High, wide view of ski lift on mountainside with surrounding valleys at Pra Loup

Pra Loup & Val d’Allos

L’Espace Lumière, Alpes d'Haute-Provence, French Alps

At the gateway to Provence and above the valleys of the Ubaye (Pra Loup) and Verdon (La Foux d’Allos).

In winter the 2247m Col d’Allos provides skiers with a link, amid wild, dramatic mountain scenery.

Nearest towns are Gap, Barcelonnette and Briançon, with Pra Loup being the more readily accessible by road (except for travellers from Marseille and Toulon).

Being this far south means plenty of fine weather, but snowfalls tend to be surprisingly reliable.

Lone skier descending tree-lined piste with mountains in background

The Ski Area

Ski here and chances are you’ll return a better and more confident skier. True, there are easier places to get around, but then this is one for the purists, who will fall in love with the wild, rugged grandeur of the unspoilt landscapes and the real sense of remoteness and independence once you know where to look. Not that you can’t take it easier on gentler, more sheltered terrain closer to the villages – you’ll see plenty of people doing just that.
For the rest, though, it’s steep and surprisingly deep, as you’ll discover when you decide to ski the liaison between the two areas. It’s absolutely worth doing, but not until you have a few days under your skis and your fitness levels have improved. We can’t recall any other link which brings with it quite such a sense of adventure and back-to-nature remoteness. But don’t be put off; relax, think ‘ski touring’ and prepare to enjoy the kind of jaw-dropping scenery which will haunt you for years. And call you back.

Resort Information

Altitude : 1500m - 2600m
Pra Loup
Pistes Total:
100 km
6 Green
13 Blue
18 Red
3 Black
Ski Resort Lifts : 19
3 Magic Carpets
9 Draglifts
4 Chairlifts
1 Télémix Gondola/Chairlift
2 Gondolas
Espace Lumière
Pistes Total:
180 km
10 Green
28 Blue
33 Red
7 Black
Ski Domain Lifts: 39
3 Magic Carpets
18 Draglifts
13 Chairlifts
1 Télémix Gondola/Chairlift
2 Gondolas
1 Cable Cars

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Children going to ski lesson, with chair lift and village in background

The Ski Village

Not one but several, with differing styles and locations. Although yet to be discovered by the majority of UK skiers, both Pra Loup and La Foux are hugely popular with French skiers, many of whom bought apartments long ago and return frequently. So if the architecture isn’t always the most unified and traditional, there’s plenty of life here. Both purpose-built high-altitude areas have also been investing in improvements which are already obvious to visitors: Pra Loup 1600 is undergoing a major facelift, and nearby Pra Roustan is effectively a whole new ski village. Meanwhile, over in La Foux there are slopeside apartments and some worthwhile lift system upgrades.

Conveniently situated in the heart of Pra Loup 1600, the pedestrian shopping arcade contains a variety of shops, restaurants and bars plus some essential services such as cashpoint and post office. The crêche and a clean and pleasant children’s play area are within the same area, just a short distance from the foot of the slopes. For those staying in Pra Loup 1500, the regular shuttle service is essential to access the main village, which has limited parking. It is only 10-15 minutes drive into the nearby market town of Barcelonnette which is also served by the shuttle service.

La Foux d’Allos is a small village but still has everything you need with a small supermarket and boulangerie, plus ski hire and clothing, bars and restaurants.

Staying There

Value for Money Accommodation Dining Out Nightlife Village Charm

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Wide view of two skiers admiring mountain scenery

Why go skiing in Pra Loup ?

Generations of French skiers have begun their skiing here in a safe, reassuring environment. But it’s not merely for novicesmile-hungry intermediates will love the cruising terrain on the link into Val d’Allos, which has some worthwhile but not too intimidating steeps to enjoy. Traditionalists might not find Pra Loup’s architectural style to their taste, but for young families the main village has a welcoming feel and the indoor shopping arcade (beside which are a crêche and children’s play area) is a plus point.

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Alpinresorts.com Ski rental

Skiing There

Beginners / Families Intermediates Advanced / Expert Mountain Scenery

Snowboarding

Family oriented so good for beginners.
1 Snowparks
3 Snowboarder Cross


Cross-Country Skiing

Two areas for all levels at Larche and Saint Paul sur Ubaye.
45km Cross-Country and Nordic Ski Trails

icon-smileyYes please...

  • Linked-domain experience amid some dramatic scenery.
  • Terrain for most ability levels.
  • Expanding range of affordable accommodation.
  • Solid value, with some challenges for improvers.
  • Short transfers from Turin flights or TGV rail connection in Oulx.

icon-frowneyYes but...

  • Long distances for those driving from the UK.
  • Still too many difficult drag-lifts.
  • Epic liaison between the two valleys for competent skiers only.

icon-winkingOur Tips

  • If you plan to ski over to the next valley wait for settled conditions, ideally with low temperatures to ensure snow around Les Agneliers stays firm for the return.

