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Sestriere Review

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Sestriere Review

Rating: ★★★★ 8.0 out of 10

“Sestriere was the main venue for alpine disciplines during 2006 Turin Winter Olympics. The mountain is diverse, it has pistes for all levels, but intermediate and expert skiers will feel right at home there. Pistes are long and well maintained. The resort is also great for freeriding when there is lot of snow. People who run it are the most responsible for Sestriere not being the best skiing destination in the world. Infrastructure is obsolete and prone to closures, the snow park was under construction during my stay despite the fact that it was the last third of January… Although the village was purposely built you will probably have to use public transport because only a small part of lodging is ski in/out. The architecture is not great but better than in similar French vilages. For detail description of the resort, please read the rest of the Sestriere Review.”

PROS: Diverse (for all levels and styles of skiing), great for freeriding, long cruisy runs, affordable package of accommodation and ski pass, close to Turin (if the conditions are not right for skiing, or you are not die hard skier/snowboarder you can go sightseeing).

CONS: Old infrastructure prone to bad weather closures, can be crowded on weekends, the park wasn’t prepared in spite of being well into January, if it is not peak-season they won’t bother opening all lifts, and you will probably have to use and pay for public transport

Click to enlarge

SESTRIERE SLOPES

Easy 96 km (24 %)
Intermediate 220 km (55 %)
Difficult 84 km (21 %)
TOTAL 400 km

Sestriereis is first purposely-built ski resort in Italy and one of the first in the world. Its development started in the 1930s. Gianni Agnelli, the founder of Fiat car manufacturing company was the person behind the project. It is part of Vialatea (Milky Way) domain, which is spread out across parts of Italy and France. The resort is connected to Pragelato, Piedmontese, Sansicario, Sauze d’Olux, and French Mont Genevre. Together they have 400 km of pistes. Sestriere in particular is situated at 2.035 m above sea level. Highest point of the domain lies at around 2.800 m. Be careful because you can visit Mont Genevre only for a single day during your stay due to ski pass limitation. Leave early since it’s a long way to the French village, while the connecting lifts are old, slow, and queues are possible.    

Snow reliability is good since the slopes are north orientated and there are snow making machines. Runs are long and cruisy. Snow grooming is good across all of the diverse slopes available. There are wide, treeless high terrains, as well as lower runs surrounded by woods. Easy slopes are situated just by the village. You will be able to explore pistes which were skied on by best skiers on Olympic Games and are regular venues for World Cup races. One of them is Kandahar slalom run. Slopes leading to Sauze d’Olux and Sansicario are long reds surrounded by trees. These pistes are best suited for Intermediate skiers.

Fraiteve gondola departs from the centre of Sestriere and connects the resort with the rest of Vialatea domain. There is problem in case of strong winds (4 out of 6 days during my stay in January), since the gondola is closed and you will have to ski on smaller portion of the domain. Others lifts are also old and prone to bad weather closures.  There are no dashboards which show statuses of lifts and pistes. I was surprised to see such outdated infrastructure in the resort where Olympic Games took place relatively short time ago. 

ski lift and clouds around mountain top in distance

FREE RIDE AND TERRAIN PARKS IN SESTRIERE

Sestriere is perfect for freeriding addicts. There are wide open faces and great lower woods. Strong winds can often blow away snow from higher, exposed slopes. Best spots are between top of the Sestriere gondola and its middle station. You will find lot of open space around lifts number 11 and 12. If you want to find great lines among trees explore area around lifts number 33 and 37.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the Sestriere Review, snow park was closed and under construction during my stay. It is situated close to the village, just by parallel drag lifts number 24 and 25. The park has different difficulty lines with all elements required for a fun run (jibs, jumps, rails, fun boxes…). It is 200 m long.

sestriere gondola sunset

HOW TO GET TO SESTRIERE

Sestriere is situated on Italian-French border only 100 km from Turin. It founders wanted to make world class resort near to their town.

The closest airport is in Turin, you will need 1.5 h to drive the 100 km from the airport to the village. There is a bus from the airport to main train station in Turin. From there you can take a train to Olux and then a bus to Sestriere. It can be time consuming. If your airplane arrives in the afternoon, you might miss the last bus from Olux to Sestriere. Chambery (France) is closer than other Italian airports, the ride is going to take you 2 hours. Milan airport is 230 km away (2.5 hours by car).

Closest train station is in Olux, only 21 km (30 min by car). Trains from Lyon, Paris, Turin and Milan stop at Olux.

If you are coming from France by car you will have to pass through Frejus tunnel. Buy a return ticket for the tunnel and save 35 EUR. Having car in Sestriere will give you additional options if conditions are not right for skiing. You might visit French resorts: Briancon (35 km, 45 min by car) or the legendary freeride meka La Grave (70k m, 1.5 h drive). Visit to Turin might also be option. Usually hotels have free underground garage for your car.

sestriere panorama view from top of the mountain

WHERE TO STAY IN SESTRIERE

Although Sestriere was purposely built as a ski resort only a small portion of places where you can stay are ski in/out. Best location for your accommodation would be around base stations of lifts 26, 28 and Fraiteve gondola. If you stay somewhere else you will probably have to use shuttle bus. It departs every 30 to 60 min depending on time of day. The bus costs 8.5 EUR per 6 days (you will have to pay even if you have ski pass). One way ticket is 2 EUR.

We have stayed in Residence Palace 1 hotel. They have spacious and well equipped apartments. We have received substantial ski pass discount with the accommodation (total price was really affordable). Not everything is ideal as always in life: furniture hasn’t changed from the 80s and rooms were cold even though we had additional electrical heater.

mountain view from sestriere hotel

WHAT TO DO AFTER DAY ON SNOW (APRES-SKI) IN SESTRIERE

Sestriere review wouldn’t be complete without “what to do when you are not skiing part”. During a day, if you are in Sauze d’Oulx you should make stop at Orso Bianco (great sun deck and food). In Sestriere take a brake at Bar Ristorante Chisonetto.

Sestriere has open air shopping centre. There you can find stores (mainly selling skiing/snowboarding equipment), bars and restaurants. When in Italy eat like Italians do, you must visit as many pizza places as you can. Try pizza slice in Le 2 stagioni, they also have great choice of domestic and foreign beer. Pizza Centro is also good. If you want to go out for drinks go to Club Kovo. You can party until early hours in Tabata (don’t go there before midnight).

Torino is only 1.5 hours away by car, pretty close, and teher is lot of interesting stuff to see (museums, squares, churches, Juventus stadium and museum, shops and restaurants).

If you liked what have you read, reserve your accommodation here.

sestriere panorama, sun and clouds

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