Milky Way Ski Area Overview
The Milky Way ( or Via Lattea as its known in Italian) is ski terrain that stretches across two countries, France and Italy, and connects the resorts of Sauze d’Oulx, Sestriere, Claviere Pragelato, Sansicario, Cesana (all located in Italy) and Montgenevre (located on the French side of the border). Just in case you were thinking about it, the answer is yes, you can actually ski across two countries in one day! Imagine being a guest at one of the resorts on the Italian side of the border and crossing over every now and then to Montgenevre for a taste of some French delicacies before heading back.
Occasionally overlooked for some of the more bubbly and bustling resorts in France, the Milky Way is actually larger in size than a good number of resorts in France and Austria as it covers 400km of snow sure slopes and a lot of off piste possibilities. It also sits at a very impressive 2823m at its highest point (Mount Motta) and 2035m the highest ski terrain located in Sestriere. It was no wonder then, that it was selected as the host of the 2006 Winter Olympics with the resorts of Sestriere, Cesana and Sansicario playing the main hosts for most of the games. Hosting the Winter Olympics did bring the Milky Way to light as well as the additional benefits of the new installation of lifts and additional facilities.
The resorts in the Milky Way vary from one another in different ways. They are all different in size and the general mood is different amongst them as well as some of the villages are peaceful and calm whilst others are a bit more lively.
Sauze d’Oulx is probably one of the most well known resorts in the Milky way. Located on the Italian side of the border, it is a very traditional village with a rich ski history. Its village center is an impressive mix of old traditional buildings, cobbled streets and modern architecture. Definitely a charming sight for appreciators of culture. Sauze d’Oulx is also the resort to be at for an impressive apres ski experience in the Milky way.
Montgenevre is the Milky Way’s only French resort. Don't be deceived by its small size and modest unassuming reputation, its high altitude allows it to have one of the best snow records in the French alps. It is also appreciated as a hidden gem by some due in part to the location of its accommodation on slopes making it easier to access the slopes; it also less crowded making it the perfect spot for people who are honing their skills without much distraction.
Claviere is reputed to be one Italy's oldest resorts. It has an incredibly preserved traditional center with the modern buildings and infrastructure seamlessly blended in. It is family friendly and like the other smaller resorts on the Milky Way, it is much favoured by beginners and cautious intermediates.
Sestriere is the highest point of the Milky way and best positioned in the Milky Way for skiers aiming to cover the entire Milky Way ski area. Sitting just below Mount Motta, it is centrally located with Sauze d’Oulx, Sansicario and Cesana on one side and Claviere and Montgenevre on the other. With red and black runs it is mostly suited to advanced skiers and confident intermediates. It has some of the best snow conditions due to its north facing slopes. It's serious business at Sestriere; it is known as the first purpose built resort for sporting reasons only. It was also one of the locations of the Winter Olympics.
Sansicario was also one of the locations of the Winter Olympics, Located in between Sauze d’Oulx and Cesana, it was on the Winter Olympics downhill run from the 2701m summit of Mount Fraiteve. Interestingly, its terrain suits almost all skiing levels from advanced blacks to beginners on its nursery slopes.
Situated at a modest altitude of 1350 is Cesana. Another small hidden gem in the alps. It is a family friendly resort popular amongst locals and visitors alike due to the communal and peaceful spirit in the village.