Ski signage with mountain scenery at La Toussuire, Les Sybelles

La Toussuire

Les Sybelles, Savoie, French Alps

Located near the Franco-Italian border and accessed from Saint-Jean de Maurienne, in the Vallée de la Maurienne, it’s one of six linked ski villages of Les Sybelles, the 4th biggest ski area in France.

Other neighbours include Valfréjus, Valloire, Valmeinier and Albiez-Montrond.

Just to the north lie Val Thorens and the 3 Valleys, so Les Sybelles are in the firing line for frequent heavy snowfalls.

Long view of skiers on wide piste with distant peaks at La Toussuire, Les Sybelles, Maurienne, French Alps.

The Ski Area

The principal attraction of skiing here is that the lift pass gives you access to the combined lift-linked terrain of six linked ski villages known collectively as Les SybellesLa Toussuire (1750m), Saint Sorlin d’Arves (1600m), Saint Jean d’Arves (1550m), Le Corbier (1550m), Les Bottières (1300m) and St Colomban de Villards (1100m).

The scale of the resulting ski area is hard to grasp until you set out to explore it, at which point you’ll discover that connecting it all is some superb intermediate cruising terrain, mostly served by modern high-speed chairlifts. However, as you’d expect, shorter non-connecting runs above the villages (Les Bottières and Le Corbier) tend to employ simple drag-lifts. If you’re planning to develop your free-style skills then La Toussuire is the best base in the domain, since it has the most direct access to two snow-park areas (one an ‘easy-park’) and a boarder-cross run just below L’Ouillon (2431m).

While there’s a noticeable dearth of black runs, the off-piste potential is fairly obvious, and a qualified local guide will help you find the best of it. At the opposite end of the technical scale, the novice area just above the village is safe, reassuring and accessible, and beginners can progress to a selection of reassuring blues nearby. But whatever your technical level, you’ll long remember the truly jaw-dropping scenery.

Resort Information

Altitude : 1100mm - 2600mm
La Toussuire
Pistes Total:
55 km
Bar chart showing percentages of ski piste difficulty
7 Green
16 Blue
11 Red
1 Black
Ski Resort Lifts : 19
11 Draglifts
8 Chairlifts
Les Sybelles
Pistes Total:
310 km
Bar chart showing percentages of ski piste difficulty
25 Green
56 Blue
34 Red
9 Black
Ski Domain Lifts: 71
6 Magic Carpets
36 Draglifts
28 Chairlifts

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Wide view of skier returning to ski village of La Toussuire, Les Sybelles, Maurienne, French Alps.

The Ski Village

There’s a lot of accommodation here, much of it modestly sized and straggling along the higher side of the approach road, making the most of the impressive views. As you approach the heart of things, however, the skyline changes to much larger apartment blocks with restaurants, boutiques and services at ground level. It’s classic, hard-edged, high-altitude ski village style, and a model of functional efficiency.

That said, there’s more of a Savoyard influence among the bars and restaurants lining the foot of the front-de-neige, where large sun terraces are predictably popular at lunchtimes and at the end of the day. As regards restaurants, we have to say that we were impressed by the range of options, and by the quality and presentation of our dining experiences here. There really does seem to be something for everyone (and if snacking on the go is your style then again you won’t be disappointed).

Despite being primarily a mid-range destination for value-conscious families, La Toussuire nevertheless has some real quality touches here and there, including some premium accommodation and services. If you prefer to stay close to the pistes (and we reckon you should if it’s within your price-range) then ski-in/ski-out accommodation is available.

Staying There

Value for Money Accommodation Dining Out Nightlife Village Charm

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Group of skiers beside high-speed chair-lift at La Toussuire, Les Sybelles, Maurienne, French Alps.