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Practical Information

Ski Hire

Save precious skiing time when you book your ski equipment online with Alpinresorts.com

After a quick and easy reservation everything will be waiting for you when you get to Pra Loup.

You get to choose the shop and there's a BEST-PRICE GUARANTEE.

Make BIG savings by booking online today!

Tried and tested

Tried and testedResidence Le Hameau de Pra Roustan

04400 Pra Loup

Hameau Pra Roustan apartments, Pra Loup

This complex of apartments and individual chalets is situated in Pra Loup 1500 with extensive views of the valley and surrounding peaks. All the accommodation is well-equipped and we found it to be quiet, very spacious and nicely furnished. The free shuttle service provides transport to the nearest lift (new gondola in 2009/2010) at Les Molanes and on up to Pra Loup 1600 and the main ski area. Parking near the Front de Neige is limited and use of the shuttle is advisable. However, if you want to go out in the evenings then at the moment, there is little within walking distance apart from the on-site facilities, which include a heated swimming pool and spa.


Bars & Restaurants

Tried and testedHotel Restaurant Le Prieuré

Les Molanes
04400 Pra Loup
Tel: +33 (0)4 92 84 11 43

This 18th Century priory is now a cosy hotel and restaurant just a few steps from the chairlift in Les Molanes, Pra Loup 1500. Before dining, enjoy an aperitif in the comforable lounge. The restaurant serves a varied menu with regional dishes, meat and fish options. The food is beautifully presented and served with a selection of fresh vegetables. Expect to pay around 15€ for a main course, after which 6€ will allow you to help yourself at the dessert buffet.
A very nice meal in charming surroundings.


Tried and testedLe Verdon

Centre Station
04260 La Foux d'Allos
Tel: +33 (0)4 92 83 83 77

Le Verdon restaurant with diners, Foux Allos

At the foot of the pistes, this restaurant has an enormous sunny terrace and a busy dining room. With plenty of seating, welcoming hosts and generous amounts of food, Le Verdon has a great atmosphere.
Order any of the range of local specialities or pizzas (9€ - 11€) and you will be sure of a great value meal in relaxing company.


Tried and testedCostebelle

04400 Pra Loup
Tel: +33 (0)92 81 33 67

On-mountain bar restaurant where you are greeted like an old friend by the owners, three brothers and their staff. Exceptional service and excellent food from a menu with a wide choice including daily specials and one or two vegetarian dishes (main dish around 15€). A roaring fire, a congenial atmosphere and a complimentary glass of Genépi - what more could you ask?


Tried and testedEdouard’s Pub & Restaurant

Centre Commercial
04400 Pra Loup
Tel: +33 (0)4 92 84 07 43

Reserve your table to be sure of dining at this popular restaurant in the centre of Pra Loup. The warm and cosy interior and friendly, courteous staff contribute to the great atmosphere. We enjoyed Grilled Trout with Lemon Butter followed by a Crème Brulèe with Grand Marnier and a Chocolat Moelleux. Most other diners opted for an impressive range of regional dishes, all splendidly presented, all delicious. Expect to pay between 13€ and 22€ for a main course.


Tried and testedLa Poivre d’âne

49 rue Manuel
04400 Barcelonnette
Tel: +33 (0)4 92 81 48 67

Situated on the main street, the Poivre d'âne has several small dining rooms and in summer, you can eat in the garden too. We sat near a lovely open fire and after a long day skiing the Espace Lumière, were ready for our delicious meal. We started with the home-made soup followed by Bar Sauvage (23€) and Saumon l’Oseille (18€) both served with potato and onion rosti, and seasonal vegetables.

Barcelonnette (15 minute drive from Pra Loup) is a fascinating town and well worth visiting during your stay.


Getting there

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

From the north, via Lyon, Grenoble, Gap and Barcelonnette. From the south, via Aix-en-Provence, A51 to Tallard then direction Barcelonnette.

By air
The nearest airport is Marseille, where you can transfer by the Navette Blanche for around 35€ per adult. This winter service operates from the airport and from the TGV station at Aix. See the Navettes Blanches website for details.

By train
Travel by TGV to Aix-en_Provence where you can hire a car or benefit from the Navettes Blanches service which operates from the Gare TGV at Aix.
There is also an overnight train from Paris Austerlitz to Gap where there is a bus connection to Pra Loup.

There are regular services from London to Paris to pick up your connection.

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.

Cheap flights to the Alps

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Insight: Pra Loup

Wide view towards snow-covered mountains, showing ski-pistes between Pra Loup and Val d'Allos

Insight: Pra Loup

We discovered the Ubaye Valley many years ago, as a hauntingly beautiful summer destination. It’s only now, however, that we finally get to ski the local mountains. In late March the peak of the winter season is well behind us, but the snow still lies reassuringly deep on the mountains, with more fresh falls forecast in the days to come, to top things up. We therefore waste no time in getting our bearings and skiing the sights while visibility holds, setting off from Pra Loup 1600 in bright sunlight. Our early start finds temperatures hovering well below freezing, making for a chilly haul on the Clappe and Garcine drag-lifts, which have since been replaced by the Clappe Télémix and the Péguieou high-speed 6-seater chairlift.

