A world away from the fashionable Three Valleys just to the north - a wide range of resorts, good for a holiday on a budget Ski south from Val Thorens into the 'fourth valley' of the famous Three Valleys, or off-piste from Val d'Isère's Col de l'Iseran, and you are in the Maurienne. (The river responsible for this great curving trench of a valley is the Arc; the region inherited its name from a province of Savoie.) The valley is dotted with ski resorts from St-François-Longchamp and Les Sybelles in the west to tiny Bonneval-sur-Arc in the east, at the head of the valley. They range widely in what they have to offer, but have some key things in common - low prices and a family-friendly atmosphere, free of mega-resort glitz. The shared slopes of St-François-Longchamp and Valmorel (which is not in the Maurienne) are covered in our new chapter on Valmorel. Val Cenis Vanoise, almost at the head of the valley, gets its own chapter. This chapter covers the other resorts. We start in the west, with a destination that has a clear claim on your attention, on size grounds - Les Sybelles. Then a resort offering the best blend of civilized charm and skiing - Valloire, and its neighbour Valmeinier. Then two smaller resorts nearby that make good day trips from there - Les Karellis and Albiez. Then we continue up the valley, taking the remaining resorts in turn, and ending with Bonneval - an excellent outing from Val Cenis. It's a valley of two halves. Off the western, lower half of the long valley are a string of resorts reached by winding roads climbing from St-Jean and St-Michel on the valley floor. Then, east of the major railway town of Modane, you climb into the Haute Maurienne - only 100m/200m higher than the lower valley, but with a wilder, more remote feel. Up here some resorts are villages on the valley floor, with no winding climbs involved. As well as the downhill resorts we cover in this chapter, Bessans has famously extensive cross-country trails of all standards, totalling 130km. A really useful pass The Eski-Mo regional lift pass covers the five resorts directly above or to the east of Modane (ie in the Haute Maurienne): Aussois, Bonneval, La Norma, Val Cenis Vanoise and Valfréjus. They claim a total of 300km of piste, but more to the point they are all worth visiting for a day. You must spend your first one in the resort where you buy the pass; then you can do one day in each of the other four resorts. There are free shuttle-buses between all the resorts for holders of the pass. All for 170 euros.

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