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Psst! Laidback French family ski resort alert

Missed out on skiing due to you-know-what? Muddy's just back from Chamrousse, Isère, and we're in love with its laidback family charm. Book a sneaky flight and use our guide for a gorgeous late escape.

Chamrousse, Isère


Amongst Isère’s 22 ski resorts Chamrousse, just 30 minutes from the city of Grenoble, is a bit of an in-the-know find. While the resort holds serious sporting creds (it hosted the Winter Olympics in 1968), it flys under-the-radar compared to its larger neighbours Les 2 Alpes and Alpe d’Huez, making it the ideal destination if you’re after a family break without the stress of a high-octane resort – and without crunching the credit card.

The Olympic cauldron still stands today outside the tourist office


Corrrr, look at those Isère vistas!

In a word: charming. You could easily imagine Chamrousse as the set of a festive Disney movie with its powdery snow, abundant wildlife (this year two rare eagles called the resort home) and ski slopes (open 1 Dec to mid-April) peppered with snow-capped alpine firs winding up the mountain. The landscape is beautiful, unspoilt and Isère’s only resort to hold the Flocon Vert label – a serious eco cred improving sustainability in the mountains.

Muddy visited just after the French school holiday rush so the resort was particularly quiet, but there’s definitely a peaceful quality here. You won’t find British students hurtling down the black slopes after too many Aperols at après-ski – plus there’s an excellent network of well-connected ski lifts across the resort meaning no queues, less argy-bargy, and more time to cruise the slopes without the sense of urgency that often comes with busier resorts.


Le Petit Sale

The foodie offering is set across the resort’s three villages and is mostly traditional French fair (vegans look away now), so if you love your cheeses and meats you’re in for a treat. Highlights from our stay included piggy themed Le Petit Sale, a buzzy little restaurant in Chamrousse 1650. No surprises what the star of the show is here…

So. Much. Cheese.

The traditional Raclette with cured meats was ridiculously indulgent and would require at least a week of hardcore skiing to burn off but was totally worth it, plus – Santa, if you’re reading – I now have one of these nifty tabletop Raclette machines on my Christmas list.

La Croix

For the best vistas you’ll want to catch the gondola up to to La Croix at the resort’s highest peak Croix de Chamrousse 2250 which has panoramic views of the Oisans, Vercors and Chartreuse mountain ranges (don’t forget your hat, it’s chilly up there). Muddy tried the Gratin des Ravioles and walnut tart – both regional specialities, and both delicious. For liquid courage to ski back down a shot of Génépi, made from alpine plants, did the trick.

For fussy kids, there are plenty of pizzerias (Pepe Rosso in Chamrousse 1650 is a goodie) or popular restaurant La Chalet in Chamrousse 1700 has burgers, crepes, as well as traditional dishes and Chartreuse Mule cocktails for the grown ups (fun fact: the recipe is only known by two monks and is set to make waves on the London cocktail scene this summer – you heard it here first!)


At present, the resort caters best for longer stays with the majority of accommodation being self-catered, and is lacking when it comes to hotels for shorter weekends away – but Chamrousse is on the case. A new hotel with aquatic indoor gym is set to be built over the next few years with the aim to open in 2030, so watch this space.

Hotel du Virage

I stayed in one of the three existing hotels, Hotel du Virage, which wasn’t flashy but perfectly cosy with a laid-back, friendly vibe, bar in the common room and a warm bed to hit the hay after a day on the slopes. Breakfast also served some of the best croissants I have ever eaten.

Hotel du Virage

Alternatively, Chamrousse is close enough to Grenoble (30 minutes by car) to stay in the city. Or if you’re looking for luxury, check into Le Grand Hotel & Spa a 20-minute drive away in spa town Uriage-les-Bains, where Coco Chanel once stayed (hey, if it’s good enough for Coco it’s good enough for us!).


Skis on!

As you’d expect from an Olympic resort, Chamrousse has excellent ski facilities (experienced skiers can test drive the slopes that saw French skier Jean-Claude Killy three Gold medals at the resort’s Olympic games), as well as a brilliant ski school for beginners or kids – but the slopes aren’t the only highlight.

Chamrousse, Isère

If you don’t fancy going full throttle on your skis everyday, there’s plenty to do including – deep breath – snowshoe hiking, snowmobile rides, snowtubing, ice diving, winter mountaineering, ice skating, paragliding, helicopter flights and dog sledding. Chamrousse is one of only two places that offer the latter in Grenoble and slots book up months in advance, so if you want time with the puppers don’t forget to book ahead.

Chamrousse, Isère

Other unusual activities include night skiing and sledging, with the slopes beautifully floodlit with dancing coloured lights.

Les Bains de Chamrousse

The resort is also famous for its stunning sunsets – best watched from the on-site Les Bains de Chamrousse, naturally.

Chamrousse, Isère

If you’re looking for fun on lower altitudes, head down the mountain to explore the cultural delights in Grenoble including Musée de Grenoble (see art from big hitters like Picasso, Matisse, Miro and more) and the Musée archéologique Saint-Laurent, the city’s archaeological museum with two thousand years of history.


Grenoble’s the closest airport, but since Covid the frequency of flights have reduced and the prices have hiked so if you’re after friendlier flight times and costing try Lyon (1hr 45mins in the air, 1h 45mins transfer) from £76pp with easyJet. Alternatively, you can catch the Eurostar to Paris, then the train to Grenoble. Find advice on planning your journey to Chamrousse with Isère Tourism.


Chamrousse, Isère

Good for: The laid-back vibe and breadth of activities make Chamrousse perfect for learners, families or multi-generational getaways (grandma can hit the spa while you hit the slopes). It’s also considerably cheaper to ski here compared to larger resorts – a one-day adult lift pass is €36.50 compared to €54 at Les 2 Alpes. More coin for après-ski – result!

Not for: If you’re looking for a slick, flashy resort then you’ll want to consider one of Isère’s larger resorts – Chamrousse is packing kitsch and quirk, which is part of its charm.

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