Resort Profile: La Tania

By adamrowden, 27 Nov '12 at 16:48

Situated between its bigger neighbours of Meribel and Courchevel, La Tania shares the huge ski area of the Three Valleys. It is often called a "small family resort" but don't let that put you off - La Tania knows how to party.

The resort is now over 16 years old and although it has expanded rapidly in the last few years it's still small enough for everyone to know everyone else (and what/who they're doing). Many people come back season after season (or stay forever!), lifetime friendships are forged.

There’s a strong seasonairre community spirit with reunions at the London Metro Show every year and an end of season Charity Day raising money for Cancer charities in France and the UK. The Charity Day was a seasonairre’s idea eight years ago, with the main idea being to put something back after experiencing the magic of the mountains, and since that day over 100,000 Euros have been raised.

Off Piste

Usual warnings apply - Shovel, probe, transceiver (and know how to use them - especially how to use a grid search with the analogue types). Ski or board with someone who knows what they're doing and remember that simply going down marginal areas one at a time and waiting for that person to move to a safe area will save lives, only 1 person gets buried and the rest can search… Don’t be afraid to ask the Pisteurs / Ski Patrol advice – generally they’re very helpful.

Anyway, Plumbers Crack above Col De La Loze is one of the more famous off piste runs in the area. The Courchevel Freeride Competition used to be held here down the large couloir accessed by walking up the ridge on the right - takes from 30 minutes to an hour to walk up.

There are three routes down the Col De Loze to the right of the Lanches chair, which are accessed by walking across the ridge at the top. These are known locally as Gasex 1, 2 & 3. The Gasex machines are the large pipes that stick out of the mountain blasting out compressed gas to set off controlled avalanches. There were originally only three - suppose we could have a run called Gasex 16 now… Again this can be unsafe and you must traverse right above the tree line to return to the piste. There is a route through the trees to the Folyeres piste but this can sometimes be tricky depending on snow cover and has narrow gaps between the trees – can be “fun” on a snowboard.

There are numerous options from the top of the Col De La Loze into the Meribel Valley (Three Valley pass needed). Keep away from going directly under the Rocher De La Loze chair though - it ends in almost a cliff – although it has been skied.

Finally (we're not giving all our secret spots away) the runs through the trees around the blue Arolles piste can be fantastic after a heavy fall - although the trees tend to stop avalanches this can still be dangerous, as anyone who has fallen into a tree hole will tell you.

On the Piste

You can also have plenty of fun on the piste in La Tania and the Three Valleys too. Moguls can often be found under the four-man Dou Des Lanches chair lift directly above La Tania - not a marked run but quite heavily skied and hence the bumps. The top part is fairly steep and can be tricky in poor conditions. If moguls aren’t your thing, and you prefer to go fast, then you should get the first gondola up and when you're told the four-man chair isn't opening straight away belt down Folyeres in a straight line (but only if you've got first tracks). This is a roller coaster of a ride - watch the humps - and don't go for it at the end of the day when it's full of beginners.

Alternatively try Saulire first thing when it's been perfectly groomed. A group of us managed 97km/h down it early one morning, timed via GPS - so wide a run it didn't actually feel that fast.

If snow parks are your thing then you will want to head into Courchevel above 1850 next to Plantrey chair, this snow park is great fun and there are now plenty of rails there too. The top of Chenus and below Pralong have boarder / skier cross tracks, and there are some interesting bumps under Biollay too.

Living in La Tania

If you are considering doing a ski season in La Tania, then I would imagine that you are just as interested in the nightlife and social side of the resort as you are in the skiing and snowboarding possibilities.

Bars and Clubs
The social life of La Tania revolves around Pub Le Ski Lodge, with draught Heinekin, Amstel, Murphys and the evil Mutzig. All the latest alcopops, Bulmers Pear Cider and more. Decent locals prices and big party nights make this a place where you'll spend a lot of your time.

Be there on a Tuesday for the biggest night of the week (a lot of chalet staff have the day off on Wednesdays) when the best bands perform to a rowdy crowd of workers. The Feeling (aka Super Fly) lived and played in La Tania in 2000. There’s Happy Hour from 4-6pm every day with live Après ski music at least twice a week, good value bar food and all the live sports events on TV too.

The Hotel Telemark up the hill among the chalets has occasional live music, free WiFi and draught Stella. Le Farcon (was Pub L'Arbatt) is now a restaurant only (and a Michelin star one at that) so it is well worth popping to for some fancy grub.

Hotel Montana has a normally quiet bar - escape space when you need it and La Taiga (referred to as The Tiger) has a small bar where you might just not get spotted if out on a date. However, it is usually packed on a Sunday night with live music from Bring Your Sisters for the 2009 season.

