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Location: snowHeadLand
Resort: Les Contamines

Country: France

Domain: Les Contamines/Hauteluce

Author: Sarah Roberts (magic_hat)

Date: 11th January - 14th January 2008

Our holiday: 2 female thirtysomethings, both good Intermediate skiers, looking for a nice French resort with varied skiing


Basics: BMI Baby flight from Manchester to Geneva, Alamo car hire booked through HolidayAutos (with the 10% discount link from this site),
short drive to the resort (just over an hour including getting slightly lost after selecting the wrong Les Contamines in the sat nav!). Easy.

Lift system : Efficient. A couple of bubble cars get you from the car parks up to about 1900 metres. From there it's all 4 seater chairlifts -
fairly quick ones, no major problems. Only a couple of drag lifts in the resort, although these are marked "difficult" and are not for beginners.

The terrain: Wide open pistes, pretty much all of them with awesome views across to Mont Blanc. A nice mix of blues, red and blacks - would probably suit skiers of all abilities (although a section of black runs was closed when I was there). Easy to get to and from the Hauteluce domain above Belleville on the opposite side. Les Contamines itself is at about 1100m, but most of the skiing is above 'Le Signal' which sits at 1900m. I'd say this pretty much guarentees you snow-sureness. When I was there you yould ski right the way down to the village without any problems at all, although if you can't there are a couple of bubble lifts down from either 1900m or approx 1500m.

The snow: Awesome. Absolutely awesome. Friday afternoon was nice and well groomed with hardly any people around. Fairly packed snow, but still nice to ski on. The snow came down by the bucketload on Friday night and all day Saturday, so although the
conditions on Saturday were far from ideal, the conditions on Sunday more than made up for it (glorious snow, fabulous sunshine, clear skies). They were about as perfect as you can get.

Off-piste: I'm not one for heading off into the wilderness with a guide and an avalanche pack, so I can't comment on any of this shenanigans. However, I do like venturing into the soft stuff between the pistes or to the sides of the pistes or shortcutting through "off piste" areas to get to where I want to go…. There are plenty of possibilities for this sort of thing in Les Contamines. Large areas of untouched, safe, deep white stuff to muck around in and practice your powder/off piste skills.

The resort: I was only in Les Contamines for a long weekend, so this meant that we tended to ski hard all day, eat, then sleep, then ski hard the next day. This doesn't allow much time for mooching about in the village so I can't comment too much on this. However, what I did see I liked very much. Les Contamines is a real, traditional French village that just happens to sit beneath some amazing pistes. It was not purpose built and has a nice friendly feel to the place. The church in the centre is beautiful, and the buildings are all your classic wooden french chalet style (with some original and unrenovated ones still scattered about)


On Piste:

La Rosellette - Just of the Rosellette lift, down the Friedze piste. Nice and cosy, good food, good service. Had a very good onion soup.

La Ferme de la Ruelle (Hauteluce sector) - Divided into 2 halves, a bar (serving snacks and drinks) and a restaurant (serving your standard savoyarde type fayre). We opted for the bar (to cut down on costs) but the guy in front of me got the last 2 sandwiches, so we had a drink and then left. What I did see of the food looked quite nice.

Le Signal - Didn't eat at the self service restaurant, but did get a waffle with chocolate from the cabin outside - very good value and very tasty for a quick snack.

Off Piste (Evenings):

Le Glacier - Our first night in Les Contamines. The cheapest of our meals out. We had Tartiflette - simple, but tasty and filling. Eat downstairs
where it is cosier, rather than upstairs in the window.

Le Huski - A really nice, good quality restaurant that is far better than it's name suggests. I had steak, Selina had Duck and the starters were
pretty good too. The food is laid out all fancy and the dauphinoise is the best i've ever tasted.

Le Barratet - We reserved a table at this restaurant for our final night based on a recommendation, but ended up going elsewhere because you had to pre-order any of the decent meals on the menu and we hadn't!. A shame because it looked like a really nice little family run restaurant.

L'Op Trakken - Pricey, but pretty nice. We had "La Rebloche" which is a sort of fondu made with reblochon. You get a whole reblochon cheese each and a mini grill to cook your cheese under. Also, the vin chaud in the bar here was the best in the village.

Accommodation : I stayed in a little B&B (gite) called "La Ferme De Bon Papa". It was a converted old farm run by a wonderful French lady who joins you for breakfast as she likes to chat. Her son is into freestyle skiing, her husband is a mountain guide, and her cat Nemo is lovely. It cost 65 Euros a night and I thought it was a wonderful place to stay. A real "French" experience (she speaks no English).

Costs: Have been trying not to add it all up for fear of terrifying myself at how much i was willing to spend to fit in 2.5 days of skiing!
Flights - £72 Each (including the extra for ski carriage)
Car Hire - Approx £30 Each for a Peugeot 207 (big enough for 2 people plus
luggage and skis)
Accomodation - Approx £70 each (3 nights).
Car Parking at Manchester Airport: £5.50 each
LIft Passes - £60 Each
Food - Probably about £100 Each (but we are greedy and tended to order the
most expensive things on the menu)

Conclusion: Am tempted to say that the place is a hell hole with crap skiing. That way no-one will go and it will stay just as it is, but
i'd be lying. A truly lovely place with some amazing skiing. Gorgeous. But not for people who want lively apres-ski.

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