Best For

Since most intermediate recreational skiers just love well-signed, well-groomed cruising terrain you have to say that Les Sybelles are currently hugely underrated – if you want quality, linked-domain skiing but without prohibitively-pricey lift passes then you really should get to know this place. You can rack up some serious mileage here, and enjoy your lunchtime meals in a different village each day, if you wish.

Families and mixed-interest groups will appreciate affordable pricing, ultra-accessible ski-school teaching areas, some very manageable blue pistes (there are few greens) plus a snow-park and boarder-cross area.

Finally, anyone who appreciates spectacular mountain scenery, with a few back-to-nature experiences along the way will be more than happy here.

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Skiing There

Beginners / Families Intermediates Advanced / Expert Mountain Scenery

Snowboarding

Plenty of space to perfect tricks in an unpressured environment.
1 Snowparks
2 Snowboarder Cross


Handiski...

  • 50% off your ski pass including part day tariffs on presentation of a valid invalidity card.
  • ESF offer lessons with certified instructors (English spoken) with the aim of enabling people to ski independently.
  • Parking / drop-off available at the front-de-neige near the ESF meeting point.

icon-smileyYes please...

  • Enough skiing to please mile-hungry intermediates
  • Lots of vertical drop, too
  • The domain all fits together rather well
  • Some powerful lifts here now
  • Possibly the friendliest ski village in which we’ve ever stayed

icon-frowneyYes but...

  • Not inspiring architecturally (but more attractive than its high-rise neighbour Le Corbier)
  • Lower resorts not snow-sure
  • Almost all the terrain is above the tree-line
  • Still some longish drag-lifts here and there

icon-winkingOur Tips

  • Close your eyes to the hard-edged skyline, relax and enjoy the friendly, welcoming attitude to visitors.
  • If you have transport, while you’re here try to visit Albiez-Montrond (around 45min drive) for traditional charm.

Practical Information

Getting there

By Car
For Dover-Calais ferry travel, other cross-channel routes, offers and bookings visit P&O Ferries

Take the A43 autoroute to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne exit number 27 then follow "Vallée de l’Arvan" (D78). It's 17km up to La Toussuire.

By air
The nearest airports are Chambéry Savoie Mont Blanc, Lyon and Grenoble. There are buses every Saturday between the airports and La Toussuire, contact the Tourist Office for details and booking.

Jet2.com offers low cost flights to the French Alps from 7 UK airports.

By train
It's just a 4hr high speed train journey from Paris to St Jean de Maurienne.

You can get a taxi, or there are buses from here to La Toussuire operated through Société Trans Alpes, Tél. +33(0)4 79 64 02 55. You can purchase tickets online at www.trans-alpes.com

Book your TGV fast train from Paris or Eurostar’s ski train direct to the French Alps with OUI.sncf

Transfers
Visit Ski-Lifts for the best range of ski transfer destinations from airports and main rail stations.


Things to do

Tried and testedSnow-shoeing

Pair of lightweight showshoes on snow, showing piste grooming lines.

Pedestrians can take the Tête de Bellard lift where you can embark on 50km of dedicated marked paths. The Crêtes slope offers 360 degree views and if you descend to Le Corbier you can take the Sybelles Express lift back up again to complete the loop. We contented ourselves with the impressive high level circuit taking in superb far-reaching views. Our only criticism is the lack of a picnic area for pedestrians and you don't pass any café either so it would be useful to take something to sit on, plenty to eat and drink.


Where to stay

Tried and testedLes Hauts de Comborciere

These well=placed chalet style apartments sleep up to 8 people and are conveniently sited right next to the slopes and within an easy walk to the ski schools for beginners. Ski-in ski-out is possible given the right conditions (the adjacent blue slope has snow-making) but we found the exit from the ski lockers a little tricky, easier to glide in and out in style on the piste to the front of the chalets.

Spacious and comfortable, Lagrange Prestige provide all the essentials for a self-catering ski break. There's underground parking (payable), a pool with Jacuzzi, pleasant lounge area with a small kitchen so you can make drinks. There's a friendly bar restaurant on the ground floor offering lunches and evening meals or a take-away service.

