Claviere lies in a snowy bowl at an altitude of 1,760m on the border between Italy and France and is centrally situated in the Via Lattea. The ski area is reached from the village centre, or by taking the succession of chairlifts from Cesana to Colle Bercia (2,393m). The pisted runs are mostly wide and un-crowded, and Claviere has the benefit of a long snow-sure season.
Beginners will find the village centre nursery slopes both convenient and a great place to start their skiing experience with plenty of long blue and wide red runs for progression. Claviere ski slopes are largely North East, North West and West facing. The highest ski lift in Claviere reaches 2,409m and the longest run in Claviere is 6.3km. The eastern side of the ViaLattea area is easily accessed from Claviere and in addition you have the option to ski Montgenevre in France.
From central Claviere your starting point is likely to be the slow four man chair lift up to the sunny area of La Coche. Unfortunately this lift does not allow for non-skiers, despite the fact that there are two pleasant restaurants at the top of it! The piste back to Claviere from La Coche is the preferred ski school run for first week skiers and often busy.
Whatever you do in Claviere, be sure to go to the Colle Bercia where you can enjoy superb views. You can reach Colle Bercia by any of three modern chairlifts, Serra Granet (number 48 on the ViaLattea map), Gimont (47) and Colle Bercia (44). La Tana del Lupo is a good sheltered place for drinks and in good weather, an ideal place to sit in a deck chair and admire the view.
The two red runs to Sagnalonga (23 and 22) are best in the early mornings, as you will be in the morning sun. For afternoon skiing choose the two short but interesting pisted runs to Capanna Gimont (95 and 97). From Capanna Gimont, there is a long blue run through the forest to La Coche and onward to Claviere, but be careful with children as it is very flat in parts, and you will need to push!
There's good snowboarding to be had in the wooded areas around the runs to both Sagnalonga and Capanna Gimont. From the Gimont valley, a chairlift (46) takes you to Col Sorel (2,409 m.), on the border with France. In addition to the groomed red piste (104), the terrain on both sides of the chairlift is good for off piste skiing and boarding. The final stretch back to the Gimont chairlift covers some fairly flat ground and some energetic use of ski poles or a walk out may be required!
If you are beginner, confident on blue runs, the gentle, lightly wooded slope from Colle Bercia to Sagnalonga (follow red 23 and then blue 90), is a pleasant run. If you need to return to Cesana, avoid the long and boring run from Sagnalonga. It's quicker to take the new 4 man chairlift (43) then ride the next chairlift to back down to the valley - there's no piste on the bottom stretch.
The local buses to the centre of Cesana, Sauze and Sestriere depart from this area at the bottom of the lift, and on the opposite side of the road you will see the Pariol gondola, which takes you to Sansicario and the eastern side of the ViaLattea.
From the village of Claviere the Col Boeuf chairlift (50) takes you to the more exciting ski area of Montgenevre. The Gialla piste, which takes you straight back to Claviere, is almost always closed for training or ski races.
The two main areas to the north and south of the resort centre of Montgenevre are well marked, and there are plenty of easy runs for beginners. The south facing area tends to be better at the beginning of season with mostly treeless, easy open red runs. This side is also well connected to Claviere via the Montquitaine chairlift, which starts close to the B&B Chalet la Villa, and the new Serre Thibaud gondola.
The north facing section has an extensive area of open pisted runs above the tree line between 2,000m and 2,400m, which is accessed directly from the new Les Chalmettes gondola. This is a paradise for intermediate skiers and boarders, with plenty of well groomed runs and reasonably safe off piste terrain.
Close to the Italian border, a series of chairlifts - Le Tremplin, Le Brousset and Le Rocher de Aigle - lead to Col Vert/Colletto Verde (2,527m), which is a wonderful Alpine viewpoint. A few metres from the top, a challenging steep slope (black 100) takes you down to Val Gimont and back to the Claviere ski area.
If you descend 200m on the French side and then turn right, there's an easier route for intermediate skiers. These three French chairlifts access plenty of good black and red runs, as well as easy blue runs back to Mongenevre. The terrain and snow quality around piste 32 is undoubtedly the best on this side.
