Bonneval sur Arc

Bonneval sur Arc

Overall Rating

Bonneval sur Arc

Bonneval sur Arc4/53
Bonneval sur Arc4 out of 5 based on 3 reviews
  • Recommend
    100%
  • Would Revisit
    100%
Chamonix Ultimate Ski Tour Le Grand

Nearby Ski Resorts

Aussois
La Norma
Val Cenis
Valfrejus

     Bonneval-sur-Arc Ski Trail Map
  • Bonneval Ski Trail Map
  • Vertical (m)
    1,850m – 3,000m (1,150m)
  • Average Snow Fall
    Lots!
  • Lifts (10)
    3 Chairs
  • Opening Dates & Times
    Mid-December to end April
    9:00am to 4:30pm
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs - 32km
    Longest run - 5km+
    Advanced - 12%
    Intermediate - 60%
    Beginner - 28%
  • Lift Pass Price
    Day Ticket 20/21
    Adult – €29.80
    Child – €24.50
    Child u/5yr - Free

Bonneval sur Arc - Reviews

Bonneval sur Arc - Reviews

Powder Playground

20/06/2020

POWDERHOUNDS EUROPE

Powderhounds Ambassador
Powderhounds Ambassador

POWDERHOUNDS EUROPE

Powderhounds Ambassador
Powderhounds Ambassador
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Telemarker
  • Rider Level
    Expert
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Month Visited:
    March
  • Admin Rating
    5

Powder Playground

20/06/2020

Our second visit to Bonneval sur Arc in season 2020 certainly didn't disappoint. Coming back to the Haute Maurienne Vanoise in March was no chance encounter. A week of snow & sun was forecast so we rolled the proverbial dice & booked into an apartment near Lanslebourg at Val Cenis for the week.

A daytrip to Bonneval is simple if one has their own transport, but the road through Bessans & the last kilometres into Bonneval were like driving on a glacier. Taking the bus is an option, but we had a well-equipped vehicle, so it was no problem.

Compared to our mid-January visit, we noted more comfortable temperatures through the day,; more sunshine hitting the village & hill; more people on the lifts (even had a short wait for the Lacs tow – shock horror) and an off-piste that was more tracked out in the easy to get to spots the day after the storm. Sound terrible? Well it is far from it. More just means the temperatures are comfortable, there is less mountain in the shade, there are actually some people on the lifts & we were made to wait 90 seconds in a lift line for a bunch of kids with an instructor. Such trauma ….. & it was still French school holidays!

We’d skied the trees at Val Cenis during the previous day’s storm, so were a day behind at Bonneval. The 3000 chair terrain was tracked & wind impacted so we swapped aspects immediately. Thankfully, the snowpack was stable, so we ventured beyond the ominous ”you are going to die” sign skier’s right of the top of Lacs tow. Gorgeous fresh snow across the wide aspect allowed for lap after lap until it was suitably tracked, and we were suitable shagged! The 500 to 600m vertical on that aspect was as good as any alpine off-piste we had the pleasure of riding.

With a ski lift pass price of a paltry €29, it is hard to fling negatives at a place like Bonneval. The most major brickbat of the day was funnily enough just near the ticket office at the start of the day. The people sliding uncontrollably down the slippery trail to the Vallonnet lift, people putting skis on in the middle of the space, others standing around just being in the way, plus skiers hurtling awkwardly into the queue race is a wicked combination in a confined area. Thankfully, such congregations of humans in Bonneval are the exception rather than the norm.

In the warmer (relative to January that is) temperatures & sunshine we could better see how child & family friendly this mountain can be - particularly when one factors in cost, or more importantly, the lack of it. Beyond that, the consistent snow depth & quality throughout the season & the vastness of the mountains here makes Bonneval a pleasure palace for anyone fond of powder without the crowds.

The obligatory stroll through the old village with a bite to eat in the afternoon sun, re-enforced my love of this place. You may not have ever heard of Bonneval sur Arc, but now that you know, you MUST surely go. Even better, you probably also haven’t heard of the Haute Maurienne valley that Bonneval is a part of. We adore this region & we suspect any reader of Powderhounds will too. You can ski Aussois, La Norma, Val Cenis & a gargantuan backcountry in awesome snow & all without the mass of humanity & expense so often associated with French Alps ski areas. See you next year!

