Will Sauze d'Oulx?
by Nikki McLeary


With access to nearly 400km of runs and situated in cobbled lined streets surrounded by shops and restaurants, Sauze d'Oulx (pronounced Sour-zee-do - hence the pun) has something for everyone, by day and night.

Offering a better than average sunshine record and a fantastic snow fall in 2001, Sauze is accessible to a range of stunning mountain ranges known as the 'Milky Way' that include: Sauze d'Oulx, Sansicario, Sestriere, Claviere, and Montgenevre. For the brave who don't mind an early start and a late finish, it's possible to ski across Italy to Montgenevre in France and back in a day. The readily available, well constructed trail map will guide you through some breathtaking scenery and enable you to experience the slow snaking beginner runs; the fun intermediate routes; and the fast and furious advanced slopes. The Moncrons mogul field will challenge the better skiers while the Genevris area offers good off-piste opportunities.

For those who like a little more guidance and company on their journey, the reasonably priced Scuola Italiana Ski School is well worth the investment. The instructors are mostly Italian but all speak good English and go out of their way to make sure every one is placed in a group where the level suits their ability.

Once everyone has found their ski legs, each group is taken mid-week to explore as much of the Milky Way as their ability allows. For the advanced groups, it is possible to ski Sestriere where the annual World Cup Super Giant Slalom or Downhill is held.

Situated at nearly 2600m, and with a button lift that challenges the muscles before the run has even begun, it certainly feels like an achievement to reach the bottom without stopping on too many occasions. The skill involved in competing over such runs with speed and elegance only becomes apparent when the instructors treat their group to an insight into their skiing ability.

Not to be beaten by the experts, each group is offered the opportunity to be involved in a small but comedy filled race on Friday, the last day of ski school. Regardless of age or experience each individual skis a well organised, gently sloping course according to group ability (with the beginners off first). Guided round, and constantly encouraged by the instructors, it is all taken with a pinch of fun and every single person who had booked on ski school the week we were there had a bash. However, be aware, that your efforts (or lack of them) are recorded by video camera and given a rather sarcastic commentary by the English owner of the Grun Trun bar. If that isn't bad enough it is then played for all to see that evening at Bandito's, one of Sauze's most popular nightclubs, when they award the prizes!

Ski school is for three hours over six days, although it is possible to book private lessons. At the end of each lesson, tiredness and hunger usually takes over and a well-deserved rest can be had in one of the many restaurants scattered across the runs. The choice of food seems standard regardless of where you choose to eat, but the standard, quality and price is excellent. The owners went out of their way to be polite and offer their services, enquiring where we came from and if we were having fun everyday.

Sauze really does have a fantastic atmosphere of fun and relaxation, which is apparent no where more than in the evenings, long after the lifts have shut.

In recent years Sauze has worked hard to move away from the reputation of rowdiness it had in the 80's and now prides itself as a resort that caters for families, groups of friends, young and old alike. Those who enjoy a relaxing evening with good food, wine and pleasant company are spoilt for choice when it comes to restaurants. Like on the slopes, the food was excellent everywhere we ate and the service was fantastic. Particularly good was Del Falco and well worth a try if you get the opportunity. For the energetic who are looking for a fun filled evening, the resort definitely offers a better than average party scene.

Bandito's and the Schuss bar were the places to go late in the evening when dancing was the option, although for a live music a bar called Vagabond hosted a fantastic reggae band each evening which got everyone into the party mood. Early evening track down the Derby Bar, Irish pub Paddy McGintys and definitely find the Gran Trun where an Australian guitar playing/Sambooka drinking fellow called Chaddy works - his gig was heaving every evening and is a must for those who like a sing along and dance to Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, the Beatles, Stones etc.

For parents, keeping the kids amused is easily achievable. Apart from skiing during the day, the village hosts an ice-skating rink, cinema, bowling alley, and torch lit descents on snowmobiles. Kids ski lessons are all about having fun, building confidence and making friends. There are children's menus in the restaurants and all the bars have an atmosphere that is surprisingly family friendly, although later in the evenings the bars do tend to become extremely packed and smokey.

Due to the friendliness and range of both skiing and nightlife for all, Sauze is definitely a resort to visit when you have a spare week or two. Consequently, it has become a

favorite place for many who have visited previously. One group we bumped into have been coming back to the same haunts for 10 years, which isn't surprising as the appeal of Sauze is obvious to all that venture there. Whatever you're looking for out of your holiday, Sauze will definitely do.