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La Meije peak

LA GRAVE-LA MEIJE  (ÉCRINS)

Resort Overview
To the Alpine cognoscenti, La Grave and its breath-taking Vallons de la Meije freeride ski area are amongst snowsports' most legendary destinations.
Introduction
As with Chamonix and Mont Blanc, La Grave and La Meije are also regarded as two of the most respected names in European mountaineering: the primevally awesome peak of La Meije, towering above the village of La Grave, was the last major peak in the Alps to be conquered; and was long believed to be unclimbable. You can see why when you stand in La Grave and look up at the mountain's imposing sheer walls of gnarled rock, which are laden with ominous large corniches and séracs.
Character
La Grave is a small, quiet, traditional stone-built mountain village; straddling the N91 road between Bourg-d'Oisans and Briançon, near the high Col du Lautaret in France's Hautes-Alpes département. It has a handful of small hotels and bar-restaurants, a compact but well-stocked supermarket, several Alpine-sports shops, a couple of regional products shops, a bakers and a launderette.

This is no ordinary ski resort; in fact, it's not really a ski resort at all and definitely should not be regarded as such. It's a serious mountaineering station which just happens to facilitate snowsports as part of its mission to open up the high Alpine environment to all mountain lovers and mountain-sports enthusiasts.
La Grave village gateway | Photographer: Sofia Barbas

RESORT VILLAGE LAYOUT

Cols & Cobblestones
The village is stretched out in a [short] linear fashion along either side of the main N91 through-route, with just a few, narrow, cobbled backstreets.
Freeride Ethos
The free-spirited philosophy that draws big-mountain and back-country riders from all over the world to La Grave is encapsulated in part by the station's mad annual Derby de la Meije. Traditionally held on the first weekend of April, this summit to base race is a free-for-all descent with no set route and no rules dictating which equipment can be used: skis, snowboard, Telemark, monoboard, blades, skwal, skibob, snowscoot, mountain bike (yes, you read that correctly); indeed, anything except the cable car. The quickest rider to reach the bottom wins!

Nearby Pistes
As well as the famous Vallons de la Meije freeride domain, which has high-altitude links to Les 2 Alpes, there are also three other [small] ski areas close to La Grave:
Le Chazelet (7 pistes: 4 green, 1 blue, 2 red); Villar d'Arène (Nordic circuits); and the Col du Lautaret (popular with Speed Riders).
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SKI AREA DATA

Statistics given are for the Vallons de la Meije domain:

Resort Altitude
1450 m (4757 ft)

Altitude Range
1400–3550 m
(4593–11,647 ft)

Access Points
2

Ski/Snowboard Schools
4
(freeride & powder specialists)

Hands-free Lift Passes
No
Ski Lifts
5 in total

Pistes
3 in total

Medical Centres
1

Tourist Office
Tel. +33 (0)4 76 79 90 05
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