The name Villard de Lans might not mean much to you, yet, but think wide cruising pistes, powder fields with panoramic views, and excellent family-friendly facilities, and you're halfway there.
One of the lesser-known resorts in the Isère region of the French Alps, Villard de Lans is located in the beautiful Vercors National Park, just outside Grenoble. Villard de Lans combines a pretty village, steeped in traditional Alpine atmosphere, with a starkly contrasting modern ski complex - Le Balcon de Villard Côte 2000. Despite their differences, they complement each other well.
Excellent slopes allow for speedy progression and ski in, ski out access. Villard de Lans isn't hugely high, but serious snow-making capacity ensures good quality skiing throughout the season. And with 125km of runs - the largest alpine skiing area in Vercors - and 110km of nordic skiing tracks, Villard de Lans is the perfect ski resort to have a go at downhill and cross country skiing in the same trip.
The resort is a great choice for a family holiday, with an entertainment complex housing a casino, bowling alley, pool and ice rink, plus extra activities for the youngest. (It has no fewer than six toboggan runs adapted to each level (two green, three blue and two red).
Villard de Lans - Ski Map & Pistes:
The skiing in Villard de Lans is excellent, with the resort particularly noted for its variety of slopes. There are plenty of opportunities for the complete beginner and enough challenges for the experienced veteran too. The slopes most suitable for beginners are generally the ones snaking down from the top of the Pre des Preys gondola lift, conveniently close to a lovely mountain restaurant with a sun terrace. After just a few hours of basic training, beginners will be able to enjoy some of the beautiful easy pistes like the Clos-Glovettes and Marmotte.
There are great intermediate runs in the Grande Moucherolle and Corrençon areas, with plenty of scenic variety, and runs both above and below tree line. This ski resort offers a decent amount to keep the more serious skier occupied too. There are 12 black runs and although there is some debate over which is the most challenging black run, the Rhodo moguls, Le Grand Couloir and the long and difficult Chamois are all genuinely tricky contenders.
Villard de Lans - Off-Piste, Backcountry & Ski Touring:
Villard de Lans is not hugely high - the top lift only takes you up to 2050m. But despite its proximity to the 160,000 people who live in Grenoble, it's rarely crowded, even on a powder day. And if you know where to look, there are epic freeride opportunities here, when the weather plays ball.
Head up to the Petit Moucherolle (2,150m) where there are some great lines off the peak, including some genuinely technical couloirs off-piste, and where some marked slopes are left ungroomed to allow moguls to develop. After fresh snowfall, there is also a lot of inter-piste powder - and if it's dumping lower down, the trees here can be epic. The local ESF runs freeride courses, and it's well-worth getting a guide on a powder day.
Villard de Lans - Restaurants, Bars & The Town:
This is a ski resort with no shortage of accommodation, and there are options to suit all budgets. There is also plenty to do in the evenings, including a surprisingly lively après scene. Bar Sapin sits right at the foot of the slopes, and is a great spot for that après ski beer. Club lovers should try Le Country.
As previously mentioned, the many sports facilities, including ice-skating, horse riding, tennis and a leisure centre, make Villard de Lans a perfect family destination, with plenty for those who prefer to spend their time off the slopes. Village tours are available by sleigh, and there are some more unusual activities such as visiting the local pottery centre, watching or partaking in torchlight descents, bowling evenings and, for kids, an entertaining Puppet Museum. Other local activities include archery, ballooning, a bridge club, casino, dog sledding, ice climbing, luge, paragliding and Snowshoeing.
Villard de Lans - Ski Hire:
Villard de Lans - Ski School: