Our ski trip to Champoluc in March 2024

Our skiing holiday this winter went to Champoluc, one of the ski resorts in the Monterosa Ski area. We chose Champoluc partly because some of the traveling party had been to Monterosa before, even though they stayed in Gressoney at the time. As they really liked the skiing here but thought that Gressoney was a little too small of a village, we instead set our sights on Champoluc, which we had heard more about and I will tell you here about how I experienced this Italian ski resort.
View over Champoluc
View over Champoluc

If you want to fly to Champoluc, there are two airports that are most suitable to choose between. Either you fly to Torino, which is the closest, or you fly to Milan Malpensa airport, which is slightly further away but a significantly larger airport and easier to find flights to. Since we found tickets at a good price to Torino, we chose to book the flight there, mainly because we had initially thought of booking transfer, which is cheaper from Torino compared to Milan.

We ended up being only two people flying to Torino, the others in the traveling party booked later and chose instead to fly to Malpensa, so the cost of transfers would be 200 euros per person for a round trip. When we looked up the rental car, the cost would only be 68 euros including full insurance, so the choice was quite easy, especially given that the hotel we were staying at had free parking.

We knew there was a risk of snowfall, and rental cars usually don't have winter tires but snow chains would be included so we didn't see it as a problem. The car came with snow socks instead of snow chains, which are supposedly easier to put on. However, we were lucky on the way up to Champoluc as it hadn't started snowing yet, despite the forecast saying so, so we didn't need to use them then.

On a walk through the village

We arrived at our hotel, Hotel Relais Des Glaciers, late afternoon on Saturday so any skiing was out of the question, and not planned either. Instead, we took a walk to check out the village. The village of Champoluc is practically a kilometre-long street where most of the restaurants and shops are located, and also many of the hotels. Probably due to building restrictions, luckily there are no ugly big concrete hotel buildings here, basically all the buildings are in Alpine style, which makes the village very cozy. I don't know anything about the history of Champoluc, but the fact that they have an old church means that you can be sure that the village has a bit of history and has not only been created to serve ski tourists.

Our hotel was located at the south end of the village while the gondola lift up the slopes is at the north end so we pretty much passed everything on the way as we walked there. In addition to a lot of hotels, we probably passed at least five or six different shops that sell ski clothing and equipment, so if you've forgotten something, it's no problem to buy it here. We didn't need to shop so we didn't go into any of the shops so I can't make any recommendations there.
Some apres-ski feeling in Champoluc

Once at the gondola lift, we took the opportunity to buy ski passes for the next day in the only machine available for 56 euros per person (which was a mistake, more on that later). There was a decent après ski party on the roof of the Kondor bar above the entrance, but as Champoluc is not exactly a party village, it was really the only thing considered a party we saw during the entire skiing trip. Just after the gondola lift, there is a self-service laundry, in case you need to wash something, and opposite that is the restaurant Il Balivo, which we checked out as we had a table reservation there the next day.

On the way back, we went into the village's small grocery store CRAI, which is near the lift. The store was surprisingly well stocked, and they even had a charcuterie and cheese counter. The prices were about as expected since they basically have a monopoly in a small ski holiday village, but not ridiculously high. However, the wines were surprisingly expensive, or rather they had very few that were in the lower price range. Almost all the wines were 15 euros and up, and the cheapest we saw cost 6 euros something. Not that we were looking for cheap wines, but it was mostly just surprising in a wine country, but a possible explanation is that they of course had a lot of local wines from Valle d'Aosta which we now learned are not cheap (something that makes the wines in the restaurants high as well).

The first evening we ate pasta and pizza at Ristorante Pizzeria Churen. It was a loud restaurant as there were many large groups of families with children there and the restaurant has no soundproofing whatsoever, but the environment and atmosphere were still ok. Good and quick service, the pasta was ok, and the pizza was good without being amazing. This was a Saturday night, and the restaurant was packed but at the entrance there were bar tables that were free, so I suspect that it is often possible to get a seat there if you have not made a booking in advance.

First day of skiing in Champoluc

We woke up on Sunday and looked out only to see that it was snowing heavily, but according to the forecast it would calm down shortly after lunch. Therefore, we took it easy in the morning and of course started with the hotel's breakfast buffet, which was a very good one. The buffet basically had everything you wanted and a little more, so it was a good start for the day.

The snow continued to fall, but we still headed for the lift around 11 o'clock, we also had the rented ski equipment to pick up. We had rented our ski equipment from La Glisse, which is right next to the lift and is the biggest ski rental company in the village, but there are also a couple of other ski rental companies close by to the lift. We also chose to pay 5 euros per day and per person for storing skis and boots at La Glisse as we wanted to avoid lugging the stuff to the hotel.
Heavy snowfall in Champoluc

After we picked up the ski equipment, we went up the first gondola lift (Champoluc Crest) and continued directly up the second (Crest-Alpe Ostafa III). When we got off at 2420 meters, we decided to take the first ride down from there instead of taking the chairlift further up. The reason was that it was snowing even more heavily up on the mountain, and we also wanted to test out the skiing before we continued.

