Val Cenis Ski Resort and Ski Holidays

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Val Cenis
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  Resort Information
Season November to April
Nearest Airport Geneva (90 mins)
Ski Area 125km
Ski Lifts 27
Ski Runs 56
Longest Run 8km
Resort Height 1400m
Snowball Ratings
Beginners 4 / 5
Intermediates 4 / 5
Experts 2.5 / 5
Families 4.5 / 5
Nightlife 3.5 / 5
Affordability 4.5 / 5
Non Ski Activities 4 / 5

British skiers are creatures of habit. How else to explain the perennial popularity of resorts such as Méribel, Val d'Isère, Tignes or Avoriaz? Each winter we return to these resorts in our thousands, skiing the same pistes, eating in the same mountain restaurants and standing for hours in the same lift queues, complaining about the ever increasing prices.

It would make sense if they were the only resorts on offer. But the French Alps are littered with outstanding resorts that are virtually ignored by most British skiers. Val Cenis, is one such outstanding resort in France's beautiful Haute-Maurienne Vanoise valley.

Often here you can get big dumps of snow yet despite this, Val Cenis always appears to be relatively deserted allowing you to ski that perfect  bluebird powder day on a seemingly empty mountain.Chat over a lunch of entrecôte, local Savoie cheese and coffee at the excellent "La Fema" and marvel at the quality and value.If you were in Chamonix or Val d’Isere the powder goes very quickly because of the crowds. Here, I'll still be able to find fresh tracks in 10 days.

Exploring the resort's 56 runs and 120km of pistes come and pinch yourself as to why you have never skied here before.Yes its small compared to others but with fewer people around its more enjoyable, safer and far cheaper than its bigger neighbours. The off piste opportunities are  huge and awesome too.You do not need a bigger area if the quality of runs and snow is high even if an expert.

Val Cenis ski resort is suffused with the sense of being a secret waiting to be unleashed on the wider ski world. The tourist board is certainly aware its got a gem and has been quietly investing millions of euros in new lifts and other new initiatives. The resort of Val Cenis is really three traditional villages – Lanslevillard, Lanslebourg-Mont-Cenis and Termignon – but check out Château de Flambeau, a newly opened set of swanky apartments by the Pré Novel chairlift. It's midway between Lanslebourg and Lanslevillard, and an example of the new developments that mark the future for Val Cenis.

Despite its obvious newness, the Pré Novel development suggests that Val Cenis is managing the trickiest of tourism conundrums: how to move forward without compromising an area's history and beauty. The comparison with other popular French ski areas, with their eyesore concrete blocks and hotchpotch of architectural styles, is marked.

Maybe visit the little village of Bessans, which lies a little further up the valley from Val Cenis, and is a much more traditional affair. Bessans is also the Haute-Maurienne's Nordic skiing and biathlon centre. Cross-country skiing is a minority interest in most of the French Alps, but here it's massive, with international cross-country marathons taking place (which is far easier on your knees than running…and healthier way to maintain fitness). Much of this is to do with the valley's wide and flat floor, which is perfect for the sport and crisscrossed with 130km of Nordic tracks full of skiers skating up and down.

Val Cenis has a lot to offer all but party goers, so ideal for couples, families and those wanting a more sophisticated night out but at prices you will certainly like. Check this resort out soon before others discover one of the best kept secrets for skiing in France.


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