Val Cenis Ski Resort

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Lanslebourg is Val Cenis ski resort
Lanslebourg is Val Cenis ski resort's main town, surrounded by Haute Maurienne Vanoise mountain splendour
Val Cenis is the perfect powder skiing paradise when the weather is feral
Val Cenis is the perfect powder skiing paradise when the weather is feral
Multiple user-friendly lift bases in the valley are a feature of Val Cenis ski resort
Multiple user-friendly lift bases in the valley are a feature of Val Cenis ski resort
Val Cenis freeride powder storm-riding
Val Cenis freeride powder storm-riding
Lanslevillard is another of Val Cenis
Lanslevillard is another of Val Cenis' awesome base villages
Use Val Cenis as a base to explore Haute Maurienne ski resorts like Bonneval sur Arc
Use Val Cenis as a base to explore Haute Maurienne ski resorts like Bonneval sur Arc
Val Cenis has loads of ski-in accommodation
Val Cenis has loads of ski-in accommodation
Val Cenis mid-mountain sector has amazing trees & gullies, perfect for storm riding
Val Cenis mid-mountain sector has amazing trees & gullies, perfect for storm riding
Val Cenis many base areas are full of restaurant, bar & ski shop options
Val Cenis many base areas are full of restaurant, bar & ski shop options
Alpenrock above Termignon provides wonderful food in a hugely under-rated ski sector
Alpenrock above Termignon provides wonderful food in a hugely under-rated ski sector
The many snow covered roads in Val Cenis ski resort provide sensational novice slopes & off-piste links
The many snow covered roads in Val Cenis ski resort provide sensational novice slopes & off-piste links
Val Cenis has numerous sheltered learn-to-ski areas like this one in Lanslevillard
Val Cenis has numerous sheltered learn-to-ski areas like this one in Lanslevillard
Fresh powder on intermediate piste in the deserted Termignon sector of Val Cenis
Fresh powder on intermediate piste in the deserted Termignon sector of Val Cenis
Val Cenis highest elevation piste slopes near the Met lift at 2,800m
Val Cenis highest elevation piste slopes near the Met lift at 2,800m
Mid-mountain tree skiing on a powder day at Val Cenis is fantastic
Mid-mountain tree skiing on a powder day at Val Cenis is fantastic
Wide piste trails for all abilities are spread across Val Cenis (above the Solert chair)
Wide piste trails for all abilities are spread across Val Cenis (above the Solert chair)
Steep(ish) off-piste can be found in the Val Cenis alpine zone, but most is relatively mellow
Steep(ish) off-piste can be found in the Val Cenis alpine zone, but most is relatively mellow
Ski-in accommodation is spread all along the valley in Val Cenis
Ski-in accommodation is spread all along the valley in Val Cenis
Val Cenis tree lined slopes are perfect for skiing & snowboarding on a stormy day
Val Cenis tree lined slopes are perfect for skiing & snowboarding on a stormy day
Ski Val Cenis, Haute Maurienne, France
Ski Val Cenis, Haute Maurienne, France

Val Cenis Ski Resort

Readers Ratings

Val Cenis

Val Cenis4/52
Val Cenis4 out of 5 based on 2 reviews
  • Recommend
    100%
  • Would Revisit
    100%
European Ski & Snowboard Safari Tours

Nearby Ski Resorts

Aussois
Bonneval sur Arc
La Norma

    Val Cenis Ski Trail Map
  • Val Cenis Ski Trail Map
  • Vertical (m)
    1,300m – 2,800m (1,500m)
  • Average Snow Fall
    Unknown
  • Lifts (29)
    2 Gondolas
    13 Chairs
  • Opening Dates & Times
    Mid-December to mid-April
    9:00am to 4:00pm
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs - 125km
    Longest run – 10km+
    Advanced - 10%
    Intermediate - 35%
    Beginner - 55%
  • Lift Pass Price
    Day Ticket 20/21
    Adult – €41
    Child – €34.50
    Child u/5yr - Free
    Val Cenis Lanslebourg Sector Ski Trail Map
  • Lanslebourg Sector Trail Map
    Val Cenis Termignon Sector Ski Trail Map
  • Termignon Sector Trail Map

