What’s New in La Tania & The 3 Valleys 2019 – The Definitive Guide (Part 1 of 2)

 

PART 1 – New Lifts, Pistes, Snow Cannons, Reservoirs & Ski Area Improvements

The 18th Annual What’s New Guide to the Biggest Ski Area In The World
Part 2 – Everything Else

October 2018

 

Courchevel Valley

Grangettes Gondola
Opening in December 2018 from Courchevel Village (1550) up to La Croisette in 1850 this replacement for the old Grangettes will have 10 seater cabins offering a faster and more comfortable ride up.

Dating from 1975 and modernised in 2004, the old Grangettes gondola lacked capacity (barely 855 people/hour), comfort and reliability. 

The top station at La Croisette which is also set for a full update & refurb

The new gondola representing an €11.5m investment is on the same route but with modern, new, 10-seater cabins (with interior / exterior night lighting and a 2m10cm height so you are able to stand up) replacing the small 4-seater bubbles. The new Diamond Evo cabin from Sigma / Leitner is show below – designed by Pininfarina of Ferrari fame.

An upload rate of 2400 passengers per hour is an increase of 81% and journey time is 2mins 55secs instead of the previous 5 minutes an increase of over 40%.

In addition, the base station boarding area will have no ramps or steps and the new cable grip hangars have a new suspensions system making for an even more comfortable journey.

The top station at La Croisette has seen a lot of new construction and even the road temporarily moved while work was completed.

A plan for a mid-station with cabins coming up from the Aquamotion complex has been abandoned. A seperate new lift and piste to link 1850 and the Grand Combe area on the map below is expected for December 2019.

The lift will of course will open a bit later (times TBC) for the floodlit toboggan run which is great fun and FREE! Just sledge hire and your lift pass needed – an entertainment bargain in 1850.

Lift Statistics:
2400 skiers/hour, 6m/s, 993m length, 275m vertical, 2m55s trip time.
Manufactured by Pomagalski at a cost of €11.5m.

 

Le Praz Gondola and New Base Station Building

Huge work began this Summer on the new base station in Le Praz (to be know as “The Alpinium”) incorporating the tourist office, lift pass office, function rooms with bar and kichen facilities, kids play area, 120 ski lockers, public toilets and a large 500 space underground car park. The new 10 seater gondola will now arrive near the top of Tovets chair (which will be shortened) – an easier walk up to La Croisette area and take only 5 minutes 50 seconds instead of the current nearly 8 minutes.

The gondola base station will integrate in to the new base building which will have sports facilities and a running track effectively on the roof! Work to be completed for December 2019.

The lower level of the car park will host an electric go-kart circuit from May through to November and the 2023 The Alpine Ski World Championships will have the Men’s races finish area on the roof of the building!

Route of the 2023 World Cup Men’s Downhill

The estimated overall cost of the Alpinium project is estimated at €27m entirely financed by the Courchevel Mairie (if only we could get the village centre resurfaced and some access to the chalet area in La Tania sorted…..)

 

Automated Selfie Machine on Biollay

S3V have added an automatic photo system on the Biollay chairlift for Winter 2018/2019. You can view your photo on a terminal on arrival at the top of the lift (and no doubt enter details to share it on social media or email).

The 6 Selfie type machine logos have been removed from the 2019 piste maps but there is a camera logo dotted about – we’re not sure if this is similar yet but lift companies have mentioned new type camera machines on summits and not just on a few lifts.

  

New Snow Cannons
Courchevel doubled it’s snow making capacity last season with 115 new, modern snow cannons and investment continued this Summer with 26 of the latest generation cannons installed on the Lac des Cruex and  Rama pistes improving these sun exposed slopes for access down to Marmottes & Chanrossa lifts plus the loop back around to Suisses.  Additional work on the Indiens piste has been completed too – although the Tipis now appear to be in the Western Park next to the top of the Ariondaz Gondola.

There are now over 700 snow cannons in Courchevel and 2497 in the whole 3 Valleys ski area covering 50% of the pistes which are groomed by 73 Piste Bashers working two 7 hour shifts from 17:00 to 07:00. The latest Piste Bashers have GPS guidance and radar systems to show snow depths – they even have some hybrid electric ones too!

2018 Courchevel Piste Map – Lac Creux and Rama Pistes

Another €1m investment from S3V further protecting the 3 Valleys Snow Guarantee and Promise which in summary is “We’ll have more skiing than anyone else!”.  All Courchevel Villages and La Tania are scheduled to open until the last day of the Courchevel & Méribel Valleys season on 22 April 2019 (Easter Monday).  More on dates and prices below…

 

Creux Noirs Area Closed

The Creux Noirs area will not be accessible by lift for Winter 2019 and the lift & pistes are not marked on the new 2019 Piste Map.

