Recently we reviewed Chalet Là Bas, and we asked the owner, Steve Nash, to tell us a little bit more about what makes skiing in and around Bourg St Maurice so unique.
OK, so I’ve got a vested interest to declare in what’s coming ,but, I have to say that the motivation in my re-locating my life down to this part of the Alps has plenty to do with what I write.
Here’s a statement: Bourg St Maurice is the best place in the Alps for intermediate / advanced skiers! None of this ski in ski out, jacuzzi, canapes and champagne namby pambying, but real white mountain and big cojones stuff. Firstly, it’s located down in valley at 800m and similar in location to Chamonix, but in fairness less lively and smaller. Second, its at a crossroads of the high Alps and therefore if you want choice and access to the best piste and off piste areas you can imagine, not too mention access to multiple glacier skiing areas , this is the place to get your boots and planks to. Third, it’s where we are!
Where is Bourg?, as it’s called locally and how do you get here, well get yer google maps out and have a look, it’s right next to the French-Italian border just on the Southern extent of the Mont Blanc massif. The nearest airport is Chambery at 57 miles but Geneva, I suppose, is the most accessible in that the choice of flights and a distance of 84 miles make it only a 1 hour and 45 minute transfer.
Here’s a review of the area taken from the http://www.snow-forecast.com/resorts/Les-Arcs/6day/mid website
Les Arcs sits above Bourg st Maurice, the main transport town for the Alps. You can catch a train from London and wake up in the Alps. The resort of Les Arcs is centred around 3 villages at 1600, 1800 and 2000. Intrawest (owners of Whistler) saw so much potential that they have just finished their own village at 1950. The skiing at Les Arcs is unlimited now due to the link to nearby La Plagne (and the Paradiski area) via the Vanoise Express and there is something for everyone; open bowls at the top, to tree skiing and cruiser greens, to steep as you like blacks, even a speed skiing run. Try to hit 150 kph if you dare. Off the piste Arc 1800 is the best place to stay and is well catered for in terms of food and accommodation. If you are on a budget, stay in Bourg and get the funicular up to Arc 1600 each morning. Nightlife at Les Arcs is good in any of the villages, but don’t expect transport between 2000/1950/1800/1600 late at night. There is a free bus that takes you between the resorts during the day.
So, should there be 8 of you in the group, then a private minibus transfer using www.coolbus.co.uk is a cost competitive choice. Fewer of you, then hire a car. Train on it’s own, from Geneva, is out but a bus from Geneva to Chambery, then onward by train is a 3 hour journey and will cost you around 45 Euros.
There are also direct ski bus’s from Geneva airport, here’s the link: http://www.alpski-bus.com/.
For those of you that have re-located to the South of England there’s a direct ski train from St Pancras that goes all the way to Bourg, direct, in just over 7 hours. The train is run by Eurostar, more information about where it stops can be seen here.
Now to why Bourg! This answer’s easy: 425 km of skiing in the home resorts of Les Arcs and La Plagne.
Add another 300 odd km’s at Val’d'Isere and Tignes just up the road, 30 minutes away. Drop in a modest 45 km of piste at Sainte Foy plus superb off piste ( the advertising slogan say’s it’s the resort of choice for Val d’Isere’s ski instructor’s on their day off).
Still more, as just outside the town limits of Bourg is a lift up a north facing valley that takes you from 1100m to the twin resort of La Rosiere (France) / La Thuile (Italy) collectively known as the Espace San Bernard. There, straddling the Petit Saint Bernard pass and in the shadow of Mont Blanc, you will enjoy 150km of piste skiing and also get to experience the wonderful off piste opportunities in the border area at 2200m and above. For me one of last seasons highlights was whooping with joy as we descended from the frontier down into Italy via a deserted and virgin powder off piste valley that was ideal to introduce the pleasures of out of bounds!
On the way back the the deep powder fields that lie parallel to the pistes are so good that you just have to catch the lift up again and repeat. Not even half finished as the statistics show that Les Arcs/La Plagne (Paradiski) is 4th biggest ski resort in the world, but, what’s not often factored in is that when the off piste acreage that lies within the domain is included it reaches the very top of the worlds list !