Val Cenis Ski Resort France

Val Cenis is the largest & most diverse ski resort in the excellent Haute Maurienne Vanoise. Perfect to ride in a storm, its many lifts & trails will appeal to all ski or snowboard abilities, plus its off-piste freeride terrain is fabulously fun to explore. Whether you are a novice sliding down the long gentle, snow-covered D1006 road or an expert picking your way through the powder laden trees, Val Cenis will satisfy every budding or actual powder hound.

Val Cenis is the best location for a base to undertake a ski safari of the Haute Maurienne valley resorts including the Powderhounds Gems of Bonneval sur Arc & La Norma plus sun-soaked Aussois..

Pros & Cons for Val Cenis Ski Resort

Pros

  • Reliable natural snowpack in a cold north-aspect ski resort.
  • Modern & efficient lift system.
  • Long skiable vertical of 1500m, of which up to 1350m can be skied in a single run.
  • Excellent range of on-piste trails, particularly for novices, beginners & intermediates.
  • Wonderfully long novice ski trails of up to 10km.
  • Brilliant storm-riding off-piste terrain including mellow bowls, glades, steep trees & gullies.
  • Several nice restaurants in the towns.
  • Plethora of ski-in ski-out accommodation across numerous village bases
  • Incredibly affordable (& exceptional value) lift pass;
  • Easy public transport access by train & bus .
  • Awesome central location from which to explore the entire Haute Maurienne valley.

Cons

  • The lower part of the resort at Termignon may not have much snow (although the piste trails will still have snow on them!).
  • Negligible terrain for advanced skiers on-piste.
  • The best off-piste tree ski terrain around Termignon’s Sources chairlift is protected wildlife habitat & closed to skiing - oops.
  • Several long, flat novice & beginner trails could be difficult to ride for snowboarders without walking!
  • Numerous mountain huts & local bakeries are disappointing.
  • Limited après ski & nightlife.

Pro or Con (depending on your perspective!)

  • Several different village bases & disjointed accommodations spread along 8.5km of valley.
  • Villages are in shadow throughout mid-winter.

Skiing & Snowboarding Terrain

The best place to ski during storms in the Haute Maurienne, Val Cenis spans a wide part of the valley with north to south-westerly aspected slopes providing a total of 1500m skiable vertical across sub-alpine & forested freeride terrain that will suit all off-piste ski abilities, The resort’s 125km of piste trails are heavily weighted toward novices & intermediates. Horizontally the resort is split into two distinct sectors – what we refer to as the Lanslebourg-Mont-Cenis sector & the Termignon sector. Vertically, the mountain is split into three distinct zones, each with their own lifts – valley (perfect for novices); mid-mountain forest (full range of trails plus steep off-piste gullies & trees);& alpine (broad, mellow rolling pitches).

See the Val Cenis ski trail map here.

Val Cenis has invested heavily in lift infrastructure, with modern gondolas & chairs providing the heavy lifting out of the valley, particularly in the Lanslebourg-Mont-Cenis sector. Thankfully that investment hasn’t impacted the lift pass price across the entire resort. It is still at super bargain basement levels - only €39 in 2020.

Lanslebourg-Mont-Cenis sector has the widest variety of terrain in the resort. For novices it is a paradise in which to learn sliding on snow. The best learn-to-ski slopes are around Lanslevillard utilising the Le Haut gondola & Colomba chair. When confident, the long Escargot trail (the summer D1006 road up to the pass!) provides kilometres of easy skiing to perfect one’s skills – maybe not so good for snowboarders though – too flat is parts). Progressing beginners & intermediates have trail options across the mountain. The mid-mountain sector below 2100m has several ripping intermediate trails, the best of which are Ramasse & MJ St Genix.

