril 3rd: Golf on snow! We assume th ey don’t use white otherwise they balls for this ’ll probably st ill be playing in June! • 3rd Annual Yo ga Festival: 1s t – 3rd May: A mountain-to p yoga event or ganised by an yoga teachers English compa , yogi and yogg ny with inis from all ov er the world
AS WE GO TO PRESS THIS SEASON LOOKS SET FOR A BUMPER SNOW RECORD WITH THE EFFECTS OF EL NINO HEADING TOWARDS THE ALPS. THE LAST TIME THIS HAPPENED WAS THE WINTER OF 2009/10 SO I’M SURE WE’LL ALL BE GRABBING THE FATTEST SKIS AND LONGEST BOARDS WE CAN FIND AND HEADING STRAIGHT OUT TO PLAY IN THE POWDER. BEFORE WE RUSH OUT THOUGH LETS NOT FORGET THAT SKIING AND SNOWBOARDING OFF-PISTE HAS ITS RISKS. UNSTABLE SNOW PACK, UNKNOWN TERRAIN AND CHANGEABLE CONDITIONS CAN MAKE FOR DANGEROUS TIMES.
PETE MILES FROM SKI NEW GENERATION OFFERS SOME ADVICE TO HELP YOU ENJOY A LONG AND HAPPY OFF-PISTE CAREER...
If you do decide to ski or ride off-piste, it is essential that you know what you are doing and have some training or ski with someone who does like a professional guide or fully qualified instructor (not just a mate with all the gear and no idea!). However, even this is still no guarantee, and it should be understood that it is never a completely risk free pursuit. Last year 49 people were killed by avalanches in the Alps, and 8 people died in 4 separate slides in 1 day in Switzerland on Saturday 31 January, despite many of them being experienced off-piste skiers. So how do you ensure it is your dream powder day, not your last powder day? 32
GET THE RIGHT KIT The first step towards ensuring your safety off-piste. You should not be considering heading off-piste without acquiring the holy trinity – transceiver, shovel and probe - and most importantly, the knowledge of how to use them efficiently. BCA TRACKER 2 Transceiver – digital triple antenna transceivers with fast processors have set a new standard for this technology. Having reinvested and upgraded myself, the difference in ease of use and speed really is dramatic and well worth paying for. Simple good value examples include BCA Tracker 2, Ortovox Zoom, Mammut Element, Arva 3+. Head to www.beaconreviews.com for a breakdown and comparison of transceiver models and options. SHOVEL – sturdy and reliable. Plastic is a big no no and will (literally) not cut it. A square topped blade can help with the use of a ski boot to cut through particularly tough avalanche debris. A straight-edged blade will help you achieve nice clean face on snow pits . PROBE – Alloy or carbon depending on budget and preference. Carbon needs to be treated with care, whilst alloy will stand up better to tough debris. 2.5m is the usual standard in Europe, but you might consider 3m or longer
if heading to Canada. A reliable and quick assembling system is essential. Wire cord is better as it will not stretch or fray. A pull-toggle ratchet is simple and quick, even with mitts on, compared to a screw threaded system. Ski pole conversions are not a viable option, they are fiddly and will waste valuable time. Safely stow your avalanche kit inside your pack - like this Ortovox model Your shovel and probe should be packed away securely INSIDE the pack, never strapped to the outside, despite some on the market offering this option. Eventually you will lose something vital (like a shovel handle), but most importantly, it will mark you out as an amateur in the lift queue. We've all been there! Transceiver should be worn at all times under your jacket in the proper manner. Don’t venture off-piste with it in your bag or in a pocket. If you do get caught in an avalanche there’s a chance that your rucksack could get ripped off and your friends will end up searching for that instead of you! PRACTICE - You must train and practice to have the best chance of being successful in a companion rescue, after all, you might have your best friend or a loved-ones life in your hands and you do not have time to wait for help to arrive. These days many resorts have avalanche transceiver training areas that you can use for free. In Les Arcs you’ll find one at the top of the Trans-Arc for example. These allow you to practice searching for a buried victim. Hitting the button at the entrance to the park triggers a signal to be sent from a buried beacon and you can practice using your own equipment to locate it.
You can simulate this yourself with a friend anywhere you can find a bit of snow. Take turns walking off and burying a transceiver for the other to come and find using their own unit. If you are doing this in fresh snow you’ll need to walk in lots of false trails first so that they can’t just follow your foot prints! Practice again and again until you can locate the transceiver quickly and efficiently. GET THE KNOWLEDGE YOU NEED TO MAKE THE CORRECT DECISIONS. If you are in the Alps on holiday looking to venture off-piste for the first time the obvious short cut to achieve this is hiring a guide for the day. They have the knowledge and past experience to enable them to make informed decisions about which parts of the mountain are safe on any given day. They will know historical information about how the snowpack has developed throughout the season and will have studied the daily avalanche reports. For those wishing to further their off-piste experience there really is no substitute for taking an avalanche course. This should include: • warning signs (red flags), • safe terrain selection and travel practices, • weather and snowpack evaluation, • how to interpret the avalanche bulletin, • avalanche rescue skills using transceiver, probe and shovel, • and understand the role that the "human factor" (human error) plays in avalanche accidents. At New Generation we offer off-piste guiding and intro sessions for people on holiday from as little as 99€ and run avalanche safety training in all our resorts. For more info call 0479 01 03 18 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
GOOD KIT + KNOWLEDGE + SNOW =
OFF PISTE ADVENTURES SPARE LAYER: light down jackets pack away small, but offer big warmth.
MOBILE PHONE: A fully charged, reliable mobile phone should be kept in the pocket which is furthest away from your transceiver to minimise interference. HELMET: This is a personal preference, but it seems common sense for any type of skiing. These days there are very lightweight models available so the excuses for not wearing one are getting thin on the ground. About 30% of avalanche fatalities are caused by trauma, so a helmet will improve your odds and if you remain conscious during the slide you have a better chance of fighting for the surface. AIR BAG SYSTEM: If you can afford it and spend a decent amount of time in avalanche terrain then this is certainly an investment worth considering. It is important to remember however, that they are no guarantee and will not save you in big â€œun-survivableâ€? terrain. They are certainly no substitute for education and training, or an excuse to simply cross your fingers and leave your brain at home! Hopefully it goes without saying but if you have an ABS pack you will still need to carry a transceiver, probe and shovel so you can rescue others.
OTHER OFF-PISTE EXTRAS: not all essential, but the further afield you go, the more experienced, self sufficient and prepared you need to be. AVALUNG: If you can get the mouthpiece in place during an avalanche, this could give you valuable extra time if buried. By moving CO2 away from your face, the rate of asphyxiation is reduced. HEAD TORCH: For night touring or when things really go wrong, having a pee outside the refuge in the middle of the night, or skiing home from the pub (never do this!). FIRST AID KIT: Again, the further afield you venture, the more you need to carry. Painkillers could make a big difference whilst waiting for the chopper. A moldable splint is a lightweight, versatile and excellent addition. Know what you are doing and be trained. FOOD/DRINK: A flask/water bottle (hot blackcurrant always goes down well, coffee if you had a late night!), fully loaded baguette, and of course, CHOCOLATE! NAVIGATION: Map, compass, altimeter, GPS. Homing pigeon not required!
TOURING SKINS: Even if you are not actually touring but have that binding option, these could save you A LOT of time in a bad situation where you end up below a buried companion (also a good reason to ski in shorter pitches when in doubt).
REPAIR KIT: Skins and light-weight ski touring set-ups are notorious for failing. Leatherman, wire, duct tape, cable ties, wax and scraper, essential spares etc.
GETTING SERIOUS OR THINKING OF A SPOT OF SKI-MOUNTAINEERING? Crampons and a small ice axe. Harness, rope, slings, belay device, karabiners. Crevasse rescue kit if heading onto glaciated terrain. Emergency shelter, lighter and candle. Snow saw, etc etc - the list goes on depending on how involved you want to get. Most importantly, much of the equipment listed above is completely useless without proper training and experience. Make sure you know what you are doing or ski with someone who does. FURTHER READING: Two books that have more than enough to get you started: STAYING ALIVE IN AVALANCHE TERRAIN BY BRUCE TREMPER. Regarded as the bible of avalanche education. In depth, but well written and readable (even for me!). FREE SKIING HOW TO ADAPT TO THE MOUNTAIN. JIMMY ODEN. UIAGM guide Jimmy Oden has done the hard work for us. The book I wish I had read ten years ago! Decades of professional experience covering everything you need to know in the big mountain environment. Very well illustrated.
