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Ski-Areas > Northern Alps > Isère (38) > Matheysine > Saint-Honoré


  1. History
  2. Off Piste Routes
  3. Travel
  4. Accomodation
  5. Restaurants and Bars
  6. Guides and Instructors
  7. Useful Information


The ski resort of Saint-Honoré is situated in the Matheysine area of the Isère department in the Northern Alps region. There is a baby drag lift for children. The other ski lifts have been dismantled.

The Curse of Saint-Hugues

Legend has it that in the middle ages St Hugues, bishop of Grenoble, put a curse on the villagers of la Morte after they killed some of his mules who had destroyed their crops. It seems that the curse continues to the present day.

Back in the heady days of the early 1980s it all seemed like such a good idea. Unite the communities of La Morte and Saint-Honoré in a project to build a ski station and offer jobs and a future based on white gold. La Morte (The Dead Woman although the name really has celtic origins from the word "mor" meaning a rock outcrop) wasn’t the ideal name from a marketing viewpoint so the promoter, with prescience, settled on l’Alpe du Grand Serre. For the greenhouse effect (Effet de Serre in French) was to play a part in the eventual bankruptcy of Saint-Honoré. Situated on sunny slopes between 1300 and 2200 meters in the Oisans mountain range, building work began in 1985 above the villages. The project would cost some 273 million Francs, guaranteed by the Regional Council and by loans from the local communities. The plan was to link the villages to the ski domain with two long chairlifts. In 1989 the first part was ready, 68 apartments. The problem was, they were never sold. The developer ran into financial difficulties and eventually ended up in prison for fraud. Between 1995 and 1996 the station lay abandoned.

St Honore

Abandonned buildings in 2004

In 1995 the SATELAM ran into difficulties and a new company, Nivis, took up the reins. However the problem of accommodation was always present. With only 500 beds the station could never attract holiday guests and was instead was reliant on weekenders and day trippers from nearby Grenoble and Gap. The turnover was very susceptible to the whims of the weather. The result was that a bad winter, such as 2000 – 2001 with only 20 ski days, could slice the takings in half, from around 8 million francs it crashed to 3.1 million.

The result was bankruptcy. The mayors of Saint-Honoré and La Morte didn’t give up hope and looked for buyers. In the end a white knight in the form of SATA (Société des Remontées mécaniques de l'Alpe d'Huez) the company that runs the lifts at nearby l’alpe d’Huez rode to the rescue. SATA had been following the debate that without small ‘learner’ resorts like l'Alpe du Grand Serre the future for skiing is bleak.

They have decided to promote the resort for schools and beginners in the belief that these skiers will be the future clients of big resorts like l’Alpe d’Huez. In this spirit SATA has leased the lift system. The only fly in the ointment, SATA have not taken over the apartment blocks in St Honoré stating that they do not have competence in that area and worried that this was the cause of problems for Nivis.

Saint-Honoré Under the Hammer

Saint-Honoré consists of a tourist office (closed), a bar-restaurant, a mini golf course, a beginners drag lift and two occupied apartment blocks along with a booth for selling lift passes. The link to le Grande Serre is operational but the remaining apartments were either stripped by vandals or had not advanced beyond foundations. In short, it looks like a ghost station.

In 2004 Saint-Honoré was sold to a property developer who has now refurbished some of the appartments. However the lift installations require major revision work. Currently plans are to dismantle and resite them on the Grand Serre side of the mountain. This will return Saint Honoré to its wild state, much to the appreciation of ski tourers climbing to Le Tabor. However, apart from a learner lift, it will mean a 20 minute car journey to reach the ski pistes or a climb on touring skis or snowshoes...

Off Piste Routes is principally an off-piste and backcountry ski and snowboard site. Please share your favourite routes in and around this resort. If the description is too long think about putting it in a sub page. The sub-page should always be preceeded by the resort name e.g.

  • Saint-Honoré - Lavancher.

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Restaurants and Bars

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Guides and Instructors

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Useful Information

Resort Closed except for baby drag lift

PisteHors special report on the ski resort of Saint Honoré

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Category: Ski Areas

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