The Val Cenis ski area includes the villages of Lanslevillard, Lanslebourg and Termignon each of which has its own ski area, but all are interlinked to varying degrees. Lanslevillard is best for beginners, Lanslebourg for intermediates and Termignon for families as it is generally the quietest of the three villages, although its exposed lower slopes can be quite cold in early season.
If Val Cenis has a weakness, it is a relative lack of black pistes for more advanced skiers and boarders. Val Cenis has just five black runs, of which two are intended as mogul runs - the M Jacot Met off the Met chairlift at 2,800m, and the Moraine run accessed by the Plan Cardinal chair. Advanced skiers and boarders will need to be able to ski off-piste to make the most of the Val Cenis ski area.
Most of the slopes in Val Cenis face north and hence in December and January the resort can be very cold. The flip side of this of course is that in spring, the snow conditions are usually still good and the afternoon sun reaches the upper slopes. Val Cenis also has extensive snow-making facilities with 180 snow cannons, which rise up to 2,400m. The green beginner pistes at resort level are almost always skiable well into spring.
A strong feature of the ski area, particularly above Lanslebourg and Lanslevillard is the tree skiing. The tree line here stands at around 2,100m, which means all the green runs bar the top part of the famed L'Escargot run wind through pine and larch forest.
The best base for beginners is either the village of Lanslevillard, or its off-shoot Lanslevillard Le Haut where the Val Cenis Le Haut gondola accesses a series of five green runs that all finish at resort level - perfect for practicing snow-plough descents. Four of those five green runs finish at the base of the Columba chairlift in Lanslevillard proper, which takes passengers up to the same drop-off point as the Val Cenis Le Haut gondola.
Intermediates and advanced skiers who want to access the higher slopes must take the Vieux Moulin gondola from Lanslevillard up to 2,100m. From there, if you want to link into the slopes at Lanslebourg you need to take the Solert chairlift up to 2,540m. The Solert chairlift also allows advanced and expert skiers access to the significant off-piste opportunities off the Plan Cardinal chairlift. A blue run from the Solert takes you to the Met chairlift which takes you to the summit of Val Cenis at 2,800m.
Although Lanslevillard is a prettier village, Lanslebourg is in the middle of the Val Cenis ski area and from there you can also ride the Turra chairlift to access the slopes at Termignon. Opposite the tourist office, an efficient six-seater chairlift, La Ramasse, whisks passengers to the top of the 10km long L'Escargot run, which is the longest green piste in Europe.
To quickest way to access Lanslevillard is to take the Mont Cenis drag lift to 2,300m. From there you can access the Solert via the Tetras blue and the Vers La Berche red. Bboarders who do not like T-bars or button lifts must take the Tetras Blue to the Arcellins chair in order to link up with the Vers La Berche red.
Termignon on its own has 35km of pistes up to 2,465m. The ski area is excellent for intermediates at the top, where there are three reds and two blues that lead down from the summit on the shoulder of the Le Grand Coin.
The Replat des Canons at 2,100m is the mid-station of Termignon's pistes with tree-lined skiing all the way down to village level at 1,300m via the Bois de Coqs red and the Forestière blue. There are three lifts out of Termignon, all of which access green slopes that lead back down to the village. Although Termignon would seem a good place to learn, the lower slopes there are quite exposed and children are better served in Lanslevillard during the early season.
The link between Termignon and Lanslebourg is not as beneficial as it might be, either, as you can only ski from Termignon to Lanslebourg, not the other way around.
On the plus side, improving beginners have the benefit of the wonderful Flambeau and Traverse blue runs which wind beautifully from Termignon to Lanslebourg through larch and Arolla pine forest. That is all the piste skiing to be done between the two villages, however, as they are divided by the Combe de Clery and a closed off area of mountain forest.
Termignon's other attractions include a snowpark that includes bumps, kickers, rails and a box, as well as a link up to the 80km of cross-country trails at nearby Bramans and Sollières-Sardières.