If you fancy travelling a bit further afield then you can go on a trip to d&%k’s T-Bar night club in Meribel (make sure as a Seasonairre you don't pay to get in), although it is easy to get stranded, so you may want to arrange some way of getting back or somewhere to crash in Meribel. It stays open until 4am so you won’t want to get in there too early. In fact, you can always go for a pre-d&%k’s Meribel pub crawl taking in Jacks, The Tav, The Pub , Barometer and FiftyFifty. The Lodge Du Village in Meribel Village (from the same team as The Ski Lodge) means an almost compulsory stop on the way to/from Meribel.

The Jump in Courchevel 1850 is a popular spot with La Tania workers – though not cheap any more, as are La Boulette 1650 (taking over from Le Bubble Bar perhaps?), Chanrossa in 1550 and Darbellos in 1300 (Le Praz). TCs Bar and Le Brasero in Tignes, Le Lavachet are other haunts as former La Tania locals opened their bars there. We also have a large affinity with Brewskis in St Martin de Bellville, tales of naked jacuzzis, toffee vodka and end of season parties from 10 years ago abound.
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Away Days
Tignes is always good for a day out of the Three Valleys, mainly due to TC’s Bar and Le Brasero, but you can also go to St Martin de Belleville, which is very popular. Champagny, is also a good day out and is only 25 minutes away with access to La Plagne (free for a day with a Three Valley pass) and Les Arcs thanks to the Vanoise Express cable car.

Trips to La Taj Mahal Curry House in Annecy are now a thing of the past with Extreme Cuisine’s Delivery Curry Service to La Tania – it’s the real deal too.

For ski & board essentials Ski Higher in La Tania (also in Le Praz, 1850 and Les Allues) are very worker friendly and do good deals to locals. Discounted ski and board servicing too.
All the essentials are in La Tania – supermarket, newsagent, post office, tabac, bakery, tourist office and cash point, but for other stuff try Courchevel & Meribel, they have a lot more variety.

Eating Out
The Ski Lodge is excellent value for money with big, big helpings of burgers, ribs, chilli, tandoori chicken and pasta dishes. They'll do a group of you a hot rock with as much salad, chips and wine as you can manage for a decent price.

Le Farcon is the most upmarket and boasts a Michelin star. Very French, very expensive - garlic ice cream anyone? Hotel Telemark has an excellent Bistro menu and does pizzas and La Taiga has a modern take on some Savoyard specialities along with the traditional Fondues, Raclettes and Hot Rocks.

The other restaurants in resort La Ferme, Les Chantarelles and Les Marmottons all offer Savoyard and traditional French fayre – including tartiflette, fondues, crepes etc.

Mountain Restos
Mostly expensive. Better to ski to Le Jump in 1850, Le Rond Point in Meribel or Brewskis in St Martin for a reasonably priced sandwich/burger/pie and beer. Le Sou Coupe, Roc Tania, Chenus and Le Bouc Blanc above & around La Tania tend to be quite a bit cheaper than those on the Courchevel & Meribel sides of the ski area. The Ski Lodge terrace on a sunny day is a great place to guide (escort!) punters to for lunch.

McDonalds (if you just cannot resist)
En route to Tignes: At Bourg St Maurice - almost exactly half way around 40 minutes from La Tania.
En route to Geneva: In Albertville at junction 30, again around 40 minutes on the turn off to Annecy and also about 8km south of Annecy near the lake. There is a further one on the Bourg en Brasse road near a big Decathlon and Intersport - well worth a look for cheap gear.
En route to Chambery: You'll pass the 2 in Albertville and there's one in Chambery too.
En route to Lyon: As Chambery above - plus there's one between the airport turn off and the Lyon ring road Autoroute. There's a big retail park here with an IKEA (often 30% cheaper than the UK).
En route to St Etienne (for yer mates who come out with Ryan Air for a fiver)
As Lyon above plus the one at the entrance to the airport - there's nothing much at all inside the terminal building.
Finally, I can just remember there's a drive thru' on the way to Chamonix when you pass through Megeve…

Transfer Day
Mostly Geneva 130km (between two hours and six) - free internet access to while away those hours of delays though. Traffic queues form around Annecy and in towards Moutiers at peak times. There’s a new road for 2009 direct to Annecy from the Swiss border which should alleviate the queues at Cruseilles – could knock half an hour off peak time transfers from Geneva.

Then Lyon 190km (motorway all the way and can be done in under two hours but again this can easily more than double with delays, traffic and snow).

Chambery 90km (just over an hour usually). Small airport with less delays generally though can be completely fog bound while Geneva and Lyon remain open.

St Ettienne is not used nowadays but Grenoble is becoming quite busy and around 2 hours on a good run.

Whatever the airport, all traffic comes through Moutiers at the bottom of the valley as does all the transfer traffic (and self-drive traffic) for Courchevel, Meribel, Val Thorens, Les Menuires, La Plagne, Les Arcs, Val d'isere and Tignes - the Gendarmes have a queuing system along the motorway to prevent Moutiers becoming grid locked so expect huge delays on Saturdays in February and holiday times.

[Thanks to Toffa for putting this Guide together]

For other resort profiles, click here.

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