I’ve lived here 5 years now and I’m still discovering new routes down the mountain that my ability wouldn’t let me enjoy a few seasons back. Here’s a challenge: Start in Villaroger (Les Arcs, 1100m) and make your way across the resort to the giant double decker cable link to La Plagne. Cross La Plagne all the way down to Champagny (1200m) and then try to ski all the way back in one day!
Including the necessary breaks, you will be going hard to do it and certainly knackered when it’s finished. The route down to Champagny takes you to within a 5 km taxi journey to the nearest 3 valleys lift, but if you did that add on you would certainly need overnight accommodation before the return route the following day. By the way the initial access from Bourg up to Les Arcs is via the high speed funicular train link which takes just 6 minutes.
And there’s still more because Bourg is also just a 20 minute drive from Brides Les Bain where the gondola way will take you up to Meribel in the 3 valleys and there you will discover a whole other world of skiing: 650 km of piste, off piste galore and several glaciers to choose from.
There you go, that’s what you get by basing yourself in and around Bourg. Access and variety, a different resort everyday, the magnificence of the Tarentaise valley and an ever present backdrop that contains Europes highest peak, Mont Blanc.
Now to the necessaries: Where to stay, lift passes and so forth.
Well that’s where the vested interest bit comes in, I recommend www.chalet-la-bas.com. Well I would, wouldn’t I, since I’m the owner ( well actually, my wife’s the boss but she let’s me pretend I am). You will enjoy great food, en suite rooms, transport to the slopes and to the other resorts, wi fi internet, a cheap beer bar and banter from me. Now, I have to say, if you are looking for a wild time partying, give us a miss, we are for the people who want to ski all day, take in some “apres” in local bars, then get back, eat, relax and socialise with the other guests.
However, most of our guests return and return, so we must be doing something right.
Alternatively, stay in Bourg itself at, www.chillchalet.com . Chill chalet is located just over the road from the train station and a short walk from the Funiculaire lift. There you have easy access to the bars in town.
For more choices, I recommend taking a look at www.chaletsdirect.com .
If you buy a 6 day full area pass for Paradiski you automatically get a day in Val D’Isere/ Tignes and a day in the 3 valleys, but, what we do is push our guests to buy the Carnet Zen pass. It contains 10 day tickets that can be used by anyone in the group and works our 20% cheaper than the normal day price ( 36 instead of 44). The advantage of this system is that if you decide to take a day off or the weather closes in or you take a tumble and can’t ski, there’s no money lost. It also means that if you go to other resorts not included on the Paradiski pass, you aren’t effectively paying twice!
We buy back any unused tickets at face value and re-sell to our next guests.
Our guests are also provided with half price day passes for Saturday skiing in Les Arcs or La Plagne. This voucher is available by registering on www.samedjeski.com but you will need to download and print the tickets from the Wednesday before, which obviously we do for our in house guests.
If you have a car you can also get cheap skiing in La Plagne on Sundays and Wednesdays by picking up the day ticket from the drive in office at Aime. It will be €26 instead of €44Eu, quite a saving.
The best deal we get for our guests is via supermarket vouchers from the local Super U store. With these vouchers we get a days skiing on Wednesday, Saturday or Sunday for 15 Euros in the resort of Sainte Foy.
The tour over to Italy via la Rosiere will cost 36 Euros or 20% less if you have a Paradiski pass.
Now if all this doesn’t seem practical ask Paul of this here website. He joined us on our ski safari week last year when we did just all that outlined above. (Paul : yes it was amazing, tiring but totally worth pushing yourself)
If I haven’t convinced you yet, here’s the final pitch: We have just 4 weeks left to sell for the coming season and they are:
The special www.skiing.ie price for any of these weeks is just €2,400 for the whole chalet for 8 guests (€300 per person)
That’s for a catered stay: big breakfast, afternoon coffee, tea and freshly baked cakes plus a 4 course evening meal with wine!
What you waiting for?, book!
All the best
Steve and Connie
Tel:0033 479 22 10 62