1. The excellent snow record
La Rosiere, together with the linked resort of La Thuile on the Italian side of the Petit St Bernard pass, is a secret snow pocket. Thanks to a micro-climate created by the Mont Blanc Massif, both regularly get better cover than many of the surrounding resorts. This season La Thuile clocked a mighty 130cm of fresh snow in mid-March. After a new snowfall, the off-piste stays relatively untracked for days on end and there is superb heli-skiing to be had up on the Ruitor Glacier and from a few other designated landing zones on the Italian side of the frontier – drops are not allowed in France. La Rosiere sits above Bourg St Maurice at 1850m, with the ski area going up to 2579m.
2. A high standard of ski tuition
La Rosiere has a strong reputation as a family resort and specialist companies such as Ski Esprit have been based here for nearly 20 years. The ESF and Evolution 2 are both in the resort, offering childcare and classes for kids. La Rosiere is a Famille Plus Montagne destination, a national quality benchmark which pledges to provide a special welcome for families. But don’t be fooled – this is also a resort for grown-ups looking for lots of intermediate skiing on the French side and some more advanced runs above La Thuile – and great mountain restaurants.
For parents who want something more challenging, including some wonderful off-piste skiing and trips to La Thuile, Vincent Dagosto of the ESF and Xavier Arpin of Evolution 2 are charismatic teachers. Local mountain guide, Manu Gaidet was three times world freeride champion. He lives in La Rosiere and can be booked for off-piste and heli-ski sorties. For a guy who’s the most decorated steeps-and-powder skier of his generation – he’s extraordinarily modest. He makes his own skis and has his bindings set on DIN 22.5. No, that’s not a spelling mistake. At 18.5 – the highest setting Look had ever previously built – he complained that he kept popping out…so they made him special springs.
3. The long, long pistes
The 160km ski area is mainly intermediate and some of the pistes are very long indeed, with a continious vertical drop of 1207 thigh-burning vertical metres on the La Rosiere side, taking you all the way down to the hamlet of Ecudets. There’s a snowpark for freestylers, too.
The La Rosiere side has tons of blue and red runs of varying gradients on a wide stretch of open mountainsides served by a series of mainly modern chairs. The long run down to Ecudets is a favourite of ours. The frontier area around the pass is very exposed, but the La Thuile side has some much more demanding pistes – including a FIS World Cup downhill course and some excellent tree-skiing.
4. Some new and convenient places to stay
Most of the accommodation is spread along the edge of the pistes, or set slightly back. Le Lodge Hemera is fresh this season and fits nicely into the sort of bigger, more substantial apartments people who have skied in North America hope to find in the Alps. Hemera is situated in the village centre, a three-minute walk from the lifts. It has an indoor swimming-pool and a luxurious spa, the O de Cimes, with hot-tub, sauna, steamroom and a range of massage treatments on offer. Breakfast can be delivered to your door and in the evening you can order raclette, fondue, and other regional specialities for in-apartment dining.
5. Italian mountain restaurants
Yes, French cuisine is good, but Italian mountain fare is considerably better priced over on the La Thuile side of the mountain – and some of the restaurants are really memorable. It’s easy to whisk across the border – wind permitting. La Grotta (a converted cowshed serving classic Italian food) is reached by courtesy minibus from the foot of the pistes. Lo Riondet, up on the summer road over the pass, provides a wholesome lunch beside an open fire in authentic chalet-style surroundings. Nearby Maison de la Neige is more formal, but still welcoming.
If you must eat on the French side, head for either L’Ancolie in the hamlet of Les Eucherts beside La Rosiere, or to the giant sunny terrace of Le Relais du Petit-St-Bernard, the main inn of La Rosiere situated at the foot of the pistes.
6. The unspoilt village atmosphere
La Rosiere hasn’t been taken over by the mass market, rich Russians or large groups of drunken youths. Since it was built in the 1960s – mainly in chalet-style using local wood and stone – it’s remained a small and pleasant family-friendly destination where people come to ski rather than shop or take part in pub crawls. Don’t come here if you’re looking for a wild nightlife! Quieter still is Les Eucherts, a hamlet that has grown to become a separate part of La Rosiere – specifically for families with small children.
Self-catering prices with Ski Collection start at £233pp for seven nights, based on five shaing a two-bedroom apartment. Ski drive price includes FlexiPlus Eurotunnel crossings. Ski Collection also offers airport transfer inclusive deals from £368pp based on four people sharing from Geneva.