Valfréjus installs new gondola and fast chair lift
Valfréjus is installing a new gondola and fast chair lift for 2010. It may be ‘La Crise’ for the French or ‘Credit Crunch’ as we know it around the Globe and in developed world but the current financial difficulties seem not to have reached one small ski resort nestled deep in the Maurienne valley in the French Alps.
Situated in the Savoie Valfréjus lies just above the border town of Modane and next to the Fréjus tunnels linking the French and Italien rail and motorway networks. The resort is just 1h30 from Turin airport and an hour’s drive from Chambery airport.
With the realisation that the best future for the area is through tourism, the municipality of Modane has budgeted and financed a new six seater chair lift and gondola. Construction by the Austrian company Doppelmayer began directely after the end of the winter season. The deadline (1st June) for removing the old building, the pylons together with all of the rest of the old infrastructure was met despite the remaining snow cover from an excellent season. This particularly affected access to the top station at Punta Bagna 2737m above the sea level.
The works continues apace with just 170 days (30.06.09) left until the opening of the new 8 seater gondola and the 6 seater chair-planned for just before Xmas 2009. In times of a recession this type of venture is looking a good few years into the future but for the locals quality and modern lift facilities are the key for bringing the whole area in line with other French ski resorts.
The Maurienne Valley has started to be noticed
The relatively new A43 motorway from Chambery towards the Italian Border/Modane runs beside the river Arc. Their are numerous ski resorts in the Valley but they are best known by the French themselves. The include St Francois Longchamp with links with Valmorel with a new lift to Celliers, La Toussuire, Le Corbier and Les Karellis. These resorts lie at the start of the valley and are closer to Chambery. They names don’t trip off the tongue of every foreign skier or tour operator but the les Sybelles link area is one of the biggest ski domains in Europe.
Further up the Valley one finds the resorts of Valloire, Valmeinier and Orelle (the backdoor into the 3 Valleys via Val Thorens are getting more and more popular not only with the locals but with the other Europeans. Prices in the Maurienne resorts are cheaper than better known areas, the ski facilities are surprisingly good and there are some real jewels, one of them Valfréjus, at 1550 meters altitude it is just 6km from the French motorway network and 9km from the high speed rail (TGV) line, making it one of the most accessible ski areas in France. There are plans to upgrade the TGV line from Lyon to Turin to full high speed status and an exploratory rail tunnel is being dug under the col du Mont Cenis
Valfréjus is a charming, traditional ski resort nestling into the forested slopes of the Maurienne Valley. Strict planning laws have ensured that all chalets are constructed in a typical Savoyard style. It has a friendly, authentic mountain village atmosphere with locals living in the resort year round. Constructed in the early 80’s, Valfréjus was one of the last resorts to be built in the French Alps. The buildings are very uniform (Savoyard chalets) and fit perfectly into the landscape amongst the larch and spruce. As for the skiing, the area is technical enough with a surprising amount of vertical for resort of this size.
The replacement gondola
You may think that Pomagalski would be the obvious choice for the new lift system. Inventor of the modern drag lift (it’s even called a Poma lift in English) the Voiron based company is French to the core. Yes but no…
Doppelmayer the Austrian leader in ski lifts, won the battle and Valfréjus will be a French showcase for its latest designs. There are even rumours of more lifts to link with Valmenier-Valloire and over the border with resorts in the Bardonneccia valley in Italy. Doppelmayer has made its French headquarters in the Town of Modane.
Facts about Valfréjus and the surrounding Resorts
- Neighbouring resorts La Norma and Aussois are included in the same lift pass (both offering slightly different experience).
- The Nearby resort of Orelle links with the Big One - The Trois Valleys (the gondola takes you straight to the 3300m and into Val Thorens)
- Over the border, through the tunnel is Bardonneccia which was part of the Turin Olympics. It hosted the snowboard competitions. The Half-Pipe and the Snow-Park are one of the best in Europe.
- At the head of the Maurienne Valley there are more resorts: Val Cenis is composed of 3 satellite villages, there is the French cross skiing capital – Bessans. The last ski resort in the long and windy valley is Bonneval-sur-Arc the traditional stone old village, it has won the best village in France competition and has a very good ski area topping out at 3000m. Finally the road reaches the 2700 meter col d’Iseran mountain pass. There is summer skiing here on the glacier (we saw the lifts operating a couple of days ago), the road then descends to Val d’Isere’s, home of the 2009 World Alpine ski championships.
Back to Valfréjus
To help the appetite for information about the construction of the new gondola and lift a new blog with daily updates, photos and articles has been set-up. It has met with huge interest from all of the regulars and locals who have marked this ski place as something very unique and special. Valfréjus ski area may not be the biggest but it is one of the most captivating and intimate with tree-lined ski runs, huge panoramas over to Italy, and traditional mountain restaurants. The local people are warm, friendly and welcoming. Constructed in local stone, and pine, the area’s low rise chalets fit perfectly into the natural surroundings.
In Short: Why Valfréjus?
- A superb setting with excellent facilities for children
- Very easy to access with La Norma, Aussois (joint ski pass), and Orelle (Trois Valles-600km ski runs –the biggest area in the world)within a 20 minute drive
- brand new fast gondola and a detachable 6 seated chair with huge capacity.
- Small and friendly resort offering very good value for money
- Anow reliability and height of skiing available,
- Altitude difference between top and bottom lift,
- Ease of access via plane, train or automobile,
- Low cost of a week’s and season’s skiing in times of a financial crisis.
- Childcare facilities and children’s ski classes,
- Authentic local cuisine,
- Minimal lift queues and crowds,
- The ski area and variety of terrain,
- Proximity to other resorts for daytrips in other ski areas,
- Possibility for just a break in the fresh air
Posted by on Sunday, 05 July, 2009 at 04:50 PM
In 2010 the new fast gondola and six pack chair lift made a big difference to queues. For competent skiers the top of the mountain was a pleasure with a choice of two black, a red or blue routes to Plateaux d’Arrondaz - and the chairlift back to the top. Beginners and young children can take the gondola from the resort to Plateaux d’Arrondaz where there is a (new) moving walkway, kindergarten areas and green slopes. Intermediates will enjoy the 13km scenic Jeu back to the village.
For 2011 the resort will be further improved with renewal/overhaul of two chair lifts and the realignment of a green. This green run, back to the village, was aptly named Escargot and involved some walking. If all has gone according to plan it should now be possible to ski or board all the way.
A six day pass includes a day at either Aussois or La Norma. For 2011 there is a new (more expensive) pass which includes Aussois, La Norma, Val Cenis and Valfréjus.
SnowYourWay.com is a small independent holiday company based in Valfréjus. Their packages include free airport transfers and free shuttles to neighbouring resorts. Most popular are a day at La Norma (included in 6 day pass) and a day at Orelle for Val Thorens and the Three Valleys (upgrade required but still a lot cheaper than a day ticket)
All the latest news and photos at http://valfrejus2009.blogspot.com/
Posted by on Saturday, 13 November, 2010 at 02:00 PM
This is an informative post! By the way would you please share with us about A43 motorway? Thanks a lot
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Posted by on Wednesday, 05 October, 2011 at 01:12 PM
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