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.
Skiing in the Milky Way ski area
The Milky Way ski area is ideal for all ski level abilities and profiles. It caters to all types of visitors from seasoned hard core skiers to beginers and intermediates looking to improve. It also welcomes families looking for quiet retreat or partying skiers and apres ski seekers. Snowboarders are certainly not left out of the equation thanks to the fantastic park in Sestriere in particular. Thanks to the Winter Olympics in 2006 the Milky Way ski area has also benefited from upgrades to its facilities such as new high speed lifts connecting Sauze d’Oulx, Sestriere,Claviere and Montgenevre, thereby reducing queuing times and allowing a significant amount of time on the slopes.
With a combined 400km of snow sure slopes to explore across 598 marked pistes, there is something for everyone at the Milky Way ski area.
Advanced skiers and adventurous types will find some excellent but daring black runs coming down the slopes of Mount Motta just above Sestriere. Feeling confident? Take on the steep drops and winding pistes to retrace the ski marks left in the snow by Kandahar Banchetta in the 2006 Winter Olympics. The Olympica is another challenging black run coming down Mount Fraiteve into Sansicario; although this run opens up into a red just about half way down. This was the women's downhill race at the Winter Olympics and is a popular test for skiers in the Milky Way.
Intermediates looking to build confidence will feel very much at home in Montgenevre. They can find testing reds which run through the wooded area, particularly the Clavirere run from Pian del Sole. Otherwise take a chairlift from Claviere out to access the massifs above for some challenging red runs back into the village. Sansicario is excellently positioned as it has convenient ski links to the rest of the Milky Way and its tree lined runs make for a good winding run down to Cesana.
Beginners are well catered for in the Milky Way ski area. The nursery slopes in Sansicario have easy steady blues perfect for beginners and the resort also has a host of reds that can test beginners and help build up confidence. Claviere also has large open runs well suited to beginners and is a favoured destination for beginners in the Milky way.
Fancy some night-skiing during your visit? Night skiing takes place in some of the resorts in the Milky Way ski area so head over to Sestriere or Claviere for some well lit night skiing which may also involve skiing with flares which makes a beautiful spectacle.
Snowboarding in the Milky Way ski area
Snowboarders are well catered for in the Milky Way from snowparks to off-piste areas, snowboarders have a lot to look forward to in the MIlky Way. There are snow parks in Sauze d’Oulx, Sansicario, Sestriere and Montgenevre that offer snowboarding experiences.
Sauze d'Oulx has a great snow park in the Sportinia area that caters to all ability levels. There are great nursery slopes for beginners, excellent tree lined reds for intermediates and great off piste for advanced borders and free riders.
The snowpark at Sestriere is fully decked out with wall rides, kickers, boxes and twist jumps. It's the perfect park for all skill levels. The nursery slopes in the Borgata area are hardly ever crowded so it is great for beginners trying to practise and develop some confidence. There are also black and red slopes well suited to intermediates and more seasoned snowboarders as well as great off-piste opportunities.
Snowboarders in Montgenevre will find open bowls, a great choice of off-piste terrain and can also enjoy the snowpark there which is kitted up with pro-jumps, quarter pipes and rope tows.
On the southern ridge of Sansicario, there are freeriding tracks that weave through the forest. Excellent off-piste opportunities can also be found on top of Mount Banchetta but all skill levels are well catered to at Sansicario's snow park with up to 40 marked trails (mostly red and a couple of blacks) but there are enough for beginners as well.
Snow Conditions in the Milky Way ski area
The Milky Way is generally known for its good snow condition and this may also be one of the deciding factors for hosting the Olympic Games there. It's high altitude allows for some excellent snow conditions for most part of the season which usually runs from December and all through April. More than half of the area's slopes have snow making machines on standby to provide cover for any snow shortages during the season. Sestriere is the highest positioned resort and boasts of some of the best conditions in the region.
