It’s mid March and today is the first day of spring! Winter is over. Again this winter we feel that the climate is changing. Some weeks were cold with heaps of snow that turned drastically into springy warm.
After returned back from my tropical holidays at the beginning of the year I went right away to ski; Not the downhill one but the cross-country skiing. The less risky cross-country skiing appeals to me more as an amateur – or as the one who has broken his knee during a downhill journey. Some people don’t like it because it’s more tiring and you don’t get the same speed as downhill.
I feel spoiled to live in Grenoble since it’s extremely easy to take the bus and go to the nearest station. In most of the cross-country ski stations you would also be able to do the snowshoes/raquettes and biathlon.
I rarely go to the Belledonne chain because most of the stations are more expensive, and it’s a more for downhill skiers. Moreover the bus schedules are nor very practical.
This year I went several time to different stations in Vercors, Chartreuse and some other farther stations with some friends of mine. Perhaps following experiences could give ideas for your next ski trips.
Stations in Vercors can be reached by taking the transisere bus of line 5100, 5110, 5120, or 5130. The bus 5100 will take you to Villard-de-Lans through Lans en Vercors. The line 5110 takes a detour to Saint Nizier du Moucherotte to arrive at the same place. Two well-known stations in Vercors are Autrans and Corrençon. The bus 5120 regularly connects Lans en Vercors (line 5100 – change in Lans en Vercors) with Autrans. Corrençon is served by 5130 bus but reservation is needed. Most of these bus go up around 8am and back down to Grenoble around 12pm.
Autrans is a vast station and has options for different skill level. It is well-managed and integrated with Meaudre station – I’ve never tried to go to Meaudre. When there’s no snow at Autrans, we can go higher to Jean Babois or Gève that are linked to Autrans. The map of the area can be found here.
A day ticket cost 10€ or reduced price of 8€ (when there’s not enough snow). The lower area of Autrans is a huge open field and rather plane. This makes it perfect to start and learn how to do cross-country skiing. Therefore most of the lines in Autrans are green or blue with one red line.
For those who are more advanced, from lower Autrans you can take the piste de liaison – the connecting line – that connects Autrans to Gève with about 300m of altitude difference. There are the longer yellow line or the direct orange line to do this. For beginner who wants to avoid the difficult lines but would like to try sliding in Gève, the station offers free shuttle bus that take passengers regularly.
In Gève the green and blue lines are slightly more technical than in Autrans and it also offers longer difficult yellow and red lines. As I’m progressing my favorite slide is the direct slide down from Gève to Autrans but only did when the snow is not too slippery since I still am not able to break properly.
Corrençon is another vast domain in Vercors. The map of the station can be found here. It costs the same as Autrans (10€) and they also sell family pack for 7€/person (if I’m not mistaken). There are few green lines in Corrençon and hence is more adaptable – and more interesting – if you already did once or twice previously. I would say the overall contour of Corrençon tells more story than Autrans perhaps because it has smoother transition between slopes and more mountains scenery around.
I haven’t been able to slide through all the lines in Corrençon due to its immensity. The longest and rather complete line is covered by the royal line/la royale that spans to 26km of distance. It starts from Corrençon at 1150m a.s.l and first follows the blue line to Charbonniers at 1239m a.s.l. It continues by the blue line but due to the disctance I had only cut half-way and continued to Malaterre. There is an auberge in Malaterre and it serves a nice warm raspberry juice. From Malaterre I followed the red and black lines up to the Château Julien with its belvederre at 1522m a.s.l.
For me the best part of Corrençon was the Plaine d’Herbouilly. From Château Julien I slide down to about 1270m a.s.l on this lower plain that was just breath-taking.
From here I just followed the rest of the royal line to go back to the starting point at Corrençon. The black lines were alright with one or two sharp slopes but other than that they were quite manageable.
Two well-known stations in Chartreuse are located in Col-de-Porte and Sappey-en-Chartreuse. Both stations can be reached by TAG Flexo bus line 62 that departs from in front of Grenoble Museum. Since it’s TAG, the bus ticket is cheaper than to go to Vercors – 1.5-2€ depending on where you get your ticket. This line only serves up to Col de Porte on the weekend. Similar to Vercors bus, this line goes up just before 8am and comes back down to Grenoble around 12pm.
Col de Porte was probably the first cross-country skiing day that I did back in 2014. It is a rather small station compare to Autrans or Corrençon. It has fewer lines maybe only one green, one blue, one red, and one black;I may be mistaken. The slopes are less technical I would say and is rather good to learn.
However since the station is smaller I feel like I crossed more assholes than in other stations. These are people who are really inconsiderate towards less experience skiers. These people do like to show off their speed and like to comment on other people. The last time I went there it costed me 7.5€ for a day ticket.
I went to Sappey en Chartreuse for the first time this year. I didn’t know that this station was actually larger and they even have the downhill part. The station in Sappey was more interesting for me than Col de Porte although some part of it is shared with the downhill station. It costed me less (6€) because on that day the snow was not in a good condition.
Other than those well-known and easily accessed stations, I also did two other outings that required car. The first one was Désert d’Entremont that is located in Chartreuse (7.5€/day ticket) and Col du Barioz in Allevard (7€/day ticket). Since it was my first time visiting both stations, I had different feelings when I skied; Excitement, fear, but also the feeling of discovering new places with new amazing views. In these stations I did longer slides like four to five hours compare to my usual three hours slides.
Having skied up to the highest point in the black lines in Col du Barioz, we decided to take off our skies and walked up to the Grand Rocher. We crossed a Lot of people doing touring skiing or raquettes. I remember how warm the day was and how amazing the view was.
As I’m writing this story the snow has melted and the cross-country ski season has probably ended for the year. Until now I have only tried the classique style of cross-country skiing and I wonder if next year I would be able to learn the skating style. But until then I would just enjoy the sun and embrace the spring.
Some bus sites:
– TAG: http://www.tag.fr/
– Transisere: http://www.transisere.fr/en
– Transaltitude: http://www.transaltitude.fr/en/