Sauze d'Oulx, Sansicario and Jouvenceaux are in eastern Via Lattea. Access to the slopes is straightforward in Sauze and Sansicario. Jouvenceaux is served by a new chairlift, which takes you directly to the beginner's area of Sauze Sportinia, which connects to the wider Sauze and ViaLattea ski area.
This eastern section of ViaLattea includes a fabulous selection of interesting runs from the top of Monte Fraiteve (2,680m) down to the villages of Sansicario, Jouvenceaux and Sauze d'Oulx. In Sauze, there are numerous long relaxing slopes winding through woodland and with frequent changes in gradients. Initially the piste layout can seem confusing, but in reality you cannot really go wrong!
Central to the Sauze section is the flat and sunny area of Sportinia (2,134m). Here you'll find ski school offices, a beginner's area, plenty of eating places and the two chairlifts (8/8b), which take you above the tree line to Rocce Nere.
There is a huge amount of off piste skiing in the Rio Nero Valley beyond Rocce Nere, but in bad weather or fog it can be difficult to get your bearings.
The steep ski lift (33 Rionero-Sansicario) leads you into the Sansicario area, and the four man chairlift (14 - Basset) leads to Col Basset (2,424m). From Col Bassett a long red run takes you to the Sestriere Borgata gondola middle station (15 - Col Basset). Borgata is a popular place for lunch en route to the extensive ski area of Sestriere Monte Banchetta and taking the gondola to Borgata is recommended, as route finding can be difficult on the lower section of this run.
The two best runs in Sauze both start at the top of the Triplex chairlift (6) at 2,450m. The first and easier of the two options, piste 29, starts by heading towards Pian delle Rocche, then downhill through a thick pine forest where you need to work your way through an amazing sequence of bends and differing gradients before you emerge in the village centre.
For the second, more difficult option, follow the pisted run to Sportinia, and then head for Sauze Prariond, via the Gran Pista -an old downhill race course. This 650m descent will almost certainly leave your thighs burning! Another favourite is piste number 12 to Jouvenceaux - a 1,000m drop on natural snow, half of it rarely pisted and bumpy at times - a real treat for pure skiers.
Sansicario is the place to be seen in the world of Italian skiing! Here there are wide, well groomed runs where you can increase your speed and improve your carving technique, and except at weekends, the slopes are largely deserted.
The runs down to the village from the top of Monte Fraiteve (2,701m) should not be missed. Piste 21 is used for women's world cup downhill races and has a drop of almost 1000m. There are plenty of sudden variations, but it's smooth and wide allowing you to accelerate to your limit without risk.
The longer, gentler runs numbered 79 and 71 follow the southern ridge of the Sansicario area, down to the Pariol gondola with opportunity to ski diversions through the pine forest, which is superb when skied untracked in fresh snow.
From Sansicario you have a choice of routes to Sestriere. You can take either the red run from the top of the Fraiteve (80), or the black run (82) from the top of the Roccia Rotonda chair lift to the middle station of the Fraiteve gondola.
At an altitude of 2,035m, Sestriere is a snow sure option with wonderful high Alpine scenery, lift access to 2,808m and plenty of well groomed skiing. It offers a complete range of skiing on mostly north and west facing slopes, from the gentle and convenient nursery slopes of the resort centre to the long steep runs which are used on the World Cup circuit.
Superbly positioned at the heart of the ViaLattea, Sestriere has its own extensive ski area as well as easy connections to both Sansicario and Sauze d'Oulx which enable you to ski a number of resorts in one day.
A couple of chairlifts and a drag lift lead to Monte Sises (2,600m) where, in addition to two Olympic runs there are lots of opportunities for freeriding off-piste. A lovely blue run (3) leads you to Sestriere Borgata from where you can access Monte Banchetta (2,555m) and Monte Motta (2,823m), which is the highest point in the ViaLattea. This area provides plenty of good skiing for intermediate and advanced skiers and boarders.
