Auron - Aprés les Fêtes

Las Donnas

Nice-Matin recently reported of crowds never seen before in Mercantour ski resorts during the weekend after Christmas. To make things worse, Téléphérique Las Donnas in Auron was out of order one afternoon. Traffic and parking was chaotic as many had driven up there without snow chains or winter tyres. As we all remember, the storm called Dirk recently brought a lot of rain to the Riviera and snow to the mountains. The landslide on the main road  just north of St Sauveur sur Tinée did not make things easier.

Avalanche risk sign at Auron
Avalanche risk still 3/5

After the holiday season, January is usually a low season in French ski resorts. Even attractive package deals are offered. Lured by a favourable weather forecast, we booked a night in Auron for the 9th of January. Traffic was light. The landslide near St Sauveur sur Tinée had been dealt with; one line was open for traffic –no delays!

According to the Auron web site, the snow depth at high altitude was 120 cm with 41 open ski runs.  The figures do not tell the whole truth. Having previously skied in Auron several times, the conditions this time were one of the best we have ever seen. The weather was exceptionally mild, it was almost like spring skiing in January, but with proper snow! The runs were well prepared. Even Riounet, the long descent marked as red from Cîme de Chavalet (2453 m) down to  the Butières chair lift, was in an excellent condition. This sector has not any snow making facilities and has even been closed during bad winters some years ago.

Cime du Chavalet
 Cîme de Chavalet (2453 m), the starting point for  several long runs

Auron preparing for the day
The resort preparing for the day. The Teleriou cable car station is visible in the lower right corner. It's just the transport between the village and the Las Donnas cable car station and the lower lifts

Las Donnas Cable Car
Las Donnas (1640-2256 m) cable car upper station.

So if you are considering skiing in Alpes Maritimes, this year seems to be really good so far. We will certainly go back.


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