You can see our thoughts on the pros and cons on the Bonneval overview page and also see our European ski resort ratings regarding how we score it compared to other skiing areas.

Yep!

20/06/2020

Smiling Assasin

Powder Connoisseur
Powder Connoisseur

Smiling Assasin

Powder Connoisseur
Powder Connoisseur
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Expert
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Month Visited:
    March
  • Admin Rating
    4

Yep!

20/06/2020

Yep. An odd big, little ski hill. Lovely old village but most shops shut in the middle of the day so forget about buying something to eat from the bakery after midday. Had some scrumptious crepes, cheeses & and ordered a soup that turned out to be a fruit soup at a tiny restaurant near the church.

Lots of powder to explore but the groomed slopes are limited. Definitely a place to hit on a powder day, but just as good for a sunny day trip from Val Cenis to enjoy the quiet slopes, stroll around the village & take in the views. Take your crampons for the car parking and initial access! It is very cold, which is why the snow is so good and dry.

PS. I was a bit cranky when we visited, so it is probably way better than I remember!

Alpine Winter Wonderland

18/06/2020

POWDERHOUNDS EUROPE

Powderhounds Ambassador
Powderhounds Ambassador

POWDERHOUNDS EUROPE

Powderhounds Ambassador
Powderhounds Ambassador
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Telemarker
  • Rider Level
    Expert
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Month Visited:
    January
  • Admin Rating
    5

Alpine Winter Wonderland

18/06/2020

WARNING – This Bonneval sur Arc review is positively dripping with over the top superlatives & repeated high praise. If gratuitous compliments offend, do not read on!

Bonneval is one of THOSE places. A place you travel too without fully knowing what to expect & are utterly gob-smacked when you get there. It is one of two (& maybe 3) certified Powderhounds Gems in the sensational Haute Maurienne Vanoise of France. Ticking all the Powderhounds Gem boxes, it has the unbeatable combination of a big skiable vertical on cold north-aspect terrain amongst a mountainous landscape draped in glaciers, a dirt-cheap lift pass, deep reliable snowpack, simple but effective lift system, gnarly freeride terrain, access to a vast backcountry & no crowds. The picture postcard village (rated as one of the most beautiful in France) is just a seriously good added bonus. In the search for the greatest big, little ski areas of the world, we have come across many gems and Bonneval sur Arc is a diamond among them.

You know a place is an alpine winter wonderland when the rest of the continent was struggling for snow during the early season, yet Bonneval was absolutely loaded from village to peak.

We visited in early January, so it was cold & dark. And in January, Bonneval is colder & darker than most places in the Alps- just the way we like it. But temperatures across Europe had been higher than average & it hadn’t snowed for several weeks, so were a touch concerned about this visit. The many thermal slides on the sunny south side of the valley (odd for such a cold location!) on the journey up only heightened our apprehension. Needlessly as it turns out. Glaciers overhanging the ski area is a sure sign one is in the right spot. Bonneval (pronounced Bon-vaal) clearly has a combination of elevation & geographic factors to give it some of Europe’s most reliable & best quality snow (and certainly amongst the best in France).

It is always pleasing to hear cold, squeaky snow underfoot when about to put your skis on in the morning. And how wonderful is it to be the only observable skier on a main chairlift for much of a morning? Better than good if one enjoys their own company, not so if you prefer the push & shove of the hoi polloi just a few kilometres away at Val d’Isere. One can see the top lift station in the Col de l'Iseran from the Bonneval ski slopes. Whilst only 5km away as the crow flies, in winter the road is closed & the journey by car is 230km Val d’Isere. Strangely comforting to know, but also intriguing that one could do an easy day trip ski touring in either direction to Bonneval or Val d’Isere. The contrasts between the resorts couldn’t be starker, so would make for an interesting adventure!