Centrally placed, the Kandahar Banchetta is the main Olympic downhill race course, and is a fantastic long run with a very steep start and a challenging finish. Then ride two 4-man chairlifts, Nuova Nube (20) and Chisonetto Banchetta (21) back up to the top, and study your next run down.
From the top of Monte Motta you can ski down to the left (32 black) and in good snow conditions, bear left again down to the bottom of the valley to rejoin the Chisonetto chair lift. There is no easy way down from Monte Banchetta - all the runs have a steep finish.
To connect with the neighbouring resorts, take the Col Basset gondola (15) from Sestriere Borgata towards Sauze d'Oulx, or the Fraiteve gondola (32) from opposite the Olympic Village, towards Sansicario.
Overall Via Lattea's 90 ski lift system is modern and high speed and with an uphill capacity of 90,000 riders per hour, though for some reason they don't believe in covered chairlifts in this area!
You are unlikely to have to queue for the lifts and the pisted runs are generally well marked, making getting around fairly straightforward, but boarders should be aware that the return connection from Sauze to Sestriere/Sansicario will not be easy for them due to some long steep drag lifts.
Non skiers will generally be allowed on the lower lifts out of the villages without skis, the exception being Claviere where, if you would like to visit the Mon Soleil restaurant, you will need to go on foot!
The ski lifts are open from early December until mid-April.
The full Via Lattea ski lift pass covers all 90 lifts in the Via Lattea resorts of Sestriere, Sansicario, Sauze d'Oulx, Pragelato, Cesana and Claviere, and also allows a day in the connected French resort of Montgenevre. Cheaper ski lift passes are available for those who intend to ski mainly in the Claviere/ Montgenevre area.
The restricted Claviere area only ski lift pass costs about two thirds of the price of a full lift pass and covers the 9 lifts of Cesana and Claviere. It also allows a full day in Montgenevre, as well as a full day on the wider Via Lattea circuit. Extra days skiing in Montgenevre can be purchased locally for a small supplement.
A one-day ski lift passes are also available and the cost varies depending on which resort you are in, and which ski areas you choose to cover. Beginners can buy point lift passes for individual rides on specific lifts and there are also local, village specific, day passes available in all resorts.
Children under 8 and senior's (over 75) are entitled to a free ski pass, though to qualify for the free children's pass, an accompanying adult needs to purchases a pass of the same duration. Children aged 9 and 10 pay a reduced rate. Proof of age will be required for free or reduced rate passes.
All resorts have a centrally placed lift pass office. In Claviere, the Tourist Office sells the lift passes, but if this is closed (which it often seems to be), you can buy your ski lift pass at the wooden hut on the piste!
Claviere and Sauze d'Oulx are also good for beginners with gentle nursery slopes, and most beginner skiers will be able to ski the longer blue runs down to resort by the end of their first week. Skiers who suffer vertigo can happily yo-yo up and down all day on the beginner's slopes of Sestriere or Mongenevre.
Each ski resort village has at least one ski school and as many as three or four in Sauze d'Oulx and Sestriere offering tuition for beginners.
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Claviere, Sauze d'Oulx and Sansicario have a number of very pleasant woodland runs which provide good powdery snow as well as shelter when the weather is less favourable. There are few runs that would be too difficult for an intermediate. With the exception of the return run from the Sansicario ski area to Rio Nero and Sauze d'Oulx when conditions are icy (25), you can go virtually anywhere.
Certainly, intermediate skiers will enjoy the pisted runs around Pian Della Rocca in Sauze, and can spend many hours on the long perfect slopes of Sansicario returning via Sestriere Borgata. In good snow conditions, the Monte Banchetta area of Sestriere is unforgettable.
On a good fresh snow day where best to go for safe powder skiing? In Sauze D'Oulx the Bourget ski lift (5) runs in all weathers and you can have fun on skis or board in the safe and steeply wooded slopes around it. Do not forget piste 12 down to Jouvenceaux which is safe, and not many people know about it! In good snow conditions the runs down from the top of Sauze's Monte Fraiteve towards Sestriere, Rio Nero and Sansicario are excellent. The ones towards Sestriere face south and deteriorate rapidly when the sun comes out, so grab your chance quickly after a substantial snow storm.
