The French Alpine ski resort of Serre Chevalier truly fits the description of 'something for everyone'. With terrain extending from dedicated nursery slopes to extensive off-piste and backcountry, bookending miles of intermediate cruising territory, it really does meet every skier or boarder's needs.
But, as we all know, a ski holiday is not just about the skiing, and whether you're part of a family holiday or a mixed ability group of friends, you are bound to be looking for more than just a great piste experience for your winter holiday. So here are six reasons why Serre Chevalier is perfect for all-ability groups:
Where is Serre Chevalier?
But first a reminder of where Serre Chevalier is. We're talking about the Southern French Alps in Southeastern France, near the Italian border, in the Hautes-Alpes department, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region, Serre Chevalier is the most northerly of the 'southern resorts'. If coming by air, Turin airport in Italy, is your nearest gateway, a 90-minute transfer away. You can also get to Briançon by train from Paris.
Extensive ski and snowboard terrain
The Serre Chevalier ski area has 250km of secured slopes across varied terrain. Summit height is 2,800m, there are 59 ski lifts, and 80% of its 81 slopes are above 2,000m which all but guarantees good snow conditions. Of these marked runs, 13 are black, 29 red, 26 blue and 13 green.
You can easily switch from skiing calm tree-lined slopes in the larch forests, to fun skiing in the two terrain parks, or family skiing in protected areas. Strung out across six peaks from Briançon to Monêtier-les-Bains, the ski area invites and encourages big mileage exploration.
Plenty of activities on and off the mountain
The towns and villages that make up the Serre Chevalier resort are steeped in centuries of history. Briançon is a beautiful, 17th Century fortified town (and a UNESCO World Heritage Site) with many historic buildings, as well as having a lively commercial centre. It's also the highest town in France, guarding the southern end of the Col de Montgenevre, a minor pass between France and Italy.
Non-skiers - or anyone enjoying a day off from the slopes - can get their cultural fill on a wide range of museum and heritage tours, such as the meticulously preserved Fort Dauphin or the curiously-named Fort of the Three Heads, which dates back to the early 18th Century.
On the mountain there are all kinds of active things to try, such as cross-country skiing and ski touring, but Serre Chevalier also lets you take it easy while still enjoying the stunning mountain scenery, at places like the two specially equipped picnic areas - perfect for warmer spring days. These are at Briançon, 'Croix de la Nore' area, near the Prorel summit at 2,300m, and in the Villeneuve sector at 'Vallons' area at the end of the Vallons chairlift at 2,506m.
Blessed with exceptional views, both areas have special griddles called planchas available every day of the season from 11am to 3pm, tables and deckchairs, free Wi-Fi access, electric sockets (Vallons area), and solar charging point for your tablets and smartphones (Croix de la Nore area).
High on the activity list of anyone's visit too are the Giant Zipline - a 1,100m zipwire plunging 300m at a speed of up to 110km per hour for all of 1min 15secs of heartstopping fun, a mountain kart track (a kind of snowy downhill go-kart ride), and an epic toboggan run through the forest. 'Deval Bob' is a 4km toboggan descent, dropping 573m through 26 bends and can be enjoyed by anyone over 12.
Briançon also has its own Casino with slot machines, roulette, blackjack, theatre events, a bar and a restaurant for a great night out.
A wide range of accommodation
Serre Chevalier has a wide range of different types of accommodation, from simple bed and breakfasts, a youth hostel, family-run hotels, and luxury chalets sleeping up to 14. There are also plenty of self-catering residences, gites and private rentals. Check out what's available here: booking.serre-chevalier.com.
Serre chevalier has a good range of après-ski bars to while away a few hours. These include:
L’Alta Bar Lounge in Chatemerle - A cosy and family-friendly après ski lounge bar. Choose from a snack by the fire after skiing, the champagne bar on the sunny terrace, or have a signature cocktail over a tapas board with family or friends. There are also four games rooms for the children, to please young and old alike.
Le Boudoir at Chatemerle - A wine bar with an exceptional view at the foot of the Luc Alphand piste. It has a hushed atmosphere and art deco-inspired decor. You will find grands crus, wines from around the world, prestigious champagne and spirits, all paired with tapas, caviar and more.
Le Stabatio in Le Monetier - A cosy bar serving flavours of the mountains and Italy. Coppa, Pecorino and Chianti are enjoyed around the bar, where people of all ages and backgrounds come together to enjoy products from the neighbouring farms around friendly and lively tables.
Le 1420 in Villeneuve - In a warm setting, you can enjoy a wide range of French and foreign wines, draught and bottled beers, cocktails, rum, whiskies and other spirits along with home-made sharing boards and nibbles.
Find loads more fantastic bars and restaurants at serre-chevalier.com
A whole range of festivities, events and other celebrations are being organised in each village of the valley, to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the cable-car which launched Serre Chevalier.
Coming up at the end of the season is:
17 April: Laurent Wold DJ Set & “Water fairy” – Le Monêtier les Bains. The last event of the season for the 80th anniversary of the resort!
Come and discover the new Laurent Wolf international DJ set in Serre Chevalier Vallée Briançon, along with a night-time aquatic and pyrotechnic show highlighting the 4 elements of creation....
Relax your ski legs at a luxury spa
A must-try is the luxury spa Les Grand Bains at Monêtier-les-Bains, featuring large indoor and outdoor pools, a geyser, waterfalls, Jacuzzi, steam rooms, saunas, a musical grotto and a wide range of wellness massage and beauty treatments.
The baths are open every day from 10am until 9pm - an ideal way to relax for non-skiers and for those days when the weather closes in and you'd rather not hit the slopes!
For more information about this fantastic resort, go to https://www.serre-chevalier.com/en