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Sauze D'Oulx

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Sauze D’Oulx - First ever Italian ski trip. Just my thoughts so don't shoot me!

Location & Transfers – Great; easy flights from the Midlands, short transfer times.

Resort – Attractive, cobbled streets in old town with drinking fountains and rustic feel. Town centre lively with good variety of bars / restaurants / ski shops. Resort is spread out on a hill so could be tiring for the older peeps / the completely unfit / small children.

Demographic – Mix of 20/30 something’s, families, all shapes and sizes. Large Welsh & Irish contingent (unless they just talk louder than us English) A few large groups of lads but everyone in good spirits and nothing intimidating.

Piste Quality – Hit & Miss IMHO. Sauze had had a fair dump the week prior to my visit, but the slopes were not particularly well groomed and seeing that the resort was quiet the condition of snow deteriorated to ice / hardpack fairly quickly over the course of the day. The home runs still required plenty of man made snow, and due to the density of skiers at the end of the day soon became much more taxing than their blue run allocations. The Clotes area in particular would be a nightmare for beginners – better to get the lift down from Sportinia and catch the bus / and or ensure you are staying near this lift.

Piste Variety – On the Sauze side a good mix of motorway on the upper slopes and tree lined on the middle to lower. Although other reviews state the gradings are ‘soft’ I would disagree with this as some of the reds whilst undulating are narrow and steep in places and when busy require solid technique. The same applies to the blue approach runs / connections / paths some of which are also very narrow and when rutted by continual snowploughing would be hard work for an early intermediate. The link coming back from Sestriere is a prime example of this. The Sestriere side had more appropriate gradings in the main, however some of the reds (especially when icy) were more taxing than the less pressured blacks. I found the lack of ‘warm up’ blues on the Sauze side very limiting – as a one/two week a year skier I like to spend the first day on blues getting my legs back by blasting a variety of the easier runs – in Sauze this is not really possible without sever repetition.

Lift System – The poorest I’ve ever experienced in recent years. They say lifts start their lives in Switzerland, get sold to the Austrians, then the French, and then the Italians; this must be true. Exploring the pisted areas quickly was made worse by several lifts being inexplicably closed altogether, only to be opened at the weekend to deal with the increase in punters (mainly Turin locals etc) Getting anywhere was a bit of a chore, and something that they could really do with sorting. The connections to the quieter areas (eg. Moncrons / Sanscicario) could have been much more effective, this would maybe keep the lovely treelined Sauze runs in better shape? Saying that during our week ques were minimal, so you can’t have it all.

Food – The best thing about this resort – Ciao P mountain restaurant near the confidently named piste 2000 does the best mountain lunch and at really reasonable prices! Massive difference in quality from the expensive canteen style French Spag Bol / Swiss Zuppen / Austrian Currywurst offerings. Toilets in the main for most of the mountain huts were also never located down several flights of thigh burning stairs . . .bonus!

Summary – Pretty, friendly resort with lots of potential, let down by poor piste keeping and an antiquated lift system. Resort lift locations very spread out and difficult to access (even with the sporadic bus service). Bars and restaurants great, so if you’re more interested in food than skiing perhaps a good choice. This is a value resort – pricing is better than a lot of other resorts with less salubrious surroundings and transfer times are short, however for families / groups looking for value I would not bring beginners, young kids, nervous intermediates here . . .there are far better options elsewhere; Montgenevre is half an hour up the road, snow conditions and runs here are far more consistent / appropriate for a variety of levels. Would I go back to Italy . . ? Yes, without hesitation . Would I go back to Sauze . . ? No, not for the foreseeable future . . . . . shame, as I really wanted to fall in love like many others have done and will still probably d'oulx . . .
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Good review although I'm a bit surprised you thought the skiing was tough but as ever snow conditions trump everything don't they? I had excellent snow when I was there.

May not have been relevant to your group but when the snow is good the off piste in the trees is wonderful.

Oh and I think Ciao P is my favourite mountain restaurant in the world! Ticks every box (I suppose excluding a truly spectacular view but the ambience makes up for that)
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Ciao P is terrible! Stay away everyone!

It's mine. All mine 😎
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Thank you for the review, I am due to head out Mid March and thoroughly looking forward to it. I hope they sort the pistes out in time and with a good amount of snow in between!

I will also be sure to head to Ciao P!
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@jedster, You've hit the nail on the head - conditions and snow quality dictate all. Montgenevre (whilst arguably less interesting / diverse) as a resort had 3M of snow at resort level, which is mad considering its close geographical location to Sauze . . the squeaky fresh kind, which meant edging at speed was far easier than on the icy, erratic Sauze pistes. The trees areas at Sauze had rock hard crust during my week. . .the freeride areas between pistes at Montgenevre were soft and barely tracked . . . .

Whilst not busy in the main I'll be honest in that I hate congested areas as my now middle aged, risk averse nature does overtime when idiots fly through ski school groups and hustle others out of the way (I have personal experience on how this can end up). . .there was lots of this at peak times in Sauze due to the bottleneck areas which could never really be avoided - this together with poor piste management and clunky lifts probably marred my experience for what is otherwise a charming resort . . .
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The freeze thaw level has been pretty high this year. So when it snowed in Montgenevre, it was raining in Sauze village and Jouvenceau. ,making the lower runs 'hard packed'.

I agree, Ciao Pais is a horrible place, best kept well away from. Their truffle pasta is particularly vile.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@Belch, as you say the weather conditions dictate how well you enjoy Sauze. I have skied there in hard packed and icy conditions like you and thought it tricky, particularly the home runs.

However I’ve also skied there in great snow and had a fantastic time. The Milky Way resorts often have different weather patterns to the rest of the alps so have good snow when others don’t, and vice versa. This year looks to be a vice versa one! The secret is not to book too early and gauge the snow depths first.

San Sicario often has better conditions if you are competent enough to negotiate skiing there from Sauze and their slopes are great, and empty!
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Go back. Fabulous restaurant has opened to rival Ciao P! La Marmotta, new and modern to replace a very duff one with hole in the floor toilets (the first time I skied across to it, as the chair lift nearby is only open at weekends - don't you just love the Italians- I refused to go back cos of the toilet facilities...) I can now deal with those darn things but I digress. It is glass, chrome and wood construction to rival the rustic charms of CP and a more modern approach to italian cucina. Every time we stopped for coffee we were given free cake too.... The service isn't the fastest but plenty of time to enjoy the great views.
The lifts maybe antiquated but the sheer variety of skiing in the sunniest (one of?) corners of the alps with great food and wine at, and I may repeat this, great prices is the reason I go back every year. I am working my way across the Italian Alps, celebrated a big, round number birthday this Jan with 9 friends (who all want to repeat the trip every January now) in Sauze and off to sample Cervinia next month. Any info ref Cervinia gratefully received as I have never skied there before!
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