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Some of the Alpine Escape team enjoying the early snow conditions around Verdons today.
An update from the Lift Company / Ski Area Management S3V today reporting a snow depth of 50cm near the Saulire summit above Courchevel.
More snow is forecast this week but snow making is still set to begin in the next few days with temperatures set to plummet – this will start and help prepare pistes lower down the mountain towards resort levels.
A reminder that the ski area is in “Winter Mode” now with restrictions in place and care needed regarding heavy machinery, winch lines, snow cannons and avalanche blasting tests all in operation. Many vehicles including trucks, excavators, piste bashers, 4x4s and Snowmobiles will be ferrying equipment and working across the ski area and of course no comprehensive avalanche control will be in place.
The official notice below…
Great to see another band who regularly played in La Tania releasing new music. Blood Rush Déjà Vu is the new album from Sunset Sons and we had a little acoustic preview in indie record store Beyond Vinyl tonight.
The UK Tour kicks off in a couple of weeks followed by some European dates too. We couldn’t get a commitment for a La Tania date this coming Winter but we’re working on it… .
Now if we could only get Jimmy Nail in the support slot!
Now called The Daily Telegraph Ski and Snowboard Festival in association with Turkish Airlines! Haven’t really worked out where you’d go skiing with Turkish Airlines but never mind…
Back in the year 2000 we had a reunion of over 40 La Tania Seasonaires and to get in to Olympia on those days early to grab the bargains you had to queue around the block. The show ran for 12 days and almost half of it were dedicated to Snow & Rock and Ellis Brigham but along with other retailers there were lots of deals to be had including old stock practically given away – much has changed since then however…
Appalling weather on Thursday didn’t really help with a 10 minute walk from the nearest bus stop (there were a golf buggy shuttle somewhere apparently but not the easiest of places to get to in any case) then difficulty getting your mobile phone touch screen to work in the pouring rain to show your ticket. Once inside the main building trying to dry out, there was one coffee bar – Drovers Coffee in a converted Land Rover was a lifesaver! The busy bar upstairs charging £6.00 for a 330ml bottle of beer was the only other place for indoor refreshments – everything else – including all the food stalls – was outside in the pouring rain with practically no shelter available. Not a great start but then there’s no such thing as bad weather – just inadequate equipment as someone once said…
Felt like there was very few independent chalet companies / operators like recent years but some specialist / niche stands were quite interesting there was however, hardly any skis on display! If it wasn’t for the excellent Finches Emporium there would have been any (save a few on the Skimium stand, some specialist ski manufactures such as Groove Armada and PFD plus Decathlon with their own Wed‘Ze brand). Can’t recall the K2 stand but they were on the list of exhibitors. Plenty of accessories including lots of sunglasses and goggles (and cases) plus fitness and massage stands – Ski Mojo had Chemmy Alcott on their stand promoting the well respected ski brace.
The France Montagnes stand had plenty of resorts represented but the biggest ski area in the world, The 3 Valleys wasn’t there again after making a brief return last year – they must have millions in their marketing budget – I don’t understand why they don’t go to the UK’s biggest (and now, only ski show). Nice Fondue and French Wines on the stand though and very friendly reps from the resorts and the ESF. Picked up our annual map of French Mountain Resorts listing the 89 resorts across the 5 French mountain ranges with La Tania now just included under Courchevel sadly.
Nice to catch up with Snow Shepherd who had their full range of Seasonaire Proof ski gloves and mittens on display (and special show prices too). They really do keep you hands warm no matter what the mountain throws at you and certainly last much longer than any gloves I’ve had.
Also with a stand were our old friends Snow Safe showing off all their back country avalanche safety equipment. Including their off piste backpacks for £49.99 – less than half the price of the Ortovox equivalent we reckon. We were given a Slope Angel device to test next Winter too – measures slope inclination, temperature and altitude for help in understanding avalanche risk and decision making. It also has a useful avalanche transceiver check function too.
A few drinks with some of the Tourist Offices with Norway, Austria, Switzerland and Japan really pushing the boat out on hospitality. Then visits to ski resort stands where we’d skied many years ago – such as Borovets in Bulgaria and The Canyons in Utah – to see what’s changed and get an up to date piste map (not a lot in the case of Borovets but huge expansion in The Canyons).
Caught up with Iain Martin (ex-Natives, Skipedia) who did a presentation on reducing our use of flights and to think about going skiing by train or by car – with 4 or 5 people in a modern car the carbon foot print is even lower than by train. A lot of interesting points on how action is needed to protect our winters – more on the website at skiflightfree.org and lots of info on travelling by train on Daniel Elkan’s snowcarbon.co.uk website. Of course travelling by train to La Tania is very easy with Moûtiers Eurostar train station only 16km away.
