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Live TR: Vizille, Grenoble Alps, France, 19-29 Jan 2022

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
22 months since we escaped the Alps at the start of the first French lockdown, I feel hopeful enough to start a trip report for our ski holiday next week Very Happy

As we all know it's been a rollercoaster ride to get here, especially since we optimistically booked almost all aspects of the trip 10 months ago! Our Edinburgh to Geneva flights have been cancelled 3 times, resulting in a time change, then a date change, and finally an airline change for the return leg - annoyingly removing the chance of skiing on arrival or departure day. Then came Swiss quarantine requirements, followed by the French travel ban. We considered scrapping everything and rebooking for Italy or Austria, but stuck with the Switzerland / France hybrid. Just as well, since the flights we'd been perusing for Italy and Austria have since been cancelled. Today it was finally announced that the French travel ban ends tomorrow, with enough time to book Covid tests, download apps, print QR codes, purchase face masks... not to mention packing.

I'd anticipated that Brexit and Covid would lead to higher prices for flights / car hire, so splashed out on a slightly longer trip to keep costs per day reasonable. We also wanted a region with lots of non-skiing activities (in case ski areas were forced to close again), not many gondolas (for Covid reasons), multiple resort choices (in case of outbreaks shutting certain resorts), and an airport with lots of flights to the UK (in case we need to leave in a hurry). Hence we're staying in the valley town of Vizille near Grenoble, within striking distance of several resorts. Budget is tightish, so we'll be using local lift pass promotions (I think I've got these sussed) and eating in a lot. Ski areas on our radar include (grouped by region):

- Les 7 Laux, Chamrousse & Le Collet d'Allevard
- Villard de Lans-Correncon, Lans en Vercors & Autrans-Meaudre
- Alpe d'Huez (revisit) & Alpe du Grand Serre

And a few backups (probably won't get round to these):

- Les 2 Alpes (revisit), Gresse en Vercors, Col de Rousset, Font d'Urle, St Pierre de Chartreuse

Conditions seem fairly good following recent snowfall, with a protracted dry spell looking to last well into next week or beyond. Should be ideal for piste skiing.

My Covid checklist for UK to France via Geneva:

I think this is what I need, but please let me know if I'm missing anything!

- lateral flow test (Randox test at home, £14.50pp, booked) taken <24 hrs before crossing the French border (satisfies both Swiss & French rules)
- lateral flow test (Randox test at home, £14.50pp, booked) within 2 days of arriving back in the UK
- completed PLF forms for Switzerland, UK and France
- no quarantine required at any stage

- NHS Scotland app international travel QR codes showing recent booster jab (+ Tous Anti Covid French app, as it works offline)
- screenshots and printed versions of QR codes as backups
- FFP2 masks technically required for lifts (but in most cases a buff will probably be fine)

- travel insurance to cover enforced quarantine abroad & Covid healthcare (+ usual winter sports cover, EHIC, car hire excess insurance etc.)
- passport with adequate time left on it - must get it stamped at border since Brexit

Now we just need to avoid catching Covid in the run up to our LFT. In the meantime, please chime in with local recommendations or if I have got any of the Covid requirements wrong. I'll add photos and a cost breakdown at the end of the trip. Finally, if your own trip has been affected, I am sorry and I hope you get a chance later in the season.

What could possibly go wrong? Toofy Grin

Previous trips:

Trip reports are linked below if I wrote one.

Feb 2014: Soll (SkiWelt), Austria
Jan 2015: Alpe d'Huez, France (+ days in Les 2 Alpes)
Jan 2016: Les Carroz (Grand Massif), France
Mar 2017: Belle Plagne (Paradiski), France
Jan 2018: Notre Dame de Bellecombe 1150 (Espace Diamant), France
Mar 2018: Ponte di Legno (Passo Tonale), Italy (+ days in Pejo, Monte Altissimo & Aprica)
Jan 2019: St Gervais (Evasion Mont Blanc various areas), France (+ day in Cordon)
Mar 2019: Varena, Val di Fiemme (Dolomites various areas), Italy
Jan 2020: Abondance (Portes du Soleil), France (+ days in Bernex, Praz de Lys & Thollon)
Mar 2020: Embrun, Provence Alps (Les Orres & Foret Blanche), France


Snow on our last trip to Alpe d'Huez was mostly rubbish, so we have unfinished business here


Last edited by Poster: A snowHead on Fri 14-01-22 0:33; edited 2 times in total
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@denfinella, curious to hear how you get on staying in Vizille.
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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?
You can scrub St Pierre de Chartreuse - largely closed due to lack of staff.
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 You need to Login to know who's really who.
You need to Login to know who's really who.
@denfinella, did you have a code to get Randox tests at that price?

I paid £18.95 each, not much difference, but every little helps for the 2 weekends in March and April...
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@denfinella, this is davidof's stamping ground, he will be a mine of information if you need any, see his personal ratings in this thread: https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=151118#3520477). Though, knowing you, you've probably researched everything exhaustively.

