Espace San Bernardo Ski Area Overview
Espace San Bernardo ski area spans France and Italy, connects the famous Tarentaise Valley on the French side with the Aosta Valley in the Italian sector and includes 152km of stunning pistes and 73 runs for skiers and snowboarders of all abilities.
Its twinned resorts are La Rosière in France and La Thuile in Italy and it’s named after the Petit St Bernard pass, which is closed to road vehicles in winter and can only be navigated on skis. The slopes can reach 2800m here, so conditions are usually excellent, and many are south facing, meaning that they’re sun-kissed and scenic.
There are plenty of green, blue and red runs here for beginners and intermediates, a smattering of challenging blacks for advanced skiers, off-piste opportunities, heli-skiing on the La Thuile side, a ski jump and a snow park.
Across San Bernardo you’ll find family-friendly resorts, comfortable and conveniently located accommodation, food choices that range from quick snacks to slow, sumptuous haute cuisine meals and après-ski that includes lively pubs, chic cocktail bars and bustling clubs. Quieter than its neighbouring mega ski areas but oozing authentic ambience and charm, San Bernardo is a hidden gem that feels like your own private hideaway.
On the French side, La Rosière is a charming traditional village located 1850m high on a picturesque plateau above Bourg St Maurice in the Haute Tarentaise and this scenic setting has led to it being dubbed ‘the balcony of the Tarentaise’. Because of its close proximity to the Petit St Bernard pass, La Rosière is usually the loftiest point accessible by road when the pass closes and benefits from heavy snow drifting in from nearby Mont Blanc. This is a snow-sure resort with wide nursery slopes and a versatile mix of blue, red and black runs for intermediate and advanced skiers. Add family-friendly accommodation, off-slope entertainment and laid-back après-ski and La Rosière is the ideal spot for a chilled-out Alpine break.
On the Italian side of Espace San Bernardo, La Thuile is a serene and charming traditional ski village with a respectable resort altitude of 1441m and skiing right up to 2610m. There are a few decent black runs here, but blues and reds dominate, making it a haven for intermediates, and it’s snow sure throughout the season. The nightlife is more mild than wild here, but you’ll still find quality cafes and restaurants as well as a handful of lively and welcoming bars where you can socialise with visitors and locals alike over a few beers, wines or cocktails. If you’re an advanced skier or snowboarder, you’ll be glad to know that La Thuile is a popular launchpad for heli-skiing adventures.
As you can see, if you’re a skiing family, solo skier or couple and love traditional Alpine scenery, seriously good skiing action, ample off-slope activities and a relaxed après-ski scene, Espace San Bernardo should be right up your street.
Skiing in Espace San Bernardo
Nestled in the North Alps and connecting the famous Tarentaise ski area with Italy’s Aosta Valley and close to majestic Mont Blanc, San Bernardo is a spectacular cross-border ski area with 152km of skiable terrain, an efficient network of 34 lifts and a wonderful winter sports area that ranges from 1176m right up to a heady 2800m. With a ski season that lasts from mid-December to late April, San Bernardo is the discerning skiers choice. Here’s a little more information on skiing here:
• You’ll find the main Front de Neige area at La Rosière at the village’s upper west side and there’s a second sector at Les Eucherts, both of which have well-groomed, gentle novice zones. Above this area there are several wide, sweeping blue runs that are brilliant for a smooth transition up to intermediate level.
• Novices also have three free beginners ski lifts and there’s a great choice of green runs close to the Clarines and Lievre Blanc lifts where you can find your feet and practice your turns.
• For something a little more challenging, head up above the tree line to the eastern area and you’ll find some cracking red runs down to Combe des Moulins and there’s often fresh powder between the pistes if you fancy some action off the beaten track.
• There are 15 black runs accessible from La Rosière and the exciting Franco Berthod piste might be the top pick for expert skiers. However, if you’re an advanced enthusiast you can also hire a mountain guide to take you safely to off-piste areas or pop across the border to the Italian side for heli-skiing fun.
• The main ski area in La Thuile is located south west of the village where’s there’s a varied range of steep wood-lined slopes, plateaux, ridges and cols, with a gondola and rapid chairlift to help you explore all the pistes efficiently.
