Most people who visit the Gressoney Valley find it a very special place, relatively untouched by time and apparently unpreturbed by the arrival of winter sports. There are three main resorts - St Jean, La Trinite and Stafal at the head of trhe valley. Stafal is really just one hotel but has to best access to the giant Monte Rosa ski area. St Jean has most of the facilities but is not linked in to the main ski circuit, having just a small area of its own. La Trinite is connected to the circuit and has moderate facilities. The local people speak a German dialect, because they are of the ancient ethnic group of the Walser. In the beginning of 1800 the kings of Savoia had this valley as their hunting paradise and they brought with them all the glamour of a royal family. You can feel this charm when you ski around all the big area, from Stafal to Saint Jean and in all the wonderful buildings you find at the top or at the bottom of the pistes. The giant Monterosa ski area is one of the world's largest, and thanks to recent investment in new lifts you can now ski or board without needing to stop for 180km between the resorts of Champoluc and Gressoney and Gressoney on to Alagna across three valleys. The skiing extends almost up to 3000 metres and there are spectacular views across Aosta Valley and Piemonte. The ski area was 'reborn' for the 2003/4 season when the spectacular Funifor cable car finally completed the long planned link in the circuit between the Valsesia and Gressoney La Trinite resorts (themselves connected to Champoluc). The most internationally famous resort on the circuit, Alagna, is known for its old world charm and having been "preserved from cement" with its Walser buildings dominant. It was founded in the 12th century and is built around the local parish church. Although there's skiing for all standards, Alagna remains a haven for expert skiers, the village sits beneath one of the world's greatest lift-served verticals skiable by many off-piste descents. At the other extreme of the pass, Champoluc at 1570m is the main resort in the Val d'Ayas. Surrounded by pine woods, it offers spectacular views of the Monte Rosa glaciers and the rocky buttresses of Mont Sarezza and the Testa Grigia. Antagnod above at 1710m also has spectacular views as well as well preserved old buildings, including the famous "maison Fournier" once the stronghold of the counts of Challant. Between them Gressoney La Trinite - which is linked to the Monte Rosa circuit and Gressoney St Jean beneath it, which isn't. The architecture is again beautiful, with chalet style buildings and again spectacular views.
The largest village on the Monte Rosa pass is not actually linked by lift to the others, although it is a short drive to the centre of the network. There are 13km of trails locally.