ONLINE: Check out these sites which have more info on off piste safety and avalanche awareness: www.backcountryaccess.com www.ortovox.com
HAPPY SKIING SKIING SAFE = WAAAAAAAY MORE FUN IN THE POWDER
LES TROIS VALLÉES IS FIRST AND FOREMO ST THE WORLD’S LARGEST SKI AREA AND IS MAD E UP OF A DOZEN INTERCONNECTED VILLAGES. THE 4 VILLAGES OF COURCHEVEL OCCUPY THE MOST EASTER LY VALLEY. LA TANIA SITS HALFWAY BETWEEN THIS AND THE MERIBEL VALLEY WHICH ALSO CONTAINS MOTTARET AND HAS BRIDES-LES-BAINS AT ITS BAS E. ST. MARTIN-DE-BELLEVILLE, LES MENUIRES AND VAL THORENS MAKE UP THE MOST WESTERLY VALLEY BUT WAIT FOR IT - THERE IS A FOURTH! ORE LLE SITS OVER THE BACK OF VAL THORENS IN THE MAU RIENNE VALLEY. THERE ARE OBVIOUSLY SOME BIG NAMES IN THERE AS WELL AS SOME YOU MAY NOT HAVE HEA RD OF BEFORE BUT THEY ALL CERTAINLY OFFER EXCELL ENT SKIING AND THERE IS SOMETHING FOR ABSOLUTEL Y EVERYONE IN THIS WORLD FAMOUS AREA.
As you might expect from such a huge area, the 3 Valleys has an abundance of every possible type of skiing. Most people are more than happy to spend the majority of their holidays exploring their local valley and then have just one or two days venturing further afield. For sure you’ll find every type of skiing present in each valley but for the record, here’s a few of our favourite spots! Our favourite tree runs have to be over in Courchevel and La Tania (the two are adjacent), not surprising given that this is the lowest part of the whole ski area. You’ll find some awesome blue and red runs here threading their way through the forest all the way to 1300m altitude. Best for cruising or out and out blasting would have to be over in Les Menuires and Val Thorens. Up here you are well above the treeline and the pistes are wide and well groomed, perfect for carving big turns! There are huge tracts of off-piste to be had between the pistes of Mont Vallon at the head of the Meribel valley and some more difficult lines from the top of Saulire between the Meribel and Courchevel valleys. As always, don’t venture out of bounds without all the necessary avalanche equipment (see page 32) and the knowledge of how to use it. We’d also highly recommend enlisting the services of a guide. With such a huge amount of terrain on offer they can help you find all the best hidden spots with minimum fuss. 36
Get Your Facts Straight • 330 marked runs – 13% green, 39% blue, 38% red and 10% black. • 600km of pistes • 180 ski lifts • Skiing from 1300m to 3230m • 2000 snow making machines! • Opens 5th December 2015 and closes 24th April 2016 • Adult lift pass prices €59/day €289/6 days for the whole of the 3 Vallees • Nearest airport – Chambery (110km) but most popular Geneva (140km)
Amongst the many villages of the resort there are certainly those that have more of a party atmosphere. Courchevel and Méribel are known for DRINKS their active nightlife and more expensive drinks, and the prices here seem to go up with the altitude of bar! You’ll find for example, a pint in Courchevel 1850 is generally more expensive than 1650. So, let’s start at the lower altitudes! The Drop Inn is a bar located in the basement of a Pleisure Holidays chalet in Courchevel La Praz. It’s open to everyone and serves up well-priced drinks and proper toasted sandwich snacks, a rarity in these parts! ‘The place to go’ in Courchevel 1650 (or Courchevel Moriond as its now known) has to be the Funky Fox (facebook.com/FunkyFoxPub) which now offers no less than four Live Music/DJ nights per week, and a lively atmosphere and top tunes are always guaranteed. They have comfy seating for you to relax in for your well-deserved après ski drinks, watch sporting events from, or even for tasting some of delicious home-made meals. In 1850 for an expensive cocktail or bottle of champers, head to
You won’t be short of ski schools to choose from in The 3 Valleys that is for sure, but you SKI SCHOOL need to make sure you book lessons with a school that is close to your accommodation especially if you’re a beginner, otherwise it could be a mission to get there first thing in the morning. English speaking ski schools who service Meribel, La Tania and Courchevel include Parallel Lines (www.parallel-lines.com) and BASS (www.britishskischool.com/BASS_Resorts/Meribel) who are both well established and offer the full range of lessons and courses. On a smaller scale but no less professional is Ski Marmalade (www.skimarmalade.com), if ever there was a name that stuck! An all British line-up of instructors,
The Caves (www.lescavesdecourchevel.com). Their drinks selection and prices won’t disappoint if you’re looking for a lavish evening. There are Parisian cabaret acts for entertainment too! Over in Méribel the Rond Point (www.alpine-bars.com) or ‘The Ronnie’ as it’s affectionately known, is a popular après ski destination which can be reached straight from the slopes, on foot or by bus. There’s a huge new terrace and many an evening can be spent dancing on the tables! Le Pub is a British-run place in the centre of town and is a firm favourite for lively après and music. Jack’s Bar (www.jacksbarmeribel.com) also never disappoints! Val Thorens has the ‘Highest Pub in Europe’ in the shape of The Frog and Roastbeef (www.thefrogandroastbeef.com) which is also the only English pub in town and the prices here aren’t so bad. The small village resort of Saint Martin de Belleville is certainly a little quieter than most although there are still bars and a couple of nightclubs to enjoy like Le Joker and Le Billig.
these guys cover the resorts mentioned above too. Ski New Generation (skinewgen.com) cover Meribel, Courchevel and the Val Thorens valley as well. They have an excellent reputation for providing the best native English speaking instructors for lessons ranging from beginners and kids right up to advanced techniques. In Val Thorens and Les Menuires there’s the French/English speaking Prosneige (www.valthorens.prosneige.fr/english) who have some rave reviews to be found online. Whilst working as part of the ESF, David Mitchell (www.davidmitchell-ski.co.uk) is Val Thorens only native English speaking instructor and he can provide private lessons with himself or if you’d prefer, he can arrange group lessons for you through the ESF so that you don’t have to worry about speaking French! 37
A large percentage of people holidaying in the Méribel and Courchevel valleys chose the catered chalet option so they all head out to EVENING FOOD eat on the chalet staffs night off. As such it’s definitely important to book a table! This tends to be Wednesday but probably advisable to reserve your place on Tuesday or Thursday as well. During school holiday weeks it’s probably advisable to do this sooner rather than later in your stay.
Over in Les Menuires, La Ferme de Reberty (www.lafermedereberty.com) has always been a ‘ferme’ favourite but is really only accessible if you’re staying in Reberty village or if you’re skiing past during the day of course. John’s American Restaurant further up the valley in Val Thorens doesn’t have the most original name but is a very popular Tex-Mex place serving up some great steaks. Le Montagnard (www.le-montagnard.com) has to be the go-to in St. Martin de Belleville and La Bouitte (www.la-bouitte.com) has a unique style.
Chalet de la Marine (www.chaletmarine.com) in the Val Thorens sector of the 3 Valleys is a large, picture-perfect chalet on the blue Dalle MOUNTAIN FOOD piste off the top of the Cascades chair lift. It offers a huge terrace over looking the slopes and a large, varied menu for lunch. Choose from the traditional restaurant or the self-service bistro. A traditional spot for lunch in an old farmhouse is The Bergerie situated on the Bellecôte piste on the slopes of Courchevel 1850. The Bel Air (www.belair-courchevel.com/restaurant) above 1650 offers good value mountain food. In Meribel, lunchtimes are popular at La Folie Douce (www.lafoliedouce.com) which is the newest addition to it’s collection of restaurants in the Savoie. In the 3 Valleys you’ll find it at the mid-station of La Saulire bubble which makes it convenient for skiers and non-skiers alike. After lunch here you can join in the late afternoon debauchery in the bar! At the foot of the slopes in Meribel 1650 there’s the Télébar Hotel which houses the cutely named Cookie’s Club (www.telebar-hotel.com) where you can sit on the south facing terrace and eat well for not too much cash. Ski in, ski out, that’s what you want at lunchtime!
