Visitor reviews for Vars Ski Resort
March 25, 2015
Lucka from Czech Republic
Still here (end of March, 15).
This is the most under-equipped resort I have ever been to. Visited numerous Italian and Austrian resorts before, but this is like a scary trip to the history. No slowing-down turntables, no wind shelters (the bubbles), so you first have your legs cut off at the bottom by the approaching seat, whilst in the following 30 mins you get frozen when you are being pulled up in a speed of an angry turtle. Don't even think of skiing if the wind exceeds 10 km/h, ‘cause you might die as well. The very few (3 or so) new chair lifts with the retarding turntables have chairs equipped with the clutch for the wind shelters, but they did not bother to add these, as it probably would impair the overall image of the place. The only cabin lift in the whole Vars-Risoul area is a standing one, of course, but at least a little bit faster. There is an unusual number of telescope lifts, some of them marked as “difficile”. Don't hesitate to use them; they are much faster than the chairs and you are not exposed to the wind so much. Bars and pubs on the slopes: not many, rather small with a limited offer of refreshment. Prices double those in Austria. Toilets: either non existent or weird in some way (mostly these are gender-indifferent, so being a woman, you open the door from your cabin and you hit a man peeing at the urinal placed next to the wash-bowls. Not too nice). (Btw, the land prices here must be incredibly high, as everything here seems to be squeezed together somehow, here, in the middle of vast fields of ice and snow.) On the very first day I was surprised to see some people (including women) peeing in open air, omg! But now I understand. Water: ice-cold, soap: yes, paper towels: no, dryers: either cold air or out-of-order, found one with hot air working. I was impressed, however, by the progress the French made with English. The staff in our hotel and also in the bars not rarely spoke quite reasonable English, some restaurants even had bi-lingual menus. Generally: nice people, but obsolete equipment. Not coming back to this resort.
Overall: 3.8. Based on 19 votes and 5 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 Vars.
Public Transport: 3.5
(1) There are no buses or taxis to Vars, (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 Vars, (3) a few places to stay in the resort, (5) a wide variety of accommodation suitable to suit all budgets.
Cheap Rooms: 3.6
(1) No budget accommodation available, (3) just one or two hostels so book ahead, (5) several cheap hostels and pensions available.
Luxury Hotels: 2.9
(1) No luxury accommodation available, (3) just one or two luxury hotels so book ahead, (5) several up-market hotels in Vars.
Ski in/Ski out: 4.6
(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 Vars, (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) Vars is snowsure even in the poorest seasons.
(1) Vars relies entirely on natural snow, (3) there are just a few snow cannons, (5) there are snowmaking facilities on all pistes.
Snow Grooming: 4.7
(1) There are no snow groomers at Vars, (3) occasionally some pistes are left ungroomed and in a poor state, (5) all the runs at Vars 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) Vars is mostly in forest where you can ski in flat-light and windy days, lifts rarely close.
Nearby options: 3.1
(1) If snow conditions are poor at Vars, 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: 4.5
(1) Vars 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: 4.2
(1) The staff at Vars are rude or unhelpful, (5) lift staff at Vars 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: 4.1
(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: 4.7
(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: 4.4
(1) The ski runs are featureless and unvaried, (3) the ski runs are varied but not extensive enough for a week, (5) Vars 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 Vars, (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: 4.6
(1) Not even a kicker at Vars, (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 Vars, (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) Vars has long and well maintained luge / toboggan facilities suitable for all ages.
Mountain Dining: 3.5
(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: 2.6
(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: 3.3
(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: 3.6
(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): 3.6
(1) Overall, Vars 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): 3.4
(1) Overall, Vars 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.
January 23, 2015
Jason from United Kingdom
Just back (Jan 11-18 2015) from Vars.
Enjoyed the week with a mixed ability group of skiers and boarders. Very low key après which picked up a bit later on at the Kha bar, Piano bar, Vars bar etc. Lack of a focus point at the end of the home run. Deffo no ski boots on tables here. Nice, but not outstanding; food up and down the hill. 15 Euros a head average. Runs a little short on average. Good resort for early intermediates who can ski parallel(ish). Links to Risoul have cheeky steeper pitches at the top. Locals very friendly but don't speak English.
August 20, 2012
Mitch Glez from France
It still is a "family" bound by the look, but in fact the incredible amount of equipment and amazing wild, free spaces, is more than an astonishing surprise.
Also wonder why this place is considered as the "Southern" part of the Alps, which in fact means more sunny days, quiet and warm atmosphere. If you're lucky (it happens 1/2 days) you may see far North the Mont Blanc.
A hotspot to discover for all the free riders, snowboarders and nature lovers.
During summer it's also a very quiet and fresh place where you can find wonderful sites in the wild. Do not miss it!
February 11, 2011
George from United Kingdom
Probably the best snowpark in France I've skied (Val d'Isere being the only close call). Seriously, if you like riding park this is an incredible, relatively low key resort, making for small queues and good times. Back-country skiers probably wouldn't get bored either. The range of terrain is pretty impressive - just check out the Vars Linecatcher!
March 10, 2008
Antonis from United Kingdom
Vars-Risoul is one of the best Alpine ski resorts I have been to date. Went there end of Jan 2008 with some friends from the Uni. Snow cover was excellent as expected. Slopes were brilliant for all ability levels. However, it is better suited for beginners-intermediates. Experts and powder seekers might be left longing for more black/untracked slopes. This does not mean, in any case, that there are no challenging runs, just not a huge amount of them… If you are fit though, and enjoy walking upwards on your skis, try the walk towards the “Col de Vars”. In about 2 hours you will be at the foot of the “Crete de l’Eyssina” peak. From there you can ski down to the resort through varied terrain, trees and tons of untracked snow (30-45min). Just brilliant!
The resort also has two well designed snow parks; unfortunately the higher and more challenging one was not fully open at the time we were there but, even so, the medium difficulty lane was scary enough! The resort could use a more extended ski/boarder-cross zone and a half-pipe. The only drawback of the resort was the lift system. Even though very well designed and with good connections throughout, some of the lifts are remarkably slow and really unpleasant on a cold and windy day.
The village itself is not the most picturesque in the Alps. It is a purpose built resort with big concrete buildings and cars are allowed all around. Food in the restaurants is generally good and you can taste several local specialities. Nightlife is limited with only one nightclub and a handful of bars staying open until late. This is not to say that we had many early nights as the guys at the UCPA hostel were more than happy to keep the bar open for a bit longer and dance the night away.
Prices are normal for a French ski resort. To put it in perspective, food and drinks are a bit cheaper (and a lot better) than in the UK. However, if you want to get drunk better buy some booze from the supermarkets. If you are travelling there by car dont bother shopping from the cities you pass through. Again the supermarkets in the village sell everything you need at good prices.
In the same valley as Vars, three more villages can be found. All are smaller than Vars but they a probably worth a visit. The lift system connects them with the main skiing area and a bus runs through them until the evening. Risoul, the other half of the resort, even though better advertised and known than Vars, would be my second choice. Nevertheless, the ski area around it is excellent and the lifts over there are, in their majority, new and fast.
Connection between Vars and Risoul is, unfortunately, by two slow lifts. My personal choice among the two would be the “Pic de Chabrieres”, which is the highest point of the resort as well and offer some nice views. Also this lift gives access to the KL piste, a must do for the brave!
Overall, a very well organised resort with a large variety of slopes, good snow, good prices, and OK après-ski. Try to avoid slow lifts (especially Le Maut) on a cold day. Highly recommended for all but extreme skiers and party animals.