From Rio Nero Valley, at the bottom of lift 11, there is a new black piste that takes you back towards Jouvenceaux. Alternatively in good snow conditions it's possible to ski off-piste all the way down the valley, through a light pine forest as far as the main road in Amazas, not far from Oulx, by a pizzeria with a bus stop. It is recommended that you call a taxi for the return journey to Cesana or the Jouvenceaux lift (local taxi Franco Garofalo Tel: +39 0122 832126).
In Sestriere, the runs from Monte Banchetta are challenging and a real treat with powder. From the top of Monte Motta you can ski black piste, and in good snow conditions bear left off-piste, to reach the valley bottom and rejoin the Chisonetto chair lift. The top lift on Sises accesses a reasonably steep black run which is usuallly left ungroomed with big moguls. There is some off-piste to the side.
If you're looking for really wild mountain ambience, the Col Vert/Colletto Verde above Claviere at the top of Le Rocher de l'Aigle lift, is the place for you. As well as the well-groomed red leading towards Mongenevre and black piste to Claviere, there is a good choice of off-piste on either side of the pistes, and a popular itinerary, the Vallon de la Douare, which heads down to the Brousset chair. A short hike away is La Plane, where there are more slopes that a guide can show you and which are well worth the walk.
Montgenevre is gaining a good reputation as an off-piste destination. On the Gondrans side, there’s an official freeride zone of ungroomed slopes but with a guide you can also go 'off the back' into the Vallon de la Vachette or head over to Le Chenaillet. Across the valley, the Serre Thibaud and Col de l'Alpert access mostly East and North East facing slopes, and there are plenty of off piste options (as well as a black piste) from the top of Chalvet. The off-piste reached from the Rocher d’Aigle lift above Claviere (see above) is also easy to get to from Montgenevre.
There is also helisking. It's illegal to land on mountain tops in France, but not in Italy, regardless of which side of the border you took off from.
When the snow conditions are good, the best terrain in Via Lattea for boarders and freeriders is to be found between the top of Monte Fraiteve and the three areas of Sestriere, Rio Nero and Sansicario. The black piste (32), from Monte Motta down to Val Chisonetto is another one to try. The rocky and wild terrain around Col Vert on the Mongenevre side is also very popular with boarders.
Boarders take note that the return ski lift connection from Sauze to Sestriere and Sansicario is tricky because of long steep drag lifts.
The Sansicario area has some lovely Alpine style restaurants like the Soleil Boeuf. In the Sauze area the Capricorno has an open fire and classic regional cooking. The Capret is in a central location at a junction of 3 lifts in Borgata Sestriere, and offers good food in a friendly atmosphere. Some of the restaurants offer evening meals and will arrange for your transportation with snow mobiles.
The Milky Way's different resorts are very varied and getting from one end of the Via Lattea to the other is very time consuming so it's worth carefully considering which village and local ski area is most suitable for your party. We cover the accommodation options in all the resorts in our Via Lattea Accomodation page.
Claviere is a small village, on the Italian/French border, where some say the sport of skiing began in Italy. It is positioned in a snowy bowl, at an altitude of 1760m. The entire Via Lattea circuit is accessible from Claviere, but many people choose to divide their skiing between Claviere and neighbouring Montgenevre as reaching the other resorts involves taking a lot of lifts. Claviere used to be dominated by the international through road but that has now been diverted, leaving a main street that's nice to stroll around in the evening. There are restaurants and bars but this is not a resort for hard-core night clubbers.
There are a number of ski hire options. The Skiset concession is located in the centre between two of the main lifts. It has a decent range of skis and boards for every standard and gives discounts of up to 50% if you book online in advance - which makes it good value. You can check the location, the equipment available and the discounts currently on offer here.
