Top Lift: 2600m
Ski area: 150km of piste
Adult lift pass: 180€ for six days
In a Nutshell
A year-round working village below the legendary Col du Galibier with an infectious, friendly vibe, Valloire has a loyal following among French family skiers, but is relatively little-known outside France.
Essential Advice for the Perfect Trip
“The resort of Valloire is lovely,” said a reporter. “Very traditionally French with some lovely restaurants. Not a huge amount of nightlife but as a self-contained group in our 30s we had plenty to do and drink in the evenings. The skiing would be limited for expert skiers but there was more than enough for decent intermediates to be kept busy for the week”.
Despite an impressive location just north of the Col du Galibier (beyond which lies Serre Chevalier), the Galibier Thabor ski area has somehow slipped below the radar of most non-French skiers.
It could all have been very different if an ambitious 1980s project to link several of the Maurienne Valley’s ski areas with Bardonecchia, just across the Franco-Italian border, had come to fruition; the resulting vast Croix du Sud Grand Domain would by now have been world-famous. Sadly, today it seems destined to remain a distant dream. But you can still enjoy a major chunk of it, courtesy Valloire and Valmeinier’s 150km of mostly intermediate groomed terrain.
A down-to-earth village where life goes on as usual
The Valloire Galibier area proudly proclaims its association with local-boy Jean-Baptiste Grange, who honed his World Cup slalom skills right here. It’s big news for a down-to-earth place like this, where life goes on as usual when the ski season ends. While it’s here, though, it takes things very seriously indeed, delivering the kind of all-round package which has built a considerable loyalty among French family skiers. The main village offers plenty of shops and services – at prices well below what you’ll pay in more famous resorts – along with direct access to the ski area via a pair of high-speed gondolas, while those staying higher up the valley in the developments of Moulin Benjamin and Les Verneys have just one fixed (i.e. slow) chair-lift apiece. There are, however, frequent free shuttle buses to drop you near the main lifts.
Ski Valloire, and you get Valmeinier thrown in for free
Meanwhile, over in Valmeinier things have an altogether different feel, with accommodation spread over more (and smaller) sites. The original village (or la Ville Dessus) sits at 1500m, with chair-lifts heading both up the mountain and across the valley towards Valloire, while Valmeinier 1800 (and the intermediate Gros Crey) are more obviously purpose-built. More importantly, the landscape currently has little in the way of tree-cover, so skiers based here are keen to head across the valley for more varied and sheltered terrain.
Considered as an overall package, we have no hesitation in saying that Galibier Thabor is an area which deserves much wider appreciation among international skiers and snowboarders.