News from the snow
Sitting amongst 320 hectacres of wooded slopes, and only 32kms up the valley from Grenoble, is Chamrousse, a self-contained resort in the spectacular Dauphine region. The resort is actually made up of five villages at different altitudes and of different sizes, Chamrousse 1650 and Chamrousse 1750, which are linked by a shuttle bus. Although popular as a ski resort in the Grenoble area since the 1950s, Chamrousse came to international attention in 1968 when Jean Claude Killy won two of his three Olympic gold medals there - in downhill and giant slalom. In the lead up to the Olympics, Chamrousse was developed with all of the style and sensitivity we have come to associate with purpose-built French ski resorts. Today many of the apartment blocks of Chamropusse 1750 (formerly Roche Beranger) that were previously something of a concrete monstrosity have been rebuilt in recent years. Chamrousse 1650 (Le Recoin), being an older community, and retaining some traditional buildings, is somewhat more attractive. However, if you don't care too much about the architecture, the resort offers a good range of pistes for skiers and snowboarders of all abliities and makes a fine ski destination for groups and families. Over the years the breadth of accommodation and facilities in the resort have attracted several national and international sporting events besides ski racing.
Family ski centre close to Grenoble with two bases offering sheltered slopes and doorstep skiing. Prominent in the 1968 Olympics this was the site for the downhill, special and giant slaloms fo both men and women.
With its west to south westerly aspect, Chamrousse does get a lot sun but of course that can mean that the skiing can be hard in the morning and over-soft in the afternoons, particularly as the season progresses.
Around 20 lifts provide uplift of 30,000 skiers per hour but, because of its proximity to the city of Grenoble, things can get somewhat crowded at school holiday times and weekends.
The local French Ski School teaches all levels of skier from three years old as well as offering telemark hire and instruction.
The local ski school runs the "Piou-Piou" (that's the Bear Cub Club) for 3 to 7 year olds. The club has its own drag lift which enables the cubs to get the most of their lift passes and if the weather turns bad shelter is taken in the club hut where there is a selection of games and videos to pass the time.
An alternative for kids of 3 and over is the Marmot club offering a variety of sports and creative activities besides skiing, such as skating, tobogganing, hiking, puppet-making and craft work. There is also a children's play area with roundabout, swings and so on.