La Joue du Loup & SuperDévoluy, Hautes-Alps
In the southern French Alps close to the Franco-Italian border, with more likelihood of good weather compared with ski areas further north, yet with very significant snowfalls.
It’s a long journey for skiers driving from the UK, although airport transfers are much more rapid, particularly from budget flights into Genoble, Marseille, Turin and Cuneo.
The Ski Area
The Dévoluy lift-pass covers the combined ski areas of La Joue du Loup and Superdévoluy, which are linked by an efficient lift system. While not overly demanding, the skiing is varied and the style relaxed, with the emphasis on blue-graded cruising. Reds are not far behind, although there’s nothing which need deter confident intermediates. They’ll get to discover a few more challenging pistes, including the steep drop from La Pierra (2510m) and the exhilarating skier-cross-style run into Surperdévoluy on Les Meules. The apparent high proportion of drag-lifts is deceptive, as these mostly serve novice and advanced terrain, while the majority of skiers will be taking the 4- and 6-seater high-speed chairlifts. Two new draglifts for 2016/17 in the La Joue du Loup sector, take the pressure off the Télémix lift and provide an alternative during closures in high winds. Finally, the beauty of the surroundings will come as a very pleasant surprise to those accustomed to narrower, more confined valley settings.
Pistes Total: 100 km
1 Télémix Gondola/Chairlift
The Ski Village
It would be hard to imagine two more contrasting architectural styles than those of village-like La Joue du Loup (whose predominant chalet style blends successfully into the landscape) and purpose-built SuperDévoluy (whose high-rise impact is nevertheless upstaged by the majesty of the surroundings). Newer development here is, however, on a low-impact scale. Each side of the mountain thus has its devotees and there’s a high proportion of private ownership, as the area has long been a favourite of family skiers from Marseille, Provence and the Mediterranean Coast. The relaxed style is unmistakably that of the sunny South. It’s very French and moving steadily upmarket (with self-imposed limits on further development in La Joue du Loup).
We based ourselves in La Joue du Loup, whose shops and services are mainly clustered around a circular pedestrian area in the centre of the village, with a choice of restaurants, bars and ski shops just a few steps away at the foot of the pistes. We found a good range of services including a very nice interiors shop, a 'quincaillerie' (hardware store) plus ski shops and equipment hire outlets. For food shopping, there are two delicatessens selling a wide range of regional products and ready-prepared meals. There’s also a mini-market for groceries, plus a boulangerie.
A Tourism Office situated at the entrance to the village offers a welcome service to guests on their arrival.
Why go skiing in Le Dévoluy ?
Families will love this place, as will early intermediates and those who prefer to enjoy their skiing in a safe, relaxing environment with great scenery and no nasty surprises. Not that it lacks the occasional challenge once you know where to look. Mixed-ability groups should therefore be happy.
While coming here rather than to the more familiar areas further north requires something of a leap of faith, those looking for an affordable, no-nonsense quality ski experience combined with a surprisingly good snow record (particularly in recent seasons) will find the Hautes-Alpes ski resorts a revelation.
SnowboardingAt 2000m altitude, a fun park for all levels including beginner and experienced mogul lines.
1 Snowboarder Cross
Cross-Country SkiingDiverse trails with panoramic views.
35km Cross-Country and Nordic Ski Trails
- Relaxed linked-domain skiing with a South of France feel.
- Well-groomed and well-signed piste network.
- Fast-improving lift system.
- Accommodation for most budgets and tastes.
- Dependable recent snow record.
- Solid value, without compromises on the ski experience.
- Long distances for those driving from the UK.
- Your friends probably won’t have heard of it (yet).
- If you ski for the pure love of it, rather than the brag-value, then the southern French Alps really are well worth getting to know.
- Download the app for webcams, activities etc. Available for iPhone and Android.
La Joue du Loup
Individual traditional style timber chalets situated in a quiet area on the edge of the village but just a few minutes’ level walk to the foot of the slopes, the shops and services.
We stayed in a 2-bedroom chalet sleeping six people, which had fantastic views from the balcony. There is a spacious living and dining area on the ground floor with a well equipped kitchen and a wood burning stove.
On the first floor, one double and one twin bedroom are adequately sized with a convenient bathroom on the same floor. A ground-floor shower room and toilet are useful for guests sleeping downstairs on the pull out sofa-bed.
There is a heated indoor swimming pool and sauna for guests, situated behind the Reception area at the top of the site. Outdoor parking is in a small number of dedicated areas.