Risoul is a small and fairly modern resort in the Southern part of the French Alps, combining with Vars to make up La Forete Blanche (White Forest) ski area. Centred on a horseshoe of modern apartment blocks at the bottom of the main slopes the heart of the resort is at 1850m and, along with the rest of Provence, it gets lots of sunshine.
The slopes are a little limited in variety and more advanced skiers would get bored fairly rapidly as there are few challenging runs, but the resort’s advantages are cheaper prices for accommodation and ski passes, reasonable chances of snow and a friendly, compact setting.
How to get there:
Getting to Risoul is not as easy as getting to some other resorts in the Alps, but there is a range of options, of which plane is generally cheapest and quickest.
The nearest airport to Risoul is Marseille at around two-and-a-half hours’ (220km) drive, although it is also possible to fly to Grenoble. Cheap flights are available to both these airports from carriers such as Easyjet and Ryanair.
The Risoul Tourist Board has a telephone booking number for the navette blanche (white shuttle) from Marseille to the ski resort, or you can take the train (see below) or a taxi transfer.
The resort is situated very close to Mont-Dauphin SNCF station, at just 13km or twenty minutes’ drive away. The station receives direct trains from Paris and Marseille and high-speed TGV trains from Paris, Valence, Grenoble and Aix.
Trains from England are usually expensive and take quite a long time, travelling overnight via Waterloo to Paris and then to Marseille and often without sleeping facilities so the plane is usually preferable.
Driving to Risoul is not a great option, given the 9-10hr drive and costs of the ferry or channel tunnel, fuel, parking in the resort etc. and is only really economical and practical if you need to bring a large amount of gear to or from the resort, or perhaps with a large family.
Who the resort caters for:
The resort draws a number of French visitors from the local area and the south of the country, as well a number of British families and groups looking for a cheap holiday. There is a standard selection of activities on offer in the resort, such as a snow park and torch-lit descents but nothing really out of the ordinary.
However, there is a good range of outdoor cafes and restaurants to accommodate tired legs at the end of the day, all closely-grouped, making keeping track of families fairly stress-free.
Risoul was purpose-built as a ski resort and the buildings are therefore mostly modern apartment blocks, which line the central channel at the bottom of the slopes. Although many of these apartments sit above shops and cafes the resort is fairly quiet and there is never a great distance from any of the accommodation to the lifts, while most are almost ski-in/ski-out.
Le Chardon Bleu is one of the few hotels in the resort, combining a restaurant and hotel with a range of different-sized rooms.
One of a chain of Alpine clubs, La Grote du Yeti, (or Grotty Yeti as it is sometimes, half affectionately, known) is the largest bar/club in the resort and has a large outside terrace underneath some of the apartments.
The skiing in Risoul is great for gentle cruising in the sunshine and its wide, gentle slopes make it a good place for beginners. Most of the lifts are chair lifts and it is hard to get lost or end up in difficulties. However, there is not much more beyond this, and all the sunshine can be the resort’s downfall, with the lower slopes around the centre of the resort becoming slushy and muddy late in the season, and a risk of poor base-snow cover which in turn limits the potential for off-piste.
The highest lift in the resort is not high enough to make for long, uninterrupted runs and although there are some attractive tree-lined pistes the small total number of lifts and pistes make the skiing a little repetitive for those at intermediate or above.
There are a few more options in the neighbouring resort, Vars, with more black runs and moguls, so more adventurous skiers and boarders should head over to explore.
Black Runs: 3
Red Runs: 13
Blue Runs: 17
Green Runs: 10
Cross Country: 15km
Ski Lifts: 26
Max Vertical: 1100m
Highest Lift: 2750m
Lowest Piste: 1650m
Resort Altitude: 1850m