Ski Holidays in Vars, France
Vars in a very well kept secret. It’s a quiet and better value resort and is a good choice for those looking to steer away from the well known and busier resorts. At 1850 metres it has a good snow record and boasts 300 days of sun per year making it an excellent ski holiday destination. Vars is also part of one of the largest ski areas in the Southern French Alpes, Foret Blanche Ski circuit, which offers 180km of varied pistes. The ski area of Vars is linked with Risoul sharing a common lift pass to allow you access to the whole of the Foret Blanche Ski circuit.
It is a very French resort with few English visitors, and partly for that reason it is more affordable than some of the larger more glamorous French resorts.
|Directions of Slopes||N, W, E|
Skiing in Vars
For beginners the skiing could not be better, the whole area is accessible via green and blue runs and you can ski between Risoul and Vars entirely on blue pistes. As you progress, you’ll also be able to ski more of the extensive terrain.
Intermediates will enjoy a huge choice of runs above and below the tree line. The Foret Blanche region has a number of long blue and red runs that go over into Risoul. There are also open bowls and some more challenging runs in the resort including an 8km long piste. It’s most known run is the Olympic red, descending 920m from La Mayt to the village of Vars-Ste-Marie.
Vars isn’t the best resort for advanced skiers looking for an array of challenging terrain but it does have a number of steeps including a famous bump run. For experienced skiers, the top of the Chabrieres ski area has the resort’s steepest terrain with the run Cuni known as the most challenging run. Advanced skiers have a choice of 11 black pistes and plenty of off-piste, best explored with a local guide. Or if you are looking for something a bit different then the Flying Kilometre speed skiing course is a must. Although you can’t go up to speeds of 100mph like the racers do at the annual competition, the course is sometimes open to the public to try but it is under strict supervision.
Vars has two snowparks which feature pre-shaped terrain and the resort has ranked 4th place in the national ranking of best French snowparks. There is the L’Eyssina park which has five zones for all abilities which has tables, rails, big air and special units and also the Ecrins Snow Park which has boxes, rainbows, and more, even staging night and JIB sessions each week.
Snow conditions in Vars
Although Vars has a southerly location, the resort receives an average of 2.5 metres each season as well as its main Le Claux villages and the top pistes situated at 2750m above sea level. Its lower runs are also covered by snow making machines.
Après ski, restaurants and other activities in Vars
You can find a selection of shops, bars and restaurants in the main centre of Vars-les-Claux. There are also a number of friendly mountain bar and restaurants and the resort can be quite lively once the lifts close. Apres bar spots to visit are L’Apres Ski and La Zizane.
Non skiing activities include snow biking, snowshoeing, dog sledding, tobogganing, parapenting, ice climbing, helicopter rides, ice skating, or visit the spa, leisure park and cinema. There are also 17km of cross country skiing tracks.
Transfer times to Vars
Lyon (LYS) - 2hrs 20mins
Turin (TRN) - 2hrs 30mins
Grenoble (GNB) - 2hrs 40mins
Ski Hire in Vars
There are normally a number of shops where you can pick up your pre-booked ski or snowboard equipment from. Which shop you go to will depend on where you are staying in Vars. Here is a guide to ski or snowboard hire in Vars:
|Ski Hire Type||Adult 6 days||Child 6 days|
|Bronze - Skis and Boots or Snowboard and Boots||£79||£55|
|Silver - Skis and Boots or Snowboard and Boots||£109||£71|
|Gold - Skis and Boots or Snowboard and Boots||£129|
|Platinum - Skis and Boots or Snowboard and Boots||£139|
You can book your ski hire for your trip to Vars here
I and my wife, we visited Vars in January 2011, with Crystal sky. Stayed in one of the many apartments, do not actually remember which one. But what we both remember very well is the unbelievably sunny weather every single day that week. There was plenty of snow, quite warm, not much below freezing. It felt like spring time, if only days were a bit longer. Uncrowned slopes, no lift queues, not at all expensive restaurants, reasonable accommodation with shower and bath, and great variety of slopes. Not too many British skiers and very friendly locals. Rather quiet night-life. These are all on the positive side, at least for us (age 50). We were very tempted to go there again this winter. The only two factors which have made us not to are 1) too many outdated slow lifts and 2) our desire to explore new places.
Apres Ski: 4/5
Vars is a good, cheap destination. A smallish resort but with a good range of pistes and enough to keep the one beginner, two intermediates and two lunatics in our party happy! The hotel was full of schoolchildren but the relaxed atmosphere, friendly staff and good food more than made up for this.