Val Cenis is a little-known gem in France’s Haute Maurienne, close to the Italian border. The villages of Lanslebourg, 1,400m, and Lanslevillard, 1,500m., to neighbour Termignon, and the resorts offers 125km of pistes, mainly intermediate-level terrain. Lifts climb to 1800m and plunge down to around 1,3000m – some drop.
Val Cenis caters for all abilities, although it is best suited to intermediates. There are 9 green runs, 10, 18 red , and 6 blacks served by 22 lifts. One major attraction is blue pistes from top to bottom, a bonus for beginners who can have fun at altitudes they might not be able to reach at other resorts. It’s also home to the longest green run in Europe; the 10km l’Escargot which winds down from 2,100m to 1,400m.
The lower slopes wind through trees. Above the 2,100 metre tree line, from there is an abundance of off-piste possibilities. For impressive backcountry skiing, make for the Lanslevillard end of the resort, with the Bullseye and Avalanche gullies testing and exciting. Panoramic views from the top of the TSF4 de la Met lift, at 2,800m are stunning, particularly those over the Lac du Mont Cenis. Several pistes run down to its shores.. While not totally snow-sure, its altitude means fun rarely stops from December to April. Snowmaking also covers many main pistes.
Curiously, the resort attracts a mainly British and US contingent, and it is probably better known here than in France, which makes it significantly quieter than larger French Alpine resorts. So long lift queues are pretty rare. The resort also a 900m luge run and 8km of Nordic loipes. Val Cenis is within reach of Modane, Lyon, Geneva and Chambery. There are hotels across most price ranges, many ski in-ski-out, including some stunning offers and late booking prices.