Purpose-built ski resorts back in the 1970s, tend to inspire a sense of foreboding - and still there's something about Risoul that continues to be appealing. It's not the largest town in the southern Alps, and its tiny high street can be overwhelmed with holiday crowds (and cars) in the peak season, but a well-developed lift system linked up with the adjacent resort of Vars gives it one of the more extensive ski regions: the Domaine de la Foret Blanche. Runs are within the center of the difficulty spectrum, but there is plenty to gratify advanced if not expert riders.The somewhat high altitude allows for normally generous snow cover, dampening the sometimes abrasive local architecture and affording up a variety of off-piste possibilities.
Sometimes advanced riders would prefer to head out to Vars to sample the winding Ecureuils black, over the Peynier chair. Otherwise, it's an intermediate's paradise having good long lines going all the way back to resort from any of the three main peaks. The extended Pinatiaux run, from the Point de Razis, is one of the steeper and more gratifying reds, while the Aigles and Choucas reds, from I'Homme de Pierre (2,361m), must not be missed, and the same goes with the leisurely Cretes blue from Peyrefolle. Newcomers may find their feet on some decent low-lying greens, in Chardons and Vallon Vertas well.
Most riders are bound to assemble for lunch at resort level, where a huge quantity of terraced eateries bunch up around the point where the majority of Risoul's runs end. Le Chalet is convenient, and so is the trendier Snowboard Cafe, although anyone hoping to maintain altitude can drop by at either Le Vallon or Le Tetras, both appealing places to refuel.
Risoul's Surfland is a delightful terrain park with a good variety of ramps, shaped daily and marked green, blue, red and black. To top it, the park features a boardercross course and a 150m-long super-pipe.
Speed demons can get their kicks speeding around on a snowmobile courtesy of Risoul Snowscoot, and there is parapenting organized by Tete en I 'Air over in Vars.
Read more about Skiing and Snowboarding in Risoul, France
© 2012 Athena Goodlight
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