Pretty, wallet-friendly Serre Chevalier offers some fantastic skiing for intermediates and beginner level skiers and snowboarders...
Serre Chevalier is the marketing name given to one town and several villages grouped in the shadow of the Massif des Ecrins, south of Grenoble.
They lack the profile, and the glamour, of the big-name ski resorts further north, such as Val d'Isère and Courchevel, but that doesn't mean you should overlook Serre Chevalier ski holidays. Between them, they offer a sizeable network of intermediate-friendly pistes, and a skiing holiday experience which is more laidback, and characterful, than the norm in France. What's more, it's a little cheaper than the norm, too!
Resort height: 1,500m
The 250km of pistes are spread out over the northern and south-eastern slopes of the Massif des Ecrins. For the most part, they hold their snow well, especially above the villages of Monêtier and Villeneuve, and they offer an interesting variety of terrain - from open, snowy bowls at the top to pretty tree-lined boulevards at the bottom.
Most of the slopes are intermediate-friendly in pitch, and they're scattered with some appealing mountain restaurants too. In other words, it's a great place for a leisurely cruise between refuelling stops. For those who like their skiing more committed, there's the challenge of skiing the entire system, from one end to another, in a day, as well as a scattering of challenging blacks.
Serre Chevalier is also a good place to make your first turns in powder. The off-piste here tends not to be as steep or as intimidating as you'll find in resorts such as Val d'Isère or La Plagne, and tends to see less traffic too. So if you're ready to cope with the deep and fluffy stuff, hire yourself some tuition and get cracking.
Serre Chevalier is a two-hour drive from Turin airport, and two and a half hours from Grenoble...
You can drive there from the UK too, and take the train to Grenoble, picking up the local bus service from there.
Intermediates will enjoy exploring Serre Chevalier's 250km of varied pistes, and maybe trying a bit of powder skiing...
Beginners can have plenty of fun too, while there are some steeper slopes to challenge the experts.
Foodies will love the range of great restaurants in Serre Chevalier, which has more of a French vibe than many nearby resorts...
Serre Chevalier's accommodation is spread out between 12 different villages and towns along the valley, and lacks a natural night-time focus. Each one has its own bar, which can be lively enough in the busier weeks, but there's nothing here to rival the engine rooms of Alpine après, such as La Folie Douce in Val d'Isère. However, Villeneuve is the buzziest of the villages, with English-owned La Grotte featuring live music on Friday nights.
By contrast, the restaurant scene is really good, featuring lots of good-value eateries which are just shy of Michelin standard. Try Le Petit Chalet in Chantemerle and the Auberge du Choucas in Monêtier.
Serre Chevalier feels a lot more French than the purpose-built resorts to the north, and Briançon at the southern end of the lift system makes for a satisfying day out. Meanwhile, Monêtier is a spa town, and has a leisure centre with indoor and outdoor pools, a hammam, and lots of health and beauty treatments.
8/10 Cost of living
So what if Serre Chevalier lacks glamour? Check out the prices! What's more, you can make your holiday seriously cheap if you book into a self-catering apartment and drive yourself down to France.
7/10 Attractiveness of the resort
There are busy roads through the heart of most of the villages, and a smattering of ugly apartment blocks too. But away from the traffic, Serre Chevalier is a pretty place to ski, with many more tree-lined pistes than you'll find in the average French resort of this size.