Bourg St M Town Hall, Dec 2017. Has "Architecture of XX Century" status, alongside cinema & Arc 2000 cable car station. Click on photo for more

Saturday, 24 September 2011


A couple of seasons ago, Alpes magazine ran a special issue called "La Palmares des Stations".   This ranked the different resorts under a series of categories.

The first is "Le Grand Ski" - ie an Ofsted-style league table aimed at those for whom the skiing is everything.

The magazine devised a complex scoring system which included:

- Height of top lift
- Vertical descent
- Range of pistes (see below)
- No of pistes
- Access to big ski area
- Events, competitions, etc
- Price of lift pass
- Price of accommodation

Perhaps the most interesting stat is the one on range of pistes.  They calculated the % of reds and blacks as a % of all pistes.  The higher the %, the greater the score - I've set this in brackets below.

Anyway, the winner is.....Alpe d'Huez, which got maximum scores on both height of top lift, vertical drop and number of pistes, as well as on price of accommodation (Serre Chevalier, Le Corbier, Chamrousse and Villard-de-Lans all did well here, too.  Courchevel, and indeed the Trois Vallees generally, did not.

Here is the full ranking (% red/black pistes):

1.  Alpe d'Huez (44)
2.  Les Arcs (48)
3.  La Plagne (33)
4.  Val Thorens (52)
5.  Vars (45)
6.  Chamonix (49)
7.  Serre-Che (50)
8.  Val d'Isere (44)*
9.  Tignes (47)
10. Les Menuires (51)
11. Meribel (43)
12. La Clusaz (37)
13. Chamrousse (48)
14. Avoriaz (43)
15. Courchevel (36)
16. Montgenevre (58)
17. Le Corbier (25)
18. Allos 1800 (51)
19. Villard-de-Lans (51)
20. Chatel (45)
21. Isola 2000 (26)

* Clearly, this assumes that all piste gradings are the same, which of course they aren't - cf the savage "blue runs" around Val d'Isere....

Sunday, 18 September 2011


All of the resorts have their own sites of course (my favourite is www.pralognan.com). The Les Arcs official site looks quite smart, but loses marks for not being kept up-to-date.  For example (on 27/12/11) the link to the piste map is for 2010/11 rather than the new 2011/12 version.  Here are some links to some other places on the web:

For Les Arcswww.espace-arcadien.fr.  The content is a tad out-of-date, but has good links to local webcams.

Also for Les Arcs: www.lesarcs.net will sell you chalet/apartment accommodation, but has lots more.

Finally, a bit more of a collector's piece: the Les Arcs film festival.  Oh yes.  There's still a bit of a debate about whether the investment has been worth the while (the idea was to extend the season, as part of a more "diverse" offer of activities....)

For La Plagnewww.perso-laplagne.fr.  This is a great site - lots about new developments, history of the resort, etc etc.  La Plagne fans who don't speak French will still enjoy the pictures.

For the weather: Meteo France.  This is the local forecast, with "previsions" for the next few days.

For getting excited/depressed about local snow conditionswww.snoweye.com.
This has just about every resort in Europe, with various cameras in the big reports...

For cyclingwww.grenoblecycling.com.  This is based further down the Isere valley, but includes descriptions of most of the main cols in the area.  Recent posts include video, which makes it doubly exciting.

To improve your Frenchwww.bourgstmaurice.tv was set up this year by an enterprising local.  And the regional newspaper www.ledauphine.com is worth a browse/a follow on Twitter.