• Novices are supported here by nursery slopes set off from the main pistes and a dedicated beginners’ zone at Le Sucre at the top of the gondola. As you move higher above Les Sucres there are several cruisy blue runs that are great for intermediates and above these the terrain is trickier, especially just below the peaks of Belvedere, Touraisse and Chaz Dura.
• There’s outstanding off-piste available in La Thuile in areas like Zittieux thanks to frequent dumps of fresh pow arriving from Mont Blanc. This is also an Alpine capital for heli-skiing, with popular drop-off points including the Rutor Glacier, which allows you a choice of routes for dropping down into France, and Mont Miravidi, which affords amazing views of Mont Blanc.
As you can see, thanks to a varied mix of runs, great off-piste potential and the added attraction of heli-skiing, Espace San Bernardo brings something a little different to the table for skiers of all stripes.
Snowboarding in Espace San Bernardo
It’s fair to say that San Bernardo isn’t best known for snowboarding, but there are a few hidden delights here for riders. Here’s the lowdown:
• You can reach the Poletta Snow Park via the Poletta drag lift and this is a terrific 300m course with a series of rails and kickers that gradually get trickier. It’s always well-groomed and a resident DJ spins thumping tunes that add to the party atmosphere.
• The more elevated sections of La Rosière often offer gnarly off-piste action ̶ hire a mountain guide for the day and carve up some fresh powder.
• La Thuile is a decent resort for freeriders (with a secure freeride zone) and has some good powder spots and fun tree-lined runs, while a few of the blues and reds are also great for carving. For the highest slopes on this side, take one of the two new lifts to the Mont Valaisan area, where you’ll be in your element at altitudes of 2800m.
• There’s also a regular and baby snow park at La Thuile, as well as a boardercross slope, two fun cross areas and even a snow kite zone.
• If you’re an advanced boarder you can also try heli-snowboarding on the Italian side too, get dropped off on a choice of great glaciers and whizz down to the valley floor.
Snow Conditions in Espace San Bernardo
When a high-altitude ski area is named after a pass that’s closed in the winter due to extreme conditions and benefits from a magical Mont Blanc microclimate, you can feel confident that it’s reasonably snow sure! Here follow a few facts on San Bernardo’s snow conditions:
• La Rosière’s 1850m resort height means that it’s blessed by voluminous snowfall, and although its sunny slopes are a pleasure to ski on in the peak season, their quality can diminish later in the season. On the other hand, La Thuile might not always be blessed with high snowfall rates but it’s more sheltered, therefore sometimes more consistent when it comes to retaining its snow.
• The scores on the board for snow conditions during the most recent La Rosière season reveal a 637cm total snowfall, 34 total snowfall days, 45cm largest snowfall, maximum base depth of 272cm, 168cm average base depth, maximum summit depth of 410cm and 235cm average summit depth.
• With quiet slopes that are mostly above 2000m and north-facing, plus a position tucked in close to Mont Blanc, La Thuile has an admirable snowfall record despite it not being a super high-altitude resort.
• The most recent seasonal snowfall stats for La Thuile show a total snowfall of 708cm, 24 total snowfall days, maximum summit depth of 310cm, 218cm average summit depth, 90cm maximum base depth, average base depth of 44cm and 70cm largest snowfall.
Apres Ski in Espace San Bernardo
You won’t typically find wild après-ski excesses akin to those on offer in resorts like Val Thorens in San Bernardo, but there’s still lively and eclectic nightlife here, as well as several superb restaurants. Here are a few highlights:
• Lo Tatà is located just off piste seven above La Thuile and it’s a bustling and authentic Italian restaurant serving delicious pizza and pasta as well as free vin chaud if you have to hang around for a table during a particularly busy time.
• Set in a lovely rustic chalet in La Rosière, L’Antigel is an ambient two-story restaurant with a roaring log fire which specialises in Savoyard fare like tartiflette as well as succulent gourmet burgers and tasty tarts.
• Moobar nightclub in La Rosière is the place to be when you want to party until the wee small hours. It’s open until 4am and serves up cocktails, beers, live DJs and dancing ̶ what’s not to love?
• If you fancy fine wine, fresh Belgian beer and sophisticated cocktails in a chic setting with panoramic views of the valley, Bar H-40 in La Rosière is your bag.
