It’s winter – why we love Monêtier les Bains

Serre Chevalier Vallée, awesome skiing and snowboarding terrain, a natural playground for everyone. Great for families, stunning views, and yet still to be discovered by so many.

The majority of our properties are in Le Monêtier les Bains, or ‘Monêtier’ for short, which sits at 1500 metres altitude just a few hundred metres from the border of the Ecrins National Park (a massive mountain range between Briançon, Gap and Grenoble with more than 17000 hectares of glaciers that culminate at the magnificent Barre des Ecrins, 4102 metres.)

Monêtier is one of six villages which make up the commune of the same name. Its 1000 or so inhabitants are well accustomed to the busy winters when skiers and boarders arrive for the snow, and still very evident is Monêtier’s farming community – wander through the narrow, twisting streets during the winter and you’ll see livestock keeping warm in the basements of Monêtier’s 300 year old stone buildings.

Le Monêtier les Bains in winter, Serre Chevalier
Le Monêtier les Bains in winter, Serre Chevalier

This is no purpose-built ski resort – people have been skiing in Monêtier and its surrounding mountains for years and years, and visiting the village’s renowned thermal spa for many more. Discovered by the Romans, there are two ‘sources’ in the village and, after a day on the slopes, you simply have to stroll down to ‘Les Grands Bains’ with your swimming ‘attire’ to relax and unwind before enjoying a meal in one of the village’s many restaurants. Monêtier’s Les Grands Bains (thermal spa) is one of Europe’s biggest thermal spas!

There are more than six different bars in the village where you can enjoy the après-ski or a quick ‘apéritif’ before dinner with friends, and for those who are looking for late-night dancing, a short taxi ride will take you to nearby Villeneuve.

Monêtier – the perfect base for a brilliant winter holiday:

* Access to Serre Chevalier’s 250km of pistes
* Apartments, hotels and chalets
* Lots of different restaurants
* Tea house (lovely waffles)
* Various après-ski and late-night bars
* ‘Les Grands Bains’ thermal spa
* Sports shops for equipment hire
* Ski schools & Mountain guides
* Souvenir / Home ‘style’ / Local produce and ‘artisan’ shops
* Supermarkets (everything you need)
* Butchers
* Various bakers
* Pharmacy
* Post Office

Skiing & Snowboarding

From Le Monêtier les Bains you can access the rest of the Serre Chevalier network which makes up 250km of marked pistes.

The nursery slopes are right at the bottom of the ski area which makes it easy for beginners to make their first turns without worrying about getting on chairlifts or cable cars. Two chairs access Monêtier’s lower pistes which navigate the expansive Larch forest (great for when it’s snowing) and a further four chairs access the higher runs which take on a complete mix of terrain – wide and cruisy blue runs, reds that sweep around mountain peaks, black runs that take you down steep faces…, and there is varied off-piste terrain everywhere! If you’re an experienced skier or boarder, you can choose to ski or ride between the pistes, or venture into the incredible ‘La Montagnole’ valley where you’ll see glaciers perched above and you’ll pass alongside rivers and over bridges (we advise you to hire a guide or instructor for this route).

More than 35km of Nordic tracks between 1400 metres and 1700 metres altitude are available – the cross-country skiing starts in December and usually lasts until late March. Nordic skiers will adore the routes between Monêtier and the mountain villages of Le Casset and Le Lauzet, both situated in the Ecrins National Park. Monêtier even has its own biathlon range with 27 targets.

And that’s just the Monêtier sector … take the Cucumelle lift and piste and the rest of Serre Chevalier unfolds before you!

Why do we love ‘Monêtier’ – Serre Chevalier 1500 – so much?

Well, it’s the highest sector (1500 – 2830 metres altitude) and is mostly North-facing which means that it holds the snow longer. Plus, to let you into a secret (but not much of a secret now is it?!), we often hear people saying “We were the only people on the piste!” – Yes, Monêtier, in particular, has extremely quiet pistes outside of New Year and February and is unusually quiet when compared to the rest of Serre Chevalier during these key holiday periods. If you’re used to busy Northern-alpine resorts, you’re in for a real treat!