French ski resorts to fall in love with
The snow arrived in the nick of time for 2012, but with the dozens of options available, how do you choose which French ski resort to spend your hard earned pennies on this season?
In an attempt to match you up to a resort that you will love, channelling Cilla Black from her Blind Date heydays, we’ve put together three compelling reasons to pick our selection of cool contenders…
Alpe d’Huez – There’s no chance of getting bored in this traditional, historic and lively resort…
- Airboarding – A new(ish) snow sport has arrived en piste. This time on an inflatable grooved sled-like cushion. Airboarding allows you to hurtle down the mountainside head first while lying stomach-down on the board. This, of course, poses a slight hazard to fellow skiers so Alpe d’Huez hosts Airboarding and ‘snow toys’ sessions at the Poutran lift every Friday between 10am and 4.45pm.
- Alpe d’Huez Ice cave – Whimsical ice sculptures are carved annually in this cave gallery at 2,700 m. The Alpe d’Huez ice cave was dug into the snow by two high mountain guides, Bruno Gardent and Bernard Lambolez. It is accessible via the Grandes Rousses DMC lift. This year’s themes are ‘The Garden’ and ‘Biodiversity’.
- The world’s longest ski run – At 16 kms and with a vertical drop of 1,820, Sarenne is the world’s longest ski run. Once a month during the ski season you can even ski Sarenne by moonlight after a meal atop the Sarenne Glacier.
Where to stay in Alpe d’Huez:
Pierre & Vacances Residence L’Ours Blanc – The recently refurbished Pierre & Vacances L’Ours Blanc residence is located in the centre of the resort. The pretty wood-decorated building has superb views over the valley of the Massif de l’Oisans providing direct access to ski lifts and the Olympic skating rink.
Pierre & Vacances Residence Les Bergers – Less than 100 m from the ski lifts each apartment features a balcony with views over the resort on one side and the Ecrins mountain range on the other. Facilities include a swimming pool and heated relaxation room, sauna and a restaurant.
Val d’Isère – One of the original ski resorts and still one of the best. Challenging skiing with superb nightlife.
- It’s high up! It’s a no-brainer really, if you’re after lovely fresh white powder, choose a resort that’s at high altitude – it’s colder up there and there’s more chance of snow. Val d’Isère’s position offers skiing from 1550m-3470m, that’s the height of more than ten Eiffel towers stacked on top of one another.
- Olympics standard slopes – The location of the 1993 Olympics men’s downhill race, Val d’Isère provides immediate access to 300 kms of groomed slopes in the Espace Killy ski area, with further opportunities to ski in first class off piste powder AND in neighbouring Paradiski and Three Valleys systems. There’s enough here to challenge even the most experienced skier.
- Dick’s Tea Bar – It’s legendary for après ski partying attracting big name DJs, and its Val d’Isère premises have just re-opened for the season with a makeover.
Where to stay in Val d’Isère:
Pierre & Vacances Residence Les Chalets de Solaise – Self catered apartments with access to the outdoor heated swimming pool and wellness area and located at the heart of Val d’Isère.
Pierre & Vacances Residence Les Balcons de Bellevarde – Typical of the Val d’Isere region with its pretty wooden and stone-clad front, ski apartments facing the slopes and balconies for all-day sunshine.
Belle Plagne – another action packed resort, in fact, if skiing is not your thing you can pack in a week’s worth of snowy fun without ever strapping on a pair of skis!
- Adrenaline activities – The bob experience: an exhilarating 19 bends worth of Olympic bobsleigh run, a giant zip slide high wire, an outdoor ice climbing tower, access to four free-style snow parks and snow quad biking. Yo name but a few…
- Child friendly – With snow kindergartens, a sledging track and crèche facilities – there’s plenty to occupy the little ones in Belle Plagne while you get on with some serious adrenaline sports.
- Keep on trekking – Glacial snow shoe treks, husky teams along with some superb cross country skiing opportunities will help you to explore the region and take in its beauty at a slower pace.
Where to stay in Belle Plagne:
Pierre & Vacances Residence Les Nereides – Located in the heart of the ‘Paradiski’ domain, with easy access to the slopes from the residence. These self catered ski apartments have recently been fully refurbished.
Pierre & Vacances Residence Residence Les Constellations – Situated directly on the slope, the wooden and stone chalets blend into the snowy backdrop in this peaceful setting.
Flaine – A stylised modernist French mountain resort and the perfect choice for those with young families and ski beginners.
- Paradise for beginners and kids – Flaine’s wide snowy boulevards are perfect for beginners and those with less skiing experience and there’s plenty of free activities and family focused fun on offer too. Excellent ski schools are also available for anyone who is slightly less confident on two skis, and there’s even a week dedicated to children from 4-13 April 2012.
- Free lifts – No need for lift passes so you can ski for free!
- Modernist architecture and art – It’s not to everyone’s taste but if you have a penchant for Bauhaus, architect Marcel Breuer’s buildings won’t disappoint. And there’s plenty of art to see too including a sculpture park containing works by Jean Dubuffet, Pablo Picasso and Victor Vasarely. The cultural centre, Art de Flaine, also hosts exhibitions of contemporary art.
Where to stay in Flaine:
Pierre & Vacances Residence La Foret – A residence with easy access to slopes and in the heart of the resort.
Pierre & Vacances Premium Residence Les Terrasses d’Eos – Stone and timber chalets, lit by large bay windows with a warm and elegant interior finish and nestled in a spruce forest.