Chamrousse ski resort is tucked away in the snowy Belledonne mountains in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of southeastern France in Isère. The small ski village offers 43 slopes with a number of green, blue and red runs, perfect for beginner to intermediate skiers, and with many of these being cleverly intertwined through the forest, it promises a magical ski experience that feels off the beaten track. Here’s how we got on when we took a visit.
Where is the Chamrousse ski resort?
Just a 30 to 40 minute drive from the city of Grenoble and 25 minutes from the spa town Uriage Les Bains, the Chamrousse ski resort is situated in an ideal location for those who want a versatile experience of ski, spa and city.
There’s careful consideration for the surrounding environment in Chamrousse too. Eco-responsible actions have been carried out to protect its surroundings, including signs and markings being put up to protect the local animals and flora, and water from its lakes, hill reservoirs and small streams is recycled to create their own snow.
It also hosted the skiing Olympic Games in 1968, where the famous French skier, Jean-Claude Killy, won three gold medals, something the area is still very proud of today.
Where will I sleep?
In Chamrousse, hotel numbers are limited, but for those that do exist, they are extremely affordable. You can also rent apartments, or if you prefer, stay in Grenoble or Uriage Les Bains, which are both close by and offer a lot more variety.
I stayed two nights at the Hotel du Virage, a cute, cosy mountain inspired hotel, which is less than a five minute walk from one of the ski slopes. The hotel consists of a mixture of double and twin bedrooms and there’s also triple, quadruple and quintuple bedrooms for larger families looking to stay. On the hotel’s doorstep you’re greeted by breathtaking views of the mountains, and restaurants, shops and even a small spa are just a five minute walk away.
While the facilities in my twin bedroom were limited (there was no kettle, wardrobe space and only one plug socket, excluding the one used for the TV) everything was clean, tidy and the bed was extremely comfy. There was also a bar downstairs you could quickly pop to if you did get thirsty. Fresh towels were provided on the beds, as well as extra blankets incase I got a little chilly at night. That being said, my room was extremely warm when I first entered and I couldn’t figure out how to turn my radiator down! Thankfully, my room had a very large window and opening this cooled it down in no time.
In the morning the shower did not disappoint. It was lovely and hot, with a good water pressure which left me feeling awake and ready for a full day of skiing. One mistake I did make was not pulling my shower curtain around and inside the shower, instead I just pulled it around the outside which did lead to a little water spillage on the floor. However, I was sure not to repeat the same mistake later that day and as a result there was no trouble.
At breakfast there were hot drinks on offer, fruit juices, a couple of cereals, as well as a mini fridge with some fruit yogurts, cured meats, jams and chocolate spread. On our table we were given a basket of fresh croissants from the local bakery, which were without a doubt the best croissants I’ve ever tasted, as well as some bread rolls. On the first morning I did happen to accidentally sit down at the wrong table and start tucking into someone else's pastries, so I’d recommend checking with the hosts where you should sit for breakfast as tables aren’t signposted.
While some may argue Hotel du Virage is very basic, when you take the price into consideration (a one night stay for two starts from £32pp) you’re getting an absolute bargain for accommodation which is clean, provides you with a good night's sleep, a tasty breakfast and is right next to the ski slopes.
For those with a little more cash to splash, you may prefer staying at the 4* Le Grand Hôtel & Spa in Uriage Les Bains, which is where I stayed for my third night.
The hotel certainly lives up to its ‘grand’ name as you’re greeted by a beautiful twin staircase on entering. The French fashion designer Coco Chanel stayed there, with one of the rooms being named after her. As well as access to the hotel’s spa there’s also a casino just across the road.
My room had traditional French decor with a huge balcony, which gave me a splendid view of the park. It was equipped with all the amenities, from a mini fridge to a kettle, drawers, storage space, a free bottle of water and I even had a separate bath and shower. The bed was an absolute dream to sleep in and despite not being able to join guests for breakfast in the morning (due to my flight being so early) the hotel were kind enough to arrange a little breakfast bag, which included a croissant, pain au chocolat, some fruit, juice and bottle of water. As tasty as they were, the croissants did not live up to those at Hotel du Virage.
What is there to do in Chamrousse?
There’s plenty! Skiing is obviously one of the most popular things to do due to the slopes being right on your doorstep or a short shuttle ride away, with a one-day adult lift pass priced from €36.50/£30.16. Having previously skied in Austria at a much larger resort, I can safely say I enjoyed myself a lot more in Chamrousse, which was far less crowded and spoiled with scenic routes.