My maternal grandparents and other family members were hidden in Allevard in the War. But I've never been to that region. I shall read your trip report with interest.
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 You'll need to Register first of course.
You'll need to Register first of course.
Oops, I see he's already posted!
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Arno wrote:
@denfinella, curious to hear how you get on staying in Vizille.


Indeed - has always looked like a ghost town when I 've driven through but may just be that grand delapidated buiding on the edge of town gives that vibe.
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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!
@Arno, @Dave of the Marmottes, I will report back! It seems quite nice on Google streetview, but looks can be deceiving.
@davidof, thanks, yes I'd noticed that. Lots of angry people on their Facebook page Crying or Very sad Even if they can get the staff, I believe the safety certificates for the gondola and the chairlift above it haven't even been renewed for this season.
@swskier, £14 was the standard click and collect price. I think it's come down in the last few days.
@Hurtle, useful thread! Thanks. I've read up on several of @davidof posts (and also his website!).
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 You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
@denfinella, just checked their site, seems that's the case! That'll teach me for being organised! Laughing
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
@Dave of the Marmottes, @denfinella, I’ve visited it a few times and it is quite nice but never stayed overnight. The main road goes round the edge so you definitely don’t see the best of it. Has much more life than places like Livet and Gavet further up the valley.

Interested to hear how it is in the evenings and whether you think it’s a good base taking into account transfer times etc
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
Collected Randox LFTs from the local shop today. The test kits are bog-standard, non-Randox-branded boxes of the type you get from the NHS for free, each containing a single test. I guess it therefore doesn't matter which ones we use for pre-departure and which ones we save for day 0-2, since there's no way to tell which is which? (The email confirmation for the day 0-2 tests contains the reference numbers for the UK passenger locator form.)

Also downloaded the Tous Anti Covid app since it works offline, unlike the Scotland one. Might be of use to others: TAC wouldn't accept uploading from a photo or screenshot of my NHS app QR code, so I downloaded the official PDF certificate from NHS Scotland and uploaded a picture of the QR code in that instead, which was accepted.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Be aware that there is a new gondola in Allemond which gives you super easy access to the Alpe d'Huez ski area. The drive from Vizille is only 30 minutes or so, and much easier than the similar-length drives to Chamrousse and La Morte. Parking is reportedly a bit limited, but should be more than sufficient on weekdays.
Also, traffic around Grenoble can be quite bad at rush hour, so bear that in mind when going to Les 7 Laux or Villard de Lans.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
balso wrote:

Also, traffic around Grenoble can be quite bad at rush hour


Contender for "understatement of the year" there Happy Happy !!
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@denfinella, I hope that you have a lot of fun, in principle you have chosen a great base location!

Would it be possible to post some photos please? We used to live nearby and are still sentimental as hell about the place Blush Blush Little Angel
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:


Vizille with its royal palace, is considered the birthplace of the French revolution when, on the 21 July 1788, representatives of the Dauphine Parliament met on the indoor tennis court to demand a new political order. This followed the famous "night of the tiles" on the 7th June 1788 when revolting French people protested at soaring food prices by taking to the roofs of nearby Grenoble and throwing tiles on the royal troops. The Vizille meeting is also seen as the start of the takeover of working class protests by the middle classes who wanted a greater share of power.



Vizille was also the home and base camp for Tour de France riders Paul Kimmage and Thierry Claveyrolat, the "Eagle of Vizille". Okay that doesn't quite have the same ring as "Eagle of Toledo" but Claveyrolat still won a KOM title on the Tour de France and taking the Bourg d'Oisans Morzine stage the following year. Built like a Columbian rider, he was made for the mountains. In '89 he looked like was going to take the World title at Chambery but as often happens the French team managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory when Laurent Fignon dragged a group of riders up to Claveyrolat, he finished in 5th place devastated by Finon's stab in the back.

After retiring Claveyrolat bought the "station cafe", renamed "l'Etape" but, according to Kimmage, in turning the seedy town cafe full of drunks into a chic night spot he'd perhaps failed to spot what had made the bar work and drove away the clientelle without finding a new market. Kimmage claimed that Claveyrolat was drowning in debt and drinking heavily. Returning to the bar on the 13 August 1999 in his powerful BMW he had a head on collision with a Renault. The four passengers in the Renault were seriously injured, a teenager blinded. Claveyrolat was driving too fast and had been drinking. A month later he was dead. He'd blown his brains out with a hunting rifle. A suicide note gave instructions for the funeral: "no flowers, no friends". He ieft a wife and two young children, Joris and Laurienne. Today Joris and Lauriennne bitterly disputes Kimmage's story saying the bar worked really well and never had any debts and the suicide was unrelated to the accident.


Pedalleur de charme, with a dark side.


