All you need to know about ski holidays by train

La Rosiere - slopes

The Espace San Bernardo lift-pass brings a real two-for-one ski experience, the differences accentuated by the north/south orientation of the respective sides of the mountain. On the French side, the greater part of La Rosière’s own terrain lies above the villages, and above the tree-line, which brings great views, along with exposure to both sun and winds.

The Secteur Rosière (just above La Rosière 1850 village) offers mostly Blue-graded cruising terrain, along with snowcross  and slalom runs, and a snow park. Snow-cover permitting, there’s also an invigorating Red-graded (with a Black option) drop through the trees all the way down to Ecudets (1176m).

Above Les Eucherts village things are more varied, with Blue and Red runs, most of which drop towards the Combe des Moulins below the 2383m Col de la Traversette. The Combe is also a Freeride Zone, with instruction available. Topping it all off is the Fort, a former border outpost, and gateway to the Col du Petit Saint-Bernard and the Franco-Italian border.

And in 2018, the resort created a new ski sector at Mont Valaisan. Located to the right of the Redoute Ruinée Fort, there are now five new red pistes served by two modern six-seater chairlifts, called The Moulins and the Mont Valaisan. As well as adding some magnificent red runs and more freeride possibilities, it means that the highest point of the resort is now at 2,800m, with spectacular views of Mont Blanc.

The link is via a brief Red-graded drop down to a pair of draglifts, which opens up a wealth of varied skiing below the peaks of Mont Valaisan (289m), Touriasse (2448m) and Chaz Dura (2579m), along with off-piste (accessible to heli-skiers) below Mont Ouille (3099m). Beyond this plateau-like sector things become a little steeper on the runs down to Les Suches (2200m) and a lot more so for the final Red- and Black-graded drops through dense pine and larch forests into La Thuile. On the other hand, we came to love the more leisurely approach offered by the 6.5km-long San Bernardo piste (signed as No. 7) for its wild, away-from-it-all beauty, plus the excellent Lo Riondet mountain restaurant which sits around the mid-point.

Overall, then, there’s enough on the French side to build confidence and fitness (and have a lot of fun) before heading over to enjoy the wealth of great skiing which lies just across the border.

There is also a new Panoramic Experience (Photo Point) and a funcross snowzone.

 

Ski highlights for all levels

Beginners: Both La Rosière 1850 and Les Eucherts have safe and easily-accessible ESF ski-school areas, from which novices can progress rapidly via reassuringly-wide Blue runs served by smooth, modern chair-lifts.

Intermediates: We reckon that the greater part of La Rosière’s popularity stems not from the not-too-tough/not-too-demanding terrain on the French side, but the sense of adventure which rewards those who head across into the Italian sector. In particular we’d single-out the choice long, Red-graded descents which feed into La Thuile from either side of the forests. It’s possible to put some real mileage under your skis here.

Experts: Off-piste options include the scenic Combe des Moulins (in the Traversette sector), some slightly more testing routes among the Escudets forest (between La Rosière and Séez) and the steeper drops accessible from Le Fort.

Ski schools and guides

The British ski school Elite Ski (00 33 4 79 40 22 44) works closely with the Ecole de Ski Francais (ESF) to provide group lessons in English but offers private clinics and off-piste and heliski days for experts. Freestylers can practice their figures in safety with Ride’n Style  (00 33 4 79 06 81 26 ) qualified teachers. Evolution2  (00 33 4 79 40 19 80) offer ski and snowboard tuition plus a host of other adventure activities.

SKI LESSONS WITH ESF UK
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Lift system

Heavy investment in recent years has produced a capable and modern lift system using chair-lifts unless there are sound reasons (including environmental considerations) not to. In fact, the only really unavoidable draglifts you’ll find here are those serving beginner and slalom areas/snowparks, plus the celebrated Bellecombe units which provide the link over into Italy.

But don’t be put off; although quite long, they’re also pretty flat, which allowed us plenty of time to admire the surrounding scenery – and for the return journey there’s a chair-lift.

Terrain park 

As befits a modern family resort, La Rosière offers a comprehensive range of fun facilities. Above the main La Rosière 1850 village, for example, are the Snowcross des Zittieux, the Snowpark de la Polenta plus a Stade de Slalom. Head a little higher and below the Col de la Traversette and you’ll find the long, snaking Boardercross du Fort, which we spotted from the Fort chair-lift and just had to try. The Italian sector, on the other hand, takes a more traditionalist approach to its skiing, including some undemanding cross-country trails.

Snow reliability and snowmaking

Around 30km of La Rosière’s slopes (and 35km of those above La Thuile) are equipped with artificial snowmaking, to help maintain optimal snow conditions. It doesn’t sound a high proportion, but given the high altitude of the terrain (which assures low overnight temperatures), lack of cover isn’t generally a problem. However, La Rosière’s mostly south-facing slopes, combined with occasionally gusty conditions, mean that the best snow quality is often to be found on the Italian side.

Espace San Bernardo piste map

Ski area
Village Altitude
1850
m
Ski Altitude
1200 - 2800
m
Pistes
152
km
Green Runs
8
Blue Runs
27
Red Runs
38
Black Runs
18
Total Runs 91
Terrain Park
4
Cabin Lifts
1
Chair Lifts
20
Drag Lifts
13
Total Lifts 38