In Méribel, head to L’Igloo which serves up good burgers and pizza and is one of the cheaper establishments. Another well-priced restaurant is the Lodge du Village (www.lodgeduvillage.com) which is slightly out of town in Méribel Villages towards La Tania. It’s lively with après so is the ideal place to spend the whole evening in your ski boots and be able to dine on a tasty sandwich. La Gallette is a small place in the centre of Meribel town and offers some very tasty savoury pancakes. For more expensive options there’s Aux Petit Oignons (www.petitsoignonsmeribel.com) in the direction of the Altiport at 1600m. This little onion is still in the mid-range price bracket with mains at around €20+. For a special treat, try La Grand Coeur (www.legrandcoeur.com/uk) which has starters from €29! Staying in Courchevel, being one of the most expensive ski resorts in the world, it can be difficult to find a table in the cheaper places to eat. Don’t get caught short if you’re on a budget, book in advance otherwise you may have to eat in the 2 Michelin Star restaurant – Chabichou (www.chabichou-courchevel.com) and you pretty much can’t get a plate for food for under €75! For Savoyard specialities, as the name suggests, the Petite Savoyarde in 1650 or Moriond as it’s now known, has a traditional menu of main courses from €13.
Scattered around the area of The 3 Valleys there are plenty of Spas and wellness centres to ease those ski legs. In Saint Martin OTHER ACTIVITIES de Belleville head to La Bèla Vya to enjoy mountain inspired treatments using milk and honey. Ever tried mountain biking on snow? Like doing skids? Roc n’Bike in Les Menuires provides the chance for everyone to try it and there’s 8km of piste to ride. Head to La Croisette and sign up in order to learn how to slalom and of course, brake! You can learn to fly in Courchevel! Or you can just go on what promises to be one of the most beautiful flights you’ll ever take. The specially designed small snow plane will fly over Courchevel and the rest of The 3 Valleys and the views of the Alps highest mountain, Mont Blanc, promise to be stunning! The airport in Courchevel 1850 is officially the highest International mountain airport. There are a good few companies that offer plane flights, helicopter flights and even parachuting but we recommend getting in touch with Aéro Club Courchevel (www.aeroclub-courchevel.com) for flights and lessons. With prices starting at €150 for a 3 person voyage, it’s not too expensive. Air Mauss Parachutisme seems the go-to for parachuting, they will entice you out of the door of that plane if it’s the last thing you ever do!
INTRODUCING THE ALL MOUNTAIN NINJAS Powder sessions off piste. Kids’ adventures in the Valley of Doom. Focused technical clinics. Our teams deliver expert ski tuition for all levels and ages of skiers and boarders - across all corners (and slopes) of the Alps.
www.skinewgen.com 04 79 01 03 18
Courchevel • Méribel • La Tania • Val Thorens • St Martin • Val d’Isère • Tignes • Les Arcs • La Plagne • Morzine • Serre Chevalier
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WHATS HAPPENING Just a small hand full… • FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Ladies Giant Slalom: 19th & 20th December 2015 1st round of this years World Cup Giant Slalom for the ladies takes place over in Courchevel. Entry to the finish area is free of charge so its a great to chance to watch some of the best in the world at the top of their game! • SFR Freestyle Ski Tour: 11th - 16th January 2016 This round of the SFR tour takes place up in Val Thorens and attracts some of the biggest names in freestyle skiing from around the globe • British Armed Forces International Ski Championships: 31st January – 5th February 2016 Support our troops as they compete to be the best on the slopes. Thousands of them descend on the resort for the near two week event. • Ski et Toiles Festival: 17th – 19th March 2016 A 3 day film festival in Courchevel featuring a varied selection of film previews from around the globe.
• Festi Val Tho: 22nd – 24th March Free music festival on the pistes of Val Thorens. There promises to be some ‘banging tunes’ with music from genres such as Electro, Techno, House, Trance and more. This all takes place at the Chalet du Thorens, Europe’s largest chalet on the slopes. • 3 Vallees Enduro: Sunday 3rd April 2016 Open to all, in teams of three, the 3 Vallées Enduro is a fun event which in its 13th year and has so far become the world’s largest gathering of amateur skiers over the years. It’s all in the name of discovering the 3 Valleys and to endorse the fact that it is accessible to everyone. Check out more at www.les3vallees.com/enduro • International Festival of Pyrotechnic Art: 11th, 18th, 25th February and 1st & 3rd March (from 18:45) Watch hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of fireworks explode in all their glory! Teams from around the world come to compete against each other with routines to music. It is really a spectacular show and on the white of the pistes of Courchevel with the mountain backdrop, it’s worth a watch
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K U . O C . S BU L O O C E TH @ B O R : T C A T N CO
UNIQUE RESOR T IN THE TAREN TAISE IN THAT ONLY ONE WHE ITS THE RE YOU CAN SK I INTO ANOTHE R COUNTRY! LA ROSIÈRE IS A HIGH ALTITU DE VILLAGE (1 GETS A LOT OF 850M) THAT SUN BECAUSE OF ITS SOUTHPOSITION. BUIL FACING T IN THE 1950 S, IT IS A PURP RESORT ALTHO O SE-BUILT UGH IT HOLDS A LOT OF WAR YOU’LL SKI PAS H ISTORY, T THE OLD BOR DER FORT WHIC BUILT TO KEEP H WAS OUT THE ITALIA NS AND GERMA YEARS AGO. TH N S MANY E TOWN PROBA BLY HAS THE B PANORAMA IN EST THE VALLEY W ITH VIEWS BOT TOWARDS MOU H DOWN TIERS AND UP TOWARDS VAL D’ISERE. T H E R E S O RT O F LA THUILE OVE SEAMLESSLY A R IN ITALY LINK CROSS FROM LA S R O S IERE VIA PISTE SKI LIFTS ACRO S AND SS THE COL DU PETIT ST. BERN SITUATED IN T ARD. HE AOSTA VALL E ESPACE SAN B Y, THIS SIDE OF ERNARDO (AS THE THE TWO ARE KNOWN) IS AFF C O LL ECTIVELY ECTED BY A CO MPLETELY DIFFE WEATHER SYST RENT EM. AS SUCH IT S IS NOT UNUS FIND WHITE-O UA L TO UT CONDITIONS IN LA ROSIERE BLUE SKIES IN A N D CLEAR LA THUILE OR V THE DIFFERENC IC E V ERSA. E REALLY CAN BE THAT PRON OUNCED.
Get Your Facts Straight • Linked with the Italian resort of La Thuile • 150km of pistes • 19 lifts in La Rosière area which rises to 39 in the whole Espace San Bernardo • Skiing from 1176m to 2640m • Resort opens 12th December 2015 and closes 22nd April 2016 • Lift pass price adult €42/day €202/6 days (Espace San Bernardo) • Nearest airport – Chambéry (130km) but most popular Geneva (165km)
Images & Dreams
La Rosière alone is a relatively small ski area, perfect for beginners because of its gentle slopes, beginner areas and plateaus. Intermediates and advanced skiers will definitely want to buy the Espace San Bernardo pass because there’s more challenging terrain over the border and down towards La Thuile. There are some great areas of off-piste on both sides that do not get tracked out too quickly. The run down through the forest from La Rosiere to the lowest chairlift at Les Ecudets at just 1200m is great fun when there’s sufficient snow. This is also a great lift to use to access the resort if you are here for a day trip as its only a five minute drive up from Bourg St. Maurice! La Thuile has more than its fair share of treelined pistes lower down. Later in the season the snow on the Italian side tends to hold out better due to its north facing aspect.
Not renowned for its nightlife like nearby Val d’Isere for example, La Rosière is a quieter destination for a holiday but there is a good little DRINKS selection of bars and a nightclub or two should you want to ruin your next mornings skiing…
Le 1850 opposite the Tourist Office in the village centre is a cosy little bar which serves tapas to enjoy with a good glass of vin. Free WiFi is on offer and there is often live music too. Over in Les Eucherts village, Le Skifood which is located within Les Balcons residences is a popular spot. There’s a games room too so you can enjoy a game of pool with your beer or whilst waiting for a snack of the pizza or a take-out pizza. For late night partying, also in Les Eucherts, is the Moobar Night Club. Open for après and onwards into the night, this large space turns into a ‘disco’ with DJs and is open until 4am. As well as being a great place for some quick ‘pub grub’ Le Comptoir (www.welcometolecomptoir.com) can be a lively bar of an evening. There may be a DJ playing après-ski too. Finally, as with its Val d’Isere namesake Le Petiti Danois (www.lepetitdanois.com/lepetitdanois-larosiere) claims to be ‘No.1 party bar in La Rosière’ but it is certainly one of the busier après and evening watering holes in resort. There’s live music every Monday, Thursday and Friday, food served all day and open until 1.30am every morning. When the sun’s out, there could be a BBQ on the go too!
