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A snowHead
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Location: snowHeadLand
Resort : Orelle and La Tania
Country : France
Domain : 3 Vallees

Date : 3rd week January 2006
My holiday : Only my 2nd ski holiday in 20 years. Past holidays have been (not in any order): Soll x 2, Mayrhoffen x 2, Obergurgl x 3, and Sauze D’Oulx and last year Courchevel 1850. Approx 17 weeks in all. Own skis and boot now, following bad hire experience in past years. Both fully tried and tested before the holiday.

Following a good trip last year I decided to return to the 3 Valleys area. Leading up to the main holiday I got extra time off and decided to tag on 4 extra days. La Tania was the only place I could get into at short notice and a reasonable price. The Courchevel part may appear as a separate report later.
This report covers the 5 day period up to my main holiday in Courchevel. Specifically a day in Orelle and 3 days staying in La Tania.

The journey : Done this sort of trip before, each one has its own character, never the same!
Manchester – Courchevel, total driving = 900 miles.
Wednesday PM - POSL ferry – Dover Calais.
Overnight Chalon-sur-Saone.
Thursday - Early start, (5:00 am) and, on a whim and en-route to La Tania decided to slide in (it was really out of my way though) to the far end of the 3 Valley system to a place called Orelle. The 4th Valley! Why? Because I could!
Arrived just in time for a breakfast, coffee and the lifts opening. See the Orelle short report below.
Left mid afternoon to arrive in La Tania in daylight.
Friday - Saturday, based out of LT.
Sunday - Journey to Courchevel, just a short hop up the hill, road conditions excellent. Dropped bags at hotel, park car in the Croisette underground car park (hotel provided voucher, saved 20 euros on price, only 70 euros), went ski-ing……..
Sunday (7 days later) - Return journey to UK, after 3 hours ski-ing, decent lunch at Le Tremplin.
Overnight in Calais.

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Other useful sources:

Orelle Mini Report : Orelle is at the very western end of the 3 Valleys system, sits off the A43\ E70 road to Tunnel de Frejus and Italy. Approximately 1 ½ hrs from Chambery. Wouldn’t consider holidaying here, this was purely whim and a flying visit. It gave access to slopes high above the village and the area above Val Thorens. 3 Valley pass purchased. The weather was clear and sunny. The 3 Vallees Express gondola and the Rosael chair, walk along the path and though a ‘gap’ in the rocks and…what a view! Below lay the huge white expanse that is the Val Thorens valley. Worth the trip, for that view alone.
Decided to ski down into the main Val Thorens area, although time didn’t allow any real exploration. People I spoke to reported patchy conditions until a recent snowfall. To me it was fine. Many lifts an runs tried, but of note: Cascades. Moraine (Col was closed), 2 Lacs, Moutier, past a mini altiport, up Cime Caron cable car, then down to Funitel Grand Fond and back to the Orelle side of the mountain. 3 hours of almost non-stop movement!

La Tania:

Basics: A satellite resort of the Courchevel area, it was created as a competitor’s accommodation resort for the Albertville Olympics. Access is via the main road from Moutiers, you go through CV1300 (Le Praz), take a right passed the unused ski jump, sign posted La Tania \ Meribel. 1 ½ miles later you are in La Tania. It consists of 8 self catering apartment blocks of various sizes, two hotels, and a large amount of traditional chalets set in the woods above the resort. On the road, if you get to Meribel you’ve gone too far! Commonly referred to as ‘nestling in the trees’, this isn’t far wrong. It’s also said to be traffic free and an ideal beginners and a real family resort. Except for the main road, that’s almost true. Under cover car parking has limited height, so cars with roof boxes beware! I ended up in the road side near the chalet, but I got away with no tickets and no damage.

Lift system: This is a part of the interconnecting 3 Valleys domain, detailed information in contained in my 2005 Courchevel 1850 report. The main La Tania gondola is really the only viable way up. Alternatively a free bus service links all the CV resorts, but be aware they can get busy. All but beginners should consider a 3 Valley pass. Even early intermediates will want to tour other resorts. A mini map is prepared daily that show which pistes have been groomed. You can get this from La Tania lift stations. The reverse of the form even has a weather forecast.

I used it as a base to access the larger area. Also used the Magic In Motion Ski School for a 3 hour private lesson. Excellent tuition, well worth the money. Easy return access from the slopes above, but near the end of the day, as with most resorts, the few runs to the village can be busy. I spent my time across in the Meribel valley, hunting the sun.