Last edited by Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name: on Tue 18-01-22 18:50; edited 1 time in total
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Really looking forward to your reports, I see you are off tomorrow, so bon voyage and all that, @denfinella,
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@balso, yes, we'll park at Allemond for Alpe d'Huez. That'll be on Saturday so we'll make sure to arrive early to get a space. Grenoble traffic looks manageable but the tailbacks in the (unavoidable) gorge between Vizille and Allemond looked awful on Google Maps last weekend.

@JamesHJ, thanks, I'll definitely report back and will add photos (the latter probably not until I get home though as it's a bit fiddly).

@davidof, thanks for the history. Nice and morbid - wouldn't expect anything less from you! Laughing

@Pamski, thank you!

LFTs are negative so looking good for tomorrow Smile Haven't received the email certificates from Randox, but they also appear as PDF files on the Randox app which will suffice instead.
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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?
Arrival day

We've safely made it to Allevard near Chambery, where we're staying for a single night (due to changed flight date) before moving onto Vizille for the remainder of the trip.

Journey went pretty smoothly. Edinburgh airport was at its quiet and efficient best, with few flights departing. Our Geneva flight was 95% full though.

Swiss PLF, antigen test and vaccine certificates all inspected both at Edinburgh check-in and Geneva passport control. 40min queue for the latter, as we landed at the same time as a Birmingham flight (which had noticeably poor mask compliance).

Car hire staff (£269 for 10 days, Europcar from Swiss side, Skoda Fabia with winter tyres and chains) didn't try to upsell anything, but we found a few areas of unreported damage which we had to go back and query. Then, just over the border into France, the tyre pressure warning came on. Stopped to check and there's a big graze on the driver's side wheel rim / tyre which we hadn't seen in the multistorey car park earlier - 99% sure not caused by us - we would have noticed! Phoned Europcar to report it but they wouldn't pick up. Hopefully won't 1. have a flat tyre tomorrow morning, or 2. be billed for the scrape (we do have excess insurance) rolling eyes

Cloudy weather this evening with lying snow on all the hills around Geneva / Annecy / Chambery - even a bit by the sides of the autoroute. Went for a wander around Allevard tonight, which was charming but dead (winter is low season here), and bought two superb and very large takeaway pizzas (€9-14) from La Pizzaiollo at 8pm, just in time as they were just turning the lights off!

Apartment (£30, Airbnb) is unexpectedly luxurious with all mod cons - rainforest shower, WiFi, newly refurbished, underfloor heating - though no kitchen, so wouldn't be ideal for a full week.

It's good to be back in the Alps.
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You need to Login to know who's really who.
Friday 20/1 - Le Collet d'Allevard

Perfect first day back on skis at Allevard's local ski station (1450m), 15 minutes' worth of hairpins above the main village. ​Picked up skis / boots and explored the ~35km of runs - the ideal size for a single day, with ample time to repeat the most interesting parts. €17.40 midweek lift pass is a bargain!

1cm of fresh snow on immaculately groomed pistes; not a rut or death cookie in sight - very impressive. More or less sunny until the last hour when some cloud / fog drifted in. Freezing level around 900m. Slopes mostly face northwest, so lots of shade especially at first.

There are four separate lift bases, each with a free car park, though that makes the ski area sound bigger than it really is. Le Collet d'Allevard is a perfect resort in miniature - lots of variety in terrain (both wooded and open) and gradient. The main lifts are three slow, four-seater chairs from three of the car parks, a detachable six pack up to the high point (2100m), and two longish drags from the fourth car park. Reputedly has the largest night skiing area in Europe. Stunning views of the Chartreuse and towards Chambery.

Quiet except for a few ski schools - no need to share any lifts, and buffs were fine as face coverings. Presumably because of Covid, staff stayed in the lift huts and didn't help with boarding chairs / drag lifts - seems sensible. Vaccination QR code required at lunch but not for any lifts.

All 33 pistes were open with excellent cover, despite negligible snowmaking. Most of the area is really blue / red gradient, so some greens are a bit steep and the longer, pisted blacks are pretty tame. The shorter, ungroomed Plagne and Tremplin deserved their black status. Excellent beginner's area at Super Collet.

There were lots of fun rollers / tight turns etc. Highlights: Tetras followed by Chamois (red), Ecureuil (red), Cembro (red). The Pre-Rond sector had the most interesting runs overall.

We had lunch at l'Ecureuil at the foot of the Pre-Rond drag. The menu was fairly simple with the notable exception of two of the three plats du jour: an enormous ham hock on lentils, and duck thighs with roast veg / rice (both €12). Recommended.

We're now based in Vizille for the rest of the trip. Our Airbnb (£189 for 9 nights) is small as expected, but has the essentials including a kitchen area and WiFi.


Last edited by You need to Login to know who's really who. on Thu 20-01-22 22:29; edited 5 times in total
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@denfinella, Collet d'Allevard can have floodlit skiing, probably not midweek though unless there is a race.
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