Abundant snow and a great CGH apartment in Champagny

16th March 2016, by Chris Gill

The great wide bowl of La Plagne looking admirably snowy

The great wide bowl of La Plagne looking admirably snowy

I’m spending a week in Champagny, on the sunny south side of La Plagne’s huge ski area. I’ve visited the place for lunch countless times – it’s a natural lunch destination if you’re based on the northern side of the area (eg in Montchavin) or in Les Arcs, linked by cross-valley cable car. But this is my first stay in the village.

I’m here with two minders who are both cautious intermediates, and the place seemed to suit our purposes. Above mid-mountain is an excellent area of sunny blue runs where Denise and Christine could build their confidence; one lift from mid-mountain would have me at the top of La Plagne and well on the way to linked Les Arcs; while a 25-minute drive in the editorial VW would have me in Courchevel, for exploration of the Trois Vallées.

And it has all worked out according to plan. At mid-mountain there’s a bit of tough blue skiing to get to the first chair-lift of the day, but there are draglifts for an easier warm-up run before that. Higher up, the Rossa fast chair-lift serves three interestingly varied blues, and gives access to the Carella chair to Roche de Mio at 2700m, with a splendid blue all the way back.

It’s a pity that the first couple of hundred metres of that splendid blue is ruined by the fact that it is the busiest piste in the Alps, taking all the traffic from four lifts. Even this week, when La Plagne is pleasantly uncrowded and Champagny is blissfully deserted, that run was miserable.

The snow is abundant, and in pretty good shape – noticeably better on the sunny Champagny side of the hill than the shady La Plagne side, where it’s pretty hard in most places; I’m guessing this is because recent snowfalls have come from the south, but it could also be related to how heavy the high season traffic has been.

Despite the generally good snow cover, the black runs from the Bellecôte glacier and on down to les Bauches are closed; so is the lovely red Mont de la Guerre from les Verdons to Champagny, but this is so sunny that I’ve rarely known it to be open so late in the season.

In the three days I’ve been here I’ve managed to detach myself from the group to check out the key new lifts in the area – Montalbert’s bottom-to-top gondola and Arc 1800’s Carreley fast chair up to Col des Frettes.

The latter is an important development, creating a new route from Arc 1800 to Arc 2000. So when I schlepped over to Les Arcs on Tuesday in pleasant pale sunshine I was mildly astonished by a piste map on the slopes above Peisey-Vallandry that failed to show the new lift. Cue Gallic shrug from lift company functionary in charge of piste-side maps. They have managed to include it on the printed maps. Not surprisingly, the lift was deserted.

On the way back I spent some time on the long red runs towards Champagny from les Verdons and la Grande Rochette, Harakiri and Kamikaze; as their names suggest, they are excellent testing runs – the latter with a first pitch approaching black steepness.

Wednesday brought a strong, cold wind which closed the highest lifts above La Plagne. But the links between Champagny, La Plagne and Montalbert were open, so I was able to make a rendezvous with Paradiski marketing person Frédérik Béroud at Le Forperet, an Editors’ Choice restaurant above Montalbert. It remains a definite favourite, with a lovely rustic ambience, smiling service and satisfying food.

On the way back to Champagny I took the blue piste down from la Grande Rochette, and made a mental note to avoid this route in white-out conditions, when it would be very easy to ski off its precipitous edge.

We’re staying very happily in a CGH apartment residence, Les Alpages de Champagny. Our living room is gloriously spacious, with a good balcony and all mod cons in the unnecessarily compact kitchen area; the bedrooms are fine, too. There is of course a good pool, a very welcoming lounge area and a wellness area/spa.

Breakfast on the terrace of our spacious CGH apartment

The residence is on the western fringes of the village, which spreads across a steep hillside below the gondola station and fin de piste. CGH runs an efficient shuttle to the gondola, going or coming back every 15 minutes at peak times.

The village is a quiet, pleasantly glitz-free place with just half a dozen bar-restaurants clustered below the gondola station and a similar number of ski shops. Food shopping is just adequate, and includes the vital boulangerie/patisserie. The valley village of Bozel is only five minutes away by car, but in fact the shopping there is no great advance.

We have two days left before D-day, which I think we’ll all spend in Courchevel. More news from there in due course.

Back to all blogs

Recent blogs

Share |