The highest lifts in the northern sector of the resort [Met (2800m), Solert (2540m) & the old Plan Cardinal 2-seater (2520m)] all have similar alpine/sub-alpine on & off-piste providing lovely turns on a reasonably mellow pitch. The 6-seater Arcellins chair is important when skiing the area in a storm. It serves a broad scope of mixed alpine, sub-alpine, forest & gullies, whilst avoiding the sometimes painfully long flat journey all the way to the bottom of the resort. The advanced piste trails at Val Cenis are light grey at best! Nothing too steep. Crowds (what little there is) tend to avoid them on powder mornings, so reap the harvest early. Experts will enjoy the mid-mountain off-piste trees & gullies.

See the Lanslebourg-Mont-Cenis sector ski trail map here.

One area easy to overlook, but in many respects the best in the resort, is the Termignon sector. Connected to Lanslebourg sector via the Turra chair, it is all but deserted during a storm. The sector’s lifts nay be vintage, but it has fun piste trails & marvellous off-piste. An expansive area of sub-alpine forest can be accessed via the Sources chair & Grand Coin teleski (surface tow). Whilst one needs to know the entry & exit points, it was easy enough for us to do a great run in the zone below Sources chair the first time we tried, even though technically the area is protected and skiing off-piste there is prohibited – whoops! If the snow is deep, the ski under the Turra chair through the trees back to Lanslebourg can be awesome. Otherwise, swallow your pride & download on the chair because the long flatter than flat trail back into town is just not worth it. Different if heading into Termignon, where the Bois de Coqs piste cuts through the worst of the interminable zig-zags.

See the Termignon sector ski trail map here.

There is a mass of backcountry at Val Cenis, above the lifts in both sectors & east of the Plan Cardinal chair, that given time & weather would no doubt be wonderful to explore during an extended stay. Future lift projects out toward the Cime du Laro seek to utilise this vast resource.

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Where is Val Cenis France?

Val Cenis ski resort is in the heart of the Haute Maurienne valley in the French Alps. Close to the Italian border, the resort village of Termignon is only 17km (20min drive) east of the transport hub town of Modane. The largest Val Cenis resort town of Lanslebourg-Mont-Cenis is a further 6km (8min drive) east. A third village, Lanslevillard is an additional 3km up the valley. Lanslebourg is 220km (2½hr) drive south of Geneva, 230km (2½hr) drive east of Lyon & 128km (1¾hr) west of Turin. Gateway airports to the region are Geneva (GVA) & Lyon St Exupéry (LYS) for all travellers.

Public transport to the region is excellent. Modane has a railway station served by TGV high speed trains on the Paris-Lyon-Turin-Milan line. A major bus terminal is next to the station. Regular buses head to all five Haute Maurienne ski areas, including Val Cenis (the M12 line). Alternatively, a private transfer from the train station to just about anywhere in the Haute Maurienne will be relatively inexpensive.

Search & book train tickets to Modane here.

Driving to Val Cenis can be incredibly quick when compared to other French ski resorts, but that speed comes at a price. The motorways leading to Modane from both France & Italy are all toll roads. From Italy, the Frejus tunnel at the French border costs significantly more than a day ski lift pass – so day trips to the region from Bardonecchia or the Via Lattea are generally out of the question! The road from Lanslebourg over the Col du Mont Cenis to Italy is closed in winter, with the French side of the snow-covered road forming a major part of the resort’s long, novice-rated ski slopes.

Val Cenis is a wonderful base of operations to make forays to all the other ski resorts in the region. Journeys can be done bus, but having a rental car is preferable. From Lanslebourg, Bonneval sur Arc is 19km (31min) northeast via Bessans & its incredible network of winter walking & cross-country ski trails. To the west, back toward Modane, La Norma is 22km (28min drive) drive & Aussois is 17km (24min) via the scenic road through Sardières.