This is a quiet resort over the border in France and on the Western edge of the Via Lattea ski area, featuring some pleasant bars, pizzerias and restaurants. Montgenevre also has the best snow record, not only of all the Via Lattea resorts but also of all the neighbouring French ones. The through road is now buried which has hugely improved the ambience. Although Montgenevre is earning a reputation as a freeride destination for expert skiers, beginners will find its village centre nursery slopes both convenient and a great place to start skiing. There are plenty of long blue and wide red runs to progress on to. For intermediates, the local slopes are good and usually uncrowded, but taking advantage of the whole Via Lattea area and visiting the villages beyond Claviere is much harder than it is for skiers based in the central or eastern Via Lattea resorts. It's still possible but you have to start early and often catching a bus is a better option than going all the way on long slow ski lifts. (A better option might be visiting the Serre Chevalier ski area:one day there is usually included in a 6 day Montgenvre ski pass and the lift station in Briancon is only about 25 minutes away by car from Montgenevre, and there is a public bus service between the two resorts.) Compared to other high altitude ski resorts in France with access to a large ski area, Montgenevre is an inexpensive place to stay in, eat in, drink in and ski in.
There is a good range of ski hire shops but you will be charged a full price if you just turn up at the shop at the start of your holiday. Instead we recommend you book online in advance. Skset has two outlets in the resort, both well placed for the lifts. Like all Skiset shops they both have a good range of equipment and if you book online in advance, not only will your equipment be prepared and ready for you when you arrive, but you should also get a discount of up to 50% (check shop locations and exact prices here).
Sansicario itself is a very attractive old town, but most of the holiday accommodation is in modern hotels close to the piste. Though there is a pleasant baby lift for beginners, the resort is more suitable for intermediates or good skiers. The handily placed Besson Sports shop is a good option for ski and board hire and gives generous discounts if you book online in advance.
Linked to Sestriere by a new cable car, Pragelato has been transformed into a modern ski village, dominated by the Club Med complex. The resort, which hosted the Nordic ski events of the 2006 Winter Olympics, also has some good cross country skiing.
Despite its central location offering easy access to both the western (chair lifts to Claviere) and eastern sides (gondola to San Sicario) of the area, Cesana is little used as a ski destination by British skiers. It is a pretty small town, with a historic centre, positioned at an altitude of 1350m. For ski hire, there are plenty of options. The Skiset concession gives about the biggest discount, provided you book online in advance, and has a decent range of equipment.
Sauze d'Oulx, at an altitude of 1509m, is a lively resort that has long been popular with both young British skiers and Italian weekenders from Turin. Though largely modern in appearance, the historic centre retains some of the original charm of the village and features an attractive 16th church and some interesting old buildings. Sauze d'Oulx is known for its après ski scene and has plenty of good pubs, clubs, bars and reasonably priced pizzerias and restaurants. In the 1980s and 1990s before it made a concerted effeort to move upmarket, it risked becoming the ski resort of choice for British lager-louts ('Suzy Does It' was its nickname) and some of its clubs and bars can still get boisterous, so check where you're staying if that's not your scene. There are plenty of cosy, traditional Italian restaurants as well, which are good value compared to other ski resorts.
There is no shortage of ski hire shops but if you just turn up on their doorstep at the start of your holiday they tend not to negotiate on price. To get a discount, you really have to book online in advance with a reliable outlet. The Skiset shop will give discounts of up to 50% if you book online in advance. You can check the location and the discounts currently available here.
Jouvenceaux is a small hamlet of character, just 1½ km south of Sauze d'Oulx. It is served by a new chairlift (also allows non-skiers), which takes you to the beginner's area of Sauze Sportinia, and from there links into the extensive Sauze and Via Lattea ski area. The hamlet is very quiet and relaxing but has its own informal pizzerias, restaurants and bars, meaning that there is no need to travel to nearby Sauze d'Oulx (unless you wish to!). There is a frescoed 16th century chapel and stone fountain in the centre of Jouvenceaux.