Plenty of activities for kids including ice skating (indoors), curling, kids zone, ferris wheel, dog sledding, roller skis, skate ramp etc. Also there’s live music including Hobo Chic, Al Jones and Westy who all play La Tania and the French Alps regularly.
If you’re going, then fully embrace it and get involved in everything, it really will feel like Winter and the ski season is getting closer – make sure you wrap up warm and dry though!
The 3V changes displayed in a GIF along with the Courchevel / La Tania piste map changes (La Masse hasn’t got bigger, just the artists alteration to aid clarity).
The new lifts, pistes and other ski area developments are detailed in the What’s New in La Tania & The 3 Valleys 2020 – The Definitive Guide (Part 1 of 2)
October already! Time for the complete round-up of all that’s new in The 3 Valleys for this Winter. Stay tuned, coming soon…
To include full details on:
- New 10 seater Le Praz Gondola
- New 4 seater Grandes Combes Chairlift
- Tovets top station moved in 1850
- New piste to Aquamotion and the new Hotel L’Ecrin Blanc complex opens
- The return of the Indians to the Indiens piste
- New “Freeride Lab” area on Creux Noirs
- Update on new Creux Noirs lift
- Update on new La Tania Green Run and Snow Front
- Work on Jockeys black piste for 2023 World Cup begins
- Moretta Village update
- New Alpinium Building in Le Praz with tourist office, lift pass office, med-centre, function room etc.
- New underground multi-story in Le Praz with running track and sports field on top
- New walk-way on to lake in Le Praz
- New cable fitted to Cime Caron cable car
- Cherferie area remodelled with new snow cannons installed here and on 4 more pistes
- New cabins on St Martin gondola
- Update on the new Orelle Gondola
- New gondola from Plan Bouchet to Cime Caron planned
- New “4th Valley” Ski Cross area
- More autonomous shuttle buses for Val Thorens as they further embrace driver-less technology
- Updates on La Masse lifts
- La Tania drag lift repair update
- News on the demise of Hotel Telemark
- Saboia B update
- La Croisette in Courchevel 1850 plans with work to start in Summer 2020
- Val Thorens Sports Centre refurbed
- New Club Val Thorens Chill Zone with DJs
- New staff (and some returners of course) at Pub Le Ski Lodge
- The return of Jack’s Bar in Méribel – on the site of Meribar
- La Chabotte in 1850 is no more – now Katz
- L’Hévana Apartments on the approach to the Méribel Chaudanne area open in December
- The new 4-star hotel across from the Ron Point looks like it’s approaching completion too
- 2020 Lift Pass Prices and Opening / Closing Dates
- Oxygene Ski School now in St Martin
- Further activities planned for the Family Cool area near the Méribel Altiport
- Hotel Plan buy Flexiski (who used to be TUI and ran Hotel St Louis, which is now Ski Lodge)
- New Igloo Village in Val Thorens with Ice Bar plus a new breakfast cafe opening
- New re-modelling of Courchevel Stade and new Club House
- Les Menuires Stade’s 10 new video cameras
- Elements Park and Yeti Park in Méribel upgraded
- New guide station to support those heading for the Peclet Glacier
- The Funitel Peclet to open until 18:30 from February with access to the luge run
- The completion of the new red pistes over in Méribel plus a tunnel under the downhill course
- More dedicated ski touring routes in Les Menuires
- Caseblanche – new complex in St Martin plus 2 new top end chalets in the heart of the village
- 3-star Michelin restaurant La Bouitte has a new Tapas style area on the lower floor of the chalet
- Mottaret Ski Pass Office refurbed
- Torch Lit descents from Saulire to Méribel to be made available to small groups
- Live tracking on displays and smart phones of free ski bus location
- New scanners at Geneva Airport
The “Early Bird” promotion on bus tickets from Geneva Airport to the Tarentaise resorts ends on 30 September 2019.
There’s a 15% discount on these non-refundable tickets and new for 2019 is kids under 13 go free (max 2 per adult). More details here
Note however even the discounted prices are more expensive than shared mini-bus transfers offered by the local companies based in and round La Tania – See the La Tania Transfer Page for further info.
Prices for a one-way ticket on the scheduled bus service (3 per day during the week, 4 on a Sunday and 8 on a Saturday) from Geneva Airport to La Tania for Winter 2020 are €89 or €76 with the Early Bird discount.
