Vars is a hidden gem. It somehow feels a bit like Newquay in Cornwall if you’ve ever been. Hidden in the Hautes Alpes, Vars often gets overlooked by British holiday makers and particularly those driving as it’s one heck of a schlep from the UK (approx 15 hours Calais to Vars non-stop). But boy is it worth the trip. Ski-in ski-out aire overlooking the town of Vars Les Claux.
PRICE (March 2018): €FREE/night | €/hour electric jeton (get from Tourist Office)
The journey to Vars Aire
First off it’s a very long way from Calais if you’re just going for a week – even with two driving from the UK you’re looking at two long days so this is one for a more extended stay in our recommendation. Vars pairs perfectly with Risoul and if you’re on a winter tour, there are some great circuits taking in Puy Saint Vincent, Les Orres and a few others around the area.
Despite our insistence that negotiating switch-backs in winter is far easier than people make out, the road up to Vars Les Claux from the N94 (main route past Vars) is not for the wibbly of tummy.
Why the road to Vars is sketchy
- No barriers
- Not tree lined (in case you were relying on them to catch you if you jettisoned your motorhome off the side)
- In March the sun is a beast in the late afternoon
- Locals hooning as it’s not so busy with big tourist transfers
That said – we only mentioned it in passing to one another – “blimey, if you didn’t like switch-backs, this might feel a bit hairy”. But it’s worth every white knuckle turn.
Approach to to Vars Aire
- Enter the last village of the Valley, Var Les Claux – you’ll know when you’re there because you’ll pass under a catch net for skiers that fall off the lifts
- Follow the main road until you see some shops and restaurants on your right and a village centre on your left
- The Tourist Information is situated directly in front of you – STOP HERE – to get your jetons for the electric. Failure to do so will result in a super fun slide/run down the piste and a torturous romp uphill again after (Tourist Info opening times below)
- Follow the road around to the right (careful to keep left as it’s a sort of mad bus stop) and turn left after the ski school on Allée Mancini Claude
- Follow that series of mini switch backs all the way to the top where you will enter a two tiered aire
- Awesome ski area – huge amount of variety and truly something for everyone – a real play park of a resort
- Ski-in Ski-out
- Linked with Risoul
- Free to stay
- Electric hook up is available
- Loads of space so unlikely to be completely full
- Great service building which was super clean when we went
- Heated WC
- Drive over grey waste disposal
- Large, easy to use and sanitary black waste disposal
- Jetons required and they are only available from the Tourist Office so plan ahead
- Can be a bit hairy to get up to if you’re not keen on the drive
- The aire is at the top of town so a bit of a hike after a spot of aprés
- Not a picturesque town – a little on the concrete jungle side but made up for by the situation