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Visitor reviews for Le Lioran Ski Resort
March 23, 2008
Rob Davies from United Kingdom
Le Lioran, the main ski resort of The Massif Cantalien, is located on a main road through the Massif Central, just a short way from the A75 highway south from Clermont Ferrand, just over an hour away by car.
Alternatively, there is a train station right in the resort. When we visited, on Easter Sunday 2008 (23rd March - about 4 weeks before the scheduled end of season here), the snow conditions were superb following two days of heavy snow and very low temperatures (-4 in the car park, -10 at the summit). Although several lifts and pistes were closed, either because of high wind or avalanche danger, we found the resort uncrowded with no queues whatsoever. Mid-week here at this time of year must be very quiet indeed and apart from during winter school holidays and maybe January weekends, I just can't imagine that the place ever gets really busy. The vast majority of skiers and snowboarders are French, most of them are relatively local and, mostly, they are in family groups of intermediate standard. The atmosphere here is much more relaxed than in the Alps. It is an intimate and very friendly place best suited for couples and families. Don't expect lively apres-ski because you will be disapointed. Off the slopes, this is the heart of a fascinating region with a vast wealth of cultural, natural and culinary diversions at hand: to visit this part of France for a whole week and just ski would be to miss the point entirely.
The location makes Le Lioran a more pleasant driving prospect from Britain than Alpine resorts: first, because it is a few hours nearer and second, because the natural route to Le Lioran is well to the west of Paris, especially if you cross the English Channel via Portsmouth or Newhaven. This makes for a quieter, much more scenic drive, with fewer and avoidable paeage. The facilities are comparable with a small to medium sized French Alpine resort and the vertical range, about 700m, is quite respectable. Twenty lifts, including a top to bottom cable car and mostly chairs besides, access about 60km of piste, roughly half of which is above the tree-line. The entire ski area is situated on the flanks and sub-summits of an extinct volcano, Plomb du Cantal (1855m). Most of the pistes are mellow greens and blues but there are a few short reds and blacks. A good skier would cover the lot and get bored in a day or two and so these skiers might be advised to split a week between here and the similar sized Mt Dore area to the north, or else visit Le Lioran for a day as part of a tour that takes in any number of mostly minor ski areas scattered about this vast plateau. For intermediates and beginners who are looking for a cheap alternative to the Alps, give Le Lioran serious consideration before booking a trip to Bulgaria. If you are driving through northern France to the Pyrenees, break your journey here if conditions are right and get some turns in. At 22 Euros per day, a lift pass is not going to break the bank. Off-piste is plainly worthwhile, though sadly for us, closed lifts meant we did not access the best of it even if we could see it. Above the tree-line there is a designated free-ride area served by the Combe chair, and in addition, there are many steep un-pisted lines off the summit area, accessed from the cable car. Maybe there is plenty here for experts after all! Down in the trees, where conditions forced us to spend most of our time, the off-piste terrain was good enough to keep us smiling for a few hours. There seem to be any number of challenging untracked runs through the forest - and unusually for France, a chance to ride through steep glades of broad-leaved trees in addition the ubiquitous conifers. There are vast ski touring options too, both on marked trails, or on the bare slopes of the Cantal Massif.
Accomodation is available in purpose built ski in - ski out appartments, together with traditional old hotels and gites in the nearby original village where the train station is. Alternatively, stay in an authentic Auvergne village along the highway - there are dozens to choose from and they include some of the prettiest villages in France. By my reckoning, that makes them the prettiest anywhere. We stayed at the excellent Hotel Les Messageries in the ancient town of Murat, 10km away. 45 Euros per night for a double room was good value, dinner from the extensive menu of local specialities was excellent quality and value and the staff were helpful and courteous. Indeed, the only thing 2 star about this hotel is the modest facade, so don't be surprised if it gets an upgrade. There are several other equally appealing options for eating and drinking in Murat and less salubrious rooms start at about 30 Euros per night for a double.
All in all, very favourable. In short, Le Lioran deserves to be much better known to non-locals: a cheap alternative to the Alps for beginners and intermediates, with considerable advantages over Eastern Europe. It is a truly outstanding destination for people who want a bit more than skiing out of their ski holidays: the kind of place where nobody should mind if the lifts are closed. The biggest drawback with Le Lioran and nearby Mount Dore is that all the skiing is below 2000m and at this latitude, that means it must often rain rather than snow at the summit, even in January.