Exploring a resort doesn’t take too long when its deserted. The 32km of piste trails are geared toward intermediates despite the numerous beginner rated trails. The trails include some super-fast rolling runs that get one’s full attention, but nothing is particularly difficult. The few advanced runs hadn’t been groomed so were more challenging than expected. Despite the lack of snow during the previous two weeks, we still found some fresh powder in isolated, shaded pockets inbounds without skinning – something we didn’t expect. Novices are well catered for at Bonneval with learn-to-ski conveyors, tows & trails dotted across the lower portion of the hill. Sliding down the lengthy Alouette run ducking, hand slapping, zigging & zagging through loads of elements made even the crustiest amongst us smile. January though is not a time to learn to ski here. It is simply too cold & too dark, but coming in March would be awesome. In the middle of winter families would do better heading to nearby Aussois which faces south & gets loads of sun.

The aptly named 3000 chair has piste terrain for all abilities, easy access to a massive off-piste sector & couloirs plus the benefit to one’s perspective on life of perfect views down the valley to Bessans & Val Cenis. It is possible to do full off-piste valley descents from the 3000 chair in the right conditions, but the thermal slides lower down combined with some tricky exits made us err toward having a guide first time round to get to know the lay of the land. There is also a question of transport back to the village, but the many cross-country trails provide an easy human powdered return route, albeit slightly uphill! And on that subject, the broad valley between Bonneval & Bessans (and beyond) holds an incredible network of cross-country, snow-shoe & winter walking trails that would rival the world’s best, like those in the Swiss Engadin near St Moritz.

In an old village too beautiful for its own good, we stayed at the Chalet le Bois Joli. Ironically, it is a brand spanking new self-contained apartment finished in the rustic stone & wood chalet-style characterising the village. We had wonderful hosts & it made a fabulous base after being on the road for a week. Shame we couldn’t get up the icy road to park the car, but the 150m walk was no drama, plus slipping and sliding around the town (whether in a car, by ski or on foot) is all part of the experience. Wandering the pedestrian-only lanes of the village is sheer joy. Easily the prettiest, most authentic & enjoyable mountain village we have ever visited in the French Alps.

We loved the quirks of the area too. Like the tiny restaurant at Auberge D'oul with only 4 tables. Or the lonely petrol pump standing sentinel surrounded by snow in the centre of town. Or the ski-out ski-in car park hidden away off the main road. Or the ticket office buried in so much snow you must duck to get in.

On the practicality side of things, there are a few negative points to understand about Bonneval sur Arc (sound the ominous music). There is extraordinarily little in the way of shelter on the mountain. It pretty much consists of one restaurant, the Le Criou. Whilst friendly & inviting, the food was underwhelming, and the price made my €29.50 full day lift pass look like the golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory by comparison. Bonneval village is split into two distinct parts. If staying overnight, stay in the old village. It is compact, with only a handful of small shops including a bakery. If not self-catering, a few small café/bar/restaurants serving excellent local cuisine are at its heart, the best of them being La Cabane. Reservations are necessary at the restaurants & English is not widely spoken in parts of the village, so if in doubt ask your accommodation host to arrange it for you. A newer village with food markets & ski shops is away from the ‘old town’, above the ski resort’s chairlift. Après ski is very low-key affair at Bonneval to a point here it doesn’t really happen at all. That’s OK. With so much eye-candy in the valley from the mountain peaks & hanging glaciers all the way down to the nooks & crannies of the village, a few drinks at the convivial Hôtel Le Glacier des Evettesotel is more than sufficient.

If you are a lover of huge, easy to get to bustling ski resorts, villages packed with shops & bars, plus all night dance parties, this place may not be for you. Everything here is just a little more remote, a little more difficult, a little colder & alot quieter. To our eyes (& ears), Bonneval sur Arc is simply an absolute beauty. With all the ingredients for the perfect Powderhounds Super-Secret Stash recipe, we cannot wait to return.

You can see our thoughts on the pros and cons on the Bonneval overview page and also see our European ski resort ratings regarding how we score it compared to other skiing areas.