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

Thursday, 29 October 2015

PARADISE POSTPONED: No Tour in the Tarentaise (again)

There are loads of good things about the 2016 Tour de France route:

  • The opening days in La Manche will be beautiful - weather permitting
  • The stage finish at the obscure Massif Central ski resort that is Le Lioran
  • A more imaginative few days in the Pyrenees.  No Plateau de Beille. Hurrah!
  • Mont Ventoux, itself an unlikely ski resort
  • The excursion into Switzerland
  • The three-week caravan follows a nice arc, Normandy to the Alps, with no long transfers (until the final day)

The only sad point is that (yet again) there is no racing in the Tarentaise.  Unless you count the stage start in Albertville.  Bourg St Maurice, Les Arcs, La Rosiere and Tignes can all claim some Tour heritage.  But it's been some time since the race went beyond Moutiers.  At least we haven't lost out to our friends in the Maurienne, which has been the usual scenario in recent years.  Roll on, 2017.....

The Miguel Indurain era ended
on the road to Les Arcs, 1986

Saturday, 17 October 2015

TWIN TOWNS: Football and Skiing

With the football season now under way, time to look again at which ski resorts make the best twins for the Premiership sides.  Here is the 2014/15 version.

With the demise of Hull, QPR and Burnley, which resorts should be twinned with the three sides that take their place?  Here are three candidates:

AFC Bournemouth: ORCIERES-MERLETTE.  Way down in the south - none of the fancy big players ever paid them a moment's notice previously. But when you look at what they now have, it's quite impressive.

Norwich City: SERRE CHEVALIER.  Remote location, historic centre, good cuisine. Yo-yos in and out of the big league.

Watford: MONTGENEVRE. Strong Italian influence, previously traffic-clogged but road improvements now take most of the traffic away from the centre.  Always in the brochures in the 1980s; back in the top flight now.

Flaine would doubtless want to challenge
its twinning with Aston Villa

A GUIDE TO THE SLOPES: Where to Ski and Snowboard

The new edition of Where to Ski and Snowboard is now out.  It has a winning format - latest news and analysis, followed byextensive guides to the main resorts and pen pics of hundreds of smaller ski areas.

Looking at the main chapters, there's an informal system of promotion and relegation in terms of who is and is not included.  For example, Alpbach was relegated from the 2014 edition, but is back now.

Over the years, Valmorel has yo-yoed from having a seat in the main section to being in the back of the book.  It's back with a chapter of its own this year, although the authors suggest that the ski area is "lagging some way behind - and it is never going to compete with its illustrious neighbours in the next-door Three Valleys."

You can ski over from Valmorel to St Francois-Longchamp in the Maurienne valley, and the Maurienne will be delighted that it now has a chapter of its own in this new 2016 edition.

This includes details of the Eski-mo ski pass, covering the five resorts east of Modane, as well as short summaries of the following ski areas:

  • Les Sybelles
  • Valloire
  • Valmeinier
  • Les Karellis
  • Albiez
  • Valfrejust
  • Aussois
  • La Norma
  • Bonneval-sur-Arc

These resorts are little-known to British skiers.  And they provide much cheaper options than the mega resorts on the other side of the hill.

I've never got beyond St Francois in winter, but the summer drive up the valley motorway is a more dramatic one scenery-wise than the RN90 to Bourg-St-Maurice.  And the skiing gets good reports - see for example this piece from Peter Hardy in the Telegraph a few years ago.

Surely some mistake:The new edition of the book gives
Les Arcs a measly 2 stars for Alpine Charm....

Saturday, 3 October 2015


With the temperatures now starting to drop, a quick round-up of some of the pre-season news from the Tarentaise.

Les Arcs makes the Best Resorts for Experts list in the Telegraph.

Scary TV show The Returned is back on French screens and is back on More 4 on 16th October.  Although much of it is shot in Annecy, series 1 gave the Tignes dam a starring role:

There's more of this at the Les Revenants Facebook page

The Les Arcs Film Festival is gearing up for its annual event, which runs from 12th December.  The special focus this year is on Norwegian films.  This coincides with the start of the season, which includes new lifts in Les Arcs and La Plagne, as well as completion of the Mille 8 development above Arc 1800.

Further up the valley, conditions at the Grande Motte over the summer were terrible.  But if you can't wait until December, the Tignes glacier is now open for business.

If you want to follow the valley from afar, the @La_Rosiere1850 twitter feed is arguably the best.