Claviere may not be the first resort that springs to mind when you think of skiing in Italy. It may be a small, sleepy town, but the incredible snow conditions and the location make it a fantastic hidden gem. It’s situated in the Milky Way ski area, so has access to other ski resorts such as Sestriere, Sauze D’Oulx, Sansicario, Cesana and Montgenèvre in neighbouring France.
In this blog, we’ll be giving you a comprehensive guide of the best runs in Claviere, Sestriere and Montgenèvre, as well as some of our favourite places to stop and have a coffee, bite to eat, or maybe even a few cheeky bombardinos.
Skiing in Claviere
A good way to start the day is to ski down the short run to the chair lift La Coche (45 on the piste map), which takes you half way up the mountain to a traditional Italian cafe called Chalet Monsoleil. Here you will find some cool artifacts such as old wooden skis and ski manufacturing tools hanging on the wall. Here, you can indulge in the local favourite tipple; a Bombardino. This wonderful drink is made by mixing eggnog and brandy in equal measure, heated and served with whipped cream. Some people also choose to add a shot of espresso. This is a classic Italian drink and reminds you that you are definitely still in Italy, despite the closeness to the border.
Once you’ve had your winter warmer, you can ski a long blue back to the centre of Claviere to get your ski legs back. Or if you want to get higher, you can take the chair lift (44 on the piste map) which is only a couple of minutes down from Chalet Monsoleil. This lift will take you to Colle Bercia, a peak in the area named Monti Della Luna, which translates in English to ‘Mountains of the Moon’. The views are spectacular, there’s a magical feel to the mountains, and there are a number of really stunning runs on this route.
Skiing in the Milky Way – Montgenèvre
Montgenèvre (1850m) is only 2km away from Claviere and is easily accessible, either by skiing or walking, along the picturesque cross country route by the French Border crossing. One great route is to take the Col Boeuf ski lift (number 46) from the centre of Claviere and then take the red piste 99 to the base of Montgenèvre. There are two adjacent lifts here, Tremplin and the recently extended Serre Thibaud. Take Serre Thibaud, (87), which is a fast six-man lift with superb views, to 2550m.
At the top you have a choice; The more adventurous may wish to take the red Les Marmottes, and the really experienced may wish to take one of the black runs, Tetras or Les Myrtilles. Be warned, this black is not for the faint of heart. When conditions are considered too overcast and snowy, this black will be closed. Alternatively, you can ski Pharo, a long, fast, wide blue which leads to the green Suffin, or you can simply opt to carry on and take the Pharo down into Montgenèvre.
Once in Montgenèvre town you can always have a break with a huge choice of cafes with wonderful views of the pistes. La Refuge is a stylish cafe where you can enjoy a refreshing coffee on the sun terrace.
When you’re feeling relaxed and rejuvenated, you can take a short button lift (Col number 88) located in the centre of Montgenevre, and ski the blue back down to get your ski legs warmed up for the next part of your day. Ski back down into Montgenèvre town to the Chalmettes cable car lift (number 99). From the top of the lift, take the green La Crete to the Col Des Gondrans ski area. Here, there are fabulous fast reds and wide blues through a wooded area or a very long sweeping green, all leading back to the foot of the two principal lifts; Les Gondrans and Observatoire (105 and 103). This allows a party of mixed skiers to ski runs of their own preference, and all ends back together at the foot of the run, which also happens to have the very stylish “Restaurant “D’ altitude”. At this restaurant on the Col des Gondrans you can enjoy a meal with a local French flavour, or a simple burger and chips with beer, coffee, iced tea, vin chaud or whatever takes your fancy. There are plenty of seats inside and out so it’s perfect for all weather conditions.
Alternatively, if you have a picnic and are after a nice spot to have your lunch, ski down the gentle green le Lac to Montgenèvre, where you can take the lift Prairial (90 on the piste map) and you will find a picnic table situated at the top. Here, you can eat your lunch in the fresh air with views over the valley.
To get back to Claviere, take the lift Le Brousett (51 on the piste map) or Chalmettes (99 on the piste map), and the short blue La Traversee to get to the lift Rocher De L’aigle (95 on the piste map). This takes you to one of the highest points in the area and leads to a red run (number 100 on the map) which takes you to the Claviere area. Be warned, this red somehow morphs into a black mogul field for a short section of the route. The route runs to the bottom of the lift, Gimont (43 on the piste map). If you want an easy end to the day, continue down the mountain on the long gentle blue through the woods back to the Chalet Monsoleil where we started the day. Alternatively, take Gimont to the top of Col Bercia. From here, you’re back on familiar territory and you can power your way down one of the reds, back past Chalet Monsoleil and hit the final blue down into Claviere for a well deserved beer.
If you don’t want to ski a black back to Claviere, you can always take the cross country path that runs from the bottom of the Tremplin lift in Montgenèvre to the border crossing in Claviere. Boarders will need to know that, as this is a cross country path, it is relatively flat but it has the advantage of not being limited by lift closing times, allowing you to stay for a bit of après in Montgenèvre at the end of the day.
Skiing in the Milky Way – Sestriere
To get to Sestriere from Claviere, go to the top of Colle Bercia and you can take the blue marked 90 on the piste map, or black 92 if you’re an expert skier. This will bring you down into Cesana. Here you will need to take a chair lift (39) and a gondola (38) up San Sicario. Take another two lifts (36 and 33) and then a drag lift to the top of M Fraiteve, which is at 2701m. Then take the red (80 on the piste map) to get to Sestriere. Alternatively, you can ski a picturesque long blue, but it’s important to note that it will end on a road at the top of the town and you’ll have to walk through the resort to get to the gondola (which takes roughly 20 minutes).
Otherwise, play it safe and take the Gondola (29) down into Sestriere. The gondola passes what used to be the Olympic village, now home to stylish apartments. If you feel peckish, and you probably will after all this travelling, the cafe adjacent to the foot of the gondola lift serves up a mean cheese burger in local fresh buns and authentic Italian coffee, all for a pretty cheap price. Once you’ve satisfied your appetite, you can take a husky ride, which is located next to the gondola. From here take lift 27 up Alpete and work your way around the myriad of red runs that Sestriere has to offer. The trip home to Claviere will take some time, so be sure to leave before 3.00 pm to ensure you get the lifts back.
Après in Claviere
After a long day on the slopes, you’ll need some refreshment. When it comes to evenings in Claviere you can head to ‘I Gran Bouc’, a traditional Italian restaurant in Claviere high street. Here you can dine on smoked swordfish “Carpaccio” (paper –thin slices) with tomatoes, Raclette (served on a modern electric Raclette grill) with meat, potatoes and boiled eggs, and finish with homemade ice cream, all washed down with vintage wine. After you’ve been wined and dined you may fancy a few beverages before you call it a night. Head to Gallo, the Karaoke bar. Here you can let your inner superstar out after a day on the slopes. If you’re after more nightlife you can walk to neighbouring Montgenèvre where there’s a much larger selection of bars and restaurants.
If you don’t want to leave resort or go to a restaurant, Claviere offers a selection of souvenir shops, winter clothing stores, and a supermarket with an array of fresh meat, cheeses and vintage wines. Also good to note that the bakery offers a wide selection of fresh baked goods (I would highly recommend the meringue).