Looking for a vast and varied ski area that doesn’t cost a fortune? Then read this review of Cervinia snowboarding holiday in Matterhorn Ski Paradise. It links up with Zermatt offering 360km of slopes, but costs a fraction of its exclusive neighbour.
Cervinia, or Breuil-Cervinia to give it it’s full name, is located in the Aosta region of north west Italy. Aosta borders both France and Switzerland and includes Mont Blanc, Monta Rosa and the Matterhorn – so the highest and most iconic peaks in the Alps.
Cervinia can easily be reached by flying to Turin, Milan or Geneva. Alternatively you can get the Eurostar from London, via Paris, to Châtillon Saint-Vincent which takes around 12 hours. From there it is a 40 minute bus ride to the resort.
Cervinia and Valtournenche make up the Italian side of Matterhorn Ski Paradise. There are around 160km of pistes with slopes for all levels, an excellent snow park and plenty of off-piste.
Zermatt, across the border in Switzerland, adds another 200km of pistes plus an additional snowpark. There are even 21km of glacier skiing that is open throughout the summer.
With 360km of slopes in total reaching up to 3,899m it is safe to say it is large and snow sure. And just in case mother nature needs a helping hand 75% of slopes have snow making facilities or are on the glacier.
Although there are slopes for all levels around 60% are red and 20% are black. So while there are blue runs and green nursery slopes it is not the best of ski area for beginners or nervous intermediates.
To make the most of the whole area you should be happy snowboarding on red runs a lot of the time. That said the beginner areas in Cervinia are large and very good, so it would be a great place to learn.
A full area lift pass for a snowboarding holiday in Matterhorn Ski Paradise costs around £72 a day or £384 for seven days if purchased from Zermatt. However, the same lift pass purchased from Cervinia costs £52 a day or £289 for seven.
This lift pass saving will buy you a lot of beers. And as beers are much cheaper in Italian resorts than Swiss or French is will buy you plenty. Food is also cheaper, as is accommodation, lessons and… well I think you get the picture.
I have visited Cervinia twice and I absolutely love the ski area. On my first stay around eight years ago we had lots of fresh snow but mostly poor visibility. We never made it over to Zermatt as the link was closed due to high winds, and we never saw the Matterhorn.
When I visited last year we had no fresh snow but there was not a cloud in the sky. We had two days of beautiful weather and stunning views of the Matterhorn. We also made it over to Zermatt to explore the slopes.
For this review of Cervinia snowboarding holiday in Matterhorn Ski Paradise I will discuss the three different ski areas. First Cervinia, then Valtournenche and finally what I have experienced of Zermatt.
From the top of Zermatt you can snowboard from 3899m all the way to Cervinia at 2050m. Even when the link over to Zermatt is closed you can still reach 3440m giving you plenty of vertical to play in.
The slopes in Cervinia are above the treeline and on the whole they are wide and flowing. Everything heads back towards the town, so as long as you don’t follow signs to Valtournenche or Zermatt there is little chance of getting lost.
The lift system is excellent, there are not many brand new lifts but they are not too old either making them fast and efficient. You need to take three gondolas/telecabins to reach the top of Cervinia at Testa Grigia.
Although it takes quite a while it is well worth if for the long ride back to town. From the 2020 season you will be able to take a fourth lift from Testa Grigia to the top of Matterhorn Ski Paradise, currently only reached from the Zermatt side.
Within the Cervinia bowl there are about seven other chairlifts. These open up every aspect of the area with a huge amount of slopes to explore. The busiest area is the blue runs just above Plan Maison, from here you can follow blues all the way to town.
Most of the rest of the mountain is red slopes. Although there are a few blacks for those that like it steep. But the big draw for me is the freestyle and freeride in Cervinia.
The 400m long, nine acre ‘IndianPark‘ is packed with features for all levels. There are kickers for everyone from first-time-freestylers through to pros with an impressive big air line. The rails and boxes are diverse with something for everyone.
From my previous visit I know that there is a lot of off-piste fun to be had in Cervinia. Between the pistes there is plenty of space and relatively safe freeride options. On the far left of the ski area beneath the Matterhorn there is some interesting undulating terrain that is a lot of fun.
When snowboarding in Cervinia you get a real feel of space and opportunities to express yourself. Apart from the popular blue runs most of the mountain is never busy. Plus there are fun side hits all over the place.
Linked with Cervinia is Valtournenche it is another village just down the valley. The ski area is a bowl on the other side of the Motto di Plete ridge from Cervinia. It can be reached from the top of Zermatt or Cervinia and goes all the down to 1524 m.
The 2300m decent from the top of Zermatt at Klein Matterhorn to
Valtournenche is incredible. It would be a 20km decent except for a tiny uphill drag to get you over a ridge. But it is a great run and a must on any visit.
Towards the bottom, Valtournenche drops below the treeline so is a good spot to visit during poor visibility. There are enough slopes here to keep you busy for a day and being lower it is a good option if you want to escape bad weather.
There is a good mix of blues and reds, although from Salette – the midstation – there is only a red to the bottom. Above this there are a whole host of blue runs that are quieter than those in Cervinia. From the top at Colle Cime Blanche at 2800m there is a black and some lovely long reds.
Overall Valtournenche is quieter than Cervinia. It has a quaint feel, a little like ski resorts of old and somehow feels more authentic than glitzy Cervinia. The only downside is some of the chairlifts are slow and could do with an upgrade.
