Overview of Vars
Vars is located in the southern Haute Alpes region in the French Alps. Linked with the ski resort of Risoul, they present a quieter option to busier, larger resorts in that part of France. Vars-les-Claux, name in full, has often been described as one of the French Alps' best-kept secrets thanks to its sizable ski terrain, high-altitude slopes and good snow record. In addition, it has up to 300 days of sun every year and is particularly known to be a fantastic value for money as it generally costs less than most of the more popular resorts in the area. The ski resort is purpose-built and split into the 4 small hamlets of Vars Sainte-Marie at 1,650 metres, Vars Sainte-Catherine at 1,750 metres, Vars Sainte-Marcellin at 1,650 metres and Vars-les-Claux, the main resort at 1,850 metres. Linked to the Forêt Blanche ski area , Vars has up to 180 kilometres across 104 pistes in total, covering altitudes between 1,660 and 2,750 metres. The village has old, 1970’s style buildings but is set in a heavily, tree-lined valley which adds some character to a somewhat grunge look. Vars has a lot of vast and open territory on offer; affording visitors to the resort big sky views and breathtaking landscapes. Less than a 2-hour transfer from Turin Caselle Airport, it is generally quite easy to get to. It has very good accommodation options most of which are boutique and chalet-style hotels and self-catering apartments. It is also a great family-friendly option and ideal for ski holidaymakers searching for a calmer and slow-paced resort. It also has a good number of non-ski activities to get involved with including escaping into nature on snowshoe and hiking trails, snowmobile rides, dog sledding and tobogganing amongst many others.
Skiing in Vars
The Forêt Blanche ski area ski pass gives you access to the slopes in the entire ski area; the second largest in the Southern Alps with just over 180 kilometres of slopes. Vars and Risoul are located on either side of a peak with both villages sharing the ski area. The ski terrain is generally best suited for intermediate level skiers with the area mostly populated with red runs.
Beginners have very good nursery slopes at the resort base in Var-les-Claux made up of greens and easy blues; ideal slopes to help build up confidence before climbing up the colour ladder. Risoul has a good number of gentle blues perfect for confident beginners and not too daunting to attempt.
Intermediates get the most choices in Vars and indeed the rest of the Forêt Blanche ski area. There are very good open powder bowls higher up the slopes as well as long, winding reds which cut through the tree-lined area leading back down to the resort. Perhaps it's most popular is the Olympique red; a 920-metre drop to the hamlet of Vars Sainte Marie from La Mayt. Intermediates can also take advantage of some of the resort's long steep blues for a bit of fun.
Advanced skiers however have limited challenges within the marked areas with the ski area having very little expert-level slopes. There are a few steep runs outside of Vars-les-Claux with others found coming down the legendary, speedy Pic de Chabrières at 2,750 metres as well as Cuni. The ski area does have a lot of off-piste opportunities most of which are generally uncrowded and benefit from the terrain's deep powder bowls.
Snowboarding in Vars
Free-stylers are in for a brilliant time at the resort. Vars has 2 very good terrain parks; L’Eyssina and Ecrins Snow Park; both of which have recently ranked among the top 10 parks in France. Ecrins Snow Park, the smaller of the two holds JIB sessions every week. It is also equipped with 2 rainbows, several hits, and a large wave box among others. It also holds night sessions. L’Eyssina, the larger and more popular park has 5 zones which are designated to the different ski ability levels. It has different level tables in each of the zones, 40 metres long hit, a number of rails and special units.
Snow Conditions in Vars
No weather forecast available
Despite receiving long sunny days for most of the ski season, Vars has a fantastic snow record receiving an average of up to 2 and a half metres of snow each season. Benefiting massively from its high altitude, the conditions on the piste are always brilliant.
