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Travel: From hotel to ski slope in a couple of easy steps at La Rosiere

Snow covered paths at La Rosiere.
Snow covered paths at La Rosiere.

“Entre chien et loup,” says Arthur Cotteverte, staring out at the high mountain pass that twists away from the ski resort of La Rosière in France towards Italy.

The daylight has faded, the sun just dropping below the horizon, casting an ethereal blue glow over the snow-covered mountains.

“It means between dog and wolf,” adds Arthur, La Rosière communications manager and our guide to the resort. “It is when the light has faded so that from a distance you can’t tell which one is coming towards you, friend or foe.”

“Are there wolves here?” my nine-year-old daughter Holly asks, her eyes wide, scanning the hills.

“No, it’s just a figure of speech,” I reassure her.

“There aren’t wolves here, are there?” I turn to Arthur. His handsome face breaks out in a half smile before he tells us about seeing a wolf once when he was out skiing. Just then an enormous, dog-shaped creature looms out of the dusk. Thankfully it is not a wolf but a group of Saint Bernard dogs in the care of breeder Pascal Guesdon. Pascal stops to allow us to spend some time with the dogs.

A friendly Saint Bernard.
A friendly Saint Bernard.

The Saint Bernard breed get their famous name from the hospice of the Great St Bernard Pass just along the mountain road from La Rosière, where they were bred for centuries to rescue lost and disorientated travellers in the unforgiving high mountains. Pascal, known locally as the white wolf, welcomed his first Saint Bernard in 1988 and is a font of knowledge on these most gentle of giants. The good-natured animals are perfectly relaxed, only their size and concussive bark, which echoes off the mountainside, give an indication of their power.

We are in La Rosière for a family skiing trip, travelling from Geneva about two and a half hours away. There are closer airports, Chambery being the closest, and other options to choose from, such as Turin and Lyon.

Our driver, Patrick Darennes tells us about the resort on the drive. La Rosière, he explains, rests at 1,850 metres above sea level, 1800m being a magic number for guaranteed snow. It is also one of the only south-facing ski areas in France, making it incredibly warm and sunny for large portions of the winter season.

Patrick drops us at the four-star Hotel Alparena & Spa on the more traditional side of La Rosière, which is really two small ski resorts in one, connected by a beautiful snow-covered forest path that bustles with runners, dog walkers and families on a stroll.

The Alparena is a luxurious, natural stone and wood building that looks out on the slopes on one side and across the valley to Tignes and Val d’Isère on the other. Elisabeth, the Alparena’s manager, gives us a quick tour before showing us to our plush room. As well as all the things you would expect from a luxury hotel, like restaurants, a swimming pool, and a games room for the kids, the hotel has its own ski hire beside reception as well as a boot room along the corridor from which you can ski straight out onto the slopes.

The VIP spa.
The VIP spa.

Our days skiing start by walking the 30 yards from our room to the boot room and out to the slope. It is the easiest experience I have ever had. After this, I don’t know how I will go back to traipsing along to the nearest ski shop and lugging my gear (and normally my children’s) to the lifts.

Before we ski, however, we have time for a quick swim. The Alparena’s pool has to be seen to be appreciated fully. It has not one, not two but three separate spa areas. The best is on the second floor. In this VIP spa section you can relax in a traditional wooden Japanese bath while looking out on the pool below. The floor-to-ceiling windows of the pool look directly onto the slopes, where skiers whizz by literally three feet away.

On top of all that, the hotel has an incredible spa treatment section, where Holly and I enjoyed a father and daughter massage (the highlight of the trip for my nine year old).

I cannot overstate how easy the Alparena makes it to access La Rosière’s slopes. We walk a couple of steps from the spa to the boot room, where we have stored our skis and gently push off onto the perfect powdery snow. We are greeted by Arthur and Xavier Arpin, a former French national ski jumper who will be our instructor for the day.

Arthur and Xavier guide us down to Evolution2 ski school, where Holly will be adding to her ski skills.

Plush rooms at Hotel Alparena with stunning mountain views.
Plush rooms at Hotel Alparena with stunning mountain views.

Xavier, whose athletic frame and tanned faced sit beneath a colourful woolly hat, is the most relaxed man I think I’ve ever met. His skiing instruction is so simple I find myself enjoying working on my technique more than I have ever done. Over coffee on the terrace at L’Antigel Mountain Restaurant, Xavier explains how his father helped start the ski industry in La Rosière. He adds that this resort is now the envy of others.

“When tourists are over there,” he says, pointing to Tignes and Val d’Isère across the valley, “they always ask, ‘what is that resort sitting in the sunshine?’. Mysteriously, they can never remember,” he laughs before finishing his espresso, clipping on his skis and leading us down one of the many gorgeous, winding runs. We pass under bridges and through forests before we arrive at the bottom, where Holly has just finished her first day at ski school.

At dinner in Rosa Ristorante, a traditional Italian restaurant in the main square of La Rosière’s Eucherts area, Arthur tells us about the many non-skiing activities. From ice skating to snow shoeing and even a small cinema. Our favourite was the Xtreme Luge, basically a mini rollercoaster that sends up to two people at a time hurtling down the mountain on a single metal rail.

In the small village centre outside the restaurant, music is starting to crank up as people enjoy a little après ski, while over on the other side of the resort, a walk through the main street reveals a cluster of restaurants like the beautiful Le Boréal, which earns top reviews. Elsewhere, there are shops with traditional sausages stacked on stalls and chickens roasting on a rotisserie, sending steam rising into the cool air.

At breakfast the next day, we have croissants and freshly made hazelnut spread – an absolute must – while staring at the spectacular views.

Back on the slopes, we head to the top of the mountain, where Xavier explains some more of the area’s history, from Second World War forts to repel the Axis Italians to how Hannibal is said to have marched his elephants through the area on his passage over the Alps. He points out the Saint Bernard Hospice, a huge white and grey stone building that from this vantage looks like a tiny toy, and explains how to ski from here to La Thuile in Italy.

We have lunch back at the Alparena’s ski-in restaurant, Le Solario. From here, I give in to my daughter’s request to go back to the pool and so we take the short walk down the hall to the spa.

Family skiing does not get easier than this.


La Rosiere’s 2025 season runs from December 14 to April 21. For more information on activities and booking, visit