It is true, the ample snow and cold conditions make for great skiing far above and well below the French village. While there this past winter on a week’s trip, we Colorado skiers (and one Californian) managed to hit it just right and you could too.
In addition to the obvious Vallons and Chancel routes bringing you straight back to the town, more complex adventures are possible. The Valle de la Selle sends you over 7000 ft and almost ten miles to St. Christophe. A connection through neighboring Les Deux Alpes brings the skier equally as far to tiny Cuculet.
If you ski a direct lap with that much vertical, it will change you no matter how long you have been skiing, trust me.
However, La Grave is all about the skiing. The evenings are spent reveling, dining and plotting the next move. We would certainly recommend the Hotel L’Edelwiess for sleeping and eating; the bakery rules and the cheese shop delivers, too. There are plenty of gear stores for any skier needs and a bustling guide bureau will take questions.
Think Silverton to the 100th power. There are decent maps, but Joe Vallone, a Colorado guide in his 7th or 8th season there, says the guide book is a piece of bleep not worth bleep. He would be a great guide to seek out for sure.
So in short, fly to Lyon, rent a car, drive to La Grave and ski your brains out. (The season for La Grave is in general the winter and early spring ski season for the Alps, check conditions by contacting guide services or other sources in the Alps.)
Ken Fuhrer is a veteran ski schooler in Telluride, the head guide for Ryder/Walker Alpine adventures in summer, and the technical director for Alpenglow Ski Safaris, which specializes in town-to-town ski treks in the Alps.