Unfortunately we didn’t have time to explore much of the Swiss side during this review of Cervinia snowboarding holiday in Matterhorn Ski Paradise. However we skied from the top all the way down to Furi just above Zermatt.
At the top on the glacier the runs are very wide, they were also quite busy.
Many people seem to stay high and get the gondola down to avoid the reds below Schwarzsee. With so much space even when busy it doesn’t feel like you are on top of each other.
Snowboarders beware there are a few spots that you need to keep your speed up to avoid walking. But much of the descent to Schwarzsee offers perfect carving and cruising conditions.
Below Schwarzsee the pistes are steeper, narrower and more difficult. They wind their way down the mountain offering a very different experience to Cervinia and the higher Zermatt slopes. There are a few unpisted itinerary runs which would be good in fresh snow.
From Furi we took the gondola up to Riffelberg and then a chair to Gornergrat at nearly 3100m. From here there are many options, you can reach the Sunnegga and Rothorn slopes directly above Zermatt or head up to Hohtalli where there are a few more itinerary runs.
Instead we took some fun slopes back down to Furi. The run goes over, and then runs alongside, the ski train. The train departs from Zermatt and is a fairly unique way to get up the mountain. In this area you get iconic views of the Matterhorn.
There were large amounts of the Zermatt area we didn’t explore. But with mainly reds, blacks and itinerary runs it is less suited to beginners or nervous intermediates than Cervinia.
Be sure to allow enough time to get back to Cervinia. It would be a very costly mistake to get stuck in Zermatt during a Cervinia snowboarding holiday in Matterhorn Ski Paradise.
We stayed at the lovely Excelsior Planet in Cervinia which is very close to the slopes. It is a four star hotel with exceptional rooms, stunning bathrooms and everything you would expect from a hotel of this standard.
My suite was over two floors with the upstairs bedroom including a free standing bath. Downstairs was a living room with pull out sofa and a second bathroom. As an added bonus I had had a lovely view of the Matterhorn from my room.
We ate dinner in the hotel one night which was absolutely stunning. It is a fusion of traditional Italian with mountain specialities all with a fine dining twist. Even if you are not staying at the Excelsior Planet I recommend you book dinner at the restaurant.
Breakfast was a large self-service affair. However there were more than enough fruit, cereal, continental and cooked options to keep anyone happy.
There is a very nice spa beneath the hotel which is well worth a visit. I enjoyed the small heated pool, jacuzzi, sauna, turkish bath and range of fancy showers (color therapy, aromatherapy, cold mist and cold). You can also book a massage or other treatments.
One evening we had and wine tasting experience in the hotel. I am not exactly a connoisseur of wine. But I appreciated the knowledge and experience of the sommelier who took us through a tasting of around eight different wines.
On our last run we stopped at a The Bar, a mountain pub above town, for a couple of drinks. Music was blaring and while it wasn’t particularly busy there was a friendly atmosphere. When we got back into town the bars near the slopes had people in but didn’t look hugely busy.
On my previous visit to Cervinia I discovered that the apres can be pretty wild. One day we hit the bars around 3pm and come 3am were still partying in our ski gear. I blame Jagermeister.
This visit we went to a couple of bars after dinner one evening. One place had live music and was so busy we could not get in. Unfortunately everywhere else was fairly quiet. On the plus side we avoided a hangover.
A review of Cervinia snowboarding holiday in Matterhorn Ski Paradise wouldn’t be complete without discussing food. In addition to the meal at the hotel we also ate out a few times.
We had dinner at Lo Copa Pan. It is a lovely restaurant full of local sculptures and artwork. The food was delicious and hearty with both traditional and modern Italian mountain dishes. The lobster and seafood pasta was lovely!
We had lunch on the mountain at the excellent Bontadini Restaurant. You can find it on the slopes at Plateau Rosa. They serve traditional mountain with an upmarket twist in a way only the Italians seem able to master. Every dish was delicious and I recommend you book a table downstairs.
We also had a meal in resort at Bistrot de l’Abbé. It is a small rustic restaurant serving traditional food. Prices are very reasonable and the food was simple but exceptionally tasty.
Having loved the resort on my last visit I had wanted to go back to Cervinia ever since. My return certainly didn’t disappoint – especially as I got to see the Matterhorn and explore the Zermatt side of the ski area.
The Matterhorn Ski Paradise is a large and snow sure ski area with something for everybody. If you like to cruise different blues all day it is probably not the resort for you, but if you are happy on reds it has a lot to offer.
The snowpark in Cervinia is excellent and there is another to play in on the Zermatt side. If you get fresh snow there is plenty of easy to access off-piste between the runs and there are a lot of itinerary runs to enjoy as well.
To conclude this review of Cervinia snowboarding holiday in Matterhorn Ski Paradise I’d say it’s a lovely resort and an excellent ski area. I’d even go as far as saying it is my favourite in Italy.
Plus of course you get everything at Italian prices. This means you get a much cheaper holiday than in neighbouring Zermatt and other Swiss resorts. But it is also cheaper than most resorts in France and Austria too.
I hope you found this review of Cervinia snowboarding holiday in Matterhorn Ski Paradise useful. To plan a trip go to: www.aosta-valley.co.uk/cervinia