If you are based in Val Cenis, it is well worth visiting Bonneval-sur-Arc which is a pretty ski area at the end of the valley and covered by the Eski-Mo pass and shuttle bus. Bonneval, at the foot of the Vallonnet glacier, is actually a cluster of three villages - Bonneval, Precatin and Tralenta - that are spread over 1.25km and centred around two small nursery slopes that are perfect for beginners.
Bonneval's pistes sit on the northern side of the stand-alone 3,217m Point d'Andagne. The highest lift ascends to 3000m and there is snowmaking up to 2,200m. The ski area has 10 lifts serving 21 pistes and a generous 1,150 metres of vertical descent. The resort also boasts a boardercross as well as a snowpark.
To access the main ski area, the Vallonnet chairlift is located in Tralenta and it travels up to 2,050m. From there beginners can choose either a green or a blue, both tree-lined, back down to resort, or take the D'Andagne chair, or the Mulinet chair to get higher. The D'Andagne accesses the resort's intermediate section, where there is a black run, three reds, and blue which returns you to the summit of the Vallonnet. The Mulinet takes you to the boardercross and the snowpark.
Off-piste skiers are well actered for. There is even Heliskiing which is rare in France as mountain drop offs are banned but you can land on top of Italian mountains, or on the valley floor for pick-ups, or in other ski resorts like Val D'Isere. The Val D'Isere to Bonneval ski tour is very popular but due to the terrain, it is easier coming from Val d'Isere than going from Bonneval, so helicoptering to Val D'Isere and skiing back can make sense.
Although Bonneval-sur-Arc ski area is relatively small, the long, sweeping, exposed runs and steep terrain complement the skiing in Val Cenis lower down the valley and provide thrills for advanced skiers.
Further down the valley lie Aussois, Valfréjus and La Norma which are all covered by the Eski-mo ski pass. A shuttle bus leaves for at least one them every morning from Val Cenis and returns in the evening.
Valfréjus and La Norma are similar in size (about 65kms of piste each, perfect for a day trip) height (their top lifts both rise to about 2750m) and orientation (both have predominantly North facing slopes). But La Norma's area is mostly treelined (although there are some open bowles on the top) whereas Valfrejus' is mostly open bowl skiing (although there is some skiing through the woods at the bottom). La Norma is also quicker to reach from Val Cenis - about 30 minutes by bus - whilst Valfrejus takes almost twice as long. Valfrejus is probably marginally the better for good skiers, at least in good light conditions. It has more easily accessible off-piste and some genuine black runs.
Aussois is the closest of the Eski-Mo resorts to Val Cenis - it's just twenty minutes away. Its slopes face South West. Slush and ice therefore can be a problem, but skiing in sunshine makes a pleasant change after skiing in Val Cenis and the other Eski-mo resorts which all predominantly face North. It's about the same height as the other resorts (the lifts start at 1500m and rise to 2750m) but it is not quite as large - about 45kms of piste. It's still sizeable enough, however, to be worthwhile spending a day in.
A frequent shuttle bus service connects the nordic ski resorts of Bessans, Bramans and Sollieres-Sardieres to Termignon, Lanslebourg and Lanslevillard.
Between Bonneval, at the end of the valley, and Val Cenis lies Bessans, one of France's most prestigious Nordic skiing sites. Although the resort has only three Alpine pistes and is a perfect arena for children to learn to ski, most skiers are attracted to Bessans by the 80km of cross-country tracks as well as an international Biathlon stadium.
At the gateway of the Haute Maurienne the villages of Bramans Val d'Ambin and Sollières-Sardières link up with Termignon to produce a further 80km of cross-country trails.
There are two areas in Val Cenis dedicated to children aged between six and ten accompanied by their parents - at the Déboule Parc in Lanslevillard and the Estiv'Parc in Lanslebourg. There are also magic carpets with dedicated areas for beginners in Lanslevillard, Lanslevillard Le Haut and Lanslebourg.
