France’s La Rosiere and Italy’s La Thuile lie at opposite ends of the Espace San Bernardo ski area. The two picturesque villages are separated by about 10kms (as the crow flies) of well manicured meandering pistes, and plenty of exciting off piste opportunities as well. It’s easy enough to ski from one resort to the other at a leisurely pace within a couple of hours, but to really make an adventure out of it, my holiday buddy and I decided to stay in Italy overnight.
Unfortunately the weather wasn’t on our side when we decided to set off on our one night holiday. After a quick coffee at the always friendy Relais du Petit Saint Bernard at the foot of the La Rosiere slopes, it was about 11.30am by the time we actually boarded the Roches Noires chairlift, which gave us plenty of time for a relaxing ski over to La Thuile. If you are looking to do this as a day trip I would recommend setting off earlier to ensure you don’t get stuck on the wrong side of the border. The lift pass office staff or lift technicians will be able to advise you on what time you need to be at the connecting lift to ensure you make it back in time. It’s a very long and expensive taxi ride should you get stuck on the wrong side!
La Rosiere is exceptionally pretty, and known for being one of the sunniest ski resorts in the Alps thanks to it’s being predominantly South facing. The village itself sits below the tree line, lending the resort a very quaint and cosy feel. Most of the ski area, however, lies above the tree line, giving way to long, large, wide and open pistes. We were not blessed with sunshine for our trip, visibility was poor and there were even a few snowflakes falling throughout the day. It wasn’t windy though, and we enjoyed a delightful gentle ski on empty pistes, which were in great condition thanks to the recent abundant snowfall.
You only need to take three lifts to reach the Italian side of the ski area, and a fourth to be able to drop down into La Thuile village. There is one long drag lift to contend with, possibly two if it’s too windy for the Franco-Italia connecting Fourclaz chairlift to open. Definitely something to be aware of, especially if there are less confident skiers or snowboarders in your group.
We were impatient for Italian treats, and decided to stop off soon after crossing the official border at the quirky nautical/oriental themed piste side restaurant and cafe OffShore, where we indulged in a highly anticipated Bombardino. When in Rome…. If you’ve never tried a Bombardino, next time you’re in Italy perhaps just go wild and order one. They’re delicious, and will certainly warm the cockles of your heart on a chilly Winter’s ski day!
The ski down into La Thuile from the restaurant was simple and stunning as we dropped into the trees. We pretty much followed one piste that twisted and turned through beautiful forest the whole way down into the village. There are several different options of routes down into La Thuile, including blue, red and black runs, so there is a way down for every level of skier. It was about 2.30pm when we cruised onto the La Thuile snowfront. We headed straight for a delicious lunch at Ristorante Pepita Cafe, after which we checked into the Miramonti hotel, which lies a stone’s throw from Pepita. It’s a comfortable and cosy hotel, with a great spa, for which you have to pre-book. For an exceptional spa experience the natural Pre St Didier Thermal Baths are a short 15 minute car ride away from La Thuile and come highly recommended from pretty much everyone we met. They are definitely on my To’Do list for the next time!
We spent the evening checking out the local nightlife, which is pretty chilled, with a few bars and restaurants, but not a throbbing night scene. We did find a great bar on the main street where we were treated like royalty. Delicious bar snacks were brought over by a super friendly barman, who told us how the Summer is when La Thuile really comes to life. The village is home to the Downhill Mountain biking World Series event, and people come here from far and wide to experience some of the World’s best bike trails.
For dinner we ate a delicious pizza at Lo TaTa ristorante. Once again we were bowled over by the incredibly low prices! A margherita pizza was sub 8€. The one i had with all the bells and whistles on it cost 12€50. And it was delicious.
After a good night’s sleep it was time to start the journey home. We explored a bit more of the ski area on the return leg, and despite the unfavourable weather, thoroughly enjoyed what the Espace San Bernardo has to offer. Wide gentle pistes, which were crowd free all the way from La Thuile back to La Rosiere.
Once back on French soil we enjoyed a well earned drink in the fantastic La Rosiere après bar, Le Comptoir, before heading home.
Here are a list of prices for the trip we made. You will find a directory of accommodation to suit all budgets at the official La Thuile website, where you will also find a comprehensive list of restaurants and bars.
- A two day Espace San Bernardo lift pass 77.30€pp
- One night stay in the Miramonti Hotel, including breakfast 126€ for a double room
- Spa Access at the Miramonti- 12€pp
All in all it was a fantastic trip that I would recommend to anyone. In general the slopes are quite gentle, and there is always an option available for blue piste skiers. For the more adventurous among you Evolution 2 in La Rosiere and TDC The Development Centre Tignes both organise Heli Skiing trips in Italy (where helicopter drops are legal, rather than in France where only reverse heli trips are possible) which could easily be incorporated into a trip like this one.