Good Ski Guide’s Daniel Harrison discovers a Ski Easy paradise in Les Sybelles
The French Alps mega region of Les Sybelles is a great value resort perfect for families, beginners, intermediates and relaxed skiing. Not only is it Ski Easy it is easy on the pocket too.
I was amazed to discover this 320km ski area of six resorts in close to the famous 3Valleys because I’d never heard of it
A quick Google search was very encouraging with plenty of info on the ski resorts and snow reports were great. The piste map displayed a very centralised ski area, rather than being tenuously connected and drawn out such as some more famous ski areas. Sybelles resorts form a ring round the area allowing quick transit between valleys and resorts.
Access is good too. Lyons swish new airport is just over two hours fast drive to Saint Sorlin d’Arves one of the larger Sybelles resorts. All villages are traditional and inexpensive but with a variety of ski accommodation. The larger resorts, Le Corbier, Saint Sorlin d’Arves and La Toussuire have blocks of self catered apartments and chalet-apartment buildings with a range of 2 – 4 star hotels in the centre.
For value-seeking Brits and canny Dutch there are chalets large and small both catered and self catered circling village centres. The smaller resorts of Saint Jean d’Arves, Les Bottieres and St Colomban des Villards are truly rural with some beautiful accommodation amid the trees.
My exploration of the ski areas began from Saint Sorlin d’Arves. The sun was shining and the queue for the chairlft, non-existent. The day’s tour took us to five of the six resorts, and through approximately 100km of fantastically varied pistes, with blue runs right from the top, so beginners can roam free with little worry.
Highlights of the day included the incredible views afforded from La Blame, L’Ouillon and Les Perrons. The nearby triple peaks of Les Aiguilles d’Arves are striking from the valley but were incredible to see from Les Perrons in the crisp sunlight. Beyond are the peaks of Le Duex Alpes and in the opposite direction Mont Blanc. I felt like we were at the very centre of the French Alps.
Little wonder Les Sybelles is a favourite of the French which means the produce shops in all resorts must sell the genuine article at a good price. The Dutch love Les Sybelles too – it is in their top five family ski destinations.
The resorts all have their own character with something for everyone. For a self catered budget holiday, Saint Jean D’Arves has a range of basic family apartments at outstanding prices as does La Toussuire which also has some fantastic chalets and mid-range hotels. Mid Feb to Mid March are the French holidays but even in the busy times, prices are great for apartments with accommodation for six people available for around €1500 at peak weeks and as low as €180 off peak!
The tourist board offer incredible deals every year for off peak visits, in January a group of six need only buy lift passes to get their accommodation completely free!
Our ski guide Sebastian, a true local, carries on the tradition of producing his own Genepi, a liquor made from a blend of regional flowers growing between 2600 and 3000m. The exact recipe is guarded and every local has their own preferred spot to harvest and method of production.
Having sampled I found it warm and creamy and similar to Green Chartreuse and costing between €5 and €15 a bottle. On the piste beer is a lowly €3.80, and a bowl of fries about the same – a quarter of what you pay in the 3V or Portes du Soleil!! Lunch on mountain is from €8-€15.