2019 Courchevel Piste Map

Due to a crack being spotted in a pylon concrete base towards the end of last season the lift was closed for a full investigation (see here).

However there is a commitment from S3V to repair or replace this lift with a brand new lift and the area is expected to re-open for Winter 2020.

In Courchevel 1650 Moriond the Cèpes piste to Petit Moriond and Carabosse near the Grange drag have been marked and the Tipis area on Indiens has gone – all the Cowboys and Indians action must now be at the Western Ski Park!

Further improvement to the Courchevel Family Park “Sacred City” have been made – enter the World of the Incas and race on the boarder cross or take on the numerous new freestyle objects – including a “Pyramid with a Waterfall”?

Preparations are already starting for the Alpine Skiing World Cup in 2023 with initial inspections having already taken place. The 2018 Women’s Giant Slalom and Slalom taking place on Fri/Sat 21st & 22nd December 2018 on the Courchevel Stade above 1850.

 

Lift Pass Prices and Opening Dates

Opening Dates & Lift Pass Prices for Winter 2019 have been confirmed with the main news on lift passes being the inclusion of a single entry to Aquamotion is included with all 2 day (and above, but not season) Courchevel lift passes. The 3 Valleys pass has a 3 Valleys Wellness Pass option which includes 2 visits to Aquamotion – at least there is a choice there for those who don’t want to go swimming on a skiing holiday!

The Courchevel 6-day pass is now €272 and the standard 3 Valleys 6-day pass €306 (now only a €34 difference) so if you’re not going to Aquamotion and will ski another valley just once it’s now cheaper to get a 3 Valley Pass. You used to have to visit a second time to make a 3V pass worthwhile – the upgrade for a day to a 3V pass is €37.

The lifts and pistes for the first 2 weeks of the season have already been confirmed by S3V for Courchevel and La Tania (subject to snow etc).
More details here…

 

Méribel Valley

Plan de l’Homme, Cherferie and Roc de Fer Lifts

Photo Credit – Skifan

A very smart new lift is going in to the centre of the resort at La Chaudanne complete with bubble hood, heated seats and head rests (think of the rally car seats the managers sit on at most Premier League grounds)! Although still a 6 seater it will have a higher throughput raising the capacity / skiers per hour figure.

With the 2023 Alpine World Cup Skiing Championships coming up and the eyes of the world on Méribel (& Courchevel) they obviously want to look as good as possible!

Photo Credit – Skifan

Although widely reported as 2 new lifts the current Plan de l’Homme is being re-used with most of the components being moved further up the hill to replace the Cherferie drag lift. So fast access (4 minutes) to the Jerusalem piste a perennial favourite of many across the 3 Valley, down towards St Martin de Belleville. The top station shown below:

Photo Credit – Skifan

Purists no doubt will moan at another part of the ski area having easy access to their precious secret spots but the old dog leg drag lift following the ridge line could be quite unpleasant in poor weather. In addition the chair being a straight line cuts the time to 4mins 10secs from just over 6mins.

The Choucas piste now has snow cannons installed.

A couple of news pistes and a new tunnel to allow access across Roc de Fer when competitions are on are also being developed for completion for Winter 2020. This represents a €15m investment from Méribel Alpina.

The new chairlifts (marked in yellow) and the new pistes

The Roc de Fer fixed grip (slow!) 4-man chair is to be removed but it looks like this will not be completed for this Winter.

2019 Méribel Piste Map

Lift Statistics
Legends: 3600 skiers / hour, 6m/s, 1650m length, 582m vertical, 4m40s
Cherferie: 2824 skiers / hour, 5m/s, 1185m length, 315m vertical, 4m10s

 

Mont Vallon Gondola Refurb

New gondola cabins have been installed so you can have a (proper) sit down and take a much needed rest when doing laps of this epic area.

More Diamond seated cabins are being used (again) rather than the stand up / lean type current cabins.

 

More New Automated Photo Machines

Installed on the new Legends lift out of Meribel and the Combes lift in Mottaret.  More here

The 6 Selfie type machine logos have been removed from the 2019 piste maps but there is a camera logo dotted about – we’re not sure if this is similar yet but lift companies have mentioned new type camera machines on summits and not just on a few lifts.

 

Combes Snow Cannon Reservoir Extension

A massive new extension to this reservoir near the top of the Combes lift – look at the scale of this with that machinery down there.

Photo Credit – Skifan

 

More Meribel Improvements

The toboggan run Mission Black Forest will now open 7 days per week. Length 3.4km, vertical drop 470m and 28 bends! 
The Inuit Village will have more games & entertainment for kids next season and the Animal Piste brings an educational aspect to spot the animals and their sounds.
The Elements Park will have more features and open to more standards of skiers and boarders plus the Yeti Park in Mottaret has a new boarder cross track being constructed.
There are now 11 free Wifi areas around Méribel along with “relaxation chalets” with live resort information.
Further photo points have been added to the top of the Olympic Chair and Saulire Express 2.