Apres-ski in Vars
For a small and quiet Haute ski village, Vars has a lively apres-ski atmosphere. It is quite a pleasant surprise, once party places are discovered, especially for first-time visitors to the resort who may be looking for vibrant bars to visit. Vars has a good selection of bars and lounges which particularly get busier over the weekend with weekenders flocking in from the surrounding areas. Vars is also known to host the Gliss & Mix party weekends which it has done since 2017. It hosts up to 4,000 people at every event and offers a weekend of skiing and partying. Structured around a ski tournament and music concert, the event aims to gather donations for Paoli Calmettes Institute, an organisation for the fight against cancer. The event has seen some internationally renowned acts and DJs grace the stage. If you are visiting in April, you are very likely to catch the event! Its held during the day but features an after-party usually on Saturday. If you are visiting around December or January, look out for the Outdoormix Winter Festival, an epic ski and snowboarding festival featuring cracking music every night and daring stunts during the day.
L' Apres Ski
Aptly named, L’Apres Ski is a lovely bar in a charming old chalet located in the village centre opposite the Point Chaud and only a few meters from the Écrins and Sibières slopes. It is one of the liveliest hangout spots in Vars and also acts as a central hub and meeting place for most skiers kicking off their apres-ski evening of fun. Great place to order some food as well, a group raclette is a great option, often served with a large plate of salad, salami, ham, bread and boiled potatoes. Friendly service, great atmosphere it is just what you need to start your evening. We recommend making a reservation especially if you are part of a large group, however, it's large enough so you can always get a good seating area if you have not reserved a table. Indoor and outdoor sitting is available.
A very good bar and restaurant is centrally located in Lex Claux Point Chaud. It has a large outdoor terrace that catches a lot of sunshine during the day. A great place for a meal and apres-ski drink. The food is really good and the staff are very friendly. More gastropub than late-night pub, La Zizane is open all day allowing visitors the option to start the apres shenanigans early. We recommend trying out the daily specials which usually feature local, mountain delicacies. As the night draws in, La Zizane becomes a vibrant hub of excited and merry skiers. Great place to meet up as it's close to the slopes.
Otherwise known as The Groundhog, La Marmotte is an excellent restaurant and bar open every day from 8:30 am to 11 pm. They have excellent meals and feature a lot of fresh dishes from local delicacies. Fantastic place for an evening of drinks and apres-ski fun. Grab an evening crepe or full meal after your day off skiing and move on to the drinks afterwards. In the afternoon, stop by with the whole family for some great family meals, in particular, the fondue. While it has earned its reputation for its amazing pizza and raclette, it's also a very good place to have an apres-ski evening. It's warm and cosy inside and the staff are courteous and friendly. Certainly worth a visit.
Le Bistrot de Vars
Fantastic place to start and end your Vars apres-ski evening. Le Bistrot de Vars has a great drinks menu to go along with the tasty tapas served here. They also have a very good dessert menu and we will recommend trying the parfait or tiramisu. There is indoor and outdoor seating, with a vibrant atmosphere very much in the air in both areas. If you are after a traditional Alpine bar with great drinks and ski themes, Le Bistrot de Vars is the ideal place. It has a small interior with a makeshift mezzanine floor which does get very cosy as the night draws in and the bar gets louder and full of patrons. Most of the interior is designed with reclaimed wood, with some of the tables made from old ale drums. Overall a good evening with a great Alpine theme.
Facilities in Vars
Vars has fantastic facilities on and off the slopes. It excels in all areas including piste management, family-friendly accommodation and resort amenities.
Ski Equipment Hire in Vars
There are a number of ski equipment hire shops and stores in Vars; however, if you are visiting the resort as part of Erna Lows holiday package, we have made it very easy for you to hire your equipment directly from us online. This is easily done on the website and can be completed in a matter of minutes. Just simply select the ski equipment you need, add it to the order and proceed with the booking. We have established very good relationships with the very best ski equipment suppliers and rentals in the Alps in order to ensure that your rented equipment is of the best quality and from well known reputable snow sports brands. Hiring your equipment from us is not only very convenient as it saves you the extra time and hassle of trying to hire them yourself at the resort. For any additional information on this please do not hesitate to contact us directly.