There's a Skimium shop next to the entrance for ski and equipment hire where we togged up for a day snow-shoeing. Shops and restaurants are all close by though you won't be disturbed by traffic, the chalets are in an quiet elevated spot slightly away from the main street.

For further information and bookings contact:
Peak Retreats
023 9283 9310
reservations@peakretreats.co.uk


Where to Eat

Tried and testedLe Patriarche

La Toussuire
Tel: +33 (0)4 79 20 54 78

Slopeside (Bellard) resto serving a range of Savoyard dishes in a convivial dining room with welcoming wood burning stove. There's a small terrace overlooking the lower slopes. Pedestrian access possible. We enjoyed turkey escalope with fries and green salad, followed by dessert and coffee for around 18-20 euros.

Tried and testedLe Chamois Restaurant Savoyard

Rue Blanche
La Toussuire
Tel: +33(0)4 79 56 74 86

Situated on the front de neige, there's a huge sunny terrace with comfy sofas and deckchairs where you can relax and enjoy a drink and a crêpe at the end of the afternoon. Inside, there's a cosy bar and restaurant with a lovely enclosed terrace providing diners with a panoramic view. Welcoming chalet style interior and good service with food in copious amounts makes for a great evening out. The Tarte au Beaufort is excellent.

Tried and testedLa Petite Ferme

St Sorlin d'Arves
Tel: +33 (0)4 79 20 47 41

Ski all the way over to St Sorlin and you'll find this busy pub style terrace restaurant at the foot of the slopes. Choice of meals or take-away served with chunky chips, pastas, and children's selection.

Tried and testedLa Grange

La Toussuire
Tel:+33 (0)4 79 83 00 62

Friendly, simply styled mountain restaurant popular with the locals as it's completely unpretentious, it's situated at the extreme edge of the ski village and adjacent to the Renard piste. We walked there in the evening but it's further than we thought so preferable to take a car. After warming up near the welcoming fireside, we went for the classic raclette served with local charcuterie, green salad and potatoes. Cost around 20 euros per person, two people minimum.

Tried and testedL'Ecurie

Rue Blanche
La Toussuire
Tel:+33 (0)4 79 56 79 80

Super chalet style decor in this large restaurant situated on the front de neige. If you want to try a classic Savoyard meal such as fondue, raclette etc. then dine here and you won't be disappointed. Excellent service and warm ambiance assured. Expect to pay around 20 euros per person for a Savoie dish, but they serve excellent pizzas and pasta starting around 10 euros.

Tried and testedLes Marmottes

Rue Blanche
La Toussuire
Tel:+33 (0)6 42 59 47 10

We enjoyed a generous raclette with great service and an offer of seconds! Desserts include home made tiramisu, creme caramel, and tartes tatin. The restaurant has a contemporary style with a relaxed ambience and panoramic view to the pistes.

Tried and testedThe Matafan

Rue Verte
La Toussuire
Tel:+33(0)6 83 13 39 50

The owner grew up in Brittany so is putting her Breton roots into practice serving authentic galettes and sweet crêpes in this brightly decorated café near the Tourist Office. Open from 7-30am you can order breakfast until 11am then sandwiches, crêpes, ravioli, pannini, and a selection of gateaux throughout the day. Choose your own fillings or sauce or go for one of the daily specials. Breakfast around 7 euros, galettes from around 4 euros, ravioli around 8euros.

Tried and testedRestaurant Gastronomique Les Soldenelles

La Toussuire
Tel:+33 (0)4 79 56 75 29

This family owned three star hotel in a quiet area of the village just metres from the lifts has a splendid restaurant with warmly decorated and welcoming dining room. It's a member of the Maurienne dans l'assiete, a group of local restaurants and producers guaranteeing authentic products from the valley. Chef Jean-Claude specializes in fresh fish dishes and we enjoyed a superb menu with plenty of choice and with attentive and friendly service. Evening three course menus start at around 30 euros, a la carte main courses start at around 18 euros. Reserve a table to avoid disappointment as Soldanelles is an excellent choice for a last night treat.