Val Cenis Accommodation

Aside from being the valley's largest ski area, Val Cenis also has the largest villages at its base. Lanslebourg is the main centre, with Lanslevillard further up the valley. The two are effectively connected by numerous resort-style apartment complexes more akin to what one would find in a major Canadian ski resort rather than France. Midway between Lanslebourg & Lanslevillard, the locality of Les Champs has a nice combination of lifts, shops, bars restaurants spread along the valley. For great value ski-in apartments it is hard to look past the Les Alpages de Val Cenis. Aside from the undercover parking, in-house pool & spa complex, restaurant & ski shop, it often has availability at short notice during the week.

Search & book all Lanslebourg-Val Cenis ski accommodation here.

The cheapest Val Cenis lodgings are in the village of Termignon. Its relatively low elevation of 1,300m may mean it has less snow at times during the season, but one can swiftly access some of the resort's best off-piste tree skiing areas directly from the Termignon ski lifts, making it a wise option for the budget conscious powder hound.

Search & book all Termignon ski accommodation here.

Ski & Snowboard Rentals

Ski rentals are available throughout Val Cenis via our local partners, Skiset. Seven shops, all close to the lifts, provide exceptional gear & service in Lanslevillard (2 options), Les Champs (2 options), Lanslebourg (I outlet) & Termignon (2 Options). The ski servicing (repair, edge & wax) at the Dalcin Sports shops in Les Champs near the Pre Novee lift was superbly priced & as good as we have had anywhere in the world.

Receive a discount when you search & book via our Val Cenis Ski & Snowboard Equipment Rental page.

Mountain Restaurants

Val Cenis has a relatively limited number of mountain dining options that throw up (not literally) a disconcerting variety of experiences. Some were surprisingly good, others were soooo disappointing. The Alpenrock restaurant at Replat des Canons in the Termignon sector, whilst having some deficiencies (i.e. the state of the toilet – a common theme in the upper areas of the resort), is a wonderful place to shelter from the storm & enjoy a meal. Similarly, La Fema at the top of the Vieux Moulin gondola was excellent in both the food & service stakes (but the toilets – aargh!).

Sadly, on an intense blizzard day we sought to have lunch & respite from the storm in the ironically named Bar Le Refuge near the Mont Cenis tow. It proved anything but, with no toilets, the frostiest of frosty receptions (both temperature & staff) & an owner (presumably) taking up all the space near the feeble heating source. Le Refuge clearly resented having customers, so we suggest avoiding it.

Further down the mountain, Crêperie des Glaces friendly staff will provide great drinks & crepes. The valley towns and lift bases are replete with bars & restaurants of a consistent quality, though we noted the base restaurants at Termignon seemed over-priced.

Activities

Aside from downhill skiing & snowboarding, the Haute Maurienne Vanoise has a festival of winter activities to distract you. The great Alps tradition of parasailing is popular in Val Cenis & other ski areas in the region. Val Cenis has some extended Swiss-like toboggan slopes off the Le Haut gondola plus winter walking & a few minor cross-country ski trails. Up the valley in Bessans is an incredible cross-country ski & winter walking trail network that goes all the way to Bonneval. Other toboggan, winter walking & cross-country trails exist down valley at Aussois and Sardieres. Lovers of ‘old stuff’ will enjoy wandering around the forts either side of the deep defile spanned by the Pont Du Diable (crampons needed for the climb down to access the bridge in winter!) near Aussois. The Fort Victor-Emmanuel, Fort Charles-Félix & Redoute Marie Thérèse make for an interesting distraction from the slopes. Look out for the weekday street market in the various local villages. The vendors move through all the Haute Maurienne villages through the week.

Review

The Powderhounds visited Val Cenis in January & March 2020. We found it to be an excellent all-round ski area with super off-piste freeride terrain, particularly during inclement weather, plus a magnificent base to explore the smaller resorts in the valley. Click on the review link in the left column (or top of the page if on a mobile) to read all the reviews.

See how Val Cenis compares to the rest of the European ski resorts on the Europe ski resort ratings page.

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