There are some lovely restaurants in town whether it’s traditional French mountain specialities, local cuisine or just a burger EVENING FOOD you’re after. Talking about burgers, Le Comptoir (www.welcometolecomptoir.com) is a good choice and is super child-friendly. There are always a few establishments in French resorts that are known for their cheesy delights and in La Rosière for these you should head to the La Turia, Le Genepi or Les Marmottes. If you’ve eaten too much Tartiflette at lunchtime just need something small or you simply just want a crêpe then Crêperie Le Pétrin is the place as that’s all you can get! Sweet or savoury, eat in or take out, they are delicious! In our personal option, some of the best pizza ever tasted comes out of the snack stop Pizza Al Taglio (www.pizzaecompany.com/en) in the village which serves excellent deep-pan pizza slices, whole pizzas plus other fast food options and if you’re lucky. The nice Italians in there may give you a free slice to try too, this is a friendly, convenient and fast place for lunch or dinner.
When staying in La Rosière a trip over to La Thuile in Italy for lunch is a must. Even though it’s only a couple of chair lifts away, MOUNTAIN FOOD La Thuile is a proper Italian village and serves up completely different food and wine to the traditional French resorts nearby, think heaps of home-made pasta, proper pizza and Tiramisu plus a shot of Limoncello to wash it all down. Expect to be stuffed on your ski back to France! Try La Clotze next to the Chalet Express chair lift for a convenient lunch on the mountain and also Maison Neige (hotelmaisondeneige.it) for a special dining experience in an old military barracks, right out in the middle of nowhere. Maison Neige is a ski lodge with 12 bedrooms but the restaurant is open to all and has a warm fire-filled atmosphere and awesome views over the snow. Maison Carrel (www.maisoncarrel.com) is worth a visit too for its beautiful interiors. Back over in La Rosière be sure to try L’Antigel (www.lantigel.com) situated off the Tetras piste. It is thought of by most as the best mountain restaurant in the area. Le Plan du Repos (www.facebook.com/LePlanDuRepos) up there in the wilderness (at 2100m) and has spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. It is possible to walk here from the village of Les Eucherts as it’s located on the piste just above. 42
G WHATS HAPPENIN mber siere: 14th Dece Ro La F ES by d and happens ent presente always popular is t en • Torchlight desc sc de ht . , the torchlig ks of the season Star ting at 6pm date, most wee is th om fr ts gh own Monday ni December ar! tdoor Mix: 31st Ou s ce fi ti ate the New Ye Ar d’ • Feux snow to celebr e th on t ou ’s DJ Fireworks and st February Cup: 20th and 21 ld or W er in La Thuile i Sk es • Ladi per G hosted ov Su d an ill nh w Do Rounds of the themselves fs: 17th March e world launch th nd • Freeski Playof ou ar om A spectacle not best skiers fr on one battles. e on Sixteen of the of es ri se kicker in a off a 20 metre to be missed! ic and shows d-8th April orientated mus ily m fa • Happy Days: 3r of k ee w spring! A A celebration of od. to your childho ck to take you ba
Elite-Ski (www.elite-ski.com) is a British run ski school in the resort that can provide SKI SCHOOL private lessons and then group lessons through the ESF (www.esflarosiere.com). There is also an Evolution 2 (www.evolution2larosiere.com) and of course, you can book directly through ESF La Rosiere too.
La Rosière is a great place to stay with a family and whether you have family members OTHER ACTIVITIES who don’t ski or just fancy a day off the slopes then there are loads of non-skiing activities in resort. Snow shoeing and local area hikes are popular in and around La Rosiere as there are a lot of pretty chapels, landmarks and history. Check out our article on the history of the Tarentaise Valley in this very magazine! Tarentaise Tours (www.tarentaise-tours.com/welcome) will organise day trips to a variety of interesting sites and much more for that matter! For après-ski activities that don’t involve drinking, La Rosière has bowling, ice-skating and the Ruitor Cinema showing English speaking films (occasionally) so there’s no shortage of stuff to do. Most of this is located in Les Eucherts village on the right-hand side of the main resort and only a short (free) shuttle away.
ER EDITI M M
LES ARCS TIGNES VAL D’ISERE LA THUILE MERIBEL AND MORE…
ROAD BIKING REHAB COOL BUS PAST SB GRAVITY
SIMPLY BUILT FOR PURPOSE
THE ALL-MOUNTAIN AND TRAIL BIKE CONCEPT FROM ORANGE — “IT JUST WORKS”
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WITH KIDS During the French school holidays (8 weeks spanning July and August) its very easy to find stuff to keep your kids amused. You can pretty much turn up in any ski resort in the Tarentaise and find something laid on and often for free. Expect bouncy castles a plenty, playgrounds, kids mini bike parks, trampolines, circus workshops, and more…
Many resorts have their own outdoor swimming pools. The prize for the best in the valley probably belongs to Bourg St. Maurice. It boasts an Olympic size outdoor pool with diving platforms of varying heights, outdoor kids wet play area, indoor 25m pool with retractable roof and indoor kids pool. If the weather is bad, Tignes has a great indoor pool with water slides, a lazy river and lane swimming. Its worth noting that at most pools in France (except Tignes!) board shorts are not allowed so fellas need to buy a pair of budgie smugglers if they want to swim. Its a bit of a shock at first but you do get used to it and after a few years you’ll come to love it!
If you prefer a more natural swimming experience head to the Plan d’Eau at Les Granges. This is a small artificial lake for summer swimming with a sandy beach area for kids to play. Around the lake you’ll find a large kids playground, basketball/sports courts and a bar-restaurant. There is also an accrobranche course (like GoApe in the UK). This is a very popular activity in the French Alps for kids and adults alike and you’ll find other such courses in Seez (parcoursaventure.net), Les Arcs 1800 and Villette.
ROPES If you want to take your rope activities to the next level there are a number of local Via Ferrata routes to choose from (though these are certainly not suitable for young children). Routes are free to use but you do need special equipment including a harness, helmet, lanyard with a shock absorbing device and two carabiners. If you don’t happen to have these you can hire them from Intersport and a number of other shops. The principal of Via Ferrata originates from Italy and the literal translation is Iron Road. Essentially it is assisted rock climbing.
Rock faces are equipped with iron rungs and have a cable running alongside that you clip into. It enables those without any skills to experience the adrenaline and vertigo of rock climbing! Routes are graded and the harder ones will include long sections which are over vertical and where good arm strength is essential. Routes can be found in Val d’sere, Pralognan and at the edge of the Vanoise National Park in Rosuel just above Peisey.
INTO THE WILD To fully experience the alpine wilderness you can’t beat a day (or several!) hiking through the Vanoise National Park. There are a number of good routes that can be achieved in one day with a good level of fitness. One of our favourites is Tignes to Rosuel. This makes for a pretty long day of hiking and you can expect aching thighs the next day. Make sure sure you take plenty of food and water with you, good walking shoes, sufficient clothing should the weather turn bad, an IGN map, mobile phone and first aid kit. There are no shops in the national park so you need to be self sufficient! Don’t rely on your mobile phone because there is little or no reception in large parts of the park.
If you’ve got the time why not go for a longer hike and spend a few nights in some of the excellent mountain refuges in the area. These are essentially budget mountain hotels. Standards vary from one to the other but expect to spend 40-50 euros for a nights stay which will include an evening meal (usually a three course, carb heavy set menu) and breakfast (bread, jam and tea or coffee). Some bedding is usually provided but a lot of people prefer to bring their own sleeping bag liners as there’s good chance the bedding won’t have been changed for a while! You may end up sharing a large bunk with several other people but that’s all part of the experience and what you lose in privacy you gain in location. A stunning view is guaranteed!
