On the recommendation of a dear French friend who lives in Grenoble, we booked two weeks at Monetier les Bains in the Serre Chevalier Valley, between Grenoble and Turin in Italy.  It is less well-known and less crowded than such mega-resorts as Chamonix and Val d’Isere, which also makes them more low key.

The Serre Chevalier Valley ski resorts are spread over four small towns boasting 250 kms (200 miles) of pistes over 1,000 acres.

Monetierles Bains is the smallest of these towns and most authentically French. It’s well known in France for its aquatic spa center featuring geothermal spring water, which comes out of the ground at 110 degrees Fahrenheit and is cooled down to 97 degrees in a variety of settings including an outdoor pool.

After skiing, or on a day with poor weather, it’s a real treat to relax and enjoy the gentle feeling of the naturally heated water.

The town itself is one main street with a variety of shops selling local French delicacies, ski shops, and a few restaurants. While there are a few hotels, most  accommodations are apartment rentals, which can be booked through the local tourist office.

January is their low season, and February is the busiest month. There is a shuttle that runs every twenty minutes between the town center and the ski lifts, but it’s less than a ten minute walk.

It snowed the first few days we were there in January 2023, so it took me two or three days to find the pistes that were best for me. The lifts run from the village at 1,550 meters up to 2,850, with the mid-station at 2,176 meters, from where there are several tree-lined pistes down to the village.

Normally, I prefer to ski on open slopes above the tree line, but here I found that I preferred the variety of the pistes going back to the village. On snowy days I skied in the new snow until it got skied out, and on the sunny days I enjoyed the long runs on the groomed trails with hardly another skier in sight.

I never encountered a lift line, and if I had younger legs I could have skied more and more. The area serves mostly local folks and, on the weekends, families from Grenoble and its surrounding regions come to ski and enjoy the outdoors.

The base lodge was large enough to accommodate everyone and we never had to wait for a table. The food was tasty and reasonably priced. Since we were there for two weeks the waiters remembered us and were quick to bring us our favorite beer during our mid-day breaks. On the mountain, there are several quaint mountain restaurants with more limited menus at higher prices.

Monetier les Bains is a low-key ski area: in low season no crowds, no stress, everything easy and, of course, a free ski pass for seniors 75+.

People were friendly and everyone spoke good English, except for our landlord… my wife’s French saved the day.


  1. Joel Schwartz says:

    Brought back memories of skiing at Serre Chevalier way back when in 1970, I was studying in France at and took a two week stay there. Total costs was around $100! stayed at youth hostel and ticket was about $5 per day. And it’s not exactly a tiny hill, is it?
    Nice to know it would cost even less for the ticket now. Maybe I’ll get back there sometime in this life! take care Joel

  2. Love this! ❤️

  3. Nice article! Did you bring your own skis or rent skis there?

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