"Serre Che", as it's known to its friends, is one of the most southerly of France, and one of the biggest in the Alps. Located close to the Italian border, Serre Chevalier also boasts more than 300 days of sunshine a year. Although that statistic may make some snow lovers nervous, it's north facing slopes, reaching high with a big proportion above the tree line, together with extensive snow making capabilities (more than 490 guns covering more than 145 hectares of trails on lower slopes, make the resort relatively snow sure.
Serre Chevalier is made up of no less than thirteen villages (three main ones); its base is spread out for 6km (4 miles) along the Guisane Valley floor from the old town of Briançon, Europe's highest and the location of France's first ski school in 1902, up to the Col du Lautaret. The resort has tried hard to avoid the 'concrete-monolith-mentality' of some of the other big French resorts, and there is a good proportion of traditional buildings and authentic architecture in the villages, despite Serre Chevalier's success and inevitable growth.
Its name comes from the old Provencal word 'cambell' which meant 'flock of sheep' and was given because flocks from nearby Provencal were brought up to Serre ("little mountain") in the summer. The area's historical association with the Borel nobility is also present today as their coat-of-arms, emblazoned with an eagle, is used by the resort, and the eagles can still be seen on occasion.
Over recent seasons the resort has received world wide publicity thanks to its famous son, world champion downhiller (from 1995 to '97) Luc Alphand, who wore his Serre Chevalier headband in competition all over the globe and his friendly face now smiles out at you from all of Serre Chevalier's promotional material. Mr Alphand is known locally as 'Lucho'.
The geography of the place is slightly complicated and probably not worth getting too involved with, however you can access the north facing larch-lined slopes above the resort's many villages first of all from Briançon itself, which was lift-linked in to Serre Che as recently as 1989 by a 6 seater gondola. At that time it was dubbed 'Serre Chevalier 1200' and was sort of absorbed into the overall marketing effort, but it now seems to have gone its own way a little in that department. The next 'community' as you move up the valley is that of Saint-Chaffrery, known as Serre Chevalier 1350, with two hamlets of which the best known is Chantemerle. Next up is La Salle les Alpes, dubbed Serre Chevalier 1400, which contains five villages, the best known being Villeneuve which has the most facilities and attractions of any of the villages in the valley. Finally Monêtier les Bains, or Serre Chevalier 1500, with the other six villages, the largest Monêtier itself.
"Serre Che" is made up of thirteen villages (three main ones) spread out for 6km along the Guisane Valley floor from Briancon. The north facing larch-lined slopes above (most over 2000m ) are lift linked all the way from the town.