Want to learn how to drive a piste basher?

The Team February 3rd, 2011

As like many of you, I never look at the back of a piste map. All you’re interested in is which run goes where and almost as importantly, where the on-mountain restaurants are for the well earned 11 ‘o’ clock hot chocolate & plate of “frites” at lunch time. However, upon recent inspection of the back of the Serre Chevalier piste map you could be missing out on valuable information!

Serre Chevalier has a whole host of new activities for 2010/11, some of which should not be missed if you’re heading that way this season. All detailed on the back of the piste map!

First up is the opportunity to learn to drive a piste basher a.k.a a groomer. You can take to the drivers seat and head up the pistes, learning how the pisteurs repair and shape the slopes ahead of the next days’ skiing. You’ll have a go at bumps, sharp turns, hills and uneven routes, just like the real thing – 20 mins of a very unique experience. Participants need to over the age of 16 and the session costs 56€/ per person when you have a valid 6 day or more Serre Chevalier pass or a “Pass’Partout” card, see below for more details.

Serre Chevalier Grooming School

Take to the driving seat!

For those you would prefer someone else to drive, you can still experience a ride in a groomer combined with a mountain meal. For early birds, there is “Daybreak” tour which starts at 6am to 9am and finishes off with a slope side breakfast – cost 29€/per person, or if you’d rather stay tucked up for a few hours longer you can opt for one of the evening sessions “Walk beneath the stars” or “Discover the mountain’s night time profession” which can be combined with dinner on the mountain. Prices for these range between 10€ – €50 on presentation of a valid Serre Chevalier 6 day or more ski pass.

If you’d like to see the resort from completely different angle, then you should join the Cols’Porteurs team who will take you behind the scenes of the ski area, where you can meet the professionals and learn all there is know about the Serre Chevalier Valley, such as what are the culinary specialities? How does a chairlift work? How do you make artificial snow? The tour lasts about 1 hr 30 mins and requires for participants to be confident on red runs. The great thing is that the tour is completely free for holders of a Serre Chevalier lift pass.

The Cols’Porteurs behind the scenes tour.

If you’re keen for a bit of powder but don’t want to venture off-piste then the new “Brut de Neige” areas will be just your thing. These are signposted but not groomed runs, allowing you to test your powder skills yet still in bounds. Details of the locations of these areas can be found at the rescue and information points.

A brand new concept in the Alps is the Neiges de Culture, which combines the fun of skiing with the culture of the area. There is a range of activities to enjoy and explore along the edge of the pistes, buried in the depths of the forests and in resort. Try Elevating Experiences which is in the Prorel cable car, a short history of the valley, or enjoy a historical treasure hunt starring Julius Caesar. There is a dedicated website www.neigesduculture.com which explains everything on offer, however it is in French, alternatively you can visit the Tourist Office who will be more than happy to provide everything you could need.

One of the many slope side attractions which make up the Neiges de Culture.

As mentioned above, visitors to Serre Chevalier can purchase a Pass’Partout® card which provides the holder with a a 10% reduction wide range of activities including snowkiting, snowshoeing and ice climbing  as well as more relaxing activities at the Grands Bains complex. You can purchase the cards from Tourist Office desks and information points for just 15€ for 30 units.

It is great that Serre Chevalier has so much to offer it’s guests, providing an experience to equal that which can be found in North America. ” Clients which have tried the various activities on the slopes are very happy and they are all proving to be very popular, so make sure you book in book in advance.” says Sabine from the Serre Chevalier Tourist Office. “The current snow conditions here are very good, have a look on the webcams.” If you want to find out more visit www.serre-chevalier.com or download the iPhone app here

So, next time you’re sitting in the cable car and are wondering what else the resort can offer, turn the piste map over and find out!

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