Le Lioran Ratings
Overall: 4.0. Based on 5 votes and 3 reviews. Vote
(1) At least one overnight stop, (2) requires a whole day, (3) requires more than half a day – you may have time for a few turns (4) arrive by lunchtime and ski all afternoon, (5) there is a main airport within an hour of Le Lioran.
Public Transport: 4.2
(1) There are no buses or taxis to Le Lioran, (3) there are slow or infrequent buses / trains available, (5) getting to the resort is easy with frequent bus / train connections.
(1) An ugly resort in a bland setting, (3) average mountain views and resort, (5) a spectacular setting and a beautiful / historic resort town.
(1) No places to stay in/near Le Lioran, (3) a few places to stay in the resort, (5) a wide variety of accommodation suitable to suit all budgets.
Cheap Rooms: 3.8
(1) No budget accommodation available, (3) just one or two hostels so book ahead, (5) several cheap hostels and pensions available.
Luxury Hotels: 1.8
(1) No luxury accommodation available, (3) just one or two luxury hotels so book ahead, (5) several up-market hotels in Le Lioran.
Ski in/Ski out: 4.5
(1) The ski area is located far from any accommodation, (3) a free ski bus takes you to the ski area in a short trip, (5) Ski-in ski-out accommodation is available.
(1) There are no child care facilities at Le Lioran, (5) the resort has excellent child-care facilities including at least one reasonably priced creche.
(1) Occasionally gets enough snow for skiing, (2) is often closed due to a lack of snow, (3) occasionally suffers from a lack of snow, (4) rarely suffers from a lack of snow, (5) Le Lioran is snowsure even in the poorest seasons.
(1) Le Lioran relies entirely on natural snow, (3) there are just a few snow cannons, (5) there are snowmaking facilities on all pistes.
Snow Grooming: 4.4
(1) There are no snow groomers at Le Lioran, (3) occasionally some pistes are left ungroomed and in a poor state, (5) all the runs at Le Lioran are groomed daily.
(1) there is nowhere to ski when it is windy or visibility is bad and lifts often shut, (3) there are some trees for poor visibility but main lifts sometimes close, (5) Le Lioran is mostly in forest where you can ski in flat-light and windy days, lifts rarely close.
Nearby options: 2.5
(1) If snow conditions are poor at Le Lioran, it will be poor everywhere nearby, (3) there are good alternatives within an hours drive, (5) other locations on the same lift pass provide a rich variety of snowsure ski conditions.
Regional rating: 4.4
(1) Le Lioran usually has poor snow conditions compared to other resorts in region, (3) has average conditions for the region, (5) usually has the best snow conditions in the region.
Lift Staff: 4.6
(1) The staff at Le Lioran are rude or unhelpful, (5) lift staff at Le Lioran are pleasant, cheerful and eager to help.
(1) the resort is always busy and there are usually long lift queues, (3) it is quiet apart from occasional weekends and school holidays, (5) it is uncrowded and lift queues are very rare.
Ski Schools: 4.2
(1) No ski schools available, (2) one or two ski schools but local language only, (3) a few ski schools but book early for multi-lingual instructors, (4) plenty of ski schools and multi-lingual instructors available, (5) excellent ski schools with friendly multi-lingual ski instructors.
Hire and Repairs: 4.8
(1) Nothing can be sourced, not even ski-wax or ptex. (3) there are some ski shops but rentals need to be booked in advance, (5) good quality ski equipment can be purchased or hired and overnight repairs are possible.
Variety of pistes: 4.8
(1) The ski runs are featureless and unvaried, (3) the ski runs are varied but not extensive enough for a week, (5) Le Lioran has diverse and interesting pistes including forests and high alpine terrain.
(1) Beginners can only watch others ski and snowboard, (3) a few gentle slopes but beginners will get bored in less than a week, (3) Vast areas of gentle terrain.
(1) No intermediate terrain at Le Lioran, (3) intermediate skiers will get bored after a few days, (5) vast areas of cruising runs.
(1) Nothing for advanced skiers and snowboarders, (3) enough steep terrain for a few days with some good offpiste, (5) Enough steep terrain and offpiste areas to entertain advanced skiers for at least a week.
Snow Park: 2.8
(1) Not even a kicker at Le Lioran, (3) average sized park quite well looked after, (5) huge park area and expertly crafted pipes, jumps and boardercross trails.
