High view of snow-covered mountains with ski lift in foreground above Vars


La Forêt Blanche, Hautes-Alpes, FrenchAlps

Big-mountain skiing south of Serre Chevalier & Briançon, beside the Parc Naturel Régional du Queyras.

High altitudes, dependable snowfalls and a ski area linked to that of Risoul 1850

Long drives from the UK, but much more rapid flight transfers from Grenoble, Marseille, Turin & Cuneo.

Early morning skiers on near-empty pistes, with trees and ski lifts

The Ski Area

Despite having installed its first ski-lifts way back in 1937 to exploit real big-mountain ski potential, most leisure skiers have still yet to hear about Vars. Today the piste network is linked to that of neighbouring Risoul, the resulting combined area being known as La Fôret-Blanche.

Vars enjoys international renown for its impressive freeride terrain and its purpose-built speed-skiing piste. It also offers extensive and varied intermediate terrain for all abilities, plus safe débutant areas and facilities.

There are some surpisingly long cruising runs here, including some fine, currently under-appreciated tree-lined descents on the opposite side of the valley below Peynier (2273)m. The 2750m Pic de Chabrières is accessible only by drag-lift, but rewards the effort with astonishing views and some superb descents, including a bracing drop over into Risoul.

Resort Information

Altitude : 1650m - 2750m
La Foret Blanche
Pistes Total:
185 km
14 Green
45 Blue
38 Red
10 Black
Ski Domain Lifts: 42
31 Draglifts
18 Chairlifts
1 Cabriolet
1 Gondolas


The Ski Village

Most of the accommodation is currently within two of the villages in the valley — the original community of Vars Sainte-Marie and the purpose-built ski village of Vars Les Claux. Until now the decision as to where to stay was one of charm versus convenience, but the construction of Le Hameau des Rennes, a whole new lift-served, chalet-style village beside the road to the celebrated 2108m Col de Vars expands the choice considerably. In terms of energy-levels, services and convenience, though, the focus is likely to remain firmly on Vars Les Claux, which although now looking a little dated, is well maintained and has a friendly atmosphere.

Most of the village activity centres around the Tourism Office (free WiFi) at the foot of the Chabrières gondola. The ESF ski school building is at the top of the adjacent car park and has direct access to some easy pistes for beginners. There is also the Eyssina New School at Point Show.

If shopping for groceries, there are several mini supermarkets well spaced throughout the village so you shouldn’t have to walk too far for supplies. Other shops and services are spread the length of the village and include ski and hire shops, gifts, interiors shops, and a good selection of restaurants and one of our favourites, the stylish Après Ski salon du thé. It’s a 10-15 minute uphill walk from the Tourist Office to Le Fournet at the upper end of Vars Les Claux or you could use the shuttle bus.

The new high-altitude village centred on Le Hameau des Rennes includes (payable) underground parking, health and fitness centre, shops and other services.

Staying There

Value for Money Accommodation Dining Out Nightlife Village Charm


Groups of skiers on wide piste between ski areas

Why go skiing in Vars ?

Just about everyone, really, apart from celeb-spotting shopaholics and hedonistic party animals.

Families and mixed-ability groups will appreciate the varied terrain, with the large snowpark being an attractive feature for young freestylers. The ski schools are particularly friendly and encouraging for small children and beginners.

Drag-lift-phobics can stick to the chairlifts and still access all but the very highest, most remote terrain. Intermediates will love the long cruising runs and the ease of access to a different experience over in the Risoul sector, while advanced skiers can spend time exploring the internationally-renowned freeride/off-piste terrain.


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Alpinresorts.com Ski rental

Skiing There

Beginners / Families Intermediates Advanced / Expert Mountain Scenery


From beginners to pro-riders, there's something for everyone.
7 Snowparks

Cross-Country Skiing

Free access to two beginners trails.
1km Cross-Country and Nordic Ski Trails

icon-smileyYes please...

  • Extensive linked-domain skiing.
  • Terrain for everyone, including the bravest free-riders and speed-skiers.
  • Accommodation for most budgets, with a whole new village recently added.
  • Dependable recent snow record.
  • Solid value, with no compromises on the ski experience.
  • Capable lift system, decent grooming and clear signage.

icon-frowneyYes but...

  • Long distances for those driving from the UK.

icon-winkingOur Tips

  • Occasional drag-lifts accessing some of the highest (and best) terrain are well worth taking for truly breathtaking views.
  • It’s well worth discovering this place - the southern French Alps are addictive.


Practical Information

Le Panorama Vars 2000

Route des Grandes Alpes
05560 Vars

Le Panorama Vars 2000

Perfectly located at the foot of the slopes, the Panorama Vars 2000 is just 900m from the resort’s wide selection of shops, bars and restaurants. This excellent residence, brand new for the winter 2019-20 season, comprises a main building housing the reception and lounge area, and 19 chalets each containing either one or two luxurious apartments combining traditional alpine architecture with high standard and modern facilities. The residence has a lounge area with open fireplace and Wi-Fi (free for first device), its own underground garage (payable €65/week, max height 1.80m), ski lockers with heated boot rack and a luggage room. You will also enjoy bread delivery service (payable).

Enquiries and bookings:
Peak Retreats
023 9283 9310