Some of the best nursery slopes are just above the base area at Termignon, where the Girarde and Tannes lifts allow skiers and boarders the opportunity to test themselves on several green runs before tackling the Girarde blue. The area is quite exposed, however, and young children may be better served in Lanslevillard.
The best lifts for beginners to aim for are the Val Cenis Le Haut gondola and the new Colomba chair in Lanslevillard. Both lifts share a series of inter-connected green runs, with the opportunity to progress to the Vieux Moulin gondola which links to a short blue piste and the celebrated L'Escargot.
The L'Escargot run is perfect for skiers to progress from nursery slope skiing; it provides beginners with a real feel of travelling around a mountain and will enable them to gain confidence. The views of the towering mountains of Dent Parachee, the Pointe D'Andagne and even the Grand Paradis are majestic as you glide down the full 10km run. It really is one of the best beginner runs in the Alps, but not quite as good for boarders, however, as parts of the run are quite flat.
Once you have got the L'Escargot under your belt, other beginner runs to try in good snow conditions are the Flambeau and Traverse blues from Termignon to Lanslebourg, while the Tetras and Familiale will take more adventurous beginners back down to Lanslebourg, via L'Escargot, from the top of the Mont Cenis drag at 2,300m.
The skiing down from Replat des Canons in Termignon is superb, as the Forestière blue offers a beautiful, wide piste which winds through the pine forest into the village.
Another good place to learn to ski is in the cross-country haven of Bessans, where there is a dedicated south-facing beginners' area with a slow drag lift, a perfectly groomed slope, and 3km of gentle slopes to aid progression.
Key lifts to intermediate terrain include the Arcellins, the Solert, the Mont Cenis draglift and the Grande Coin in Termignon.
The slow two-seater Arcellins chairlift gives intermediates a choice of three red runs, all of which end up at the base of the Solert. Note that the Ouillon run, which is marked red on the piste map, is actually now a black.
Those who like skiing big vertical should continue along the MJ Berche that links up with the steep MJ St Genix red, which in most other resorts would be a black. Boarders should be wary of the Écureuil red, a narrow trail through the trees, which needs to be approached at speed to get over the first 50-100m which is more uphill than down.
From the top of La Ramasse chairlift, skiers can get higher by riding the Mont Cenis drag lift up to 2,330m to access blue and red runs that provide views over the Lac du Mont Cenis and into Italy. The Goulet red run gives good accessibility to easy off-piste down on the right to the top of the Buffa draglift, while the left side has off-piste with views of the Lac du Mont Cenis itself. The Tetras blue run takes you back towards Lanslevillard and the base of the Solert chair.
From the top of the Solert chairlift, the Solert red offers improving intermediates an excellent challenge, with a vertical down to resort level of almost 1,100m. The run is seriously steep in parts after you pass the base of the Plan Cardinal chair and offers stunning views of the ubiquitous Dent Parachee. Avoid skiing all the way down to Lanslevillard, by repeatedly riding the Arcelle six-seater chairlift, which is fast and efficient, and provides access to many variations.
In Termignon, the shoulder of Le Grand Coin offers some excellent intermediate skiing, with the Grand Combe red just under the spine of Le Grand Coin a favourite. Boarders should note that the Grand Coin and Lac lifts are drag lifts.
Intermediate skiers who feel they have skied most of the Val Cenis and Bonneval ski areas should consider day trips to Valfréjus, La Norma and Aussois. They are all coverd by the Eski-mo ski pass and all have good intermediate skiing. There is a free shuttle bus service but it's not very frequent, so check the timetable.
Val Cenis is not ideal for advanced or expert skiers who prefer to stick to groomed terrain or patrolled ski routes as the extent of challenging piste skiing is limited to just five black runs.
The steepest black run is the M. Jaco Met run off the Met charilift at the highest point in the ski area (2,800m), which is often a mogul run. With relatively low numbers of skiers moguls to cause the formation of moguls, bump aficionados only have the short Moraine black above Lanslevillard off the Plan Cardinal charilift in the shadow of the Glacier de l'Arcelle to keep themselves amused.