The terrain : Tree lined slopes lead down from Chenus and Loze summits. Two main runs down into the resort, a roller coaster blue (called Folyeres) straight down through the forest, a wide red run (Bouc Blanc\ Moretta Blanche) down to the gondola station. There’s a free drag lift and a short run for absolute beginners right in the heart of the resort. Limited in its scope, there are better beginners’ areas in nearby resorts. 38 snow cannons cover the main run into the resort; this apparently ensures it is kept open from the start to the end of the season.

The opportunity to ski the much larger Courchevel and 3 valley system is the draw, but without paying the premium prices that are prevalent in the main CV resorts.

The snow: It had been a poor start to the 2005 \2006 season but a recent top up had helped. No doubt the snow cannon to La Tania had helped prepare the pistes. At 1350m it’s one of the lower 3 valley resorts, so some of the main runs were still rather icy particularly early morning. Little additional snow, just dustings, during my stay. The cold weather helped retain what was there.

Off-piste : I thought there was little opportunity near La Tania, how wrong I was. For instance, the aptly named ‘Plumbers Crack’ above Col De La Loze is one of the more famous off piste runs. The Courchevel Free Ride competition is held here. There are 3 routes down the Col De Loze to the right of the Lanches accessed by walking across the ridge at the top. These are known locally as Gasex 1, 2 & 3. There is even a route through the trees to the Folyeres piste. There are numerous options from the top of the Col De La Loze into the Meribel Valley (3 Valley pass needed). Keep away from going directly under the Rocher De La Loze chair though - it ends in a cliff, oops! Please take great care, every year there are deaths attempting such runs, even the experts get caught out! Get advice, get a guide and get the right safety gear. In this week alone 2 people died off piste in this region.

The resort : The main street has a limited number of shops and it would take you no more than 10 minutes to walk along it! There is even a supermarket. Rather small and expensive but what can you expect at 4,000 ft and half way up a mountain.

A small, close knit resort, it would be difficult to loose someone on a night out. On the whole, a good family resort. Several bars, the Hotel Telemark, Hotel Montana and Pub Le Ski Lodge are the most popular. PLSL is a family place during the day but gets a little livelier at night. Time didn’t allow this year, but another common night out is a trip to Meribel (taxi or car required) and a session in Dicks Tea Bar. Apparently, it’s the sort of place that you should go into training for, in order to do it justice! Cocktails 241, food, pizza, DJ and regular live acts. Opens 21:00, free entry before 23:00, remains open until 04:00. Another one for another time.

Food : Several local restaurants available, a good choice I found was La Taiga, classic Savoyarde dishes at reasonable prices. Basic Pub fare is available at very (for the area) reasonable price, try the Ski Lodge. Another good place to eat was the Hotel Telemark, up the hill, or via the lift in the main apartment block.

Accommodation : It only consists of 8 self catering apartment blocks of various sizes, two hotels, and a large amount of traditional chalets set in the woods above the resort. There are excellent quality catered and self catering chalet or apartment options. Just take your choice, but you only get what you pay for. I stayed at a place called the Mountain Centre. More like an advanced youth hostel than a true chalet. There were two such chalets, interestingly named A and B. Only one was operating. Some ensuite rooms, mine was not one. Found the accommodation rather spartan and lacking in atmosphere. It served its purpose, but I would not have liked to have been here for an extended stay.

Would I go back to the Mountain Centre? No Edit: Mountain Centre Ceased to operate in 2006 . There were better places locally, BUT not at the price they offered. I would stay at the Hotel Telemark or Montana; I have heard good reports about both.

Costs :
Accommodation: £140 for 3 nights. Twin, single occupancy.
Road tolls (Peage): approx £80
Fuel for 1700 mile round trip: approx £140.
Ski pass 3 Valley 4 days: £120.

Conclusion : This was an add-on to my main week’s holiday; I had a few spare days. The Mountain Centre chalet was the only place I could get into at short notice, so really I had little choice. I would have preferred a better quality accommodation but it served its purpose.

The dash to Orelle was a daft idea that worked out, I’ll forever remember coming through the gap in the rocks to see Val Thorens for the first time.

Would I go back to La Tania again, YES, but only for a few days and in better accommodation.


La Tania Resort Report Feedback Thread

Last edited by A snowHead on Sun 16-03-08 8:39; edited 2 times in total
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