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Puy Saint-Vincent: don't tell everyone... - MountainPassions Blog

Puy Saint-Vincent: don’t tell everyone…

Why do I love skiing in France – apart, obviously, from having some of the world’s greatest mountain terrain from which to choose? Well, after having visited around sixty French ski resorts (and counting) I’m still surprised at what I discover along the way. A couple of seasons ago we decided to head over to the Southern French Alps, to discover just what most mainstream skiers, who tend to set their sights rather further north, might be missing. Great snowfalls, clear blue skies and unpressured pistes were just some of the things which bowled us over and convinced us that we’d stumbled upon a huge but relatively undiscovered area which deserves to be much better known among leisure skiers.

Skier on piste with Puy Saint-Vincent 1600 visible below

Even the highest pistes filter safely back onto sheltered tree-lined return runs.

Places like La Joue du Loup, Superdévoluy (collectively Le Dévoluy), Pra Loup, Foux d’Allos, Les Orres, Orcières 1850, Vars, Risoul, Montgenèvre and Serre Chevalier all revealed to us their own distinct characters, and we’d still only scratched the surface. Obviously it’s just not possible to press on and do it all at once (but we can dream..) and in any case we try to maintain a balance in our resort review coverage. So our first trip of this season would take in just two ski visits in the Hautes-Alpes area: one involved returning to complete unfinished business in Serre Chevalier, and the other would take us to somewhere much smaller nearby, and which had so far eluded us.

The phrase “small is beautiful” could have been penned with Puy Saint-Vincent in mind. The original village, clinging to the sides of a deep valley, is nothing if not authentic, with centuries’-old chalets at every turn. Continue up to the ski villages at 1400, 1600 and 1800m altitude, however, and things begin to look more like a serious ski resort should. Even so, first impressions give little hint of the vertical drop on offer: 1350m or around 4430ft, much of it below the tree-line, where safe glade-skiing opportunities beckon among silent larch and pine forests.

Piste-side self-catering accommodation at Puy-Saint-Vincent, Pays des Ecrins, Hautes Alpes, France

Ski-in, ski-out accommodation at Puy-Saint-Vincent 1800.

True, the lower villages have much of their accommodation in large units, but in their respective settings they’re not unattractive. Skiers staying in the 1800 village, though, have not only chalet-style architecture but also the welcome bonus of ski-in/ski-out convenience (see above image).

We enjoyed our time here, as you’ll see in our full Resort Review. For now, though, I’ll merely say that while big-league Serre Chevalier grabs all the media attention, its near-neighbour Puy Saint-Vincent quietly gets on with offering great, high-value skiing in a truly beautiful setting…

Puy-Saint-Vincent ski resort offers plenty of intermediate terrain above the forest.

Plenty of safe intermediate terrain above the tree-line at Puy-Saint-Vincent

Our base in Puy Saint-Vincent 1800 was a cosy piste-side apartment in La Dame Blanche, for which we thank SARA and our friends at French Ski Specialists Ski Collection.

Owner and Editor of MountainPassions, Roger is a journalist and photographer with more than 30 years’ professional experience producing illustrated ski and travel editorial features for magazines and location photography for travel guides, both in the UK and overseas. He regularly writes resort reviews for other ski websites and tour operators as well as ski and mountain features for newspapers and magazines worldwide.

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