La Tania, France

One of the lowest and smallest resorts in the Three Valleys network (along with Meribel, Courchevel, Val Thorens, Saint-Martin de Belleville and Les Menuires), La Tania is situated in close proximity to the Courchevel ski area of Savoie, North-East France, near the Swiss border. The resort is relatively new. It was only built in 1992 to coincide with the Winter Olympics in Albertville, but you would not guess this from the traditional style and feel of the village.

The resort itself lies low in the valley between Meribel and Courchevel, at an altitude of 1400m, and is twinned with neighbouring Courchevel (the ski pass covers both areas). It is composed of a small number of buildings set closely together amongst forest and piste and has maintained a secluded, cosy charm.

The skiing benefits from good infrastructure, proximity to Geneva and Chambery, and the access to the Three Valleys ski area, essentially offering all the Courchevel skiing at 1550, 1650 and 1850m. There is good off-piste activity to be found nearby, with a number of tree-runs. Furthermore, there is an exciting snow park, boarder-X racing track and Luge course.

However, the low altitude of the resort means that early, late-season, or poor quality snow conditions can cause problems.

How to get there:

By air:

The easiest way to reach La Tania is by flying to Geneva or Chambery and taking a taxi or bus to the resort. As the resort is at a relatively low altitude, the taxis and buses are slightly cheaper than to the other resorts higher up the valley.

Easyjet offer several flights to Geneva from as little as £50 return. These flights leave from a range of UK airports.

It is also possible to fly to Chambery or Lyon or Grenoble, with cheap charter flights to Chambery available from operators such as Satellite travel.

The resort is between one and two hours away from Geneva by taxi transfer, and a little less from Chambery, which is approximately 40km closer. The bus takes up to one hour longer, depending on timetabling and changes at Moutiers.

Bus services:

The Transdev public transport service, operated by Altibus, offers a good and reasonably priced service from Geneva, Chambery, and Lyon, all the way to La Tania, connecting from large coaches to smaller minibuses or taxis at Moutiers.

They operate a flexible return service for people on long holidays. You can arrange to travel home with just a few days’ notice. However, they sometimes require a minimum number of passengers to operate the smaller services from Moutiers to the resorts, so it is best to buy tickets before leaving the country so the service is confirmed.

By train:

The train is usually much more expensive than the plane (especially for early bookings), usually costing at least £150. It usually travels overnight from London Waterloo via Paris or Lyon and stops at Moutiers or Bourg St. Maurice but at this point it is necessary to take the bus (see above) or a taxi to the ski resort anyway.

It is also possible to take the train from some of the airports but the same pattern applies: you have to travel by road from Moutiers or Bourg St. Maurice, so there is little point doing this.

Although it is possible to find sleeper trains, some of the overnight services are just standard trains and can therefore be cramped, noisy and uncomfortable.

By car:

Travelling by car is an option but, given the cost of the ferry, petrol, French toll fees and resort parking, it is only really appropriate for people taking large amounts of equipment (or alcohol). Poor conditions can also lead to danger and cars may become snowed in. It may be necessary to purchase snow chains for the tyres. All-in-all, the journey to La Tania takes around 8-10 hours from Dover.

It is important to note that the centre of the resort is a car-free zone but there are covered car parking spaces available.

Who the resort caters for:

The resort is small and quaint and attracts a slightly older, upmarket crowd, usually family groups seeking something similar to Courchevel but at a slightly lower price. There are no clubs or discotheques in the resort but there are some homely Savoie-themed bars and restaurants for apres-ski and relaxation, with live music and a welcoming community to make up for it.

The growing infrastructure in the resort is making life easier for residents and holidaymakers alike, and the resort promises to improve over time, as a few more bars, shops, and restaurants open.

Accommodation:

La Tania is fairly small and quite traditional in style, and there are around 8 self-catering apartment blocks, and a number of traditional chalets, both catered and self-catering. There are also a few larger, more modern hotels available in the resort, such as Le Montana and the two Maeva hotels. For more information on vacancies see the following websites: Le Montana and Maeva Hotels.

Slope information:

The slopes in La Tania are part of the wider Courchevel ski area, which ranges from low slopes in the resort itself and at Courchevel 1550m, right up to the highest slopes above Courchevel 1850m. The area also includes La Praz. The highest lift travels to an altitude of 2740m, making a maximum vertical drop of around 1000m.

From La Tania, two lifts in either direction take the skier into Courchevel or Meribel. Because of the lower altitude, the slopes in the La Tania area are, for the most part, below the tree line (unlike, for example, in Val Thorens) and this makes for some truly stunning skiing amongst the trees. For more adrenaline-based excitement the snow park, luge and snow cross course, and the natural banks and contours around the runs in Courchevel, provide ample entertainment.

However, the area is a gateway to the Three Valleys and advanced skiers may well want to pay a little extra to purchase a Three Valleys pass, which allows access to a huge ski area with countless piste and off-piste runs. The pass is a good investment for any skier at intermediate level or above, especially if staying for more than a week. It is possible to purchase a full Three Valleys pass for the duration of the holiday, or just extension passes for anything from a day upwards, which simply add the required time to the basic pass.

In times of poor snow or late in the season, the relatively low altitude can make for bad conditions in the lower parts of Courchevel and in La Tania, even with artificial snow cover. In this case it may be necessary to seek out the higher slopes available in the Three Valleys.

Resort vitals:

Black Runs: 10
Red Runs: 38
Blue Runs: 44
Green Runs: 27
Pistes: 150 km
Cross Country: 26.5km (66 including Courchevel)

Ski Lifts: 63
Max Vertical: 1340m
Highest Lift: 2740m
Lowest Piste: 1400m
Resort Altitude: 1400m