Once out on the slope, it was unfortunately very difficult to ski. It was snowing so much that you couldn't really see the ground, and on top of that the whole hill was filled with moguls and it wasn't easy to see other skiers around you. After we got down to the end of the first gondola lift, we were both completely drenched with the slightly wet snow that fell and considering how difficult it was to ride, we decided to give up and alternatively try again later if the snow calmed down. In addition, the hotel's heated outdoor pool attracted more at that time.

The snow continued to fall far longer than the forecast said so there was no more skiing that day. But with about 50 centimetres of snowfall in the village and up to 90 centimetres up in the mountains, things looked promising for tomorrow.

The others in the tour group arrived in the evening and as they also had a rental car, they were smart enough to upgrade the car to a car with winter tires, which was absolutely the right choice considering the snow that had fallen during the day. We met them at restaurant Il Balivo, which we had booked a little over a week ahead. According to many, and also by the staff at our hotel, the restaurant is the best in Champoluc, and it definitely met everyone's expectations. Very good food and although it is not cheap (but not ridiculously expensive either) the price versus the quality of the food is great, so this restaurant is definitely recommended.

Second day of skiing in Champoluc

With the snowfall from the day before and a forecast for lots of sun, hopes were high for a perfect ski day on Monday, and it was largely fulfilled. The only problem was that due to the massive amounts of snow that had fallen, there was an avalanche risk in many places, which meant that the Bettaforca lift that takes one to the Gressoney side was closed. Also, most of the lifts on the Gressoney and Alagna Valsesia side of the mountains were closed but luckily almost all the lifts on the Champoluc side were open.

We bought the lift passes from day to day due to some physical ailments in the group, and in this case it was lucky that we did so because the price of the lift pass on Monday was reduced to 43 euros due to them limiting the number of open lifts and slopes.
On the slopes in Champoluc

Something less good was that the Sarezza-Contenery black run, which takes you from the slopes directly above Champoluc to the slopes above the village of Frachey (a couple of kilometres north of Champoluc) was closed, leaving us to only ski the southern side of the mountains. Luckily it opened after our lunch break and we were able to move north towards the Frachey slopes at that point, which was lucky since continuing on the same slopes in the afternoon would have become a bit boring.
View from one of the slopes in Champoluc

The last chance to take the lift from the Frachey area back to Champoluc was at 16:30 so just before that we started heading back and I ended the day just before 16:30 with a final ride down the black slope of Del Bosco which takes you all the way down to the village. It should be mentioned that Del Bosco is flagged as black, but it is only a small stretch that is more difficult, so it does not exactly feel like a black slope, in case you are a less experienced skier and hesitates to go all the way down. If you feel unsure, you can of course always take the gondola lift down to Champoluc instead.

In summary, it was an almost perfect skiing day. It was sunny most of the day, but the snow never got really heavy and since there weren't that many people out on the slopes on a Monday in the middle of March, the pistes were not so busy.

In the evening, we had first booked a table at Brasserie du Breithorn, which, like Il Balivo, is very highly rated. But since Brasserie du Breithorn is more expensive than Il Balivo (probably the most expensive in Champoluc) and one of the travel party is vegetarian and we didn't see any sensible vegetarian options on the menu, we chose to cancel and book a table at Le Sapin instead. Le Sapin is, to be honest, not as charming as Il Balivo, but the food was very good here as well. If you go there, make sure to try out the panna cotta for dessert, highly recommended.

Third day of skiing in Champoluc

We woke up a little late on Tuesday, so it was a rather late breakfast. In addition, we wanted the car prepared for the journey home the next day as we had to leave relatively early. The car was covered in snow and we wanted to have the snow socks on the front tires fully installed so we didn't have to do it in the morning when we were leaving, so with a little help from the staff at the hotel we prepared the car first.

In addition to the fact that we were a little late in the morning, my wife wanted to start skiing from Frachey instead of Champoluc. The reason for that was she wanted to avoid the black Sarezza-Contenery that you must go down to get to the Frachey area and then on to the Gressoney side (all lifts were open that day it should be added). This meant that we only bought a ski pass only for the afternoon, starting at 12:00. Since everything was open again, the price for a full day was up to 58 euros and for a half day it costed 47 euros.

