Isola 2000 and Auron ski resorts for connosieurs
The Stations du Mercantour is located in the south of France only eighty kilometers from the Cote d’Azur. This area covers as many as three ski resorts. Isola 2000 and Auron stand out as two of the most beautiful ski resorts in this part of the Alps, known as the Marine Alps.
Despite the somewhat milder climate influenced by the Mediterranean, the ski season here lasts until the end of April. Once an almost impassable and uninhabited corner of the Alps near the Italian border, today, thanks to some local visionaries, has been turned into tempting winter resorts.
A slightly larger and more famous ski resort is Isola 2000 (from 1,820 to 2,610 meters). This resort was built in the seventies and its architecture is reminiscent of other major French ski resorts, such as Avoriaz. Although the concrete skyscrapers are not exactly in line with the nature of the mountain landscape, the complex has achieved its stress-free wintering function. Comfortable cable cars run from the resort on three sides, so there is no need for a car. The ski resort is quite large, and 42 trails of different skill levels are connected by 20 ski lifts. The trails are mostly blue and red, and more killed skiers will be able to enjoy just three black trails. The most beautiful trail is Clairiere, which is four kilometers long and not too demanding for the average skilled skier.
More than three million people live on the Cote d’Azur, and larger cities are connected by buses to the ski resort, so, understandably, weekends can be crowded. When night falls, the atmosphere is the same as in most French ski resorts. Some pubs or bars are open, restaurants cater mostly fish specialties or snacks and are located in the ski resort itself or on the mountain slopes. There is also a discotheque in the resort – Le Crocodile Pub. Since Isola 2000 is mostly an apartment complex, it has only three hotels.
If you head north, after about thirty kilometers you will reach Auron (from 1,600 to 2,450 meters).
This is a place for those looking for a blend of good skiing and alpine-Mediterranean flair. Unlike Isola 2000, this ski resort is not characterized by huge skyscrapers. Auron is an alpine place with several streets, a square, and a more intimate atmosphere.
There are 46 trails in Auron, 10 of which are black, and the rest are mostly red and blue. The trails are long and wide and are excellently prepared and varied, so skiing here is a real pleasure! Three ski areas – Las Donnas, Sauma Longue, and Demandols – are connected by 19 ski lifts and cover 135 kilometers of slopes.
The main gondola goes from the town center directly to the top of Las Donnas. The peak is 2,468 meters high and from there you can go in one of two directions. Slightly lower is the start of the Olympique black track, which is intended for FIS races and guarantees quality and a decent slope for professionals.
The beautiful Saint Étienne de Tinée (1,150 meters) is located in the valley and is connected to the ski resort by the Pinatelle gondola. This indigenous village was completely rebuilt after the fire in 1929 when it burned to the ground. As in Isola 2000, it can also get crowded here on weekends. This ski resort is popular with celebrities, athletes, actors, and those of noble blood who live on the Cote d’Azur and rest in holiday chalets in Auron. The restaurants offer everything from typical Alpine cuisine with lots of melted cheese, to fresh oysters and fish from the Mediterranean.
In the region around the Mercantour National Park, there is another ski resort – Valberg. It’s a bit smaller, but it still has about thirty cable cars and about twenty kilometers of well-maintained ski trails.
It would be ideal to combine skiing in the Marine Alps with a trip to the Cote d’Azur.
While on the coast in March and April it is still a real warm spring, in this region you can ski comfortably. The Mediterranean spirit of the alpine village is something to experience while spending a very interesting holiday skiing.