Started at the eve of the Second World War l’Alpe du Grand Serre near Grenoble has not always had an easy history. The hotels were burned by the German army as revenge for attacks by resistors and the ski lifts were scrapped to help with the war effort. A satellite ski station located St Honore went bust and the ruins scarred the landscape for a generation. Even the original name “la Morte” was not exactly a marketing man’s dream but Grand Serre is maybe not great either (Effet de Serre - greenhouse effect).
The resort was taken over by the Alpe d’Huez lift company in a 30 year deal and this seemed to bring some stability but it also brought higher lift pass prices. Last season La SATA made a 300,000€ loss and asked the town hall to reimburse them or they would pull out; the town hall called their bluff and is now running the resort themselves with an ambitious programme for 2015 including a season pass for just 159€ for an adult if bought before the 1st October 2014 and a drop in the daily lift pass price to 24€90 (with lower rates for under 18s and children).
At PisteHors we like the AGS as it is known locally. The shaded north-west facing slopes offer a variety of runs to suit all tastes. Located between the Southern and Northern Alps the resort often benefits from both weather systems giving good snow cover when adjacent areas in one direction or the other are suffering. The area has adapted to changing tastes. It has a secured “ski touring zone” with gear hire and a beacon park. There are regular training sessions on beacon use and other backcountry skills. The ski touring is exceptional with the Taillefer and Tabor mountains accessible from the resort. The wild and steep Circuit de la Mer is a modern day ski touring classic. The nearby north face of the Grand Armet is an extreme skiers delight. There are plunging views over Grenoble and the east wall of the Vercors and Belledonne. The lift serves 55km of ski runs from 1400 to 2200 meters with varied skiing from steep to beginners. There is off piste skiing to suit all tastes from three itinerary routes to the spectacular couloirs of the Grand Serre. There is the usual cross country skiing, snow shoeing and dog sledding as well as other activities you associate with a winter ski area.
The thing that has probably most held back the area is lack of accommodation. This has a couple of advantages. The resort isn’t a huge sprawl of a ghost town of unoccupied apartments like you get in the Savoie and it limits the number of people on the slopes, especially during the week.
thanks to Jereon from http://skitour.fr/ for the heads-up.