The Vers Mont Cenis black is little more than a narrow trail, while the Ouillon and M J Berche are little more than linking runs. The Solert and MJ St Genix red runs are are sufficiently steep and challenging in part to justify some sections being classified as black, but overall they are classified as red runs.
Buying the Eski-Mo pass and taking advanatage of the free shuttle bus brings Valfrejus, La Norma and Aussois into range for Val Cenis based advanced skiers. Valfrejus has two long wide black runs from the top of Punta Bagna (2735m) which deserve their grading and have plenty of off-piste to the side of them. La Norma's black runs are predominantly through the trees, although there is one at the top of the resort (2750m). Aussois has three balck runs, and one is a monster, running all the way from the top of the resort (2750m) to the bottom (1500m) although it flattens out near then end. But it faces south, so the quality of the snow can be a problem.
Although on-piste terrain includes relatively few black runs, advanced skiers can get plenty of enjoyment skiing intermediate pistes and those that enjoy skiing off-piste can find extensive freeride opportunities throughout the Haute Maurienne valley.
The most noteworthy off-piste terrain in Val Cenis itself lies to the left of the Plan Cardinal chairlift above Lanslevillard at the eatern boundary of the ski area (left hand ege of the piste map). The terrain features forest, rock-outcrops and gullies and that area alone is large enough to take up an entire day for even the best off-piste skiers.
Underneath and around the Solert and Arcellins chairlifts provides further off-piste opportunities. The Arcellins area is the more extensive of the two and lower down the terrain is forested. Skiers and boarders with limited off-piste experience who are looking to improve their skills can look between the Solert and the Plan Cardinal for easy off-piste opportunities
One excellent area to try skiing off-piste is above the so-called "Far North" area at the Col du Mont Cenis. From the top of the Mont Cenis lift at 2,330m there is an inviting face down to the right which takes you down to between the dog sledding area and the top of the Buffa drag lift. It also has great views of the lake.
Further along the valley, and outside of Val Cenis's own area but still covered by the Eski-Mo ski pass, Bonneval-sur-Arc provides some excellent off-piste skiing with the 3,752m of the Pointe Charbonnel and the 3,637m Point Albaron offering some pretty steep and extreme opportunities for those who are willing to hike and traverse. The perfect pyramid of the Aiguille Rousse, approached from the Refuge du Carro or Refuge du Prariond is another favourite.
In the other direction, Aussois provides some extreme off-piste skiing, especially off the 3,697m Dent Parrachee, while the back of Valfrejus, off the Pointe d'Arrondaz also provides some inviting lines. In poor light, La Norma has excellent treelined skiing, both on and off-piste. All these resorts are covered by the Eski-Mo ski pass and there is a free shuttle bus linking them to the Val Cenis villages, but it is not very frequent.
Beginners and advanced boarders are well catered for in Val Cenis. The green runs above Lanslevillard are wide and with low numbers of visitors compared to better known busy resorts, the pistes are relatively quiet.
Improving intermediates who don't mind drag lifts will be well rewarded, with pistes such as Arcelle, Solert, Met, Tomba, Bec Rouge, Fema and Quebecoise and Grand Combe all offering wide, well groomed runs perfect for big carving turns.
Another feature perfectly suited for boarders is the easily accessible off-piste. The Solert and Arcellins chairs offer easy access to extensive off-piste terrain between the pistes that surround them, while the Plan Cardinal chair also opens up a host of off-piste opportunities.
Val Cenis should upgrade the Mont Cenis draglift in Lanslebourg to a chairlift if it wants to attract more boarders. The Mont Cenis is a key lift, and by the resort's own admission it is a difficult one, with a steep incline. The two draglifts at the top of the ski area in Termignon also limit accessibility for improving intermediate boarders.
