300 days of sunshine per year and UNESCO world heritage listed
Briancon / Serre Chevalier is a wonderfully well-kept secret! South of the more well-known skiing area of the Savoie, it is in the north of Provence and is the best kept secret of the Alps. It has the best of all worlds, the sun of Provence, the snow and mountains of the Alps, plus loads of history and everything you need for either an action-packed holiday, or a quiet break taking in clean mountain air and heaps of atmosphere.
Briancon, at 1326 metres, is the highest town in the European Union, and the second highest in Europe. It is at a crossroad for Provence to the south, west to Grenoble, and east to Italy. Perched on a small hill surrounded by mountains and a couple of dozen old forts, the old town of Briancon overlooks two breathtaking valleys, Serre Chevalier, and the valley of the river Durance.
Whether you come for winter sports or for a summer holiday there are two things that are 'must do's' for your trip to Briancon / Serre Chevalier. One is to visit the old town of Briancon, designed by the famous engineer Vauban and UNESCO world heritage listed. Sitting above the newer town and surrounded by ramparts and fortified entrances, its cobbled streets, fountains, sundials and old buildings are charming and authentic. Take a stroll around, stop for a coffee or lunch in one of the many cafes or restaurants, or learn about its history from the heritage office or one of the many activities they organise, both for children and adults.
A great treat in all seasons is to luxuriate in the hot waters of the thermal spa at Monetier, in Serre Chevalier, heated by natural springsThere are indoor pools, outdoor pools - fabulous to be swimming in with snow falling on you!, plunge pools hammam, sauna, jacuzzis, music dome and more. From the pools there are stunning views over high mountains, hanging glaciers and the whole valley of Serre Chevalier. For everyone, age 4 upwards, this is a fabulous experience daytime or evening, 3 hours costing 20 euros for adults, and 8 euros for children.
There is soooooo much to do in Briancon / Serre Chevalier:
year-round - hiking, climbing, swimming - at the fantastic swimming pool, with long slide, in Briancon that the Italians come over the border to use, visiting Turin for the day, enjoying local markets, Wednesday and Sunday, festivals and events in Briancon / Serre Chevalier and the villages of the valley, lunch in a mountain refuge (hotel), day or lunch in Italy, via ferrata, relax in Snowgums' beautiful, big garden, with stunning views of mountains in all directions, paragliding, ice-skating, tennis, excellent French food, wine and good eating!
spring, summer, autumn - swimming in lakes with beaches, road biking, mountain biking, kayaking, rafting, picnicing in the mountains, walking with pack donkeys, BBQ in Snowgums' garden, pony riding, walking with llamas, feeding the marmots, acro-branch - climbing in the treetops!, fishing, playing/relaxing in Snowgums' garden, golf on the highest course in Europe
winter - skiing (250kms of pistes, 1200 - 2880, one of the largest ski areas in Europe), snowboarding, sledging, relaxing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, ski-touring, snowmobile to a mountain hotel for dinner, husky sled rides, ice climbing. Other ski destinations are within easy reach if you want to try something new for one or two days, Montgenevre, La Grave, Les Deux Alpes and more.
winter season ski season (lifts open) - mid Dec - end of April
Dec & Jan - usually very cold
mid-Feb & early March - French & UK school holidays
March & April - longer days and not so cold, but still with good snow (by the mid-afternoon at the end of April the slopes can be soft)
Christmas, New Year & Feb holidays - 'descente flambeaux' (torch light descent of mountain by ski instructors and public), Santa arrives by cable-car, street musicians, street theatre, children's events & activities
Jan - Jazz Festival, International Ice-climbing Festival
spring - May & Jun - wonderful as the valleys are awash with colour, the snow melts and everything is lush green, Ibex (large mountain goats) descend to lower slopes to eat the new growth, wildflowers in the meadows are stunning
Quiet, as it is not school holidays; chairlifts and cablecars closed. The best months for kayaking and rafting as the rivers rise as the snow melts on the mountains. May is sometimes wet.
summer - July & Aug - very hot, stunning and popular, especially mid July - mid Aug (French holidays), festivals & events, activities for children
July - Briancon medieval festival - first weekend, Tour de France
August - Chateau Queyras medieval festival - first weekend
autumn - Sept & Oct, beautiful late summer, often we are still in shorts til mid-October!
September is lovely and quiet after everyone has gone back to school, a real 'Indian summer'
Snowgums is in a quiet village on the Serre Chevalier side of Briancon and we are 5 minutes from everything you need. This is a really special part of the world, rustic and not over-developed. We hope you choose to visit us here, for us to be able to welcome you to Briancon / Serre Chevalier, and to help you make the most of a fantastic time here.