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Serre Chevalier - one of the largest ski resorts in the Alps

The ski resort of Serre Chevalier is not only one of the French Alps' largest ski resorts, it is also one of the best. The resort extends to no less than four towns in the southern Alps (with nine other smaller hamlets and villages connected), offers excellent skiing, has a lively après ski scene and many other activities for all the family. Serre Chevalier is set in stunning scenery, at high altitude for optimum snow cover in winter, but is also a delightful summer destination for mountain sports.

The towns that make up Serre Chevalier

There are four main towns that are all part of the Serre Chevalier ski resort, which means that you can take your pick and choose the one that best suits your needs and expectations of a ski or mountain holiday.

Briancon - Serre Chevalier 1200

The first of the four is Briancon, a town worth visiting even were it not connected to the ski resort! Acclaimed as the highest town in the European Union at 1250m, Briançon is a fortified town designed by the military architect Vauban, and is packed with interesting sights and monuments as well as a lively yet traditional après ski scene, with a great selection of bars, discos and restaurants. Briançon is the largest of the four towns of the Serre Chevalier collection.

Chantermerle - Serre Chevalier 1350

The remaining three are technically villages rather than towns, but there is still plenty of reason to base yourself there to enjoy the skiing of Serre Chevalier. The biggest village is Chantermerle, at 1350m, where the picturesque surroundings and fantastic access to lifts ensure a great holiday. The village has plenty of bars and restaurants, and is ideal for those who prefer a calmer après ski scene but still want to get out and enjoy a social scene in the evenings. It focuses on cosy bars, roaring fires and delicious food rather than on dancing the night away. And should you be in Chantermerle in March, you could also attend a fabulous jazz festival!

Villeneuve (Serre Chevalier 1400) and Le Monêtier les Bains (Serre Chevalier 1500)

The remaining two villages are Villeneuve at 1400m, an old hilltop village with roots in the Middle Ages, and Le Monêtier les Bains at 1500m, a spa village which is the highest of the Serre Chevalier bases. Both are pretty quiet, perfect for the serious skiers who prefer to ski 'til they drop and hit the slopes again at the crack of dawn.

Ski slopes - offering excellent skiing for all

Serre Chevalier is recognised as one of France's best resorts. Its extensive pistes, covering no less than 250 kilometres, are set at high altitude and offer excellent skiing and other winter sports for all ages, abilities and preferences. It is also incredibly scenic, with woodland framing many of the pistes and an authentic Alpine atmosphere prevailing.

Ski pistes - maintained to a very high standard

Skiing in Serre Chevalier is taken seriously, and the pistes and lifts are maintained to a very high standard throughout the season. The altitude means that natural snow is likely for much of the time, but snow-making machines cover one hundred and fifty four hectares too, so in the event of a poor season, snow wise, the skiing can go on. The resort caters for everyone, with runs ranging from sixteen challenging black runs suitable for expert skiers, through forty-four red and thirty-one blue for the intermediates, to twenty-four gentle green runs for the less experienced or confident. Finally, Serre Chevalier is also a great destination for the more intrepid souls who prefer the exhilaration of off piste skiing.

Ski buses available

Of course, the success of a ski resort depends almost as much on its lifts and access to its lifts as on its pistes. A ski bus runs every twenty minutes between Briancon and Monêtier les Bains, stopping at the various villages along the way. There is also an additional ski bus operating which takes people from their accommodation to the bottom of the slopes.

Ski lifts - an extensive system on offer

Serre Chevalier has an extensive lift system, with access to the slopes from all four of the main towns and villages. A total of sixty-eight lifts give you the choice of three cable cars, six gondolas, ten high speed chair lifts, eleven standard speed chair lifts and thirty-nine drag lifts.

Ski schools and snowparks in Serre Chevalier

The ski schools also offer professional tuition and ski classes for children, with classes suitable for everyone from experienced skiers wishing to hone their abilities, to beginners about to hit the slopes for the first time. The resort also has a new feature, a special, state of the art snowpark where you can test your braking ability from speed, designed to improve reflexes and safety as well as providing lots of fun. Another snowpark, at the Villeneuve base, is equipped with a range of jumps, bumps and rails for aspiring and expert freestylers, with more to be found at Plateau de l'Alpage.

Why not try snowboarding or snowshoeing?

Skiing is without doubt the main raison d'être of the resort, but there is so much else to see and do that even the keenest of skiers will be tempted to put their skis in the ski rack every now and then. Non skiing yet still sporting activities available in the resort include snow boarding, the choice of many young and trendy holidaymakers, with the best facilities for this sport being found in the region of Monêtier. All the features of a good boarding resort are here, with tree-lined runs, half pipes and snowboard cross areas. Other sports to try here include snowshoeing, cross country skiing throughout the ski areas and even paragliding, for a complete change of activity!