• La Thuile has over 20 bars and many are located in the resort’s hotels but open to the general public and prices here are lower than many neighbouring resorts, which means that there’s a vibesy happy hour atmosphere, particularly at weekends.
• Pub La Cage Au Folles in La Thuile is a great place to chill out with friends over a few pints as you watch movies and live sports on the big screens.
• Le Coq Maf is bang in the middle of La Thuile and serves string cocktails, a super selection of wines and beers and also show live sports in the Sky Bar area.
Facilities in Espace San Bernardo
Facilities in San Bernardo are brilliant, and you’ll find everything you need here for a fabulous ski holiday. Hospitality is second to none and the on and off-slope amenities cater for all tastes.
Ski hire in San Bernardo
You’re free to organise your own ski hire from one of the many operators across San Bernardo but many Erna Low clients find it much more convenient to let us organise it for you and include it in your package. With long-established connections across both resorts, we can source the best quality gear for each member of your party for competitive prices. Contact us if you would like to find out more about this service.
Ski passes in San Bernardo
Erna Low can also arrange your San Bernardo ski passes and we often source discounted deals for families, children and large groups. Please ask us what’s on offer for your holiday dates.
Spa and pool in San Bernardo
Unwinding in between skiing or snowboarding sessions is a vital part of a well-rounded snowsports holiday and luckily there are plenty of spa and pool facilities on offer in San Bernardo. For instance, Spa La Rosière is a salubrious 350m square R&R area boasting hot tubs, a salt cave and sauna with mountain views, and Spa O De Cimes is another wonderful La Rosière wellness establishment offering a range of luxe beauty treatments.
Shops in San Bernardo
If you’re yearning for retail therapy in San Bernardo, La Rosière has supermarkets like Carrefour and local delicacies at La Ferme de Montvalezen, while the Panibel centre in La Thuile has an excellent butcher, a supermarket, craft shops and a pharmacy, and there’s also a market every Saturday.
Facilities for Children in Espace San Bernardo
Kids are well catered for in San Bernardo, particularly in La Rosière, which has been awarded Famille Plus Montagne status for its child-friendly focus. You can rest assured that youngsters have plenty to keep them entertained on and off the slopes here.
Ski schools in San Bernardo
There are several ski schools in San Bernardo, but ESF comes highly recommended and it offers lessons to adult beginners as well as children.
Children’s entertainment in San Bernardo
Away from the slopes, kids visiting La Rosière can enjoy movies at the cinema, go ten-pin bowling, enjoy ice skating or even husky dog sledding. Meanwhile, La Thuile caters for slightly older kids with an indoor climbing wall and adventure park with exciting activities like abseiling.
Childcare in San Bernardo
In La Rosière, Snow Little Child Care at Bourg St Maurice employs CRB-checked nannies available by the hour, day, week and even overnight, while Les Galopins Kids Club cares for children between 18 months and 13 years old with fun and educational activities on a whole day basis with meals included.
At La Thuile, Miniclub caters for kids aged 4 to 12 years old in a fab purpose-built facility. Miniclub can be booked on a half or full day basis with optional meals.
Accommodation in Espace San Bernardo
You’ve always got a great choice of accommodation options in San Bernardo and your only problem might be picking which high-quality residence to rest your head in. There’s lots on offer, but here are just a couple of highlights:
• Les Balcons de la Rosière is a lovely family- and pet-friendly residence with comfortable suites that can sleep between two and 16 guests. A catered option is available but there’s also a fine onsite restaurant, spa, sauna and swimming pool, while one of the major advantages of staying here is doorstep skiing ̶ simply step out of your accommodation and hit the slopes.
• The Alparena Apartment Suites are also highly rated by Erna Low customers. This quality residence features doorstep skiing, Wi-Fi throughout, an onsite restaurant and bar and inhouse spa and pool. Suites here can sleep between two and eight people and larger apartments have luxury features like jacuzzis and hammam shower rooms. As you can see, if you want an authentic Alpine experience with comfy accommodation, child-friendly facilities, and superb cross-border skiing, San Bernardo could soon become your favourite new ski resort.
At Erna Low we can organise a tailor-made San Bernardo ski break that completely satisfies every member of your party ̶ we can’t wait to get started!
Espace San Bernardo Ski Area
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