…the truly sensational views falling away beneath our feet from the 2600m top station more than repaid the ride. The choice of routes back down depends on your skill and energy level. We pass on the testing black and instead take the steep-and-wide red-graded piste, eager to take a well-earned lunch-break.

Family walking on ski piste with chairlift and forest

Pra Loup is a great family resort with safe debutant areas close to the village.


Wide view from ski piste of mountain with ski lift

Plenty of room here in Pra Loup to practice carving - or anything really!

We ski from Pra Loup to Foux d’Allos

Things are unnervingly quiet too, and we have plenty of time to admire the scenery as we climb well above the tree-line before taking a blue-graded cruise over to the Bergeries chair-lift. The ride back up drops us at Le Péguieou (2479m), where we take a blue-becoming-red schuss to the Lac drag-lift which finally hauls us to Le Lac (2500m), the departure point for the liaison with the Val d’Allos. This had better be worth it. At the summit there’s already no question that it is, the panoramic views and long descents rewarding any effort involved in getting here in bad old draglift days. Happily, the lift upgrade after our visit means that getting to this point is much quicker and easier for today’s skiers.

Grateful for our currently respectable fitness levels (it’s already been a long ski trip), we nevertheless pause for a few minutes to take in our sensational surroundings before making an exhilarating swoop down the red-graded Quartiers piste to join another red down to Les Agneliers (1708m).

It’s a key point along the route, so the Agneliers chair-lift is capable of carrying skiers in both directions. For now, though, we take its neighbour Ubaguets up to 2190m for a red-graded drop to the Crous 1 chairlift, which hauls us up to the viewpoint of Tête de Vescal at 2515m.

From here it’s gentle blue-graded cruising all the way down into Val d’Allos 1800 La Foux, where we plan to stop for lunch. But not just yet. Only too aware of the uncertainties of what the approaching weather front might bring, we first explore the local ski terrain and ride the powerful six-seater Chaup high-speed chairlift up the opposite side of the valley. It’s an impressively smooth, fast ride, and drops us on a fairly steep but wide, blue-graded return piste which descends to the valley floor. We peel off en-route, though, to take the distinctly ancient-looking Aiguille gondola which has since replaced by the high-speed 4-seater Observatoire chairlift).


Small mountain bar with skiers and snowmobiles

A brief pause at a mountain snack bar for the pisteurs.


View from chairlift of snowboarder on piste with trees and mountains

In the southern Alps, Larch forest clothes the lower slopes, seen here in Val d'Allos.

The silky-smooth efficiency of the new lifts is a real leap forward from the antique if claustrophobic charm of old gondola, which showed its age during our visit by being more than a little reluctant to accommodate our all-mountain skis in the carrier racks on the outside the egg-style cabins. Swift intervention from the lift operator seemed to convince them just in time. That obviously isn’t a concern with the lift’s high-speed chairlift successor, and the route up has been modified, too.

Either way the truly sensational views falling away beneath our feet from the 2600m top station more than repaid the ride. The choice of routes back down depends on your skill and energy level. Our knees tell us to pass on the testing 3 Evêchés black and instead take the steep-and-wide red-graded Goussault piste, eager to take a now well-earned lunch-break.


Skier's view from chairlift of pistes

The wide Roche aux Fées blue piste in Val d'Allos runs from the top of La Chaup chairlift to the village.


Overview of mountains with ski village in valley

The ski village lies far below amid the dramatic backdrop of the southern Alps.

The excellent Verdon restaurant serves a great meal and we emerge sated and usefully refuelled. As expected, the weather looks unsettled, to say the least, so instead of skiing more of Val d’Allos as planned we have to retrace our route back to Pra Loup with a gentle, scenic ride on the Vescal chairlift. By the time we’ve dropped down to Les Agneliers conditions have already begun to deteriorate, the snow softening beneath our skis while ominous clouds form overhead. It’s a long journey, but at least in this direction there are no drag-lifts to slow things down. In fact, once we reach Le Lac we find that it’s downhill all the way, with a choice of red or blue runs.

We take the red, and make a stop along the way for a warming chocolat-chaud in the seductively cosy interior of the Costebelle mountain restaurant, before wrenching ourselves away and pressing on down to our starting point at Pra Loup. Looking back, it really has been quite a day, and a genuinely unforgettable journey. Contemplating how much distance we’ve covered, it’s hard not to reach for words like ‘epic’… but then that’s exactly how it all felt.

Parting Thought: the combined ski area of the Espace Lumière is one of the most hauntingly beautiful places we’ve skied in the whole of France – which is saying something.MountainPassions heart icon