Alpine Skiing: Valmeinier; Maurienne; French Alps - 2,728 m. (8,951 ft)

Fri, 14 April 2023


Minimum altitude: 1,405 meters

Distance: 75.5 km

Slope Aspect: Various

Trip Reports

Vertical Climbed: 8,858 meters (29,063 feet)

Vertical Descended: 8,884 meters


The village of Valmeinier dates from the 12th century with the main activity being mostly farming. Mining of anthracite started in the 18th century and gave rise to the name of the commune Valmeinier = Vallée des Mines. Agriculture declined from the 1960s so that by the end of the 1970s there were just 80 permanent residents. To address this problem in 1971 the local council decided to develop a ski resort. The Crey du Quart sector was chosen with the aim of linking with neighbouring Valloire. It was a real community project with locals investing in the infrastructure and using their free time to lay out trails and tracks. A chair lift and two drag lifts were built in 1974. Valmeinier 1500 was started in 1985 and Valmeinier 1800 on the Islettes plateau in 1987.

However it was not all plain sailing. In 1990 the commune went bust and by 1997 it owed 385,000 francs per head of population (about 95,000 euros in 2023), one of the most indebted in France. The station had built 12 ski lifts and permission for 8000 beds but suffered from years with lack of snow and a property crash at the start of the 1990s. In the end the resort was bailed out by the Savoie taxpayer. There was also a project to link Valmeinier with Orelle (Val Thorens) and Valfrejus and then into Italy and Bardonecchia. The famous Southern Cross Project (Croix du Sud). This was resurrected in 2019 but finally abandoned in 2022.

It seems like Valmeinier is cursed. The ski area was also hit with a 5 million euro+ bill when the French high court ordered an eyesore car-park to be demolished. In 2006 buildings in the resort were affected by concrete rot.

The ski area is split into two sectors The east facing Crey du Quart and the west facing Gros Crey that links into Valloire. The connection between the two is only possible by skis at the top, northern end of the valley. At the lower end it is via a chairlift. The accommodation is largely in the Gros Crey sector and is ski in ski out. The resort is well laid out, practical and ideal for beginners and intermediate skiers with some interesting off piste. Along with Valloire, there are 160km of ski runs. The highest point in the commune is Mont Thabor at 3178.

Off Piste

There is lots of between the pistes skiing in the Gros Crey sector.

Combe de Bordelin

From the summit of the Gros Crey chairlift. Ski the ridge to the north for 200 meters then descend into a large, east facing slope around 25-30 degrees and ski down to a flat area then continue into a large tree lined bowl to a forest road at 1670m. (be careful not to miss this or you’ll end up in Orelle). Follow this flattish road to get back to Valmeinier 1500. You may want skins. The descent to the road is in an avalanche couloir and the forest trail is also crossed by the same. The trail was used for ski de fond in the past..

Col des Marches / Petit Fourchon

From the top of the Sandoniere turn right (south) and ruck under the rope to ski down into the combe des Marches, return via the Reine des Pres track. It is also possible to climb to the Petit Fourchon from the col.

Les Inversins

Follow the bowl for a pleasant, rolling off piste then enter the woods for more sporting skiing towards the bottom.

Crey du Quart Sector

There is lots of off piste accessible on the east side of the Crey du Quart.

Grand Plateau

Take the Combe drag. From the summit of the Grand Plateau descend the east face towards Valmeinier on a wide open face. At Mathoset cross to the right bank of the valley to reach Valmeinier. The bottom of the valley has a lot of brushwood

Crey du Quart/Praz Violette

Descend the bowl to the east then north east to the right of the Violette pistes. There are a number of options before rejoining the Neuvache blue.


There is wooded off piste at the bottom half of the Crey du Quart sector. It is possible to ski down to the Graupil from the Amera piste through clearings and valleys in the woods even to the hamlet of la Duchere or the Col du Télégraphe. There is a bus between Valloire and Valmeinier for the return trip.

Trip Report

Last day of the 2023 season and some excellent snow conditions at long last. Skiing on piste was the best of the season. We explored the main ski areas and runs of Valmeinier and Valloire. Off piste the snow was heavy and not particuarly fun on piste skis, a reminder that it is, in fact, spring.


Excellent piste conditions with 40cm of fresh snow over the last few days. Heavy off piste where the snow had seen the sun.


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