Apres Ski in the Milky Way ski area
The Milky Way apres ski is a varied experience but overall a more relaxed affair. The resorts ( Montgenerve) are relatively smaller than their French counterparts over the border and the general theme in most of the resorts is more family friendly. There is still a general excitement in the air and there are bars and restaurants available for an evening drink but the racucus party atmosphere is largely subdued in most areas around the Milky way.
For the best apres ski experience, Sauze d’Oulx takes the trophy for the liveliest apres ski in the Milky Way. Against the beautiful traditional buildings and the historic charm, there is a party atmosphere on the rise.
Caffe della Seggiovia is a lovely wine bar with an impressive wine selection; most of which are locally sourced from the Piedmont region. They also have beers from a local microbrewery from the region. Not too keen on wine or beers? Checkout the great cocktail menu and kickstart a great evening. Favoured by locals and visitors alike.
A snug and cosy haven on cold winter nights due to its large open fire and friendly atmosphere, The Derby is a bar and lounge that offers a range of cocktails and other drinks. Famed for its themed party nights, live music and friendly staff, The Derby should be on your apres ski list.
For traveling Brits looking for an overseas ‘local’, look out for the Moncrons. Present in Sauze d’Oulx for over 30 years, this friendly bar has a great drink selection and pub feel. Catch all the football and other sporting events on live satellite TV.
Facilities in the Milky Way ski area
There are a range of facilities available in the Milky Way. We have listed a few that you may be interested in.
- Ski Hire in The Milky Way
There are a host of ski hire shops in the Milky Way from where you can arrange ski equipment for your trip but why not secure your ski equipment hire directly with us here at Erna Low. We have longstanding and established relationships with ski hire operators which allows us to easily arrange ski equipment rental on your behalf. Let us take care of the hassle and save you the time and effort of getting to the resort and then going into the ski hire establishment. Book your ski equipment hire with us and we have them waiting for you on arrival at the Milky Way.
- Ski Passes in The Milky Way
Get in touch with us for your Milky way ski passess and pick them up on arrival at your chosen resort. Whether you are after the Milky Way ski pass that grants access to the entire ski area or perhaps you may be after the local area pass of the resort you are staying at, we can very quickly and efficiently arrange either for you. We will be best positioned to secure ongoing deals and discounts on the different available passes.
- Spa and Pool in the Milky Way
There is hardly anything better than relaxing your muscles in a series of spa sessions. Relax and recharge in a number of spa and wellness centers available in the Milky Way. Majority of the spa’s and pools in the Milky way region operate within hotels or apartment styled hotels and regardless of whether or not you are a guest of the establishment, you will most likely be able to get an appointment for a treatment. If you are located in Sauze d’Oulx, the recently refurbished Chaberton Lodge & Spa is home to the Regeneration wellness center which has a spa, sauna, steam room and external plunge pool. Massage treatments by trained masseuses can be arranged as well. Hotel Majestic in Sansicario also has a top quality spa featuring a range of facilities including an indoor swimming pool for relaxing sessions after a day on the slopes.
- Shops in the Milky Way
There are a few places to shop across the Milky way. The smaller resorts of Cesana and Claviere may not have the extensive variety of large shops; you are better off heading to Sauze d’Oulx or Sestriere for more variety. Sauze d’Oulx has a range of shops from clothing, sport equipment, gifts and souvenirs available. Not known for its large shopping centers or viewed as a shopping destination, the Milky Way is made up of purpose built resorts focused towards skiing and other outdoor activities.
Facilities for Children in the Milky Way Ski Area
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Accommodation in the Milky Way ski area
Regardless of your travel group and personal taste, there is a good choice of accommodation to select from in the Milky way.Whether you are traveling as a large group and are in search of a large apartment or a couple on a romantic getaway looking for a cosy and comfortable hotel, there is a decent range of options to choose from depending on the resort of your choosing. Book your ski accommodation through Erna Low for the best rates and deals. With decades of experience and great relationships with our partner hotels and chalets, we are guaranteed to find your dream ski holiday accommodation. Get in touch now and we will be delighted to assist you.