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.
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.
Pistes Total: 100 km
3 Magic Carpets
1 Télémix Gondola/Chairlift
Pistes Total: 180 km
3 Magic Carpets
1 Télémix Gondola/Chairlift
1 Cable Cars
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.
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 novices – mile-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.
SnowboardingFamily oriented so good for beginners.
3 Snowboarder Cross
Cross-Country SkiingTwo areas for all levels at Larche and Saint Paul sur Ubaye.
45km Cross-Country and Nordic Ski Trails
- 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.
- Long distances for those driving from the UK.
- Still too many difficult drag-lifts.
- Epic liaison between the two valleys for competent skiers only.
- 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.
Residence Le Hameau de Pra Roustan
04400 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.