The two pistes that link the Arcellins area and the Solert area are quite narrow and difficult for some intermediate boarders; the Vers La Berche red from Arcellins is manageable, but the return Vers Mont Cenis is designated black because if it's so narrow - it isn't actually that steep. Boarders may choose to avoid the Écureuil red run, which is narrow and includes an uphill start, and also avoid black runs Moraine and M. Jacot Met, which are more often than not mogul runs.
Val Cenis has three snowparks which are in need of improvement, reasons being they are too small, concentrate too much on rails and do not include enough boxes or kickers. There's a snowpark next to the Pré Novel chairlift in Les Champs, a second snowpark between the Solert and Met chairlifts, off the Familiale blue and a third snowpark in Termignon on the Petite Combe slopes reached by the Grand Coin chair.
As with most things in Val Cenis, Lanslevillard has the most to offer. The two mountain restaurants in the ski area above Lanslevillard not only have the most ambience, they serve the best food too.
La Fema (Tel: +33 4 79 05 90 98) at the top of the Vieux Moulin gondola is also accessible for hikers. The outside terrace at La Fema begins to trap the afternoon sun in late February. Before then, the terrace can be cold, but inside there is a clean, if not a little Spartan, dining area with good views down the valley towards Bonneval. For those skiers who like to indulge in a Chartreuse or Genepi between runs, La Fema also has its own bar. La Fema daily specials include Pot au Feu and roast rack of lamb, but it also caters at the cheaper end, with generous portions of spaghetti as well as salads. The buffet also offers a decent cheeseboard and dessert trolley - the wild strawberry tart is divine.
La Ranova (Tel: +33 668 407 5001) off the six-man Arcelle chairlift is extremely cosy - all exposed stone, wood and a wood burner - and worth visiting in to enjoy the sun terrace with soaring views of the valley up to the Dent Parachee. La Ranova menu is small, with entrecȏte and dish of the day for carnivores, as well as bowls of pasta for under €10 and a choice of meat or cheese fondues.
La Crêpe des Glaces (Tel +33 618 078 784) is barely out of Lanslevillard village, but it's the perfect place to stop for a quick vin chaude and a pancake if you are a beginner and have just tackled the 10km long L'Escargot green run. It's also got a good view of the main mountain, but the downside is that it doesn't get much sun and is often in the shade.
Fleurs et Neiges (Tel: +33 4 79 05 93 34) on Rue des Rochers is a bar restaurant at the base of the Lanslevillard slopes offering a wide selection of snack food, but for those who just want a fill up on the cheap, their steak haché baguette with chips needs to be seen to be believed. The bar also has Wifi access.
Pub Bowling Le 1480 (Tel: +33 4 79 05 21 87) is similar to Fleurs et Neige but cheaper. The menu boasts pizza, sausages, crêpes and ice-creams. It also has a terrace, and is at the foot of the slopes in Lanslevillard. It probably also comes the closest to what might be described as après ski in the whole of Val Cenis.
Bar Le Refuge (Tel: +33 4 79 05 82 49) at the top of the Ramasse chairlift lies is not much more than a bar, but it is by far the best place to trap the afternoon sun on a mountain that rarely sees it. The sun hits the terrace just after noon, and the prices of drinks there are extremely reasonable. Inside, it is cosy and rustic, with Himalayan Buddhist prayer flags adorning the bar and the simple eating area. Snacks include soup, and fries with just about everything - ham, sausages, eggs, cheese.
Relais du Col (Tél: +33 4 79 59 47 84) is a mountain restaurant set against a backdrop of the Lac du Mont Cenis and nestled amid stunning scenery that looks out over Italy. If you are a guest at Le Relais des Deux Cols in Lanslebourg, you get your lunch here as part of your full-board lodging. Le Relais du Col also acts as a refuge, but you need to book.
L'Arole (Tel: +33 4 79 20 53 57) in Termignon is the cheapest mountain restaurant in Val Cenis. The L'Arole sits at the top of the Roches Blanches chair at the base of Termignon's intermediate section off Le Grand Coin. It's a basic place to go, with good value omelettes, steak haché and even paella. It has an outside terrace as well as a 270 degree glass-fronted section with views of the ubiquitous Dent Parachee for eating inside.
