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|Resort: Le Monetier les Bains
Domain: One of 4 villages/towns that make up the Serre Chevalier area.
Date: 20-27th December
Our holiday: Annual family ski holiday and my last family holiday.
Basics: Serre Chevalier is in the Southern Alps, under 2 hours from Turin airport if the Col de Montgenevre is open. It is pretty much unheard of it being shut for a sustained period; however it was shut on our day of arrival till 5 oâ€™clock. We decided to drive around and go over the Lauterat pass, which was a 4 hour detour through the Frejus tunnel. Things went wrong when our hire car broke down.
Lift system: Large area, with a mixture of some very antiquated gondolas, chair lifts and cable cars. On the other hand there are quite a few 6 pack chair lifts. The link to Briancon is rather quick, however the same cannot be said about the link to Monetier. I didnâ€™t experience any queues of more than 5 minutes over the Christmas period.
The terrain: Monetier is an intermediates play ground, lots of interesting reds. I particularly enjoyed the red from the top of Yret, wonderful views and a fairly long descent. The Cibouit black got heavily mogulled and was brilliant fun. The Tabuc was closed, but I believe this was so it could remain as an off piste run. A bit of poling to a steep face with moguls. A picturesque run in the trees. In my family we have two timid intermediates, I donâ€™t think that Monetier is particularly suitable for progressing intermediates. The only blue piste back to the resort was rather icy. Looked like good offpiste from the top of Yret, however as Iâ€™m only just starting to go off piste, I didnâ€™t attempt any of it. The cucumelle were I got my introduction to off piste, is one of my favourite areas.
They preferred the skiing in the bowl above Serre Ratier. The Luc Alphand is worth doing earlier in the day, as it becomes horrible icy. The echaillon red was memorable which links Chantemerle and Villeneuve.
Only managed to ski to the mid station of the Prorel gondola in the Briancon area. Once again lovely reds, with some steep pitches.
To summarise a wonderful large area, with great intermediate skiing in the trees.
The snow : Heavy snowfall for early in the season. A light top up of snow on Christmas day was well received. Above the treeline the snow on the piste was like a dream. But where freeze-thaw was occurring it made the piste rather hard and icy.
Off-piste : Only being introduced to off piste, so I canâ€™t comment extensively. Although I can say that there looked to be good off piste from the Balme chair and in the Cucumelle valley. It was all tracked out.
The resort : Monetier is a picturesque traditional french village with thermal baths. The new baths were a disappointment compared to the old ones. Although they may be larger, the water temperature in the main baths and the ones outside were significantly reduced.
Food : Avoid the restaurant at the bottom of the slopes, cheap nasty crap. We didnâ€™t eat out at much at lunch time. However Caribou restaurant behind the church, serves much recommended traditional mountain fare.
Accommodation : stayed in a self catering apartment, about 5 minutes walk to the slopes. Left skis and boots in the lockers at the bottom. Relatively expensive at 18euros per person for the week. This was worth it though for the convenience.
Costs: The holiday wasnâ€™t particularly expensive. We were in fairly basic accommodation. The lift price isnâ€™t cheap, but for the amount of skiing cannot be complained about. The only thing which made in more expensive that previous skiing holidays was the exchange rate. At nearly 1:1 it was a mistake not booking lift passes etc in the summer.
Conclusion: 7/10. A rather stressful holiday for a few reasons. However the skiing was wonderful and Iâ€™m sure Iâ€™ll return in the future.
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