Insight: La Toussuire

View past ski piste sign to mountainside with skiers at La Toussuire.

Insight: La Toussuire

When I asked my fellow ski journalist Arnie Wilson, who has skied just about everywhere on the planet, to name the most beautiful area he’d ever skied in France, he responded without hesitation: “Les Sybelles”. Good enough for me. A few seasons have since passed, but the seed was sown, and now we finally have the opportunity to come and discover it for ourselves.

This place has a lot to live up to, particularly since there’s mist and light rain as we make the drive up from Saint Jean de Maurienne, waiting impatiently to hit the snow-line. But it’s late March, and green doesn’t give way to white until just before the turn-off to Le Corbier, while we negotiate the final hairpin which will bring us into La Toussuire. Here the rain has given way to snow, and we’re suddenly back in our comfort zone, with the prospect of some skiing ahead of us in the days to come, although by the time we’re installed in our piste-side apartment there’s little to be seen through the snowy dusk from our balcony.

After launching off on the red-graded Ouillon 1 connector piste we pick up Col de Bellard, a much longer red which hugs the side of one of the most spectacular valleys in which we’ve ever skied…
Skiers looking at piste map sign beside chair-lift at La Toussuire, Les Sybelles, French Alps
Wide view of skier on piste in valley between La Toussuire and Saint Colomban des Villards, Les Sybelles, French Alps

La Toussuire: first impressions

The following morning we float out on a fresh dusting of snow beneath a cloud-filled sky and head down to the lifts. The high-speed 6-seater Tête de Bellard hauls us smoothly to 2225m while we get a feel for conditions and snow-cover, which are impressive, given that we’re here so late in the season. At the top we head over to Les 2 Croix, a pair of reasonably short drag-lifts which get us to 2431m, where in clearer conditions we’d be taking in vast panoramic views of our surroundings. We’ll just have to imagine it for now, while awaiting the forecast fine weather to arrive. In the meantime we spend the rest of the day exploring some of the pistes below the Tête de Bellard, which currently has the best snow conditions above La Toussuire

Having got that out of our system, we head back to our apartment, lock our skis away and head back out minus ski gear to spend some time discovering the layout of the village itself and what it offers in the way of shops and services. Although not exactly epic, we’ve enjoyed what turned out to be a relaxing day, and can already see why so many French families keep returning each season.

The following day finds the scenery transformed by a cloudless sky, so we head straight back to L’Ouillon in search of the panoramic views we’d previously been denied. This time we finally get some idea of the vast scale of the linked ski area, and there’s a whole lot more out there currently hidden away out of sight, the first on our checklist being the Saint Colomban des Villards sector, currently tucked away out of sight to our right. After launching off on the red-graded Ouillon 1 connector piste we pick up Col de Bellard, a much longer red which hugs the side of one of the most spectacular valleys in which we’ve ever skied. Thanks, Arnie.

Further down the red feeds seamlessly onto the blue-graded Liaison Techette, which enters the tree-line, morphs into Bouyans (still blue), passing a welcoming and beautifully-sited mountain bar/restaurant before the final drop into La Pierre, the lowest point in the ski terrain above Saint Colomban. We’ve just completed 1331m of vertical drop in a single, unbroken run through the kind of scenery most skiers would kill to explore.

View from piste of skiers on sun terrace of mountain restaurant, St Colomban, Les Sybelles
Skier on mountainside beside snow-covered valley above Saint Colomban, Les Sybelles, French Alps

A combination of the lowest altitude in the ski domain and fast-approaching springtime have produced slushy conditions around the village, but the access run remains skiable and this sector could suddenly become much more so if a snow-laden depression were to sweep in before (or after) the end of the season.