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LEARN TO FLY
Another great way to experience to Tarentaise is by boat! The Isere river is one of the most celebrated rafting routes in France. The start is just below the international canoe slalom course in Bourg St. Maurice. This course has been used many times over the years for the World Canoe Slalom Championships, rounds of the World Cup and still regularly hosts the French Championships. It is widely regarded as the most demanding course in the world which gives you some hint to what comes directly below it! The river is dam controlled meaning that a daily water release is guaranteed and this generally ranges between 20 and 50 cubic metres of water per second!
So you’ve already hiked the summits and run the rivers, what other ways could you experience the beauty of the Tarentaise? Obviously by air! Paragliding (or Parapente as it is known in France) is hugely popular in the area. 70 euros gets you a tandem paraglide with an experienced instructor. Alternatively take the plunge and invest in a course and learn to do it yourself. Believe or not they let you fly on your own after just two days tuition though you are supervised over walkie talkie by an instructor at the take off area and another in the landing zone! We highly recommend contacting Darentasia.com in Bourg St. Maurice for tandem flights and paragliding courses.
You can choose whether you raft from Bourg down to Landry, Aime or the full 20km to Centron. We’d recommend going the distance as it gives you the chance to experience the rapids at Aime and the stunning Centron Gorge. If rafting doesn’t sound extreme enough then you might want to give hydrospeeding a try. This involves the same routes as the rafters but you are on your own and armed only with a set of swim fins and a kind of oversized body board. Mountain River High, h2o-rafting.com and several other local companies offer this and more including rafting on the Doron river below Meribel and canyoning.
BEYOND TARENTAISE Just an hours drive outside the Tarentaise brings even more possibilities! Go-Karting in Albertville with Kartingdugrandarc.fr. The guys that run it do it a fantastic job looking after you with a touch of French laissez-faire style! The outdoor tarmac course takes close to a minute on your first few laps but once you’ve got it dialled in you can be clocking up times closer to 45 seconds. We absolutely love it here which is why it plays host to the annual Cool Bus Drivers Grand Prix in April! There are a couple of lakes that feature cable tows for wake boarding just down the valley from Albertville. Wam73.fr operates a cable that runs clockwise with a host of jumps and rails dotted around the lake. The tns73.com park just down the road runs in an anticlockwise direction making it better for goofy footed wake boarders. Both also offer waterskiing and kneeboards which are great for kids. Equipment hire is included in the price. Expect to pay around 20 euros for an hour. If you’ve never been before, expect to be completely exhausted after an hour! If you want to go wake boarding behind a boat then head to Lac d’Annecy or Lac du Bourget. Its more expensive than cable tows and a
bit more difficult but you do get a wake behind the boat to jump! Both of these lakes are well worth a visit anyway. The city of Annecy is absolutely stunning but also very well known and as such can get very busy during July and August. Lac du Bourget near Chambery, the largest in France, is much quieter and less built up but if you want to go for a proper tranquil swim we recommend Lac d’Aiguebelette, just west of Chambery. Motorboats are forbidden here meaning the lake is very calm and peaceful. The water is also considerably warmer than at Annecy and Bourget. A quick drive over the Col du Petit St. Bernard from Tarentaise takes you to Courmayeaur in Italy. The town itself is very picturesque with views up to Mont Blanc but if you want to get really up close and personal take a trip up the brand new Skyway lift. This two stage, revolving cable car takes you up to the Pointe Helbronner at nearly 3500m. It offers you a spectacular view of Mont Blanc and the surrounding peaks. The view of the summit is much better than that from the better known Aiguille du Midi lift which comes up from Chamonix on the French side and its cheaper too! Far from an exhaustive list of all the activities available in the local area but it should take you a month or so to get through all of these. Come back to us for more when you’ve done it all! 49 7
IF YOU ARE A KEEN FOLLOWER OF MOUNTAIN BIKE RACING YOU MIGHT JUST HAVE NOTICED THE COOL BUS LOGO POP UP A FEW TIMES AT DOWNHILL AND ENDURO RACES ACROSS THE UK AND EUROPE. WE SPONSORED THE SB GRAVITY TEAM, OR MORE SPECIFICALLY, THEIR HELMETS! WE CAUGHT UP WITH THE MAIN MAN BEHIND IT, JAMES STOCK, AT THE END OF THE SEASON FOR A CHAT…
Cool Bus: So tell us a bit about the team to start off. Who's in it? What were your aims for 2015?
Yeah absolutely! Bring it on. And how has this year gone? Any stand out moments?
James Stock: The 2015 SB Gravity roster composed of Alex Stock, James Stock and Gareth Brewin. Myself and Alex mainly raced the enduro side of things - both the British national and EWS international series. Gaz is an elite downhill racer so he was mainly concentrating on the British national series and european rounds of the UCI Downhill World Cup but still managed to squeeze the odd enduro race in here and there! The idea was to get to some good quality races, have fun with our setup as we are camping out in the motorhome (keeping it real) and of course do our best at the events!
The races this year have been a huge learning curve as the whole team originated from downhill racing. Crossing over to race enduro involves a very different approach and theres a few pieces of the puzzle to fill in still. We’ve had some great times and I think I speak for the whole team when I say the Enduro World Series round in Samoens, France was our favourite event. The stages were so long and technical. Its my favourite type of riding and was my best world result of the year to so it was big smiles all round! I guess you've spent a lot of time on the road?
What made you approach us for sponsorship? We first came across Cool Bus sponsoring the Trans Provence, an event Alex and I raced in 2014, which is absolutely awesome by the way! The uplifts ran flawlessly all week and I was getting along great with all the Cool Bus drivers and having such a laugh. There was a spark going off in my head as I saw they were clearly interested in pushing the MTB side of the business. I knew there was room for a partnership and haven’t looked back since, I hope we can continue to help each other for years to come.
Travelling to all the races is cool at the start of the year and a bitch at the end! After you’re 3rd or 4th 12 hour drive across Europe your right foot is so heavy the fuel bill is doubled, haha. Its good being on the road, and there were a few occasions when we spotted cool lakes etc from the motorway, and were able to just pull off and spend the night camping which is the major plus of having the motorhome. For the future I’m thinking we need a Cool Bus chauffeur… ;)
What are the plans for next year? Right now, plans are up in the air a little bit team wise. We’re going to have to leave you hanging for now but expect some exciting news. As for races, you should see some Cool Bus lids popping up at way more EWS races, British nationals and a couple of adventure races such as Trans Provence. Other than that, we are hoping to get a load more video time in and with that experience some trails and trips we probably wouldn’t usually end up on. Awesome news! I’ll be racing the Trans Provence next year too along with long time Cool Bus collaborator Bry Watt. Should be a blast, see you there!
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Road cycling in the Tarentaise valley is on the up quite literally. Home to some world-famous climbs and spectacular scenery, the area is a treasure trove for cyclists who love riding in the mountains.
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From Spring through to Autumn the roads are a mecca for road cycling at altitude, catering for everyone from amateur riders on training trips, cycle tourers simply passing through, to Tour de France professionals rolling into town in July. The major town of Bourg Saint Maurice sits at 800 metres above sea level and from here all you need to do is look up, choose which direction you’d like to head in, and you’ll find a mountain pass with a cycling history. Cormet de Roselend, Col du Petit Saint Bernard, Col de la Madeleine, Les Arcs, La Plagne and the mighty Col de l’Iseran with it’s summit at 2770m. They’re all here and ready to offer up a challenge. The terrain here is so varied, encouraging you to take your riding to another level. It’s not just the big Cols - there are a myriad of side roads snaking through the valley meaning the routes on offer are limitless. Quiet, forest-lined roads, vast open spaces, tight switchback sections taking you higher and higher, followed by mind-blowing descents with flowing corners that just keep opening up in front of you.