If skiing isn’t your cup of tea or you just fancy a break from the sport, then there’s so much more on offer. You can do snow shoe hiking, dog sledding (although it’s best booking this beforehand as places get filled very fast), ice diving, or you can relax in Chamrousse’s little spa which is equipped with a sauna, steam room and pool - plus its balcony gives you a fantastic view of the sunset. There’s plenty to do in the summer months too, including hiking, mountain biking and lake swimming.
For the ultimate spa experience though, you can go to the spa at Le Grand Hôtel in Uriage Les Bains, as it’s open to the public. This offers a more luxury spa experience and is equipped with three thermal pools heated to 33°C, a relaxation room, steam room and sauna. Treatments also include massages, fangotherapy and hot stone relaxation. I thoroughly enjoyed my oil massage, which left me feeling so relaxed I almost fell asleep.
What is there to eat?
Lots and lots of cheese, of course!
Chamrousse has plenty of great little food spots. The first day I lunched at Pépé Rosso which offers a mixture of mountain and Italian food. My creamy chicken and pesto pizza did not disappoint and it’s the only pizza to this day I (sadly) haven’t been able to finish. Petit Salé is a cosy evening spot, with a stone fire, wooden walls and pig dominated decor due to its star dish containing pork. Still full from my pizza, I tucked into a child’s meal of burger, fries and salad, before finishing with a very tasty blueberry tart.
If skiing, one place definitely worth a stop is at La Croix de Chamrousse. Situated at the top of the mountain, it really is somewhere you can enjoy lunch with a view. To start with I had a caesar salad with a side of crispy fries, before trying my first ever lemon meringue pie, which I’d definitely give five stars.
The Chalet was my final food destination while in Chamrousse and I think the best was saved till last. The menu had a lot more familiar dishes on it (such as burgers and ribs) but I decided to go for something more traditional and opted for the tartiflette, a potato dish fried in onions, cream, bacon and, of course, cheese. Accompanied with a fresh side salad, I managed to finish it all with no issues; it was beautifully creamy and the cheese wasn’t too strong and I even managed to have room afterwards for a gooey chocolate torte.
While staying in Uriage Les Bains you can find more luxury dining experiences, one of these being the two Michelin star restaurant, La Maison Aribet, which is next door to Le Grand Hôtel and Spa. Owned and run by alpine chef Christophe Aribert, this restaurant offers a dining experience like no other. This was my first Michelin star dining experience and at first I was skeptical that the small nine courses would leave me craving more food, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Each course was fresh, packed with flavour and delicately put together. My favourites had to be the apple and celery shot which was so refreshing and the perfect way to cleanse the palette before diving into some food. As someone with a natural sweet tooth I was also a big fan of the small chocolate tart which was accompanied with a light, fruity sorbet. Being a two Michelin star restaurant the food doesn’t come cheap (8 course on the set menu costs €175), but there is also a beautiful brasserie which offers food at a much more affordable price.
As someone who is usually dairy-free, I do warn if you’re vegan or you do have a dairy allergy, you may be very limited when it comes to food choices, as it really is hard to avoid cheese and cream when in France.
How much does it cost to visit?
Flights from London Gatwick to Lyon Airport start from £76 with easyJet, however this will vary depending on the time of year you visit. A one-night stay at the Hotel du Virage is priced from £32pp based on two sharing and a seven-night stay for two starts from £224. Staying at the 4* Le Grand Hôtel & Spa is unsurprisingly more expensive, with one night priced from £63pp based on two sharing.
I wouldn’t hesitate to go back to Chamrousse for skiing or Isère as a whole, because you really can find something to suit everyone’s preference, whether that’s skiing, enjoying a spa experience in Uriage Les Bains or city life in Grenoble.
What really appealed to me about Chamrousse though was how peaceful it was. Even on a busy ski day you don’t feel overwhelmed or that you need to keep everyone so close by incase you lose them, whereas this is something I definitely found while skiing in Austria. Also, because it’s a smaller and quieter resort it’s a lot more affordable than bigger ones, so for first time skiers or families it really is a no brainer.
Having Uriage Les Bains practically on your doorstep too is ideal for those who want to spa as well as ski and add a little luxury to their trip. If I went back to Isère I’d probably stay in Uriage Les Bains and travel up to Chamrousse for skiing, as I prefered the Le Grand Hôtel & Spa, but I think the option of being able to split your time between the two really does offer the best of both worlds.