Expect to pay 60 to 65 euros for shared mini-bus transfers which will be faster, generally more comfortable with English speaking drivers possessing a wealth of knowledge & info plus they’ll drop you off at the door (or as near as possible) to your accommodation rather than the main bus stop.
The French Law that requires all drivers to keep a disposable breathalyser in their vehicle is to be finally scrapped under a new transport bill being introduced from this week. Originally it was to be brought in for July 2012, was then delayed until November 2012 and then postponed until March 2013. However in effect it was postponed indefinitely as the penalty was withdrawn by former president Hollande – but it actually remained a requirement in law but couldn’t be enforced!
The “law” has had no effect on reducing drink driving apparently. Worth remembering that in England, Wales & Northern Ireland the limit is 80 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of blood while in France the limit is 50 milligrammes (the same as Scotland) and is reduced to 20 milligrammes for drivers holding a licence less than 3 years.
Despite increasing penalties, compulsory bans or fitting EAD breathalyser devices connected to the ignition system, drink driving remains a big road safety issue and the major cause of road deaths in France.
The New French Winter Tyre Law
Some clarification on the new French “Winter Tyre Law” from the excellent http://pistehors.com website is available here. It’s not so alarming as the tabloid ski sites have been warning about and looks likely to be similar rules as to now anyway.
A notice preventing access to the whole area around the Jockeys Piste is now in force until 10th December 2019 while earthworks take place around “improving” the Jockeys piste for the 2023 World Cup Finals being held in Courchevel & Méribel.
As soon as the award of the 2023 World Cup Finals hosts was made and the Jockeys Piste (along with the top section of the Bouc Blanc) was chosen for the men’s events we wondered how some of those steep pitches followed by flat areas would cope with skiers travelling up to 150km/h…
As well as work on a tunnel and access for skiers to enable recreational skiing to continue while races are in progress there is a new section of piste towards the bottom to avoid the sharp left had bend and flatter section where Jockeys joins the red Murettes piste.
The other earthworks involves widening and re-grading sections of the slope – we imagine this is to prevent flat landing areas for racers and improve safety. For recreational skiers those flatter spots were a welcome respite from the steeper sections and a change to get your breath back!
With the new piste set to be a training area for the Courchevel Sports Club along with other regional and national teams there will obviously be some restrictions on its use in future years. Of course on bad weather days with loads of fresh snow this is one of the best spots in the 3 Valleys (and they wont be able to race on bad weather days!).
The 2023 Alpine Skiing World Cup Finals take place from 6 February to 19 February 2023 (yes, over half term!) and is seen as a very prestigious coup for a hosting resort in promoting their image worldwide. The Ladies events, parallel races and medal ceremonies will take place in Méribel while the Men’s events plus the opening and closing ceremonies will take place in Courchevel.
No idea how many people choose there skiing holiday destination based on ski racing but we all prefer watching Skier Cross and Boarder Cross don’t we?
Confirmation that Hotel Telemark is being converted in to staff accommodation for use by the Courchevel Mairee and S3V Lift Company Staff. So no public bar or restaurant, sad news.
The planned new Green Run (to the skiers left of Folyères) down to La Tania and the new Snow Front Development have been postponed for this Winter. If was becoming pretty obvious that no work has started on this – maybe the swimming pool in its current state will be around for one more Summer…
We hear that a re-think on the raising of the piste and a tunnel to the new beginners area is taking place. Current plans feel like they would cut off the main Folyères piste access to the village so hopefully this is good news and a better solution is offered but ultimately the beginners area with magic carpet lifts will be much improved for first time skiers.
Contract difficulties have prevented work going ahead on the replacement Creux Noirs lift. The original old, slow chair which was shut down towards the end of the 2018 season due to cracks in the pylon foundations was due to be replaced by a much shorted drag lift that would access the same area.
Banners around the old lift station promised a new lift for December 2019 but this now won’t be happening in time for this Winter. The area will ultimately be known as the Freeride Lab with pistes (Creux Noirs and Roches Grisses) not groomed after fresh snowfall.
Interestingly the pistes were maintained last season allowing hikers to access the area.
The old chairlift line in red and the approximate line of the new drag in black.
Dashed lines show the approximate position of the new drag and access piste with the old Creux Noirs chair marked on the left of the map.
We still have the new fast, bigger, more comfortable Praz Gondola direct to La Croisette in 1850 to look forward to and a whole new look lake and snow front in Le Praz with the new lift station, Alpinium Building and underground car park all set to open this December. Plus a new chairlift and piste to Aquamotion and a re-designed Stade area open for the Ladies Giant Slalom World Cup on 17 December 2019.