You don’t have to pedal very far before the road points upwards, but the effort is always worthwhile. The mountain views as you ascend are breathtaking and never fail to leave you touched by the beauty of the environment surrounding you. The Tarentaise valley is big mountain territory, and spending any length of time riding a bike here has the power to leave you feeling awe-struck, stronger, vulnerable, insignificant, empowered, tired, invigorated, and most of all privileged. It doesn’t get much better than this. The valley has hosted the Tour de France many times over the years, the most recent being in 2009 with a stage finish in Bourg Saint Maurice via the Col du Petit Saint Bernard from Italy. The following day the race left Bourg Saint Maurice and headed north over the beautiful Cormet de Roselend. In the last two years the valley has also hosted stages of the Critérium du Dauphiné, the traditional Tour de France warm-up race in June and also the Tour de l’Avenir, the junior version of Tour de France for up-and-coming riders. Several amateur events including the Haute Route and Le Tour du Mont Blanc use the Tarentaise valley roads too. Many professional riders also use the climbs of the valley for training so if you’re looking for a Strava KOM you soon become aware of what you’re up against. It certainly gives you something to aim for, and being able to compare your times on so many world-famous mountain
roads within such a short distance of each other with some of the best riders in the world is why the area is so important and an increasingly popular destination for road cyclists. With many of the roads crossing the mountain passes here being over 20 kilometres in length, being in the saddle pedalling uphill for over an hour isn’t uncommon. It’s not something riding in the UK can prepare you for, but after a day or two adjusting to the altitude you start to feel your legs getting stronger and your breathing becoming more steady. That’s when you really start to appreciate the riding here. Of course, in return for all the effort you put in on the ascents there is the reward of the glorious descents. There are so many to choose from and enough to satisfy every style of rider. From wide open, super-fast and flowing to tight and technical, this is definitely the place to practice your cornering technique and bike handling skills. The summit of the Col du Petit Saint Bernard at the Italian border to the foot at Bourg Saint Maurice is a 28k descent with a vertical drop of over 1100m. The corners just keep coming and the views through the valley towards Tignes and over to Les Arcs are stunning. Being south facing it gets a lot of sun, so is rideable much earlier in the year than some of the other climbs in the area. Another favourite is the panorama of Lac de Roselend coming into view as you descend Cormet de Roselend towards Beaufort. With the emerald blue waters of the lake and magnificent alpine views as far as the eye can see, the sensation of
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being in such a huge space almost feels surreal. It’s nature at its finest. For those looking for a more leisurely riding experience the many picturesque villages, perfectly-positioned camp sites and friendly cafes and restaurants throughout the valley offer a well-deserved break during your ride. A lunch or coffee stop in the villages skirting the north side of the valley, or in a mountain cafe looking out over Mont Blanc is highly recommended if getting to the top of a climb in record time isn’t really your thing. The excellent cycle path running through the valley along the banks of the Isère river from Albertville to Bourg Saint Maurice also allows for traffic-free cycling and connects to the neighbouring valleys and even bigger rides and areas to explore. Cycling on the roads of the Tarentaise valley at different times of the year is an enriching experience and makes you very aware of the changing seasons. May marks the end of the Winter ski season and the roads begin to clear. The colours return to the trees and the streams flow vigorously down into the valley as the temperatures begin to rise and the snow melts on the high peaks. This is a great time to ride here as the Cols open up and road cyclists head out to take advantage of the miles they’ve put in over the winter and to prepare for events later in the year. June, July and August are prime road cycling months when the temperatures are at their highest and the conditions are more settled, although being in the high mountains you need to be prepared for any type of weather. September also offers great conditions for riders as the days shorten and the air becomes cooler and fresher on the breath, which can be a welcome relief after the long, hot summer months. As autumnal colours return and the trees take on a different hue, September on a bike in the mountains can provide some of the most memorable experiences of the entire year. With so much on offer for every level of rider, road cycling in the Tarentaise valley never disappoints.
GRAEME LANGHORNE HAS BEEN PEDALLING HIS BIKE AROUND THE TARENTAISE AND BEYOND FOR OVER TEN YEARS AND NOW RUNS 1330, A ROAD CYCLING HOLIDAY COMPANY BASED IN PEISEY. 54
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C O L S TAT S : Cormet de
Roseland Col de
lâ€™Iseran Start Altitude: 815m Summit Altitude: 2770m
48km Average gradient: 4.1% Distance:
Start Altitude: 815m
Petit St. Bernard
Summit Altitude: 1967m
20km Average gradient: 6% Distance:
Start Altitude: 815m Summit Altitude: 2188m
28km Average gradient: 4.6% Distance:
Col de la
Madeleine Start Altitude: 479m Summit Altitude: 1995m
19km Average gradient: 8% Distance:
Fully-supported, guided road cycling trips in and around the Tarentaise valley.
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Dr. Cool Busâ€™ CONCLUSIONS: on d ed M r. Sorre ll h a s re sp eatm e nt extre m e ly we ll to tr a d e ve m a n d a ppea rs to h a a fu ll re co ve ry.
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Plea se se n d in th e n ext pati e nt...
Warm down - swim in La ke A nn ecy
Ri de th e 3 hour cla ssic M eribe l rid eg lin e tra il all th e wa y to M outie rs
D AY 3
Go nd ola up lift fo llowed by 20 m in ut e cli m b
D AY 4
Ri de Co l du Fru it te ch nical ridge lin e de scent
D AY 2
Up lift to M eribe l
DID YOU KNOW ITS NOW 15 YEARS SINCE THE FIRST EVER COOL BUS HIT THE STREETS? WE THOUGHT THIS ANNIVERSARY WAS A GOOD EXCUSE TO GIVE YOU SOME BACKGROUND INTO HOW IT ALL BEGAN. IT’S A QUESTION WE ARE OFTEN ASKED BY OUR CUSTOMERS ALONG WITH “WHY CALL IT COOL BUS?” AND “WHY ON EARTH DID YOU CHOSE SUCH A COMPLETELY UNSUITABLE VEHICLE?”! HERE WE SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT. COOL BUS BOSS ROB FORBES TAKES UP THE STORY…
Back in 1996 I spent a winter season living in the back of a Ford Transit in the ski resort of Meribel. I managed to get through the whole season on around £700 including the cost of travelling to and from the Alps. Naturally this involved a certain amount of sneaky lift dodging (I didn’t have a lift pass), a lot of cheap food (mainly stale baguettes and broken biscuits) and pretty low standards of personal hygiene. Whilst there I became aware through fellow seasonaires that there was some money to be made collecting British holidaymakers from airports. This was still long before Easy Jet started to offer winter flights to the Alps and it would be a few years before the first British run airport transfer companies would set up in the area. As such work like this was still very hard to come by and generally organised only through word of mouth. Nevertheless a seed was sewn! Roll on to the summer of 2000 and I had just returned from a year spent travelling around the world with my girlfriend (later to become Mrs. Cool Bus!) on the well established backpacking route through North America, the Pacific, New Zealand, Australia and South East Asia. Whilst away I spent a lot of time mulling over what to do next. I’d been inspired by a few of the trips we had been on in different countries. One in particular that stuck in my mind was the Green Tortoise bus. They used old american school buses that could be converted to sleep 60
around twenty people at night and then took people on trips across the United States and beyond. Having spent a lot of time in the Alps during my teenage years the idea of living out there held a huge appeal. I already had an inkling that there might be some money to be made in airport transfers for skiers but that still left 7 months of the year to earn a living. Perhaps I could set up something similar to Green Tortoise running around the Alps during the summer months? This was the thought process that lead to the purchase of the first Cool Bus in late autumn 2000. After a lot of internet searches and trawling through classified ads I settled on a 1991 Mercedes 508. The big advantage of this vehicle was its size. In its previous life it had been used to ferry disabled children to school. As such its was nearly 7m long but only registered with 8 passenger seats meaning it could be driven on a standard driving license. This left acres of extra space for conversion making it very versatile. The big disadvantage was its weight, tipping the scales at nearly 3.5 tonnes but with only a 2.2 litre diesel engine and an automatic gearbox neither of which was conducive to climbing the big mountains of Europe!
I spent the following winter converting it. First to go was the wheelchair lift from the back, immediately shedding half a tonne! Then the annoying automatic gearbox which I replaced with a manual after cutting a hole in the floor with an angle grinder for the gear stick! The six rear passenger seats were mounted on a rack meaning it was very easy to move them towards the front leaving space to create bunks for five people in the rear section. A few of the logos from the outside were removed but I decided to leave the old square ‘School Bus’ badges on the front and back. Whilst admiring my beautiful new machine one day with a mate Daniel King, he suggested we blank out the ’S’ and ‘h’ from ‘School’ so that it would read ‘cool bus’. “Great idea” I said! The very first trips in this vehicle took place during the following summer. The first was a fact finding trip with 4 mates from Watford. We spent 2 weeks travelling through the Alps, Provence and down to the Cote d’Azur. On the way we spent a few of days in Bourg St. Maurice watching the Canoe Slalom World Cup on the Isere river. A couple of our friends were competing and the bus played host to post race party that more than a few of the British team came along to. From there we headed south, stopping off at the Lac de Serre Poncon and the stunning Verdon Gorge before hitting the beach at Antibes and then swinging through Chamonix on the way home.
