Great end to the season in Champagny and La Plagne

24th March 2018, by Chris Gill

The main bowl of La Plagne from Aime

The main bowl of La Plagne from Aime

After a couple of days in the 3 Vallées, my last two days’ skiing for this season have been in Champagny and its mother-resort, La Plagne.

There’s been no further sign of the fog that rather spoilt the start of the week; we’ve enjoyed strong spring sunshine but unseasonably low temperatures – the perfect combination, to my mind. Only once have we been tempted to have lunch outside, although several beers have been had on terraces bathed in late afternoon sun.

In general the snow on-piste has been really excellent, thanks to those low daytime temperatures. The one clear exception, even in this chilly week, was the home run to Champagny, les Bois. This narrow, twisty red descends to 1250m and faces south, and on the lower half the result is miserable snow conditions at the start and end of the day. We used it once, and only once.

The whole Champagny sector is essentially south-facing, so conditions are much affected by the weather, but it has excellent terrain of all kinds, from near-ideal confidence-building blues on one fast chair to a serious black on another, and abundant off-piste areas.

The red pistes down the Verdons Sud chairs from Les Verdons, one several points accessible from the La Plagne side, are varied, challenging runs. Sadly the fine Mont de la Guerre red, away from all the lifts and offering 1250m vertical, was closed when I went to ski it, as it so often is (it is excessively sunny).

I made two expeditions over to La Plagne, focused on checking out blue pistes to inform that aspect of our upcoming book, Where to Ski in France. Preliminary result: a surprising number of blue pistes here include challenging sections of confidence-destroying steepness.

The valley between Montalbert and Aime is La Plagne’s Steeps Central

On Thursday I had a lunch meeting with the La Plagne tourist office, and the chosen venue was a brand-new restaurant above another satellite resort, Montalbert. It’s called 360 because its position on a low peak gives a splendid all-round view which it has been designed to exploit: it is essentially a glass box. The table-service section on the first floor gets the best of the views, and is fabulously spacious – an extremely rare luxury in mountain restaurants. The food is varied and excellent, too. Whether it will prosper in this slightly backwater location, time will tell.

Montalbert’s new glass-sided 360 restaurant is about as civilised as mountain restaurants get

Slushy home run apart, Champagny is an attractive option for a low-key holiday – but it is set on a steep hillside, with the lift station at the top of the village, which means that to reach the lift most people need to use their car or the village navette. In our case, staying in the excellent CGH residence Les Alpages de Champagny, we also had the further option of a very flexible shuttle service run by the residence.

Les Alpages would be instantly familiar to anyone who has sampled the CGH formula – welcoming reception/lounge, spacious apartments (but with inexplicably confined kitchen areas), good swimming pool and various spa facilities, all in traditional chalet-style buildings clad in wood and stone, with underground parking running beneath all the chalets.

It’s a great formula. CGH offers properties in 20 French resorts, large and small; all are bookable through the agency that arranged our trip, Peak Retreats (or their big-resort parallel operation Ski Collection).

So now it’s back to the desk to start the serious work on that upcoming book. If you’re getting our email newsletters, you’ll get a very special offer on the book in August. If you’re not … click on the Sign Up button in the navigation bar at the top.

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