Ski Areas > Northern Alps > Maurienne

Sandwiched between the mega-resorts of the Three Valleys and Tarentaise and the sunny, family friendly station of the l'Alpe d'Huez the ski resorts of the Maurienne are often overlooked as being on the road to somewhere else, which is a mistake. The motorway now links directly with the Fréjus road tunnel which joins the valley to Italy and easy access to Turin Airport. There are also good rail links with 2 to 3 TGV (high speed) trains daily stopping daily at St. Jean de Maurienne (the central sub-prefecture town which has some pleasant Italian style architecture), There are an additional 2 to 3 TGVs on Saturday and Sundays during the main ski season and these also stop at the stations below the resorts (St. Arve/La Chambre and St. Michel de Maurienne. From the UK the trip takes 9 hours and about £175 return with excursion tickets. By road it takes 10 hours from Calais with short stops to refuel with the bonus that you can taste a bit of Italy on the other side of the Fréjus tunnel with the Sauze d’Oulx / Sestrière and the via Lattia resorts. Turin is also worth an overnight stop if you are fly/driving for Italian fashion and the many chocolate shops. There is a market for local produce in the town-center on Sundays.

Until the 1970s the Maurienne valley was the “Ebbw Vale” of France with heavy smokestack industries and the mountain villages barely out of subsistence agriculture. Many lowland French still express amazement that anyone would want to holiday there but apart from a couple of remaining large factories no worse than in the Arve valley, it has long since been greened in conjunction with the motorway construction. At the level of “town and motorway” below the resorts, the Maurienne is more attractive than the Tarentaise and the lower Valaisanne Rhone valley. The Maurienne is classed as a rural development zone (ZZR - Zone de Revitalisation Rural) and the bed capacity has expanded enormously over the last few years from 76,000 in 1997 to 122,000 in 2006. Some feel this has overdeveloped certain parts of the valley and there is pressure to extend ski runs and lifts at certain resorts (see main news section for more information).

Locals know that the Maurienne is also a secret gateway into the Val Thorens and the Trois Vallées via the Orelle cable car. This development has encouraged Val Thorens to encroach onto what were once favourite off-piste routes in the Cime de Caron. Valmorel can also be accessed from the unimaginatively arranged draglifts of Saint-Francois Longchamp.

Maurienne Valley Map

The jewel of the Maurienne ski scene is undoubtedly the linked Les Sybelles ski area which boasts some 310km of ski pistes, grouping six ski resorts to form one of largest ski domains in France. The whole area is dominated by Aiguilles d'Arves, three ragged needles that are visible from as far as les Deux Alpes to Mont Blanc. Pushing further up the valley there are the resorts of Valfréjus, Valmeinier and Val Cenis.

Ski Resorts

Further Information

Mountain Rescue

Mountain rescue is operated in shifts by branches of the PGHM (Gendarmerie) and CRS (National Police). They will coordinate with the piste rescue, fire brigade and civil security. In the Maurienne they operate a joint emergency telephone number: 04 79 05 11 88. You can also call 112.

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