The Italian ski resort of Sauze d’Oulx stands at the foot of Monte Genevris in the Piedmont Alps. Lying just 80km from Turin, it first appeared on the tourist map back in the 19th century when it became a popular getaway for wealthy Turineses. In contrast, the resort hit the headlines in the 1980s as a winter holiday destination which became notorious for its excessive après ski scene.
More recently, Sauze d’Oulx and its clientele have cleaned up their act. Today the resort is a fine ski destination which was honoured by its selection to host the freestyle skiing events at Turin’s Winter Olympics in 2006. The resort provides access to the vast Milky Way ski area which has more than 400km of piste.
Sauze d’Oulx remains a popular choice amongst young people from all over Europe but also attracts plenty older visitors perhaps intent on revisiting the scene of their youth! It is also popular with day-trippers from Turin, especially at weekends.
Skiing in Sauze d’Oulx
Whilst the resort stands at an altitude of 1,503m, many of the ski slopes are above the 2500m mark so good conditions are virtually guaranteed throughout the season which usually runs from mid-December into April. Sauze d’Oulx itself offers 400km of piste made up of 109 intermediate slopes, 57 for beginners and 36 more suited to advanced skiers. The longest of these is 6km in length. In total there are 72 lifts serving the resort.
If you’re looking for more than what Sauze d’Oulx has to offer then be sure to pick up the Via Lattea (Milky Way) lift pass which provides access to 6 more ski resorts with some slopes crossing the border into France. The resort’s free ski-bus is an easy way to get to the appropriate lifts for accessing the Milky Way ski area.
La Via Lattea – the Milky Way: The Milky Way (Via Lattea) is made up of seven independent villages: Sauze d’Oulx, Pragelato, Sestriere, Claviere, Cesana Torinese and San Sicario in Italy together with Montgenèvre in France. This ski area provides access to around 600 pistes with a combined skiable area of more than 930km. The area is served by some 175 ski lifts. Snowboarders are well catered for in the Milky Way area thanks to three dedicated snowboard parks in Sestriere, Sauze d’Oulx and Montgenèvre. The panoramic views from some of the highest slopes are truly sensational.
Après Ski – Sauze Style: Whilst it’s true that the ‘lager-lout’ environment of the 1980’s is a thing of the past, there’s no doubt that the après ski scene of Sauze d’Oulx remains one of the liveliest in the Alps. There’s a huge selection of bars and nightclubs which are packed until the early hours as well as an impressive range of restaurants to suit every pocket.
Getting to Sauze d’Oulx
The obvious airport for getting to Sauze d’Oulx is Turin which is less than 100km away with a transfer time of just 1 hour 15 minutes by road. Specialist ski transfer company, Shuttledirect offer services from this airport.
Other possible airports with transfer times of around 2 hours 30 minutes include Grenoble (208 km), Milan Malpensa (217 km), and Geneva (221km). Bergamo’s Il Caravaggio International Airport lies 265km away with a transfer time nearer to 3 hours but it’s an important hub for budget airline Ryanair so there’s always a good chance of finding cheap flights heading there.
Where to Stay in Sauze d’Oulx
The ski village of Sauze d’Oulx is very spread out and stands on quite a steep slope. A lot of the accommodation is fairly unremarkable, and sprawls down this hill to the village. Some hotels lie above the Clotes chairlift allowing for a genuine ‘ski-in, ski-out’ experience when conditions are favourable but the majority aren’t.
The Sportinia lift which is the way to access the vast Via Lattea lies still further away and, although walkable, is best accessed by means of the resort’s free ski-bus which can get very full. Another consideration is that many properties in the centre of the village are close to the nightlife so can be very noisy well into the night.
Considering these factors you can see it’s crucial that you select appropriate accommodation for your party before travelling. Here are a few recommendations:
Ciao Pais (Via Case Sparse, 17): Located just off piste red 29 on the edge of a pine forest, this is one of the most charming ski chalets around. The staff are a delight and the hotel’s restaurant is one of the best in Sauze.
Petit Bed & Breakfast (Via Baya 18): It’s a pleasant 10-minute walk up the hill to the centre of Sauze from this property but the most hospitable owners are always on hand to offer lifts back and to. Lovely rooms throughout, very close to chairlifts and superb breakfasts.
Orso Bianco, Hotel (Localita Sportinia): Brilliant location on the side of the mountain allows for the perfect ‘ski-in, ski-out’ experience. If you catch one of the early lifts you’ll be skiing down on virgin snow before anyone else has arrived from Sauze. Rooms are spotless, the staff are a delight throughout and the food served in their restaurant is up there with the best that the region has to offer.