Monêtier has two bakeries, two supermarkets, a butcher, delicatessen, post office, chemist, laundrette, bank, newsagent, souvenir shop, art gallery, boutiqyue and a range of sports shops. The nearest big shopping centre, Briançon, is 20 minutes by car.
There are a score of restaurants in the Monêtier commune and plenty more along the valley. So you'll never need to eat in the same one twice - unless you want to. By popular consent the best are La Cagette, Chez Teddy, L'Aquisana and La Belotte, all a short stroll from the studio, and Le Chazal in the nearby hamlet of Guibertes. The meeting place in Monêtier, without any question, is the Bar l'Alpen, also close by the studio. When hiking or skiing is over for the day this is where people gather - and there's often live music.
You can happily stay in Monêtier without a car - there's so much to do. But if you do have a car there are certain things you shouldn't miss. A visit to the old part of Briançon is a must. Some surviving buildings date from the 16th century and the fortifications, designed by Vauban, are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Just as essential is a visit to the Clarée valley, perhaps the most exquisite in all of the Alps and now a protected area. If you follow cycling, or simply enjoy driving to high mountain passes, ascend to the Col de Granon (2413 m) or the Col d'Izoard (2361m), both of which have featured in the Tour de France.
Summer and winter, Les Grands Bains are a focus of life in Monetier. Fed by natural hot springs, the baths offer an infinity pool with bubble beds, underwater massage jets, fountains, jacuzzi, a 'Romano-Irish' area with cool, warm and hot water grottoes, a hammam/steam room, music pool, saunas, beauty treatments and massages, Most spectacular of all is to swim in the heated outdoor pool in winter with the snow all around. There's also a restaurant with stunning views towards the glaciers of the Ecrins.
Monêtier is on the edge of the fabulous Parc National des Écrins, covering 918 square kilometres and reaching 4,102m (13,458 feet) at the Barre des Ecrins. But it's not all high peaks and glaciers. There are also delightful trails through valleys and woods, and beside streams and lakes. Some 15,000 chamois roam here along with 600 ibex and predators such as the wolf and the lynx. Spectacular birds include golden eagles, bearded vultures (lammergeiers) and griffon vultures.
Monêtier is the prettiest, least spoiled and most authentic of all the villages that are collectively known as Serre Chevalier (after the 2491m peak that rises up from the centre of the valley). It's also the most tranquil and the most conservative. There are no high-rise apartment buildings here or noisy discos. If, after a day out in the mountains, your idea of a great evening is to fix a nice meal 'at home' or dine in a nice restaurant, then Monetier is the perfect choice for you. And if you do feel like dancing the night away there are plenty of possibilities in nearby Villeneuve and Chantemerle. Monêtier is the best of both worlds.