L'Escale (Tel: +33 4 79 20 46 29) near the bottom of the Girarde chairlift at the base of the Termignon ski area is the most accessible place for skiers to get a proper lunch in Termignon. The restaurant has an open terrace, a covered terrace and a dining room inside and offers four or five different pasta dishes, salads, bruchettas, savoury galettes and four meat dishes, as well as a choice of hamburgers.
Petit Ferme II (Tel: +33 4 79 20 53 80), opposite L'Escale, offers the usual selection of pizzas, as well as a few Savoyard specialities. It's conveniently close to the pistes and is a decent place to have lunch in Termignon.
Termignon at 1,300m is the first of the trio you come to in the Haut Maurienne valley, while Lanslebourg, which is 5km further down the valley, is slightly higher at 1,460m and is Val Cenis's main ski station. Lanslevillard, the prettiest of the three, is 2.5km from Lanslebourg and at the same altitude.
The Val Cenis Vanoise area was heavily involved in fighting during the Second World War as a consequence of which both Termignon and Lanslebourg have largely been rebuilt in the last 60-70 years.
Lanslevillard, therefore, retains the most Alpine charm and is the cultural hub of the three villages. Lanslebourg has the best facilities, including a petrol station and the main tourist office. Families are better served in Termignon, as it is the quietest village in Val Cenis, and the cheapest.
Skiers renting self-catering apartments are well served in Lanslebourg and Lanslevillard, each of which has a reasonable sized supermarket. They also both feature several bakers and artisan cheese shops.
Val Cenis really only caters for those who want to concentrate on their skiing so late night revellers will need to look elsewhere. The villages are quiet and there is virtually no après ski at all apart from a few bars, and except for special occasions they close by 11pm.
Val Cenis Tourist Office
Tel: + 33 4 79 05 23 66
Email: [email protected]
Compared to better known French ski resorts there is virtually no après ski scene in Val Cenis so party animals seeking vibrant après ski and late nightlife should look elsewhere.
Most restaurants are closed by 11pm and there's not a Michelin star yet to be seen anywhere in Val Cenis Vanoise.
In Val Cenis, either the children stay up as late as the adults or their parents and children return to their apartment when their children go to bed, but hardly anyone stays out late.
Lanslevillard has the most restaurants and bars including the best restaurant in Val Cenis Vanoise and by far the busiest pub. It's the closest you'll get in Val Cenis to anything with a semblance of nightlife, but that doesn't amount to much.
There are several restaurants in Lanslebourg that are open during the day and which shut early. La Vanoise and La Ramasse, which is beautifully rustic, are effectively Salon du Thé. They also serve pizza and local dishes, but both close before 10pm.
Termignon is the quietest village in Val Cenis and Lanslebourg, is somewhere in between the other two.
