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6 February 2024

Ski in Savoie La Rosiere

La Rosiere
Variety is the spice of life and an invitation to ski at La Rosiere, a French resort that had never featured on my radar, was irresistible. Lots of familiar names around: Mont Blanc, Monte Rosa, Aosta Valley, and in sight across the valley: Val d’Isere so there were obviously good prospects.
After a three hour transfer we arrived at a scene that no film director would deem credible, a theatrical snow storm raged, but we headed straight to the warm welcome and dinner at the restaurant Le Genepi . We dined and drank well so all was forgiven despite the prospect of heli-skiing anywhere in the region fading away.
The sun was shining (La Rosieres’s ski slopes are largely south facing), all the kit in place and introductions made. The bad news was that the lift queues would be better after an hour or so, which was very strange as there were no crowds as such at all. In the afternoons it became a game of ‘spot the skier’ in the outlying areas of the ski slopes which extended across the border into Italy and the resort of La Thuile; there are some 160 km. of runs in total across this San Bernardo ski area. Throughout our stay, there was hardly enough time to catch breath before mounting any lift.
Our small group comprised a really mixed range of skills from totally wooden but determined, to elegant and quick. Both extremes were able to find slopes from green to mostly relatively undemanding blacks and meet up within less than half an hour. A real bonus as this is a family friendly skiing area which can cater for most levels of skills and ambitions with a skiing height range of nearly 800m. from a base of 1,850m. The more ambitious skiers always want for more and steeper runs, the area near to La Thuile was best for them; a short part of the downhill race course had the steepest incline of a pisted run I have come across. Off piste, there is a ‘snowzone’ with a vertical drop of 750m. to Fontaine Froide. There is enough more challenging skiing to cater for intermediates to tackle as they extend the scope of their experiences, however the expert skiers will seek more challenging resorts. As a result there less risk of being hit by speeding skiers so it is more relaxing.
 I was privileged to ride early one morning in a piste basher; two things surprised me; the actual machine was as expensive, as sophisticated and powerful as a junior Ferrari. I was also surprised there were no seat belts as the angles ploughed down were such that it was difficult to stay seated, in fact, I was virtually standing up on occasion it was so steep. Travelling in a vehicle gave me something to compare the pistes with normal roads; we are all more skilled than we thought!
When skiing you really do not appreciate how steep the slopes are that you can handle without a care in the world. I spoke to numerous skiers and the large majority were returning guests, be they families or simply groups of friends, they all enjoyed the variety and lack of pressure on the slopes as well as the small resort atmosphere. A favourite run for many was a wide open gliding piste that just went on for ever, which was rewarded by a good lunch time stop at Le Panoramique, the standard of bars and restaurants was good and the prices good value.
La Rosiere resort is effectively divided in two parts; the more commercial centre has the concentration of activity with more options on shopping (great delis. included) and bars. A short, pleasant stroll along a well lit path mainly through the trees leads to the satellite village of Les Eucherts. All the buildings are built using traditional stone and wood construction; there is a mix of commercial and residential accommodation. Everything needed was here from bakery through the ski school to ski lift; the only thing missing was tonic water which was only available in the centre so it worked well. If only the layout had been as carefully planned as the materials and interiors, then it would have ticked all the boxes.
We stayed in Les Cimes Blanches which offered a very good standard of quality, both in respect of the apartments spread across several adjoining buildings and the services from the main building. Gone are the days of minimal comfort and room, these were full 4* standard accessed by a lift with a spacious sitting/dining room/fully kitted out kitchenette which lead out onto a balcony with views across to Val d’Isere. There was one en suite bedroom and another with a separate bathroom and separate loo (that is luxury!). The decor was in Savoyard style which created a good atmosphere. On the ground floor is a heated ski store, it is ‘ski-in’ and the ski lifts are literally a minute’s climb up steps and then a short drift down, just enough to flex your knees to the lift. There are also apartments with three bedrooms and more.
The main building has a whole range of facilities and services; order your bakery items and they can be collected from reception in the morning, whilst the Wellness area is very comprehensive. The swimming pool and smaller pools were excellent, in addition there is a; sauna/steam room, whirlpool, fitness room, massage and numerous beauty treatments.
There is a good selection of outdoor activities in addition to skiing; snow shoeing was very popular, dog sledding and the newish craze of ski kiting. I got lost with the number of facilities and activities that children could enjoy, enough to keep them interested with something different always on hand to try.    
Nightlife is fairly low key compared to the big named resorts but it has its attractions; one night a week there is live music and a popular nightspot is the disco which is open every night.  As mentioned, there are plenty of bars and restaurants from quick pizzas to fine dining; you can even dine in a yurt.  Skiing is still a feature after dark on one night a week with a torch lit descent.
I can understand why La Rosiere has such a loyal following as the resort is in a stunning setting, offers an excellent uncrowded ski experience for a wide range of skiing skills, plus plenty of other interests on the doorstep with some very comfortable accommodation.   Our trip was organised by Crystal whose depth of experience shone through, everything slotted into place to produce a relaxing background to complement the adrenaline of a ski holiday.

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