 


Les Menuires

Bruyères Gondola Upgraded
Removal of the Montaulever Drag Lift
Increased Capacity of Roc1 Gondola and Granges Chairlift

Photo Credit – Skifan

A complete refurb and upgrate of the Bruyères Gondola out of Les Menuires will be completed for December 2018.

The gondola cabins have been replaced by Diamond 8 seaters  (fast becoming the standard in the 3 Valleys it would appear) along with a general upgrade of the infrastructure. Overall speed has increased from 5 to 6 metres per second increasing the throughput / capacity.

Sigma Diamond 8 Seater cabins are made in Veyrins, France. Sigma is Poma’s oldest subsidiary, and both Poma and Leitner are owned by HTI Group.

Photo Credit – Skifan
Photo Credit – Skifan

 

Further improvements around Les Menuires

Roc 1 Gondola is having its stations modernised and will operate at a higher speed increasing the capacity from 2,800 skiers per hour to 3,200 per hour.

The Granges Chairlift  has also been upgraded increasing capacity from 1,800 skiers per hour to 2,600 per hour.

The old Montaulever Draglift has been removed (one of the old Escapade in a Day lifts so that makes things easier!).

A new snow cannon reservoir has been created on La Masse holding more than 20 million gallons!

Photo Credit – Skifan

Other changes for Winter 2019 we’ve noticed include a new Bruyères blue piste at the top of Bruyerès 1 linking to the Chasse piste down to restaurant Chez Pépe Nicolas and the BK Park Area is now known as the Pixel Area which has been totally transformed with 3 areas for different standards and new tricks, rails, tables etc.

The red piste at the top of Jerusalem is now know as Cherferie with the newer blue alternative route getting the Jerusalem name.

 

Val Thorens

Snow Cannons
Val Thorens has invested €450,000 this Summer improving their snow making systems. More modern equipment replacing older models has been installed and the doubling of cover on specific areas like The Grenouillère area. The 3 Valleys now has over 2,300 snow cannons covering over a third of the ski area.

New Pistes
A new red piste Cime has been created at the top of Cime Caron part of the development of this area which will ultimately include a new mountain restaurant. This 3.2km piste (570m vertical) allows access toward the Falaise piste and the Grand Fond cable car or further across to the blue Chamois piste while avoiding the black Combe de Caron piste.
Note that this has been reported as blue on many websites and accessible to all – looks like further work is need to get the blue classification.

The black piste Triton in the Plein Sud area has been removed but a new black piste named Armoise has been created at the top of the Boismint chair. From 2020 Triton could return as a marked but not pisted run – further plans are being developed around this kind of “safe” off piste Liberty Ride environment.

 

New Double Zip Wire and Upgraded Toboggan Run
A new double zip wire in three sections from the top of the Moutière chair down to the centre of Val Thorens has been installed. 

The new parallel Zip Wire is 1600m long, takes 1m 40s with a top speed of 75 km/h. It will cost €35 a go regardless of age (minimim age is 13). Skis are strapped to the back of the harness like the Orelle Zip Line and should accommodate 60 people per hour. Should be more fun going head to head with someone and you should feel the speed more than the Orelle  (this one only 65m above the ground unlike Orelle which reaches 250m above the ground!

Also in the image above is the toboggan run which has had a complete overhaul and is now named Cosmojet. With sound and light systems representing a journey in to space apparently and rivalling the Courchevel 1650 and Méribel toboggan runs (this one boast to be the longest luge track in France).

Starting from the top of the Peclet Funitel it runs 6km down in to Val Thorens central area. Costs €16 per descent but is free to 5-10 year olds accompanied by an adult.

 

The 3 Valleys Funitel has been painted this Summer – one of the main routes back to La Tania from Val Thorens – and very smart it looks too!  Photo Credit – Skifan

 

Ski Touring
Four new Nordic Skiing Routes have been created in Val Thorens after the success of the Camille Trail launched last year. The Ski Touring Park expands with routes of between 2km and 6km up to the Péclet and Cime Caron sectors.

Val Thorens Ski Instructor Marina Michaud will be delivering ski instruction via Sign Language for the hard of hearing this season. Another excellent development in making skiing accessible to all.

 

Many thanks for all the contributions. Photo Credits to Ski FanCourchevel Tourist OfficeMeribel Tourist Office, Val Thorens Tourist OfficeThe Freeride Republic, Charlie Gorman & Natalie Earl.

More in Part 2 with everything else – including new accommodation, new bars and restaurants, new terraces plus future ski area developments & new lifts, Tourist Office changes, new websites, the demise of Hotel Telemark, 2019 Piste Map downloads, the new Spa in Brides Les Bains, airport upgrades, transfer options and 25 Years of Pub Le Ski Lodge…

 

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