The second trip was mountain bike orientated and took place just a month later. Back in those days the Welsh ‘Dragon Downhill’ mountain bike series always held one round in the resort of Metabief in the Jura mountains. It seemed like a great idea to combine attending this race with a week spent hitting up the mountain bike mecca of Les Gets. I advertised spaces available on the Dragon Downhill website and amongst the four that came along for the trip was Rowan Sorrell who went on to be a lifelong friend who has had his hand in many Cool Bus mountain bike adventures! While in Les Gets some of the group spent a few nights staying at Chalet Monkey Nuts which was run by a friendly guy called Mark who we met in the local Irish bar. He was dabbling in airport transfers from Geneva at the time and later went on to establish Alp-Line who were one of the biggest transfer companies in the French Alps for many years so there was more good inspiration here! So by the end of summer 2001 I had a bus that had been on a few trips across France and proven itself capable in the Alps, a company name born from logo defacing and a few vague ideas of ways to develop a summer business. The time seemed right to take the next step and head out to France that winter. Unfortunately things ran far from smoothly at first but that’s another story!
MOUNTAIN BIKE T
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When we talk about the mountain biking in Paradiski we are essentially referring to the trail network contained in the Les Arcs Bike Park. This includes all the Les Arcs villages, Peisey-Vallandry, Villaroger and Montchavin-Les Coches. There are trails over in central La Plagne but the riding there is very limited and for now access from the bike park is far from straightforward and involves a long pedal across a traverse/climb from Les Coches. Over the last twenty years Les Arcs has steadily forged a reputation as one of the leading bike parks in the French Alps second only to Portes du Soleil. The riding here however, is in stark contrast to the largely man made trails you see in Morzine and Les Gets. It is the network of ancient walking tracks that criss cross the mountain, in particular below the tree-line, that have helped establish Les Arcs as a leading name. It is worth mentioning that many of these trails do not feature on the Bike Park trail map which makes hiring a guide a worthwhile investment. To give you an idea, there are at least a dozen trails that run through the lower forests into the valley around Bourg St. Maurice. Of these, only two are shown on the official trail map! Having said that there are more than enough marked trails on the Bike Park trail map to keep you busy. These include a good mixture of old walking tracks and more recently built bike park style trails. One of the most
important things that makes Les Arcs work so well is its lift network. You can access a huge amount of the area with virtually no uphill pedalling. The starting point for a lot of visitors to the area is the funicular railway from Bourg St. Maurice. This runs every half hour and whisks you up 800 vertical metres to Arc 1600 in less than 10 minutes. It runs from 8am until 7pm meaning you don’t have to rush out early in the morning to get a full days riding in! From there the Cachette chairlift gives you access over to Arc 1800 and then beyond to Arc1950/200 and Vallandry via the Trans Arc gondola. The most famous trail in the park has to be ‘Le 8’ or ‘Black 8’ as it is known to most anglophones. This drops 800 metres over 9km from the top of the funicular station in Arc 1600 all the way down to Bourg St. Maurice. People have been coming to Les Arcs just to ride this trail since long before the concept of the bike park was invented! A couple of years ago work started to replace the huge water pipes that run down the mountain from Arc 1600 to the Hydro Electric plant in the valley (believe it or not these pipes are actually supplied by water from the dam 18km away in Tignes!). As a result large parts of Black 8 became unaccessible but the new replacement sections that were added to the trail have only improved it and added to the technical difficulty. Make no mistake, this is graded black for good reason!
OTHER STAND-OUT TRAILS INCLUDE: • The newly completed Marsupilami from the Trans Arc mid-station which is a string of beautifully built jumps and berms. This has an incredible flow to it once you have learned the best lines • The green trail La Trank’s which is ideal for kids or people new to the sport. It starts from the top of the Trans Arc gondola. There’s no easy trail down from here down towards 1800 or 1600 so once you’ve ridden Tranks a few times its best to downlift on the Trans Arc. We’ve seen kids as young as 5 ride this trail and absolutely love it! • The red and black forest trails around Montchavin-Les Coches • Rock N’ Arolles from the top of the Cachette lift in Arc 1600 is a fun, pedally red downhill trail. It takes a while to learn all the lines so you can carry your speed through some of the blind corners but once you’ve got it you’ll be grinning • Woodstock in Peisey proves the point that more often than not, its the blue graded man made trails that can be the most fun!
• 177km or marked trails between 2600m and 800m in altitude • 23 trails including: • 9 Downhill (2 green runs, 3 blue runs, 2 red runs, 2 black runs) • 5 Enduros (2 green, 1 blue, 1 red, 1 black) • 2 Cross country • 7 liaisons • 7 practice parks (these are small areas with ramps and other obstacles - good for kids!) • 1 freestyle area (in Arc 1600) which includes 2 northshore style lines, a slopestyle course and a 4X course (though we are not sure sure how you would manage to fit four people down it at once!) • 1 funicular railway, 1 double decker cable car (biggest in the world!), 3 gondola lifts, 4 chairlifts and 1 lobster pot lift • Opening dates - 2nd July until 28th August 2016! • Day pass 22 euros - 7 days 72 (82 euros including access to Montchavin-Les Coches) - Les Arcs trail map - http://en.lesarcs.com/activities/bikepark.html 65 23
Tignes bike park has developed gradually over the last ten years with considerable investment from the company that runs the resort. Initially building downhill trails around the the Palafour chair and Toviere bubble lifts, they enlisted the help of french mountain bike legend, Karim Amour to help with the design. Since then they have steadily added more trails to their network each summer and in 2012, to coincide with hosting a round of the Downhill World Cup, Val d’Isere joined Tignes to create one fully connected bike park. As of 2015 the area boasts over 150km of downhill and enduro trails spread between the two towns, all linked up via 5 lifts and a shuttle bus service. The majority of trails on the Tignes side are well above the treeline and are man-made with big berms and jumps. These range from easy greens right through to full-on, steep blacks. Some of the most fun of these are the blue trails, in particular Kangooride and Gunpowder which you can blast down with very little input in terms of braking or pedalling. There are also some excellent red trails on both sides of the valley including Funky Tufs. The black trails here definitely have the hardest grading for a reason! In places some are incredibly steep and can be a case of simply
slamming the brakes on full and hanging on for dear life! The best example of this is probably Moustache. The black graded Kamasutrail leads you through a free ride park on the Toviere side which is well worth a look. It has some very original features including a big floaty step-up jump and a 360 degree wall ride around an inverted cone shaped natural mountain feature. There are several really good enduro trails over in Tignes as well, the majority of which head down towards Tignes Les Brevieres which is below the dam. This gives you the chance to ride down into the treeline and as such offers a different, more natural riding experience to that higher up. Many of these enduro trails criss-cross each other giving you a few different permutations. Highlights include the excellently named Forest Bump and the scree slopes of Rocky Trail. From Les Brevieres you’ll need to get the shuttle bus back up to Tignes Le Lac so its well worth checking the bus timetable before you commit! A couple of very fun blue trails link between the two resorts - Borsat Attack for riding from Tignes down to Val and Sweet Sweet for the opposite direction. The town of Val d’Isere is 250m lower than Tignes Le Lac. This is enough to drop you into the treeline and a few of the
trails over this side take good advantage of this including the red Rhododendrons and fun green, Popeye. There’s also a few good enduro trails including the 8km long Into the Wild! If all that isn’t enough to keep you busy there are also pump tracks and skateparks in both resorts along with a host of other activites. Tignes probably has the most original of these with various elements dotted around its lake. Some are verging on the ridiculous and have to be seen to be believed so try searching ‘Tignes Hot-Jump’, ‘Tignes Blob’ and ‘Tignes Flyboard’ on youtube! There’s one more thing worth mentioning about Tignes and Val bike park which makes it stand out from any other. The lift pass is FREE! Yes you heard right! At least it has been for the last 5 years and at the time of going to press we haven’t heard of any plans to change this for 2016. You do still need to pick up a pass though so make sure you pop into the Maison de Tignes before heading to the lifts.
