Skiing in Val Cenis

The Val Cenis ski area has 56 pistes totalling 125km of which 10% are for advanced, 74% for intermediates and 16% for beginners including the 10km long L’Escargot, the longest green run in Europe. For more challenges, buy an Eski-Mo pass that covers four other Maurienne Valley resorts.

Val Cenis Ski Area Overview

The Val Cenis ski area includes the villages of Lanslevillard, Lanslebourg and Termignon each of which has a 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 the 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 the 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 practising 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 significant off-piste opportunities via 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 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 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 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 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 the 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 a 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-catered 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 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 the 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.

Aussois, Valfréjus and La Norma

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 of 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 bowls 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 better for good skiers, at least in good light conditions. It offers easily accessible off-piste and has 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 southwest. 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.

Nordic Skiing 

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. A frequent shuttle bus service connects the Nordic ski resorts of Bessans, Bramans and Sollieres-Sardieres to Termignon, Lanslebourg and Lanslevillard.  

Beginner Skiing in Val Cenis

Val Cenis is a good place to learn to ski or board. All of Val Cenis’s green runs for beginners flow into either Lanslebourg or Lanslevillard and the 10km L’Escargot is the longest green piste in Europe.

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.

Intermediate Skiing in Val Cenis

The Val Cenis groomed ski area is best for intermediates with 74% of Val Cenis’s 56 groomed ski runs designated blue or red for intermediates. There are blue and red runs all over the mountain, on both sides of the great Combe de Clery divide, and some beautiful tree skiing.

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 now a black run. 

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 black. Boarders should be wary of the Écureuil red run, 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 the La Ramasse chairlift, skiers can get higher by riding the Mont Cenis drag lift 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 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 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 covered 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.

Advanced & Expert Skiing in Val Cenis

Val Cenis has five challenging black runs, but the off-piste possibilities are extensive both in Val Cenis and throughout the Haute Maurienne resorts covered by the Eski-Mo pass and shuttle bus. The vertical elevation is impressive, too, at nearly 1,400m.

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 chairlift 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 chairlift 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 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 advantage of the free shuttle bus brings Valfrejus, La Norma and Aussois into range for 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 black runs, and one is a monster, running from the top of the resort (2750m) to the bottom (1500m) although it flattens out near the 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 who enjoy skiing off-piste can find extensive freeride opportunities throughout the Haute Maurienne valley. 

Boarding & Freestyle in Val Cenis 

Val Cenis’s wide green runs will suit newcomers to boarding and there is plenty of easily accessible off-piste for advanced riders. It’s less than ideal for intermediate boarders who may be put off by the number of drag lifts, flat sections and narrow runs in parts of the ski area.

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, 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 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 intermediates.

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 need improvement, the 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.

Off-Piste Skiing & Freeriding in Val Cenis

Given the relatively low numbers of skiers on the mountain, Val Cenis usually has plenty of untracked snow several days after the latest snowfall. The Eski-Mo ski pass and shuttle also open up the off-piste in Bonneval-sur-Arc and three other Maurienne Valley resorts.

The most noteworthy off-piste terrain in Val Cenis itself lies to the left of the Plan Cardinal chairlift above Lanslevillard at the eastern boundary of the ski area (left-hand edge 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 provide 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 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 ski 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.

Val Cenis Mountain Restaurants

Val Cenis is not a place for long, languid boozy mountain lunches. Val Cenis has relatively few mountain restaurants, but that said, all are charming and they all offer something different.

Mountain Restaurants in Lanslevillard

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, but they serve the best food too. 

La Fema

La Fema 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 a bar. La Fema’s 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. Tel: +33 4 79 05 90 98.

La Ranova

La Ranova off the six-man Arcelle chairlift is extremely cosy – all exposed stone, wood and a wood burner – and worth visiting to enjoy the sun terrace with soaring views of the valley up to the Dent Parachee. La Ranova’s 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. Tel: +33 668 407 5001.

La Crêpe des Glaces

La Crêpe des Glaces 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. Tel +33 618 078 784.

Fleurs et Neiges

Fleurs et Neiges 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. Tel: +33 4 79 05 93 34. 

Pub Bowling Le 1480

Pub Bowling Le 1480 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. Tel: +33 4 79 05 21 87.

Mountain Restaurants in Lanslebourg

Bar Le Refuge

Bar Le Refuge 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. Tel: +33 4 79 05 82 49.

Relais du Col

Relais du Col 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. Tel: +33 4 79 59 47 84. 

Mountain Restaurants in Termignon


L’Arole 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. Tel: +33 4 79 20 53 57.


L’Escale 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, bruschetta, savoury galettes and four meat dishes, as well as a choice of hamburgers. Tel: +33 4 79 20 46 29. 

Petit Ferme II

Petit Ferme II, 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. Tel: +33 4 79 20 53 80.


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