The French Alps – Haute Maurienne Vanoise
Ample sunshine, fantastic scenery, outdoor activities galore – and let’s not forget the food – await all those who are thinking of making a trek to the French Alps in winter. I had long heard of the Savoie region of France but never understood its place in history or where it lay geographically. That all changed when I took a trip there for some cross country skiing and snowboarding.
I stayed in Le Villaron, just north of Bessans, and traveled as far north as the base of the Col de L’Iseran, the highest road pass in France, above the town of Bonneval-sur-Arc. Even though Bessans is a very small town, it was nice to stay even away from there, tucked away against the side of the steep valley amidst the few houses of the village. I made it as far south as Lanslebourg, to enjoy an incredible day of snowboarding at the Val Cenis Vanoise resort. Judging by the fact that it spanned four stations, had off-piste trails, and a huge variety of terrain to choose from, I thought that I would just hand over my wallet at the ticket counter. It was a very reasonable 31 euros for the day and I walked away feeling like I was the one who had successfully robbed a bank.
As the ski trails at Bessans were the primary point of the trip, I spent three days traversing the vast network of trails up, down and around the town. The trails offered their own interesting views of the river, town and adjacent valley and even at the height of the afternoon, the trails were never too crowded. The cold, crisp mornings and beautifully refreshing sunshine in the afternoons made for perfect bookends to an extremely satisfying days in the mountains. These photographs are from the Val Cenis Vanoise ski resort in Lanslebourg, Bessans and Bonneval-sur-Arc, pictured from top to bottom.