(1) No off-piste worth mentioning, (2) off piste is out-of-bounds, (3) some varied offpiste that stays fresh for one or two days, (5) a vast array of off-piste routes that can stay untracked for several days.
(1) There is nowhere to go for cross-country skiing around Le Lioran, (3) there are some cross country trails available, (5) the area features many spectacular and well maintained cross-country trails.
(1) No designated luge or toboggan runs, (3) there are toboggan runs that open quite often, (5) Le Lioran has long and well maintained luge / toboggan facilities suitable for all ages.
Mountain Dining: 3.8
(1) Nowhere to buy food by the pistes, (3) some places to eat up on the mountain but they are often busy and expensive, (5) there is a variety of excellent mountain eateries right next to the slopes to suit all budgets.
(1) Bring your own food, there isn't even a shop. (5) A wide variety of places to eat and drink in the resort, from fast food to fancy restaurants.
(1) Nothing to do, not even a bar, (3) there are a few bars in the resort but nothing special, (5) clubs and bars stay open until very late and have a friendly atmosphere.
Other Sports: 2.8
(1) No sports facilities at all apart from ski lifts, (3) resort has just a small public swimming pool, (5) resort has all kinds of sports facilities, including a full-size swimming pool.
(1) Besides the snow and walking there is nothing to do here, (3) the non-skier will find things to do for few days but may become bored after a week, (5) the resort area is a fascinating place to visit, regardless of winter sports.
Winter Walks: 3.8
(1) Very limited walking and no snowshoe trails, (3) a couple of designated scenic walking/snowshoe trails, (5) extensive and diverse winter walking trails for all abilities.
Ski Pass Value: 4.6
(1) A 1 week ski pass is overpriced compared to the number of lifts available, (3) the ski pass is averagely priced and covers a reasonable number of lifts, (5) ski passes are excellent value for money and cover a lot of lifts spanning a big area.
Value (National): 4.6
(1) Overall, Le Lioran is one of the most expensive ski resorts in the country and not worth the money, (3) overall represents average value for money, (5) overall offers the best value resort in the country.
Value (Global): 4.8
(1) Overall, Le Lioran is one of the most expensive ski resorts in the world, (3) overall it offers pretty average value for money compared to resorts from other countries, (5) internationally the resort offers excellent value for money.
February 04, 2006
karen and jim from United Kingdom
Have come skiing here for the last 4 years. Extremely good value. Ski hire and pass cheaper than anywhere we've been. Avoid French school holidays as millions of small kids jump the lift queues with the ski schools. Plenty of choice for ski hire, excellent restaraunts (one v.good pizza restaraunt),lots of bars, a few shops, friendly people, good skiing, nice wide runs at top station. Easy access from Aurillac, Figeac(Ryan Air fly here), 9 hrs drive from Calais. Ice rink open daily and night skiing some nights. Only downside is parking can be difficult if you are driving in from accommodation in a nearby village. We ended up walking 1 km to the resort lift station in a blizzard only to find our car buried in snow at the end of the day after walking back with ski poles and tired children in the pitch black. Other downside are the loo's. The public loo's are not nice! Try to use ones in restaraunts or find a bush! Our overall opinion is excellent but check the snow report on the official site www.lelioran.com as one year there was hardly any snow. It's not a high altitude ski resort.
January 12, 2006
Alistair from United Kingdom
Lioran is good value - stunningly good by the standards of the Alps. However, remember tht it isn't the Alps - which means that there are some good and some bad things. Good things - empty during the week, lift prices very fair as are equipment prices, cheap food, coffee etc and accomodation you can swing a cat in is the norm. Bad things - it's a small area and if some of it is closed you can get a bit limited, they don't snowplough in the station itself - so take snow chains (and know how to use them as you will have to stop going uphill as the downcoming traffic won't)if you have accomodation other than in the centre, some of the runs require a knowledge of when to let go and go for the lift if you are to avoid poling or walking. Weekends are mobbed from mid morning so arrive early, break before lunch (as the rest of the slopes head for the bars at 11.55 precisely and stay there for two hours) ski over lunch and head out for lunch after the bars empty. Or just join them and have fun in the bars. Eat truffade but avoid the tripe.
For ski value - cracking. For atmosphere and sophistication - well, your call.