When it comes to blockbuster ski resorts in France and the Tarentaise area in particular, it tends to be Val d’Isère, Méribel and Courchevel that hog the limelight. After a stupendous days skiing the other day, it is certainly time to add the name of La Rosière to headline billing. The ski area is certainly big enough, with 10km more pistes than Courchevel or Méribel as well as affording the thrill of being able to ski in both France and Italy in the same linked ski area, the “Espace San Bernardo”.
With an average snowfall of 6.4m a season, La Rosière is the snowiest ski resort in the Tarentaise. Its position at the head of the valley and sitting perpendicular to the storms funnelling in from the west means that when the snow rolls in, La Rosière is in the perfect place to gain full benefit.
It is mid January and after several weeks of rather snowy weather, the forecast is for a day that is cloudy to start but with the hope of finishing the day in glorious sun.
We start our day right at the bottom of the resort in Les Ecudets, where the chairlift glides gently upwards between the trees and into the cloud. Though we are starting our skiing in France are destination is Italy – a true ski to lunch day!
After a quick couple of lifts and a blast down the undulating blue run belette, we are at the top of the Col de la Traversette and the beginning of the link between France and Italy over the Col du Petit Saint Bernard.
Here is where if you wish to ski the full area over into Italy you will want to be confident on draglifts. The Bellecombe drag is a long one and this part of the ski area is prone to strong winds, which funnel through the col, so you certainly work up an appetite on the journey over.
After this lift you have the choice of either skiing the liaison blue run which drops you down onto the Col du Petit Saint Bernard, or you can take Bellecombe II which will bring you up to the top of the La Thuile skiing area. I would recommend taking the second draglift as it gives you a quicker route into the main pisted area of La Thuile.
We however chose the former option and with great belief in our ski to lunch philosophy of the day headed to the Roxi restaurant. This is a cracking place at the bottom of the Fourclaz Express chair lift, where great Italian generosity is matched by the amazing value food and cracking blues music.
The Italians have really got it covered when it comes to dining on the mountain. Italy also greeted us with blue skies and stunning views from the top of Mont Blanc or Monte Bianco as it is known in Italian and which is just 15 kilometres away all the way down the Aosta valley.
The pistes above Les Suches at the midpoint of the mountain in La Thuile are an intermediates paradise. Blue and red runs are perfect for easy cruising and carving great turns large and small. For skiers and boarders who like it a bit more challenging, then the red and black slopes through the tress and right down to resort will really get the legs going.
After a good old blast around, with our thoughts on making sure we did not spend an impromptu nights stay in Italy, we headed back towards France.
The return to France is certainly easier and quicker than on the way. You do not need to take a draglift but it is certainly worth keeping your speed up as much as possible on the carabiniers and faisan blue runs, which take you back to the Chardonnet chair lift and the top of the main La Rosière ski area.
After an active afternoons skiing, we resolved to find a good spot for a drink in the sun, which was now providing wonderful views as the last remaining clouds danced around the mountainside.
The pistes on the French side are mainly a mix of reds and blues set in a broad open bowl. The runs criss-cross the mountain and offer great undulating terrain, and the blues of mouflon and tetra are now personal favourites.
But time for that drink and the L’Antigel slope side restaurant is just the trick. You will struggle to find many better-positioned terraces in the Alps.
It was really hard to leave our deckchairs, both physically and metaphorically. Though we did stay for a while and who could blame us with such a stunning vista laid out before us.
La Rosière is orientation to the West, which means the resort is the sunniest in the area and the rays beam down the valley until after the lifts close, even in the middle of January. Snowiest and sunniest resort in the Tarentaise – this resort is really onto something!
As it was now nearly 4 o’clock it was now time to head home and as we had started our day at Les Ecudets, we had the joy of the fontaine froide red run through the trees to complete our day. This run, though the lowest in the whole ski area is not covered by snow cannons, but after the recent snow falls it was in supreme condition.
Wow – our legs were burning after that and we were thankful that the lifts were now closed for the day. We also found the cutest little hut and terrace at the bottom to rest and rejoice at the discovery of such a fabulous resort.
With the most snow and the most sun of any resort in the area as well as great value ski chalets and lift passes, isn’t it time that you gave La Rosière a visit for your next luxury chalet holiday?