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Take a break at Chamrousse

Take a break at Chamrousse

Emmanuel Tresmontant - 2007-11-15

With its Olympic pistes, peaks rising to nearly 3,000 m and an exceptional panorama, Chamrousse satisfies both confirmed skiers, onlookers, and Sunday hikers.It is also the favourite resort with locals from Grenoble, a mere 35 minutes away.

An easily accessible resort ideal for an introductory snow holiday
 
This family resort, which can be seen from Grenoble in fine weather, nestling above the glistening Belledone Massif stretching from Chambery to Grenoble, is ideal for learning. Many locals earned their first 'flocons' (snowflake medals) here.
 
Founded in 1950 at an altitude of 1,650 metres, Chamrousse had its heyday during the 1968 Olympic Games which saw the triumph of Jean-Claude Killy (3 gold medals for the downhill, the giant slalom and the special slalom) and of Marielle Goitschel (special slalom gold medallist).
 
While aficionados of skiing on a big scale or of free style sometimes prefer nearby Alpe-d’Huez or Val d’Isère, Chamrousse nevertheless appeals to a wide public.
 
After the motorway to Grenoble, take the scenic mountain road (D111) that starts to climb from the pretty village of Uriage renowned for its spa, dating to 1895, casino, and posh villas located around a 200 hectare park. Further on, around Lac Luitel, you'll discover the oldest French nature reserve. With its 18 hectares of wooded peat bog, its ecosystem is similar to Lapland's.
 
An exceptional panorama and site
 
Chamrousse is above all fascinating for the magnificent view it commands over Grenoble and the  mountains encircling it. Take the ski lift to the resort's highest point, Croix de Chamrousse, at an altitude of 2,250 metres.
 
You'll see: to the east, the Massif des Grandes Rousses and the Massif de l’Oisans; to the south, Taillefer and Mont Aiguille; to the west, the immense Plateau du Vercors with its towering cliffs, stronghold of the French Resistance; and to the north, the majestic Chartreuse monastery whose beauty and peacefulness attracted Saint Bruno and his disciples in 1084.
 
At sunset, the snow takes on a superb shade here, which probably explains the resort's name: 'champ roussi' meaning russet coloured field.
 
Above the valley and the smoke stagnating over Grenoble, Chamrousse has invigorating air and  remarkable and protected flora such as carnivorous plants (drosera and butterwort) to be seen in spring, the Cembro pine (which takes 30 years to grow on the highest scree-covered slopes), wormwood and gentian...
 
Turning to the fauna, those who like to hike around Lac Achard and Lacs Robert are familiar with the marmot, chamois, and black grouse renowned for their black feathers and nuptial parade.
 
Ski domain
 
Chamrousse in fact comprises two separate resorts: Le Recoin (1,650 m) and Roche-Béranger (1,750 m).
 
The entire ski domain boasts 57 miles of pistes, 23 ski lifts, 120 instructors and high mountain guides and 4 freestyle areas (1 Snow Park, 1 Big Air, 1 Boarder Cross et 1 Slopestyle modules).
 
The daily pass costs 26 euros. and the half-day 23 euros (4 hours to be used at the time you like).
 
Take your pick of either of these itineraries (a full day or half a day)
 
For average skiers, I recommend leaving from Chamrousse 1650. Take the Croix de Chamrousse ski lift to the belvedere dominating all the mountains of Massif de Belledonne.
 
From here, descend the very scenic blue 'Crêtes' piste and the blue 'Ours' piste towards  Chamrousse 1570. Then ski down the blue 'Clairières' piste to the departure point of the Bachat-Bouloud chair lift.
 
Get on the latter and descend the blue 'Liaison Roche-Recoin' piste which will take you to the top of the Gaboureaux chair lift route. Then choose the blue 'Traversée du rat' piste. Now that your muscles are properly warmed, have a bash at the red 'Jardins' piste that will bring you back to the resort!
 
If you're a confirmed skier, leave from Chamrousse 1750 and take the Bachat-Bouloud chair lift.  Like the less skilled skiers, then take the blue 'Liaison Roche-Recoin' piste and once you've reached the top of the Gaboureaux chair lift route, enjoy the red Gaboureaux piste to Chamrousse 1650.
 
Then take the Croix de Chamrousse ski lift. Superb descent on a red piste to Lacs Robert, then take the Lacs Robert chair lift to the top. Here things start to become interesting with the black 'Couloir de Casserousse' piste and the men's black Olympic piste to Casserousse (an 850 m drop).
 
For non-skiers, Chamrousse offers a fine range of activities all year long: horse-riding, golf, petanque, paragliding (in a two-seater paraglider with an instructor), line fishing, quad driving, mountain biking, tennis,  archery, etc). In winter, snowshoeing around the unspoilt and preserved site of Lac Achard* is a magnificent activity: the routes are signposted from Chamrousse 1750 (Roche Béranger).
 
*Lac Achard owes its names to Jean Alexis Achard (1807-1884), the father of the 'Dauphinois painting school' who was very close to Corot and the Barbizon school. His luminous and spectacular paintings, of great geological realism, are exhibited at the Musée de Grenoble overlooking River Isère.
 
Office de Tourisme
42, place de Belledonne
38410 Chamrousse
Tel.: 04 76 59 01 01
 
The Office de Tourisme and the Maison de la Montagne de Chamrousse are proposing this winter various stays adapted to families. For instance, for 399 euros, the 'esprit activité montagne' holiday,  designed for 2 adults and 2 children, comprises: accommodation in a studio flat, 5 half-days per child in a child minding facility or leisure centre, and a week-pass for the resort's ski lifts.

With its Olympic pistes, peaks rising to nearly 3,000 m and an exceptional panorama, Chamrousse satisfies both confirmed skiers, onlookers, and Sunday hikers.It is also the favourite resort with locals from Grenoble, a mere 35 minutes away.

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