Ski Passes in Vars
You can easily arrange your Vars ski pass with us directly online as part of your holiday package. This is another personalised service we offer you to ensure that your overall ski holiday booking experience is as seamless as possible. Whilst in the process of arranging your holiday booking, just select the option of including your ski pass in the total order and proceed with your booking. Avoid the queues at the resort and skip your way straight to the lifts and gondolas when you arrive at Vars. When you secure your ski pass with us online we send it to you way ahead of your arrival time at the resort ensuring that you already have it with your prior to arrival. It is especially handy if you are travelling with a large group and it also allows you to take advantage of any early season offers or online exclusive discounts.
Swimming Pool and Spa in Vars
Nothing better than enjoying a swimming and spa session after a long day on the slopes. It is probably the best way to relax at the end of the evening or perhaps start off feeling refreshed and ready to go. The public swimming pool in Vars is the La Piscine à Vars and is centrally located in the village but unfortunately is only open over the summer period as it's an outdoor pool. Do not be discouraged though, check out Les Bains De Vars, a spa institute which has excellent spa and sauna facilities. It also has a host of qualified and passionate beauticians-masseuses very well trained to offer fantastic personalised therapies upon reservation. The institute also has private hammams which can accommodate up to 6 persons with bathrobes, slippers, towels, water and green tea provided. The temperature in the hammam slowly increases however, you can adjust it to your settings. The village of Vars does have a number of top hotels; most of which have swimming pools and wellness facilities which are available for reservations from non-staying guests. A great option is the Chalet-Hôtel Alpage & Spa which is located only a few metres from the slopes. It has brilliant spa facilities including a scenic sun deck for relaxing after a session. The facilities include a spa, hammam, sauna, hot tub and solarium. The wellness area also offers massage and beauty treatments.
Shopping in Vars
Shopping in Vars is relatively quiet however, you tend to get a similar selection of shops as most other small resorts in France. There are a couple of snow sports clothing and equipment retailers, gift and souvenir shops, grocery shops for essentials and a few other generic shops expected in most ski resorts.
Facilities for Children in Vars
Vars has very good facilities for children and indeed the whole family both on and off the slopes.
Ski Lessons in Vars
Vars has a couple of ski schools where you can enrol your children in if they need ski lessons. It is also a fantastic opportunity for them to meet other children and make new friends. You can, however, secure your children's ski lessons with us when making your Vars ski holiday booking. Over our countless years of experience, we have made fantastic partnerships with some of the Alp's most experienced ski schools and instructors thereby ensuring that when you book your children's ski lessons with us, they are getting the very best lessons at the resort. It also helps you to have a much easier holiday booking experience as we take the hassle of searching for a ski school of your hands. The process is very easy and it saves you a great deal of time, allowing you more quality time to spend on other aspects of your holiday in Vars.
Entertainment for children in Vars
Vars has great children's entertainment both on and off the slopes. The nursery slopes have a children's play area with slides and swings where kids can have fun in the snow. Other outdoor activities include the Scoot Paradize where children can ride children sized snowmobiles around a very secure and safe circuit. Children aged between 4 and 13 can have amazing fun around this circuit and it also has scooters that allow an adult to accompany them. Vars also has family husky rides which are a great hit with visiting families looking to create memorable experiences for the children. Most of the ski schools also have kids clubs and arrange children's activities with games and other fun activities. There are also storytelling and winter snowshoe walks which offer great educational and fun experiences for the whole family.
Childcare in Vars
The majority of the ski schools in Vars also run childcare services for children from as young as 2 years old. For additional child care options check with the local tourist office for recommendations.
The terrain is set on a wooded valley on a peak it shares with Risoul. Most of the area is tree-lined on the lower levels with powder bowls higher up above the wooded areas. The area has a good mix of red and blue runs.