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Val Cenis sparkles
Thursday November 11, 2010 - Email this article to a friend

You have probably heard of Val d'Isere and Val Gardena, but what about Val Cenis? It is relatively unknown to the British market but is growing in popularity. It is one of those undiscovered gems that you ought to get to before everyone else does.

Val Cenis consists of two linked villages, Lanslevillard and Lanslebourg,  along the valley floor in the Haute Maurienne, in Savoie.

A couple of years ago the ski area was linked to the neighbouring ski area of Termignon and suddenly a rather good ski area was created.

It is still relatively undiscovered, but it probably won't stay that way for long.

It has 125km of pistes and a very respectable vertical drop of 1,400m.  It's mainly a mixture of reds and blues but there are 5 challenging black runs and endless off piste opportunities if there is powder to be found. 

Like many of these type of ski areas few people ski powder so after a snowfall it is to be found just the other sides of the marker posts.

Great for kidsGreat for kidsFor beginners it boasts the longest green run in the Alps at 10kms.

L'Escargot winds its way down the mountain and means novices will not have to spend their day getting on and off lifts, they can just ski.

The slopes are good for snowboarders with many natural obstacles and there are two snowparks for those that want to practice, and perfect, their tricks. 

There is also a boarder cross track for tandem racing.

It boasts 180 snow cannons too for when Mother Nature fails to provide. Many of the slopes are north facing and so hold their snow well and lift queues are rare.  For half term it is a very good option.

But Val Cenis is about far more than the skiing; it is about spending time in an unspoilt French mountain environment.

It is at the other end of the spectrum from the purpose-built high-altitude French "ski factories" better known to the British skier. It is two authentic and traditional villages where many of the locals have been there for generations and it is a place you may well fall in love with.

"Not many people know the resort in the UK but since they joined-up the ski area with Termignon it makes a pretty decent ski area. Pretty cheap too compared to 3 Valleys which are literally on the other side of the mountain," says Xavier Schouller, the managing director of the British holiday company, Peak Retreats.

So, what else is there apart from skiing and snowboarding?

On offer are tours round local farms and you can even see how beaufort cheese is produced as it made in the valley. There is free access to the dairy every morning if you want to look round. 

There are a host of other sporting activities on offer from ice climbing at one end through cross country skiing mushing and even and something called "snake glisse." This is where you can go down the slopes on ten connected sledges. You will laugh out loud.

There's a spot of ice skating on offer too.

Apres ski Val Cenis styleApres ski Val Cenis style












It is also a superb area for snowshoeing as it is stunningly beautiful and you can even do organised trips at night too.

Stunning sceneryStunning scenery












In these cash conscious times a holiday in Val Cenis won't break the bank either; a 6-day lift pass is €148 compared to €235 for The Trois Vallees.

You really will notice the price difference compared to some of the mega resorts across the Alps that have become experts at extracting as much money as possible from your pockets in the shortest possible time.

You won't think twice as you buy a coffee or beer in one of the many bars and restaurants.

It is set in some stunning natural beauty at the end of the Maurienne Valley near the Italian border and is within the Vanois National Park. Alpine scenery doesn't come much better than this.

Best of all though you will feel like you have made a discovery and done that little more than just go to the same old resorts that perhaps you and many other British have been time after time.

Val Cenis is a discovery but you ought to get there soon. It won't stay that way for long.

Winter wonderlandWinter wonderland










Pratical Info.

Tourist Office

T: +33 (0)4 79 05 23 66; e :; web;

Travel details

Chambéry airport: 1 hour and 1/2; Grenoble airport: 2 hours; Lyon airport: 2 hours

Several British tour operators go to Val Cenis including Crystal, Erna Low, Peak Retreats, MGS, Ski France and Thomson.

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