The ski area has wide-open, sunny plateaus, gorgeous tree-lined lines, and a flawlessly groomed carpet of white under your skis or board, with some of the greatest conditions in the French Alps (80% of the slopes are above 2000m).
The piste is accessible from all four cities, and nursery slopes run from each, enabling novices to develop confidence in peace – with assistance from the area’s top ski schools, they’ll be climbing higher in no time! Further up the mountain, beginners will discover a handful of soft blues and consistent greens. Chantemerle is one of the greatest places for novice skiers since it connects to Serre Ratier, which boasts a variety of cruisey blues flowing through the forest on wonderfully groomed terrain.
In the Parc National des Ecrins, intermediates may freely explore through some of the most magnificent landscapes in the French Alps. Glide over Grande Alpe’s vast open bowl, or enjoy a leisurely and extremely gorgeous ski into the forests on Monêtier’s lower slopes. Those searching for more difficult terrain could visit Cucumelle on the outskirts of Villeneuve and Clos Galliard near Le Monêtier. A popular and lesser-known red runs down from the Aguillette chairlift, providing a lengthy and calm route for carving new lines.
There is enough of difficult terrain for advanced snow enthusiasts to tackle. Casse du Boeuf is a wide black that runs down into Villenueve, and the La Voie Jackson run above Le Monêtier is also popular.
There’s a lot of freeride terrain up the mountain and in the forests above Chantemerle. Natural obstacles abound (particularly on Cucumelle), and there are five fully prepared snowparks and two Boardercross’ at the summit of Grande Alpe and near the Rocher Blanc chairlift.
Each of the four major sectors has suitable beginning slopes and nursery areas, each with its unique set of advantages and disadvantages. You must take the first stage of the gondola up to the nursery slopes 400 vertical metres above the hamlet of Pra Long from Briancon. Once you’ve mastered them, there’s a little problem with a lack of really simple runs just above the town, where instead it’s largely blues and reds. It’s the same thing as Chantemerle, only there are big long greens returning to the settlement. Villeneuve has a decent selection of nursery slopes close near the town, as well as wonderful long green routes like Aravet to descend on after you’ve gained the courage to take the lift further up the mountain. Monetier offers nice resort level nursery slopes as well, but unlike Briançon, there are no lengthy greens down to the town to graduate seamlessly on to; instead, you’ll have to tackle somewhat sleeper blue runs like the Route des Espagnols.
Intermediate skiers will discover 99 simple green to intermediate red grade routes to zoom about on, enjoying the sensation of traveling from town to village and the sense of adventure in descending big long runs up to eight kilometres (five miles) long. The highest slopes over 2200m provide up to 600 vertical metres above the treeline and open powdery slopes.
The remaining thousand meters of vertical are primarily made up of traditional meandering routes that cut through the forest, with plunging fall lines and a variety of grades and orientations for plenty of fun. It’s all in a location of outstanding natural beauty, with some amazing views of Briançon, especially when you descend from the top of Prorel above the town.
Serre Chevalier’s 15 black lines provide many of challenges for expert skiers both on and off piste, with the 500m long L’Eychauda run from the summit of the same name high above Villeneuve being the most difficult. These snowy summits, like most of the region’s other highest points, top some of the steepest terrain in the area and give a choice of defined black lines like Col du Vent from the area’s highest point at Pic de l’Yret above Monetier, or Isolee down from L’Eychauda.
Long blacks falling to 1000 vertical metres below the treeline include Tabuc to Monetier and Casse de Boeuf to Villeneuve. Another example is the Olympic slope named for local hero Luc Alphand, which leads to Chantemerle. Off piste – whether for a short powder fix or a full-day adventure – hike-in routes abound, and all ski schools, as well as the mountain guides office, are delighted to arrange guided trips. If that isn’t enough, famed off-piste hotspot La Grave is a short day trip away.
Snowboard / Freestyle Skiing
At Serre Chevalier, it appears that the boarding and especially the freestyle scene is constantly evolving; at last count, there were three terrain parks, a quarter pipe, and two boarder cross courses on the mountain to complement the abundant freeriding terrain on the powder (hopefully) slopes above the treeline, or bouncing through the trees themselves above the villages. The main park, which is situated in the Villeneuve area, usually has several dozen elements.
Cross-country skiers will discover more than 32km (20 miles) of trails, the most of which are located in the valley and connect the majority of the 13 communities. Loops for all standards traverse the meadows and forests of the Guisane river valley. The sole really simple loop is a 2km green track, Les Albeyres, near to Villeneuve, but the most difficult route, La Virade, is a 16km (10 mile) itinerary that surrounds it and continues on across to Le Monetier. There are also simple blue and intermediate red loops in all three communities, as well as cafés and restaurants beside the tracks where you may stop for a drink. There are trails for both traditional and skate styles, as well as a biathlon stadium for competition; a day fee is necessary to access the tracks. Given the height of the valley trails, it is generally prudent to count on them being completely open at the start or end of the season, but they are often.