• Open 30th June until 27th August 2016 • Riding from 1550m to 2800m • 3 chairlifts, 2 bubbles • 165km of trails including • 65km of downhill trails - 3 green, 9 blue, 5 red, 4 black • 75km of enduro trails - 2 blue, 4 red, 6 black • 25km of cross country loops • 1 pump track, 2 skateparks, 1 Airbag • 1 shuttle bus route (Tignes Les Brevieres to Tignes Le Lac) • Lifts ticket - FREE! Bike Park Map - http://public.tignes.net/TIGNES.NET/ Bike_park_Tignes_2015.pdf 67 25
Espace San Bernardo is the collective name for the linked areas of La Rosiere in the Tarentaise and La Thuile in Italy. In the winter these two link together seamlessly to make one large ski area. In the summer it requires a little more effort to get between them by bike but it is still very feasible to ride both in one day.
trails over there we shuttle you back up to the top of one of our favourite trails in La Rosiere which is not shown on the bike park map! This drops you out at 1200m where we shuttle you up again for 10 minutes to access another one of our favourites which drops you out all the way down in Seez, just outside Bourg St. Maurice.
The lower chairlift in La Rosiere starts only 300m above Bourg St. Maurice at Les Ecudets so you can pedal up to it in just 30 minutes. This means its completely possible to set off on your bike from Bourg at 9am and be in Italy sipping a cappuccino before lunchtime! Believe us, we’ve done it! Alternatively you can just drive up to the chairlift where there is ample parking.
But what about the riding?!...
If you do wish to ride both resorts in one day its worth knowing what else is involved in terms of pedaling: From La Rosiere to La Thuile, ride to the top of the Roches Noires chairlift then pedal up the fire road climb for 20 minutes (100m vertical) to the Fort de la Redoute (border fort built in the 1890’s and worth a look in itself!). Then drop onto the piste towards Italy before following the vague looking singletrack to the Col. From there you can follow the road down until you see the first bike trail heading off to La Thuile From La Thuile to La Rosiere ride the Chalet Express chairlift to the top, then pedal the fire road climb for 30 minutes (180m vertical) to the col di Fourclaz before descending by fire road to the Col de Petit St. Bernard. From the Col you can roll 8km down the tarmac road back to the trails in La Rosiere. If all this sounds like a lot of effort Cool Bus actually run a day trip where we drive you up and over the top from Bourg and drop you off at the trail head down to La Thuile. When you’ve had your fill of riding the 68
La Rosiere has a selection of very well built man made trails. The downhill trails total around 25km. Over half of this is above the treeline consisting off nicely built berms and jumps. Our favourite however, would have to be Dream Forest. This is nearly 6km long and runs through the dense forest from the resort down to the bottom of the lower chairlift at Les Ecudets. Whilst it is man made with plenty of banked corners it still has a much more natural feel compared to the rest of La Rosiere.
Over the last ten years La Thuile has established itself as one of the leading bike parks in the area, something which lead to it being used for a round of the Enduro World Series in 2014. The trails here are numerous and the vast majority run below the treeline. Some use modified walking trails and some have been built from scratch. What makes these trails really stand out is the way they combine the natural feel of trails in places like Les Arcs with the flow of man made trails in places such as Tignes, bridging the gap between the two. The emphasis in La Thuile is certainly towards the harder end of the trail spectrum and it’s intermediate to advanced riders that will get the best out of a trip here. A quick look at the stats shows that half of the trails are graded black. Expect your forearms to get a good workout from the relentless tree routes and steep chutes! Other highlights of La Thuile have to be the friendly and welcoming Italian locals and the chance to have pizza, Peroni, gellato, espresso and limoncello all for the cost of a McDonalds in France!
La Rosiere: • Riding from1200m to 2250m • La Rosiere day ticket price 15 euros • Opening dates 3rd July until 25th August • Sunday until Thursdays only 09:45-12:15 then 13:45 until 16:45 • 2x chairlifts La Thuile: • Riding from1400m to 2300m • La Thuile day ticket price 19 euros • 220km of trails in La Thuile including 2 blue downhill trails, 3 reds and 5 blacks • Opening dates 25th June until 28th August • Every day from 09:30 until 17:00 • 2x chairlifts Day ticket for both resorts together - 24 euros
If there is an undiscovered gem of mountain biking in the Tarentaise then it has to be Les 3 Vallees. Despite Meribel hosting the final round of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in 2014 it still remains very much off the radar as far as mountain bikers are concerned. We spent a whole day in the Meribel valley on the closing day of the resort last summer and saw just four other mountain bikers on the 40km of incredible trails that we rode! No surprise then that their trails are in such fantastic condition!
Les 3 Vallees is a huge mountain bike area. In terms of square kilometres it is easily the largest lift linked bike park featured in this magazine. For those that are unfamiliar with the area, the valleys, from east to west, are Courchevel, Meribel and the Belleville valley which includes Les Menuires, Val Thorens and St. Martin-de-Belleville. Each has sufficient trails to keep you busy for several days but combined they make an awesome venue for a week long holiday. In Courchevel you’ll find some incredible natural trails through the lower forests, particularly down towards La Praz. Its possible to ride all the way down to St. Bon or even Bozel, way down in the valley at 750m altitude. Probably best to invest in an IGN map (like OS in the UK) if you want to do this as a lot of the trails don’t feature on the bike park map. There is a free shuttle bus with bike racks for 8 bikes that runs half hourly from St. Bon and a couple of times a day from Le Grand Carrey all the way back up to Courchevel 1850. Do check the timetable beforehand though and be aware that if you turn up at a bus stop and see eight other riders waiting you might be out of luck! Higher up you will find some good purpose built trails above the treeline at 1850 and up around the Saulire peak. This is also where you need to head if you want to drop down into Meribel. The Meribel valley features some great natural trails lower down and purpose built trails higher up. The DH4 downhill trail that runs from the top of the Tougnette chairlift is not to be missed. Really well built making the most out of the mountain with very steep berms and nicely shaped jumps which all flow together beautifully. This was a new trail for 2015 but has hardly been used and therefore still rides ‘as new’! Our favourite route in the whole area has to be the trail that follows the ridgeline between the Meribel and Belleville valleys, so much so that we offer this as an uplift out of season. It also features in the Trans Savoie bike race. From the Pas de Cherferie there is a fairly brutal climb up the steep fireroad and piste up to Le Verdet at 2294m.
It is well worth the effort though as what follows is an epic ridgeline descent that can take anywhere between 2 and 3 hours depending on how much of a hurry you are in! Near the top the trail is undulating with some fun, rocky descents interspersed with very short climbs. Just as you drop into the treeline the trail starts to really flow with sweeping, naturally banked corners. Further down expect some rooty sections and then fairly exposed forest singletrack towards the bottom. Some of the trail is marked up as E7 on the Meribel trail map but we have tweaked our own version to include some more cheeky singletrack and to finish all the way down in the valley at Moutiers If you uplift the trail with us we provide a Garmin GPS so you can navigate your way successfully through the many junctions. Have a look at the edit of the trail on our vimeo channel - https://vimeo.com/99338416 Of the 3 valleys, the Belleville side probably has the smallest concentration of good trails mainly due to its higher altitude. The only trails that run below the treeline are the lower parts leading into St. Martin-de-Belleville. As such Val Thorens or Les Menuires wouldn’t be the best location to choose for a holiday but if you are over in Meribel or Courchevel for the week its definitely worth popping over for a day. There are several really well built downhill tracks with huge steep berms and jumps running down towards Les Menuires and St. Martin.
• Largest linked bike area in the Tarentaise • 300km of marked DH and Enduro trails between 2700m and 700m • 6 green, 11 blue, 12 red and 15 black • 6 marked cross country routes • 12 gondola lifts, 2 chairlifts and 2 shuttle bus routes with bike carrying capacity to bring you up from the base of the valley • Opening dates 3rd July until 26th August 2016 • Day pass 17,50 euros, week pass 52 euros for all 3 Valleys which is a total bargain whatever way you look at it! Bike Park trail map - http://french-alps.meribel.net/fileadmin/ PDF/ete/7_annexes/PLAN_VTT_MERIBEL_3VALLEES_ete_2015.pdf
Published on Dec 28, 2015
The official onboard magazine of Cool Bus. Paper version available in a Cool Bus near you throughout 2016! With in depth guides to the ski r...