Summer activities available

In summer, of course, different activities take centre stage, and there are plenty of these too. Mountain walking, rock climbing, pony trekking, paragliding and mountain biking are just a few of the sports on offer to keep you busy in the so called "off" season. And then of course you can always enjoy a spa treatment at the incomparable spa baths of Le Monêtier les Bains village, which are open all year. Here there are thermal baths, fountain jets, water massages, salt water pools, saunas, steam rooms, relaxation rooms, as well as a naturally heated swimming pool.

Amenities offered in Serre Chevalier

Before you hit the slopes it is likely that you will want to do a little shopping, either to gather the equipment you will need to enjoy your days on the pistes or to stock up your chalet with goodies to eat and drink. Either way, Serre Chevalier can supply everything you need, with ski and other sports equipment hire and sales shops, shops selling suitable outdoor sports clothing and the latest fashionable accessories, and many shops and supermarkets catering for the more mundane needs of nutrition. Speciality shops can also offer you a taste of the local foods and wines, always a pleasurable part of any French holiday!

Explore the Ecrins National Park

If you are staying for more than a couple of weeks you may enjoy a day getting out and about to see what the rest of the area has to offer. Hang up the skis for a few hours and take to the roads to visit places such as the Ecrins National Park, of which some of the resort's territory is part, where the countryside and wildlife are protected and flourish, giving opportunities to see wild deer, mountain squirrels and unusual flora.

Visit the coast or even Italy

As the resort is set in the southern Alps, coming into the region known as Provence rather than just the Rhône Alpes (Rhône-Alpes Property Guide), it isn't beyond the realms of possibility to drive down to the coast to see Nice (Nice Property Guide) , Monaco (Monaco Property Guide) and the glitzy towns of the French Riviera (French Riviera Property - an insider's guide). Italy is almost just across the road from this part of France too, offering even more possibilities for skiing and sight seeing. Meanwhile, staying in the French mountains, the renowned and beautiful towns of Annecy (Annecy Property Guide) and Grenoble (Grenoble Property Guide) are also not very far away.

How to get there

Reaching the ski resorts of the Alps is getting easier all the time, as more and more trains and buses are arranged to make access better (Travel France). The resort of Serre Chevalier can be accessed by air by flying to Turin in Italy, or to Chambéry (Chambéry Property Guide) or Grenoble (Grenoble Property Guide), or even Lyon (Lyon Property Guide) or Marseille (Marseille Property Guide). Turin is served by British Airways and Ryanair, Chambéry by Flybe and Jet2, while Grenoble is served by Bmi Baby, easyJet and Ryanair. If you prefer travelling by train, you can take a train to Turin, Lyon, Grenoble or even Paris (Paris Arrondissements Property Guide), and then connect to a train on to Briancon. If driving, follow the A43 auto route from Frejus (Fréjus Property Guide), or from the UK follow the auto route system through France to Grenoble, all well signed. Serre Chevalier can be found along the D1091, the nearest major road being the E70.

Property prices and availability in Serre Chevalier

Everyone knows that good property in the Alpine ski resorts is going to be on the expensive side of average, at the very least (Alps property). There's no escaping it, especially if you have a gorgeous resort such as Serre Chevalier in your sights. However, if you want to keep prices down you can consider a leaseback property (Leaseback Property in France, French leaseback property - Top 10), or perhaps a property which can be rented out when you yourself are not using it, to recoup some of the initial outlay.

All types of property available

Property in Serre Chevalier comes in many guises, with small lock up and leave apartments rubbing shoulders with extensive ski lodges (Ski Chalets for Sale in France), priced accordingly (Ski property)! As a rough guide, it is currently possible to find an apartment big enough for four people (holiday style rather than full-time living) for less than 200,000 Euros, while at the upper end of the market the sky really is the limit!

Additional articles which may be of interest:

Brits in France
Driving in France
Holidays in France

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Serre Chevalier AT A GLANCE

WHERE IS Serre Chevalier?

Serre Chevalier is found in the north-east of the Hautes-Alpes department, in the south-east of France.

Serre Chevalier Property Map


Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Guide

Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Property Map


Hautes-Alpes Guide

  Hautes-Alpes Map

Population: 18,000

Access: By air: Fly to Turin, Chambéry or Grenoble. By train: Take a train to Briancon, via Turin, Lyon or Grenoble. By road: Head for Grenoble, then from here Serre Chevalier can be found on the D1091.

Economy: Winter and summer mountain tourism is the mainstay of the economy.

Interesting fact: One of the towns included within the resort of Serre Chevalier is acclaimed as the highest town in the European Union. This is the town of Briancon.

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