We’ve seen it happen from time to time, a thought which we hold onto while contemplating the currently lush green forests during the first return haul on the Ormet 4-seater chairlift. At the 1466m top station we take the blue-graded Plan Fin piste down to 1313m to meet Charmette, another fixed 4-seater. The lift makes a steep getaway, then eases high above the long scenic blue cruise we’d skied earlier before dropping us at 1809m. An all-too-brief run down Grand Creux (blue) brings us to the Mont Cuinat draglift, for the memorably long, slow haul we’d glimpsed while peering into the valley from Tête de Bellard, prior to our descent into the valley.

By the time we reach the (2078m) drop-off point we’re more than happy to glide down the blue-graded Liaison Bellard and relax in the sun on the final haul on the Col de Bellard 4-seater chairlift. The Col itself accesses a wealth of off-piste terrain, while at the top of the lift lies L’Ouillon (2431m) and the prospect of blue, red and even black onward pistes through more jaw-dropping scenery down to the Chalets d’Olle.

We opt for the blue-graded Longe Combe, the kind of dreamlike cruise we’re powerless to complete without at least one quick pause for photos. At the bottom we reach both the high-speed 6-seater Eau d’Olle chairlift (which takes skiers making for Le Corbier or La Toussuire back to L’Ouillon) and its companion the Petit Perron 4-seater, which continues onward to the 2271m Petit Perron summit. We take it, make a bracing drop on the blue-graded Blanchons and the Rocher red all the way down into Saint Sorlin d’Arves – an unbroken vertical drop of a little over 670m.

Wide view of skiers reaching chairlift, La Toussuire, Les Sybelles, French Alps
High view of skiers under chairlift with big mountain view, La Toussuire, Les Sybelles, French Alps
Skiers on wide open piste among snow-capped mountains, La Toussuire, French Alps

When we’d set off the plan for today had been to take a relaxed amble over to this point and back again with photo-stops along the way, saving other distractions until another day. However, the present fine weather (which experience has taught us never to assume will hold) had tempted us to abandon that idea and make what looked like being a quick detour round to Saint Colomban. It was absolutely worth it, but the four-lift return route had proved more time-consuming than expected, which is why we’re taking what can no longer be called a lunch break at around 14.50. Our protesting leg muscles tell us just how far we’ve come, and how heavy snow conditions have been on the final, lower sections.

With the return journey still to tackle, we can’t hang around too long, so soon find ourselves heading back out and riding the Les Choseaux high-speed 6-seater chairlift up to Les Perrons. At 2620m it’s yet another panoramic viewpoint but we have to press on, launching off on Vallons – a long, blue-graded cruise back to Chalets d’Olle, to ride the high-speed 6-seater Eau d’Olle chairlift back to L’Ouillon.

A determined run down the blue-graded Pierre du Turc brings us to Le Chamois, a short and relatively undemanding drag-lift climbing to just below the viewpoint of Pierre du Turc (2305m), from which there’s a choice of onward runs back to La Toussuire, with a vertical drop of around 550m. If you’re feeling fit then you have some steep but wide reds to enjoy, one of which (Bellard) has a steeper and often mogulled black feeding onto it. If, however, you want to take things calmly, or your legs are shot after big mileage then the decision is simple: take the blue-graded Marmotte (or Crêtes, followed by Gorges or Marolay then Soleil) all the way down. There’s also a more scenic ridge-hugging option, starting on Marmotte, then peeling off onto Moyenne Verdette and then joining Combourcière for a final cruise down to the village. For us it’s perfect, since it takes us right past our accommodation.

After a long day seeing the sights in perfect weather we relax a little for the rest of our stay in Les Sybelles, and make a point of driving over to ski Albiez-Montrond. Our verdict? Les Sybelles have come of age, and add up to a major ski area – and the scenery is indeed stunning.MountainPassions heart icon