The driver of the hotel shuttle bus was kind enough to drive us all the way to Frachey even though they normally only take one to the Champoluc lift. The fact that we were late and probably the last skiers at the hotel to make our way to the slopes probably played a role, but still a nice gesture.
View over snowy mountains in Champoluc

Once at the lift in Frachey, a village that only consists of a few restaurants and a few hotels and accommodations, we had to wait half an hour before our afternoon pass began to be valid. Once up on the slopes, however, it turned out to be an absolutely perfect day. It was sunny all day without getting too hot and since it was a Tuesday in the middle of March, there weren't many people on the slopes at all.
Gressoney sign at Colle Bettaforca

We skied for an hour on the Frachey side before taking the Bettaforca lift up to the top of Colle Bettaforca and over to the Gressoney side. After spending a good couple of hours on that side, including lunch, we headed back to the Champoluc side and did a few runs before it was time to round off. The two red slopes on both sides of Colle Bettaforca are really nice long slopes, probably the two most fun in the area, which we skied at anyway.
View down towards Gressoney

The circumstances of some of the lifts being closed on Monday and being out late on Tuesday meant we didn't have time to get all the way to the slopes around Alagna Valsesia to test out that part of the Monterosa area, but it's always nice to still have something new to explore if we come back here (which doesn't feel impossible at all).

In conclusion, you can say that I can warmly recommend Champoluc for those who are considering a ski trip there. Now, as I said, we didn't have time to explore all of Monterosa Ski, but from what we got to experience, we have almost only positive words to say. The slopes are long and wide, it is not packed with people and basically no queues in the lifts. Of course, we weren't there during the absolute high season and also avoided the weekend (something we always prefer to do). There are also plenty of off-piste/freeride opportunities and even some off-piste forest skiing for those who like that. Also, the village of Champoluc is very nice and cozy and there are enough restaurants to get some variety.

About our hotel - Hotel Relais Des Glaciers

We booked our hotel early and therefore got a good rate at Hotel Relais Des Glaciers, choosing it very much because we wanted a hotel with an outdoor pool and one that had high guest ratings. Since we chose to go Saturday to Wednesday, the price for the Saturday night was quite high, but the other nights were rather cheap instead, so the total price ended up less than 200 euros on average per night.

The hotel has a heated outdoor pool and also a spa with four different types of saunas (Finnish sauna, Roman, Turkish and finally some variation of a Finnish sauna). In some hotels you have to pay to access the spa, but here everything was included in the price, only massages and treatments cost extra. Everything lived up to our expectations. As expected, the outdoor pool could be a little overcrowded right after the skiing ended but nothing extreme.

Breakfast was included and the breakfast buffet was top class. There was free parking, the staff was very nice and helpful, and the room was nice, decently large and well-kept and clean. In addition, the hotel bar was very cozy, and drinks were both well priced and well made. So basically, nothing to complain about in other words, and we can absolutely give the hotel the highest rating and warmly recommend this hotel.

The hotel doesn't have a restaurant, but you can order sandwiches, charcuterie and cheese platters and a few other things at the bar, so you always can eat something here if you don't feel to go to a restaurant. In addition, we got a substantial snack tray for free when you ordered drinks, so much so that it can almost be considered an appetizer.

The only thing you can "complain" about is the hotel is located a bit from the gondola lift, just under a kilometer, but if you feel like it is too long to walk, they have a free shuttle in the morning and also from 4 p.m. so you can go back after skiing. In addition, the local buses (also free) run every half hour, so you can also hop on one of them to get back to the hotel.

About the restaurants in the village

I have already written about the restaurants we visited for the first three evenings which we were all happy with. On the last evening, we had nothing booked, which gave us a bit of a problem. Some restaurants were closed on Tuesday evenings and the first four restaurants we went to were fully booked, which meant that we ended up at the restaurant at Hotel Castor. The service was good, but the food was honestly not the best, and we regretted not booking a better restaurant ahead.

Although there are relatively many restaurants in Champoluc, it is not easy to find a table if you have not booked. It was also not full high season when we were there, so I can imagine that it is almost impossible to get a table anywhere without a reservation when it is. Therefore, it is strongly recommended to book a table even before you start your ski holiday for every evening, and the most popular restaurants you better book at least a couple of weeks in advance, at least on Friday and Saturday evenings.

Most restaurants serve local food that is very meat-based, mainly beef but also a lot of charcuteries. There aren't many chicken, fish or vegetarian dishes, and some restaurants don't really have any at all. It was also quite few pasta dishes, in the restaurants we visited anyway.

In conclusion

Overall, we were all very happy with our skiing trip to Champoluc and all agreed that we would have no problem choosing to go back here. It's relatively easy to get here (especially if you don't mind renting a car), the skiing is top class and, being the Alps, most things were relatively well priced. Ski passes are (in today's situation) not that expensive and in the restaurants on the slopes a large beer "only" costs 6 euros and the food you get is quite good and costs between 8 and 15 euros.