St Francois Longchamp
So far it’s still largely undiscovered by British skiers, but Saint-François has plenty to appeal to families, who will appreciate its reassuring pistes, down-to-earth pricing, and easy road access.
Once you’re there, the architecture is mostly purpose-built, with the emphasis more on modern practicality than traditional authenticity. But things are improving and in winter it sits well enough within the bigger picture of a hauntingly beautiful bowl below the 2000m Col de la Madeleine, a famous ascent in the Tour de France.
The resort has surprisingly beautiful surroundings and outstanding scenery, with, among others, a view of Mont Blanc across to the Ecrins Massif.
Accommodation is spread between three relatively compact areas, the lowest of which (St François 1450) is connected by draglift to the gentle lower section of a blue-graded piste into Le Hameau de St François. The latter is a purpose-built apartment development which has a selection of essential services, plus convenient access to the pistes via a six-seater chairlift and a draglift, either of which will connect you via easy return pistes to the main villages of the 4 Vallées, Plan Mollaret and Longchamp 1650. Here the accommodation is spread around two modern chairlifts, with a pair of draglifts providing access to gentle cruising over to Le Hameau and St François 1450.
For entertainment and services life mostly revolves around the 1650 sector, which in addition to the ESF ski-school, bars and restaurants, also offers a good choice of equipment, food and local produce outlets plus child-care (age-groups from three months to 12 years), cash-point, post office and more. The range of mountain activities includes cross-country skiing, parapenting, snowshoeing and dogsledding, while the Forum des Eaux aqua/fitness centre offers a range of relaxation and wellbeing facilities and treatments.
Access-wise, the A43 Autoroute from Chambéry and Albertville is just 12km away, as is the TGV train station, for high-speed rail services from Paris (with scheduled bus transfers).
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St Francois Longchamp ski facts:
- No. of slopes: 90
- Green slopes: 24
- Blue slopes: 39
- Red slopes: 19