La Grave in the southern French Alps is the kind of resort skiers and snowboarders get misty-eyed over. It has just one lift and no pistes. Instead you can pretty much ride wherever you want, at your own peril of course. When the avalanche risk is above average they don’t even blast the snow with dynamite, as is common practice in other resorts, instead a team of guides check the slopes for safety and send a message to the Mayor who then decides whether to open the mountain that day.
La Grave and its old atmospheric village are about far removed from a modern swanky ski resort as you can get. There are no five star hotels with spas or Michelin-starred restaurants, no heated pavements or shops selling luxury handbags or diamond crusted skis. It radiates remote and down to earth vibes.
“It’s a mecca amongst skiers and snowboarders. A place so well respected it is rarely mentioned by pilgrims in case it gets ruined…”
As local snowboarder and photographer Vanessa Beucher says: “It’s a real–life Valhalla. Few names resonate with so much power in the collective unconscious of all mountain lovers.” Or as my friend Woody puts it: “It’s a mecca amongst skiers and snowboarders. A place so well respected it is rarely mentioned by pilgrims in case it gets ruined by the Fat Face Val d’Isere cunts.”