Restaurants & Bars in Lanslevillard
L'Arcelle is a bright cheerful family restaurant with a bustling atmosphere. Good range of Savoyard dishes and the beef and duck spit grilled at your table is impressive. Children once again are warmly welcomed. Tel: +33 4 79 05 93 98
La Bergerie is a delightfully rustic restaurant, but not too traditional. The wood has been scraped and a roaring stone open fire dominates the dining room, and there is a bar with a pool table attached. Extensive pizza menu, but also offers traditional French dishes. Tél: +33 4 79 20 64 05
Le Terroir Savoyard offers all the regular Savoyard specialities, as the name might suggest, with a fiercely regional wine list. Well cooked food, and probably the only place in town where you can get prawns cooked in Vermouth. It closes early and often as early as 9pm. Tel: +33 4 79 05 82 31
La Terrasse restaurant in Hotel Nanook offers a Savoyard menu. The restaurant inside can be a bit dark, but the food is not bad value and in good weather you can eat on the terrace. Tel: +33 9 60 51 63 53
La Cordée has a sun trap terrace, but the menu barley extends past crepes and pizzas. When it does, however, it does so with some success, serving up dishes such as carpaccio of beef as a starter and salmon with morilles for main course. Tel: +33 4 79 05 35 49
Le Dahut is out of character with much of the Val Cenis restaurant scene. A charming setting behind the main street of Lanslevillard, Le Dahut is beautifully rustic, and wonderfully presented. The food is superb, too, so much so that you wonder what it is doing there. Tel: +33 4 79 05 98 20
L'Etoile des Neiges has a traditional Savoyarde menu and a roaring stone fireplace, which dominates this jolly restaurant in the eponymous hotel. The usual suspects are served up, with rustic gusto. A fairly cheap wine list, too. Tel: +33 4 79 05 90 41
Howard's Bar is the only real late night bar in Lanslevillard that can pride itself on generally staying open past 10pm on a regular basis. Howards Bar has all the nuts and bolts of being a decent nightspot, it just needs the people. Tel: +33 6 69 39 28 95
Bowling 1480 is for the younger generation,, tennagers mostly. It might just work for you if you are older than 21, but be prepared to stand out. It stays open until 1am. Tel: : +33 4 79 05 21 87
Restaurants & Bars in Lanslebourg
Ta Ta'tine Is a cosy little restaurant with a small bar attached and a favourite in Lanslebourg. One of the most popular restaurants in town, it is child-friendly and offers an excellent regional menu. The ice-cream is superb and alcoholic sugar cubes are an interesting digestif. Tel: +33 (0) 4 79 56 88 35
Le Relais des Deux Col restaurant in the Hotel Relais du Col is a savvy operation and cooks good food. The tireless chef, Pierre Gagniere, cooks Savoyard specialties but is not afraid to experiment - how many times have you had cheese fondue in beer before? Tel: +33 4 79 05 92 83
La Chouette is one of the first restaurants you come to on the way into Lanslebourg from Termignon. A cosy, popular restaurant, La Chouette offers a choice of 16 different pizzas as well as steaks, fondues and the usual Savoyard artery-clogging fare. Tel: +33 4 79 05 86 16
L'Auberge Do Re has one of the most extensive menus in Lanslebourg including foie gras, snails and frog's legs as starters. They also have at least six salads for those who want to see something green on their plate. Good wine list and decent selection of main courses. By Val Cenis standards this place is not cheap, but it is when compared to prices in almost any other ski resort. Tel: +33 4 79 05 90 30
La Vieille Poste hotel restaurant, next to the tourist office, has a large menu by Lanslebourg standards and you pay for it, too. Cote du Boeuf for two breaks the €50 barrier and the set menu includes other dishes higher up the pay scale. When the resort is busy, the bar stays open until 1am serving cocktails and spirits, but how often is the resort busy? Tel: +33 4 79 05 93 47
Bar Napoleon is the closest thing to a pub in Val Cenis. The bar is set back from Rue Mont Cenis, has a pool table, serves Guinness and apparently stays open until 2am; that's if the clientele are willing, which is not often the case. Tel +33 4 79 05 90 47
Restaurants & Bars in Termignon
L'Estanco is down the hill from the nursery slopes in Termignon and close enough to the slopes to reach on foot for lunch, but it really comes into its own for dinner, when they sometimes have a band. It mainly offers Savoyard specialties, and is good value although it is one of the more expensive restaurants in Terignon. Tel: +33 4 79 56 59 93
Le Sabot de Vénus is an Italian restaurant, where you can eat well for under €30. Naturally, they also serve Savoyard specialities and sometimes have live music. The restaurant has been listed in the Routard des Guides since 2004. Tel: +33 4 79 20 51 76
Marine's Bar just off the main road in Termignon near the tourist office is a simple and cheery place that is open all year round. It serves French classics such as Boeuf Bourgignon, Moules Frites and Pot Au Feu. The restaurant also has internet access. Tel: +33 4 79 56 33 14
Petite Ferme I owners Raymond and Marie also own lunch time restaurant Petite Ferme II, but use Ferme I as their evening site. The lunch time and evening restaurants offer similar menus, which includes a good range of crisp pizzas. Tel: +33 4 79 20 53 80
La Turra restaurant in La Turra hotel is open all year round. The restaurant is simple, as is the food, but the staff work hard to ensure a good meal using quality, local ingredients - they make their own jam for instance.
