SkiBike Tour 2014-15 - Les Sept Laux, Off The Beaten Path

Posted: Sunday, 29 March 2015 by Mark Kinnon in Labels: , , ,

Continuing the theme of testing the skibike friendliness of sundry ski stations, my focus of interest has shifted to the Chaîne de Belledonne. As the title of this post might suggest, it is indeed somewhat off the beaten track, although not really that remote.
The Chaîne de Belledonne is a narrow ridge of mountains, with Chambéry at the Northern extremity and Grenoble at its Southern end. To a foreigner this would still be part The Alps, indeed there are many well known resorts just 50km  as the crow flies to the East. But in many ways this area is a World apart, much in the same way as the Auvergne or Jura mountains are.

I decided to make the Hotel du Parc, situated in the spa town of Allevard les Bains, as my base camp for this expedition. Allevard is a charming little ancient spa town, more likely to be visited in the Summer for the curative powers of its spring waters, than as accommodation for winter sports. Allevard has its own compact family skiing area, the Colett d'Allevard, just 7 km above the town, but as it is quite small I have decided to give it a miss this season and focus on Les Sept Laux some 30 minutes away over the Col du Barioz.

Allevard - a charming little ancient spa town

Surrounding Allevard are peaceful working agricultural areas, which have probably not changed much since Napoleon Bonaparte strutted his stuff. Up on the ridge, high above the small farming communities, Les Sept Laux is to be found. Les Sept Laux is very low key compared to the posh resorts, more of a ski station, with a cluster of low density, modern apartments all sympathetically designed to match the environment.

My companion for the day was to be John, who though relatively new to the sport, is already a far better rider than I will ever be. We picked up our lift passes, which cost under €25 and headed for the nearest chairlift. There were no issues once we had shown the operator our safety leashes and without further ado we were off.

John - a far better rider than I will ever be

As we worked our way around Les Sept Laux it was immediately apparent that a good deal of investment has been made in the infrastructure, the majority of the chairlifts were of the detachable design, with just the one speedier example. There was the typical mix of differently graded runs, many erring on the easier end of their grade.

As has been typical of this season, the weather conditions weren't the best, with overcast skies and hill fog at altitude. The lack of visibility tempered our speed somewhat, but it was apparent that for the time of year and relative to other resorts, the quality of snow was much better both on and off piste. There was slushiness closer to the resort, but without the rocks and branches I have witnessed recently at other similar places.
As our start had been somewhat tardy, we skipped lunch and rode on, but by mid afternoon it began to snow at altitude which turned to rain lower down, so we called time around 16:00 and headed back to our vehicles.

Les Sept Laux - a great spot for skibiking

In conclusion, Les Sept Laux is a great spot for skibiking; the quality of the infrastructure, the scale of the area, value for money and great snow conditions all stand in its favour. We found little to fault, perhaps if you only wanted extreme riding, then you might have to look elsewhere. Otherwise, might I be so bold as to suggest that you broaden your horizons and consider heading off the beaten path to Les Sept Laux.