Purpose built by the Agnelli family, owners of Fiat, in the late 1930's, Sestriere became one of Europe's most popular skiing destinations. Its early development also became its downfall as newer, more modern resorts started to emerge - but it has recently been much improved and is now an up to date, cosmopolitan resort with a good range of leisure facilities, restaurants, pizzerias and bars. It's still functional rather than pretty or charming, though.
There is a decent choice of ski hire shops but to get the best price on rental equipment you will have to book online in advance. The two Skset outlets give discounts of up to 50% if you book through this link.
See our Via Lattea Accommodation section for details of hotels, chalets, apartments, rooms and B&Bs in all the Via Lattea resorts
After a hard day on the slopes of Claviere, relax with a drink on the sunny terrace of the Ski Lodge at the bottom of the piste. Many of the local bars serve the famous Italian aperitivo, where you will be offered an assortment of snacks with your pre dinner drink. Sauze d'Oulx is most lively for apres ski and offers a choice of numerous bars and good nightlife as well as plenty of restaurants.
In comparison with other ski resorts, eating out in the Via Lattea is still reasonably priced. There are plenty of pizzerias as well as some good restaurants. Popular pizzerias include Lo Scoiattolo in Sestriere (Tel: +39 0122 750811), The Kilt in Claviere (Tel: +39 0122 878051) and La Lambretta in Fenils (Tel: +39 0122 897257)
Sauze d'Oulx has a number of good restaurants including Il Cantun (Tel: +39 0122 858593), the Old Inn (Tel: +39 0122 858541) and the Chalet del Sole. In Jouvenceaux both the Etoile des Neiges (Tel: +39 0122 858422) and La Fontaine (Tel: +39 0122 858150) offer good home cooked food at reasonable prices.
Rist. da Sandro in Claviere (Tel: +39 0122 897884) provides good quality cooking in a relaxed restaurant close to the ice skating rink. You may also like to visit the Golf Club in Claviere (Tel: +39 0122 878917) for good food in a pleasant environment. Lunch on their sunny terrace overlooking the cross country ski tracks, is enjoyable if you fancy a break from the skiing or boarding.
Cesana has a very pleasant wine bar La Nata, on the central main street where snacks and simple meals are served alongside a good glass of wine. The hotel La Ginestra (Tel: +39 0122 897884) also has a restaurant which serves traditional home cooked food.
Some of the historic villages in the Via Lattea area have some excellent restaurants and if you have your own transport you may like to visit La Selvaggia in Mollieres (Tel: +39 0122 89290), La Locanda di Colomb in Champlas Seguin (Tel: +39 0122 832944), or La Gerla in Fenils (Tel: +39 0122 90400). Booking is advised.
Pragelato has some excellent cross-country skiing and this is where the 2006 Winter Olympic cross country-ski events were hosted. There is also a sunny cross-country ski circuit in Sestriere and a pleasant 15km cross-country ski circuit from Claviere that takes you into Mongenevre, France.
Ice skating is available in Sestriere, Sauze d'Oulx (but check it's open) and Claviere and there is an Olympic size ice skating rink in nearby Bardonecchia.
Many of the hotels in the Via Lattea area have small pools, saunas and spa areas that are also open to the paying public. Sestriere and Bardonecchia have larger public swimming pools with saunas.
Most of the shops in Via Lattea ski resorts focus on ski and board wear and equipment, with some fashion, antiques and souvenirs. Shops in Claviere, Pragelato and Sansicario are limited.
The Via Lattea lift company website has fairly comprehensive information, as well as up to date news on lift openings, snow park news, weather and events. Each resort has its own Tourist Office with plenty of useful information including resort maps, bus timetables, events and activities, information on weather and snow conditions etc. Many also sell local bus tickets.
Sestriere Tourist Office
Tel: 0122 755444
Email: [email protected]
Sauze d'Oulx Tourist Office
Viale Genevris, 7
Tel: 0122 858009
Email: [email protected]
Claviere Tourist Office
Via Nazionale, 30
Tel: 0122 878856
Email: [email protected]
Cesana Torinese Tourist Office
Piazza Vittorio Amedeo, 3
Tel: 0122 89202
Email: [email protected]