Some great skiing in La Rosière and La Thuile

28th March 2018, by Dave Watts

La Rosière has had over 10m of snow this season and currently has a 3m base at resort level

La Rosière has had over 10m of snow this season and currently has a 3m base at resort level

I have just spent three days exploring La Rosière in France and La Thuile in Italy.

Their joint cross-border area is known as Espace San Bernardo and there’s big news about a major ski area expansion for next season and how they are going to change the way they measure their km of piste to the WTSS preferred method. More on those in a News story to be posted shortly.

My first day’s skiing was under cloudless skies (much better than forecast) on Sunday. Guided by ski instructor Nathan (until recently he was in the French Freestyle ski team) and the lift company’s Sales and Marketing Manager, Anne-Dorothée, we whizzed around the La Rosière ski area covering a huge amount of ground in three hours.

Most blue runs are wide and easy – ideal for early intermediates

I was very impressed by the generous width and gentle gradient of the resort’s blue runs – ideal for intermediates to build confidence and a great contrast to the generally much narrower blues of Les Arcs, where I’d been for the previous three days. The red runs were steeper but still great cruises.

The one black piste we skied was genuinely steep but short.

The St Bernard themed run is fun for kids of all ages

I also loved the fun kids’ run, with objects to ski through, bells to hit and so on – all themed around the St Bernard dog, that they used to breed here and that the local pass (closed in winter) and San Bernardo ski area are named after.

We looked at the high Mont Valaisan bowl that next year’s expansion will take place in before heading over the border to Italy.

The sign at the border is a popular spot for photos – that’s Dave on the left and Xavier from Peak Retreats second from right

There are some good challenging red and black runs near the top of the Italian side down to the Petit St Bernard pass. But the top runs down towards La Thuile itself are very easy – most of the reds here should really be classified blue and are ideal for building intermediates’ confidence. The bottom runs down into La Thuile are steeper though.

Monday and Tuesday were cloudy and foggy with poor visibility. So I was glad of La Rosière’s red runs through the trees, Marmottes at the eastern end of the ski area and the much longer Fontaine Froid all the way down to Les Ecudets at just 1176m at the western end (almost 700m vertical below La Rosière village). While visibility higher up above the trees was challenging, down in the trees it was fine.

Dave ready for the 7.30am chairlift up the mountain with the First Tracks VIP group

And on Tuesday, I joined a First Tracks VIP group. With this you go up the mountain with a ski instructor at 7.30am and have the mountain reserved just for your group until the hoi palloi are allowed up at 9am.

When they arrive, you disappear into L’Antigel mountain restaurant for a buffet breakfast – included in the €35 cost of First Tracks VIP. We got four deserted runs in before then, following the bright pink trousers of our guide through the clouds on freshly groomed pistes with a smattering of new snow – great fun.

The breakfast spread for the First Tracks group

My visit to La Rosière was arranged by Peak Retreats. I stayed in a lovely spacious apartment with great views over the valley in the Cîmes Blanches residence, a couple of minutes walk to the slopes. It is one of 32 luxury residences run by CGH in the French Alps.

The reception building of the CGH Cîmes Blanches apartments where Dave stayed

Prices for the Cîmes Blanches with Peak Retreats for the 2018/19 season start from £280 per person self-drive, including Eurostar FlexiPlus channel crossing tickets. They will also arrange transfers if you prefer to fly (you arrange your own flights).

The Cîmes Blanches will arrange fresh bread and croissant delivery each day – you just order at reception the previous day and collect it from there next morning.

The Cîmes Blanches has a big wellness area including a large indoor pool and hot tubs, saunas, steam room and gym – all free to use for residents. And its O des Cîmes spa offers a wide variety of massages and other treatments – I had an excellent 55 minute full body massage (€65).

The Cîmes Blanches pool and hot tubs

Peak Retreats also features Hotel Accroche Coeur. I had dinner there one night in the lovely, modern, woody two-story open plan bar-restaurant, and enjoyed delicious local fish cooked in a spicy sauce/soup.

And Peak Retreats will also be featuring two new hotels next season – the smart but casual Hyatt Centric that opened this season and the ski-in, ski-out Balcons that will open for 2018/19.

I also visited Chalet Matsuzaka, a smart modern chalet-style building that offers chalet holidays with a Japanese twist. The English couple that run it lived in Japan for years and features of the chalet include Japanese-style indoor and outdoor hot pools (no jets just very hot water), sunken baths in some bedrooms, a Japanese-style toilet and Japanese themed dishes at dinner – I dined there one night and the food was delicious.

Back to all blogs

Recent blogs

Share |