Expert guide to La Rosière
Beginner bolthole on the Italian frontier
The original La Rosière resort (now known as La Rosière Centre) was developed in the 1960s and 70s at the start of the road to the Petit St Bernard pass to Italy, which is closed in winter. More recent development has been concentrated at Les Eucherts, around one kilometre away and linked by a pretty, snow-covered path through the trees that is floodlit at night and makes a lovely walk.
Both parts of the resort feature low-rise, chalet-style buildings of wood and stone and have fast lifts into the slopes. They are very popular with families because of the easy slopes and good ski schools. The views over the Tarentaise valley from both resort and slopes are stunning.
The slopes are linked to those of La Thuile in Italy to form the Espace San Bernardo. This sizable 152km ski area suits beginners and intermediates best, though there are attractions for the more expert with some steeper pistes and attractive off piste on both the French and the Italian sides.
Inside the resort . . .
Both parts of the resort village have a very friendly feel to them because of their small size, sympathetic chalet-style buildings and lack of traffic – although not car-free, the far ends of both parts are dead ends, so there is no through road.
As well as the footpath between La Rosière Centre and Les Eucherts, there’s a free bus that runs into the evenings.
Most accommodation is in apartments, including some very smart complexes with pools and spa areas, and there are also some upmarket four-star hotels.
The resort is family orientated and après ski is fairly quiet, though some bars occasionally have live bands. The Moo Bar in Les Eucherts is the place to go for late night dancing and it sometimes has early evening kids’ discos. The Igloo Village at the bottom of the Plan du Repos chairlift is open from 9am to 5pm, and there’s an Ice Bar serving cheese fondue and speciality cheese and dried-meat platters.
The ski area’s link to Italy adds to its attraction because of the contrasting cultures of the two countries and the cheaper restaurant prices on the Italian side.
Both the French and Italian sides of the slopes suit beginners and intermediates best, thanks to some very wide, easy runs that are delightful cruises, but both have challenges for experts too. There is a network of red pistes and lots of easily accessible off piste high on the La Rosière side, served by two fast chairlifts.
There are also three dedicated ascents beside the pistes in La Rosiere for ski tourers to use – a very innovative idea.
On the slopes . . .
Navigate La Rosière’s ski area with our insider’s knowledge of the local slopes and beyond, on and off piste, ski schools and terrain parks.
While much of La Rosière’s local slopes suit beginners and early intermediates best, advanced intermediates are well served by the Mont Valaisan sector of slopes, with five red runs served by two fast six-seater chairlifts. Experts can also use these chairlifts to access a big area of off piste.
The local slopes are linked to those of La Thuile in Italy to form the Espace San Bernardo. This has 152km of pistes, equally split between France and Italy, and has had its pistes measured and verified independently by Christoph Schrahe, who has developed a standard method of measuring kilometres of piste that makes accurate comparisons of piste extent between resorts. Most resorts exaggerate their claims by adding on kilometres to allow for turning – using that method would give Espace San Bernardo 198km. Either way, the combined area makes a fairly extensive ski area.
La Rosière’s slopes get a lot more snow than many nearby resorts such as Les Arcs because of its situation in the Tarentaise valley and exposure to storms coming up it. But most of its slopes are south-facing, so snow quality can deteriorate quickly in warm sunny weather. On the other hand, La Thuile’s slopes are mainly north-facing, so the snow quality there is usually excellent and powdery.
Most of the main lifts in Espace San Bernardo are now fast chairs. But there are still a couple of slow chairs on La Rosière’s lower slopes and the link to Italy involves a long and often busy draglift.
Both parts of La Rosière’s village have good beginner areas and longer easy runs to progress to. And there’s a fun run for kids with St Bernard dog-themed obstacles to ski through and around, reached from the Lièvre Blanc drag lifts from La Rosière Centre.
Intermediates will find some enjoyable wide, shallow blue runs that make for easy cruising. These include Perdrix and Tétras down to La Rosière Centre and Papillon down to Les Eucherts. Most of the runs on the Italian side down towards La Thuile are very gentle too – many of the Italian reds should really be marked blue.
The reds on the La Rosière side, however, are genuine reds, notably steeper than the blues but without any very steep sections and so great fun cruises.
Experts will enjoy the two black runs on the lower slopes below village level if snow conditions are good. But the main attraction locally is the off piste, including the lift-served area on Mont Valaisan and a freeride area called The Zittieux Snow Cross that is avalanche controlled and marked on the piste map.
Over in Italy there are some seriously steep black runs (such as pistes 2 and 3 on the lower slopes), more off piste and some heliskiing options, including a run from the Ruitor glacier which ends back in France, a short taxi ride from La Rosière.
The local terrain park is aimed more at beginner and intermediate freestylers than experts. The ESF and Evolution 2 ski schools both have very good reputations.
For extra-curricular activities there’s also the X-treme Luge, a single-rail sledge ride on a 1,000m downhill circuit of sharp drops where speed can reach 45km per hour. Open daily from 10am to 7pm, it starts from the main car park at the entrance to the resort. Children must be accompanied by an adult.
Who should go?
Both the French and Italian sides of the slopes suit beginners and intermediates best, thanks to some very wide, easy runs that are delightful cruises, but both have challenges for experts too. The resort is family orientated and après ski is fairly quiet – it’s small size and charming add to the friendly feel.
Know before you go . . .
British Embassy/Consulate: (00 33 1 44 51 31 00; ukinfrance.fco.gov.uk)
Ambulance (samu): dial 15
Police: dial 17
Fire (pompiers): dial 18
Emergency services from mobile phone: dial 112
Tourist office: See larosiere.net, the website for La Rosière Tourist Board, for weather reports, lift status, webcams, traffic details and local event listings. Pick up maps, leaflets and other information from the offices. There are two tourist information points in each part of the resort: one in La Rosière Centre and one in Les Eucherts
Telephone code: from abroad, dial 00 33, then leave off the zero at the start of the 10-figure number.
Time difference: +1 hour
Local laws & etiquette
- When greeting people, formal titles (Monsieur, Madame and Mademoiselle) are used much more in French than in English.
- The laws of vouvoiement (which version of “you” to use) take years to master. If in doubt – except when talking to children or animals – always use the formal vous form (second person plural) rather than the more casual tu.
- When driving, it’s compulsory to keep fluorescent bibs and a hazard triangle in the car in case of breakdown.