After all the ups and downs of the last two years of the global pandemic, we all had high expectations of skiing in Val Cenis and it did not disappoint!
We travelled with Jet2 from Bristol Airport to Chambery. It was our first time flying with Jet2 and I was very impressed. The staff were friendly and efficient and the aircraft was clean and modern. The flight home was delayed, but even then, we were kept up-to-date with information directly from Jet2. The boys were even invited onto the flight deck!
We chose skicab.com for the transfers from Chambery to Val Cenis. The communication was excellent, text messages and emails to confirm times. However, on the outward bound transfer the driver got lost and his driving skills left much to be desired, a bit of a white knuckle ride! Thankfully the driver on the return trip was a big improvement.
Val Cenis is off the map when it comes to most British tour operators but it is very popular with French and Dutch families and we could see why!
Part of the larger Haute Maurienne Vanoise valley, Val Cenis is comprised of 3 main villages – Lanslevillard, Lanslebourg and Termignon. We were based in Lanslevillard which is a mixture of traditional gîtes and purpose built apartment complexes, a lot of the accommodation is self-catering.
The facilities in Lanslevillard are excellent, there is a swimming pool, ice rink, bowling alley and toboggan run. There are two small, but well stocked supermarkets, a butchers, cheese shop and an amazing bakery! A traditional market visits on a Thursday with produce from across the region.
Don’t expect any hard-core après but there are a few bars and restaurants! Unusually for France, most of the bars and restaurants seemed to shut by 10pm! Val Cenis is a very chilled resort.
We really enjoyed the vibe of the village, everyone was super friendly and really helpful. It is a very authentic village, which we loved. The compact nature meant everything was on our doorstep and there was a shuttle bus between the villages if you did want to explore.
We booked an apartment, La Joubarde, through booking.com. It had a flexible booking policy, with no money exchanging hands until two weeks before the holiday. It appealed because of it’s central location and number of bedrooms (it always feels more like a holiday when you are not sharing with the kids!).
We really liked the apartment, it was spacious and clean. There were 4 bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen and a lounge/diner. The kitchen, although small, had all the facilities required and we cooked most evenings. The large dining table could easily accomadate eight people.
Bedrooms were comfortable, as were the beds, although fitted sheets and duvets would have been preferred over blankets! The bathrooms were both a good size, with decent showers and plentiful hot water.
The apartment had beautiful views from the outside decked area over towards the ski area. A lovely place to chill out after a day on the slopes. The apartment provided a very comfortable stay for a very reasonable rate. The owners were friendly and helpful – even coming to find us when the transfer driver got lost!
Skiing in Val Cenis
The Val Cenis ski area is the largest in the Haute Maurienne Vanoise valley offering 125km of skiable terrain. We picked the resort because of it’s beginner friendly slopes but there is a good variation of skiing in Val Cenis. The slopes are north facing so hold the snow well but does make for icy conditions first thing in the morning. The lower slopes are tree-lined, with the upper slopes offering wide pistes and lovely views.
The number of green and blue pistes makes Val Cenis a great resort for beginners. As a snowboarder, I usually avoid green graded pistes, but despite being long, none of them are so flat that you end up walking! The blue Chamois piste was very popular and was quite tricky due to the snow conditions. The red/blue Madeleine running down into Lanslebourg was a lovely piste and a firm favourite with everyone.
The higher red graded slopes are really nice, less crowded and the snow was generally better. There are some decent top to bottom runs with options to take different routes. Val Cenis is not a massive resort so there was no danger of getting completely lost!
The kids (and the adults) really enjoyed the ‘Mickey Mouse’ fun slopes with rollers and berms. There are a couple of snowparks and an airbag but that is not really our scene! There is night skiing available on a Thursday down the green graded Mollard slope.
This was our first family ski trip where both boys have been old enough for ski school. My eldest had previously done a week in the Val di Fassa and we had a failed attempt with the ESF in Châtel. After the previous poor experience with the ESF we decided to book lessons with the ESI. Their lessons started at 10am which meant the mornings were more relaxed and gave a chance for the slopes to soften up a little.
The lessons were two and half hours long for 6 days. The groups were small, a maximum of six for the youngest and eight in the older age groups. Being his first time, my youngest was quite apprehensive and despite not loving his first lesson we managed to get him to go the next day and he mastered a snow plough! He really enjoyed the rest of the week.
The ski instructors were friendly and approachable, taking the time to get to know all the children. There was no messing around in the nursery area, everyone started straight away on the ‘proper’ slopes. The progression was very impressive. All the kids got medals at the end of the week to celebrate their achievements and there were big smiles all round!
What we liked
Val Cenis is a lovely resort for family skiing. Short transfer times and plentiful, affordable accommodation. The skiing is varied, with lots of progression available for beginners. Lots to do off the slopes as well and a real authentic vibe.