In mid January, the Haut Maurienne forms one of the major legs of the Grand Odysee, the 900km international dog sledding race, a contest worth coinciding your trip for. Due to the influence of this extreme endurance test mushing is big business in the valley. Stéphane Caron, a professional musher, takes first timers and shows them how. Once you've got the hang of the basics, you can move on to learn how to keep the sled balanced and under control with two or four dogs. There are 77 "powerful and devoted" dogs in the Husky Adventure pack. Prices start at around €100 per half day.
Tel +33 6 70 80 72 78
Ice Climbing is an exhilarating pastime, and the Maurienne is an ideal starting point for beginners. The resort offers Ruisseling, which is essentially an opportunity to try crampons walking over iced rivers and streams. Once mastered, you can progress on to ice-climbing proper, scaling sculpted waterfalls throughout the valley. Contact the ESI ski school for more information:
ESI-Val Cenis Ski School
Tel: +33 6 43 49 87 97
Cross Country Skiing and Biathlon
There are extensive cross-country ski trails at Bessans, both classic and Nordic, but visitors are often inspired by the International Biathlon stadium in the village. Each week there are biathlon instructors on standby for skiers to try their hand at shooting an air rifle at 10m as well as improve their cross-country technique. Contact ESF ski school in Bessans for more information:
Tel: +33 4 79 05 80 05
Snow making and mountain safety
Every week, the resort invites people who want to discover what goes on behind the scenes of a ski resort. The presentation is done in two parts; the first stage shows off all the equipment needed for snow making. In the second part, experts talk about the importance of avoiding natural avalanches and how avalanches are caused in strategic places. It also instructs visitors on how to use ARVA transceiver equipment. Contact the Val Cenis tourist office for more information:
Val Cenis tourist office:
Tel: +33 4 79 05 23 66
Cheese and wine tasting
If the kids need a day off, the Haute Maurienne Vanoise Dairy Cooperative offers visitors the chance to watch the various stages of production of Beaufort cheese, the prince of Gruyere. Located at the centre of Val Cenis Lanslebourg visits are free every morning although there is a small charge for guided tours. Adults visiting on their own can also request cheese and wine tastings in the maturing cellars. In Bessans you can also discover the traditional methods of curing and salting charcuterie during a free visit. Meet at the Fringale du Pontet shop, every Monday at 6pm. Contact the Val Cenis or Bessan tourist offices for more information:
Val Cenis Tourist Office:
Tel: + 33 4 79 05 23 66
Bessans Tourist Office:
Tel: +33 4 79 05 96 52
Nightfall is the perfect time to spot ibex. As the skiers head home, the last lift of the day offers a great chance to take to the peaks to enjoy the natural fauna with an experienced Vanoise National Park ranger and a guide. For the perfect end to a delightful evening, enjoy a warming aperitif drink in a slopeside restaurant before the torchlit descent back to the village!
Bonneval sur Arc Tourist Office:
Tel: +33 4 79 05 95 95
Fresco Art Workshops
Completed by Lombard and Piémontais artists, the wall paintings adorning religious edifices within the Haute Maurienne Vanoise region are resplendent. Armelle Filliol offers a workshop that follows in the footsteps of artists and painters of the 15th century St Sébastien chapel in Lanslevillard, which is officially listed amongst the great historic monuments of France. Next it's your turn to try your hand at the art form, with Armelle helping you to reproduce iconographies, working with sand, pigments and lime. Contact Armelle for more information:
Tel: +33 4 79 05 98 67