This article was written by Mia Jones, Assistant Content Editor at Crystal Ski Holidays. She thinks you should go to La Rosière for your next ski holiday. Here’s why…
If I asked you to imagine a family ski holiday, I’m pretty sure you’d think of two adults and their small children playing in the snow. My ‘family’ trip to the mountains was quite different. At 21 years old, I decided to take my younger brother, my older sister and her boyfriend for a week of fun in the snow. But when choosing a resort, I had to take into account our abilities – two of us were intermediate-level skiers while the other two complete beginner snowboarders. I also needed to bear in mind age differences, après preferences and our budgets.
Big-name resorts like Val d’Isère and Les Deux Alpes tend to dominate the Alpine landscape when you’re new to skiing and as such, La Rosière had never been anything more to me than a vague shape on the Franco-Italian border. As is often the case though, we got a deal and decided to give it a go. Here’s what happened.
Chalet all the way
When choosing accommodation we wanted the easiest option – no cooking, no expensive restaurants and somewhere where we could socialise with people other than each other. Having never stayed in a chalet before I wasn’t sure what to expect, but on paper it ticked all the boxes.
We ended up staying at Chalet Le Kitz, a Crystal-run property in Les Eucherts, a short walk from La Rosière. It was everything I had expected: a wooden haven with big, soft sofas, a large dining table and a lovely big balcony (that served mostly as an alcohol fridge). We shared the chalet with two other families who made us feel part of the group almost immediately.
From the room I shared with my brother, the window opened onto miles of snow-covered fir trees, icing sugar-dusted mountains and the sound of boots crunching on fresh snow. Glorious.
Mornings started with the smell of freshly-baked croissants – eating is a favourite pastime of mine, so the food was important! The morning spread was always varied and the 3-course evening meals were themed and delicious. A firm favourite of ours was tartiflette, a new dish for all of us and something which I now regularly dream of.
Every afternoon at around 3pm we’d all trudge back up to the chalet to find, without fail, homemade cake waiting to be eaten. In six days we got to gobble down an array of classic cakes including lemon drizzle, carrot, chocolate and coffee – ALL of the yums.
The chalet holiday set-up suited us down to the ground, too. All twelve of us would sit around the table in the mornings, go our separate ways after breakfast, and then talk about our days at dinner; we even ended up skiing together some days – that’s how quickly we became friends with the other occupants.
As a family of varying abilities, it was important that everyone felt comfortable on the snow. The beginner boarders in the group were total newbies but they managed to perfect their turns on the blue slopes quite quickly, so we went off together to explore La Rosière.
The main thing I noticed about the piste was that it was quiet – no queues at the lifts and no having to dodge other skiers. On top of that, every run was unique – there were wide blues with steep sections as well as thin, flat runs with incredible views down into the valley and beyond. When you’re buddied up with a boarder though, the flats aren’t so fun and after an afternoon of waiting around we decided to leave those routes behind. The snow, too, was hard to beat. Most nights we got big, fresh powder dumps while the days were warm and sunny. Bliss!
One morning my sister and I – the other skier – went looking for a bit of a challenge. A few options took our fancy but one red run in particular, named Fontaine Froide, was a steep – and unusually icy – 2km run through the forest. From the top, the run was an intimidating prospect, but there was no other way down, so after 10 minutes of watching other people glide effortlessly past us and down through the trees, we began our slow traverse, our skis scraping down the ice as we made our turns. Challenging and scary though it was, we made it to the bottom in one piece. By the end of the week Fontaine Froide was our favourite run, and the other reds were easy-peasy in comparison.
Unfortunately we only made it over the border to La Thuile on our final day. The boarders stayed behind, and good thing too – the other half of the Espace San Bernardo is rife with drag lifts. It took us two long button lifts to get to the border, and after the 20-minute ride my hands and thighs were killing me.
When we eventually made it though we spent a blissful couple of hours cruising the picturesque, powdery slopes under a bluebird sky before heading back to France for last lifts. I do regret not getting to Italy earlier in the week, but at least I have an excuse to go back.
To fill up the few hours before and after dinner we looked into all the typical snow activities like dog sledding and tobogganing. Unfortunately, they were all fully booked – typical. Even though things didn’t go to plan though, not once were we drowning in boredom.
La Rosière isn’t a particularly lively resort, so we only went out-out once. Two of the girls in our chalet used to be chalet hosts in the resort, so knew exactly where to take us. Bar La Roz, a hotel bar in the centre of resort, had cheap drinks and a great atmosphere. Beer towers stood high on many of the tables and as the night wore on, everyone was up and dancing. The resort staff usually get Wednesdays off, so heading out on a Tuesday night meant it was rowdier than usual. As you’d expect in a ski resort, everyone was dancing on the tables, so if that’s your thing, rest assured you can get it in La Rosière. Other evenings we spent having a quiet drink, playing Cards Against Humanity and competing in the Crystal-run quiz at Moo Bar.
And now on to what might have been the best thing I have ever done – paret sledging. If you haven’t heard of it before (I hadn’t either), think of a small toboggan but with one central blade. I wanted to try out some sort of non-skiing activity on the snow, and this seemed our best bet.
We headed over to the Roches Noires Express chairlift on the Thursday afternoon with no idea what to expect. We were given our sledges before heading up the chairlift – a very strange experience without skis on. At the top, the Evolution 2 staff gave us a few pointers about how to manoeuvre the tiny wooden contraption before setting us loose. We moved carefully at first, digging our feet into the snow to slow ourselves down, but once we got the hang of it (read: fell off a couple of times), we were whizzing down, leaning side-to-side and grazing the white powder with our fingertips so we could turn – if anything, it was easier than skiing. The last skiers of the day stopped to watch and cheer us racing down the mountain, and when we got back to the bottom, we were breathless with laughter, rosy-cheeked and our hair was a flyaway mess. It was so much fun that we convinced the rest of our chalet to have a go the following day. Our second ride didn’t disappoint either – we were even more competitive, there were even more falls and most importantly, more shrieking laughter. If you ever find yourself in a resort that offers paret sledging, definitely give it a go.
So, La Rosière – you treated us well. You gave a family – who had never been on a ski holiday together before – fantastic snow, beautifully quiet and varied slopes, the chance to go out and party the night away and a stress-free place to rest our eyes. And what’s more, we met a group of lovely people who I’m sure we’ll see again. For the first-time organiser of a winter holiday, I can’t complain; it was awesome.