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The snow is here! Are you ready for Winter 12/13?

October 30, 2012 11:56 am
posted by Sarah

There’s nothing like that moment when the first snowy pictures from the French Alps start appearing every year. Seeing the beautiful French mountains covered in fresh snow only builds the excitement for our ski holidays to France!

And this year we’ve been treated to some really fantastique pictures from some of the top ski resorts and areas, including Les 3 Vallees, Avoriaz, Espace Killy

Here are some of our favourites to whet your appetite for the upcoming winter season:

And if this has got you suitably excited to hit the pistes this season, check out our Early Bird booking offers: up to 20 per cent off accommodation [including the school holidays!] if you book before November 5!

And if you also book your equipment hire, passes and lessons through us you could save up to 45 per cent!

Happy skiing everyone! 


Ten reasons why Avoriaz is the family resort to beat!

September 14, 2012 8:47 am
posted by Rebecca

This week we were delighted to learn that the home of Pierre et Vacances’ first residence back in 1978 has been nominated as Best Family Resort! The nomination from 2012 World Snow Awards – from Ski and Snowboard Magazine – will be judged a panel of industry experts with winners announced on Friday November 2, 2012 during the annual Ski and Snowboard Show in Earls Court, London. The event will mark the 25th anniversary of the Ski & Snowboard magazine.

It’s well deserved honour in our view, and for good reason too. Avoriaz has always led innovation in the Alps and this winter season is no exception.

Here are our top 10 reasons why Avoriaz should win!

1. It is 100 per cent snow-sure: Avoriaz is a 100 per cent snow-sure resort located at 1,800m. It has ski in, ski out access from every single residence and hotel to 650km of groomed pistes within the Les Portes du Soleil ski region.

2. Unsurpassed facilities for children: Learn to ski and child care facilities within the village are unsurpassed. It boasts Des Enfants and Ecole des Parents childcare and no less than five ski schools including the Avoriaz Alpine Ski School. With lessons in English by native English speaking instructors and an integrated nursery accepting babies from three months, the Avoriaz Alpine Ski School allows children between aged three and five to combine their nursery stay with Villages des Enfants ski lessons.

Avoriaz’s new Learn to Snowboard program uses a teaching method adapted to young children which is totally unique in Europe: From 15th December in the centre of the resort, at the very heart of the Village des Enfants’ giant learning area, Burton will open “Riglet Park”, a snowy play zone designed to introduce children from 3 years old to snowboarding.

3. Innovative & exhilarating ski area:  The resort ski area is both engaging and innovative with dedicated ‘learning areas’ plus the Avoriaz Snozone encompassing five snowparks and Snowcross areas  –  including the award winning Burton Le Stash, Lil Stash and Burton Kids Parkway, all served by a state of the art lift system with large family-friendly fast chairlifts.

4. Completely car-free sustainable resort: A car free resort where the taxis are horse drawn sleighs and sustainable initiatives are at the heart of every project.

5. Great transport links: Avoriaz offers great rail and air transport links to the UK with quick resort transfer times thanks to its location just 90 minutes from Geneva airport and 45 mins from Cluses train station.

6. Affordable and flexible lift pass options: Lift pass offers in Avoriaz are available in various flexible options including kids’ rates for under 16s, youth passes for 16 – 19 years old, seniors at 65+, a 5 hour pass, park- and stash-only passes and points cards, and 10 per cent off family pass discounts.  These offer significant savings; for instance, a six-day Portes de Soleil pass for two adults and two kids aged 5 – 15 would cost €710 individually or €560 for the family.  In December and April special offer lift passes add access to the Aquariaz water park and free kids passes on selected dates.

7. Accommodation suited to varying budgets and party sizes: Avoriaz boasts a wide range of accommodation options. These range from basic, budget four-person Maeva studios on the one hand, to luxury spacious Pierre & Vacances Premium properties. At the premium end two and thee-bedroom apartments, hotel style service is coupled with spa and indoor leisure facilities.

Over 500 quality spacious new apartments have recently been added, designed to meet growing demand from families and groups who want to go on holiday with grandparents and friends. The new Crozats residence, for example, offers connecting apartments, ideal for groups looking to come together at meal times, while offering privacy at other times during the trip. Further family friendly hotel options are also available.

8. All-season entertainment programme: A lively calendar of in-resort events takes place in Avoriaz throughout each season. From fireworks and visits from Santa for kids at Christmas to the February ‘Carnaval’ with torchlight descents and colourful street art, live music from rock to jazz,  international DJ acts and cabaret, an exhilarating programme is designed to thrill and entertain.

9. A host of ‘alternative’ snow-related activities: Opportunities for non skiers or for those who simply want to try something new in the mountains abound in Avoriaz. Night sledging, a ‘safe sledging’ run, snowshoe walks, dog sledging, skating and even free fall parachuting are among the many options!


10.   The brand new Aquariaz: The first ever ski resort water park!  Designed by the team at Center Parcs, this is a state-of-the-art aquatic paradise with enough to keep all ages happy.  Note this French water park is swim-shorts friendly – but if you want to ‘go French’ and wear Speedos, that’s OK too!


Make the journey part of your ski holiday

February 16, 2012 1:41 pm
posted by Sarah

This week’s guest blog is courtesy of seasoned snowboarder and travel writer Daniel Elkan, who has worked as a rep and led holidays for Ski Club of Great Britain in Saas Fee, Cortina, Andorra and Davos. Daniel has also written ski features for The Guardian, Observer, Daily Mail, Sunday Times, Ski+Board, Daily Mail Ski&Snowboard and Conde Nast Traveller.

In 2009 Daniel co-founded Snowcarbon, an independent website dedicated to helping skiers and snowboarders reach ski resorts by train from the UK. And he’s visited more than 30 ski resorts by train! Here are his tips on the best French resorts to reach by train, and why you should shun the long airport queues and tedious transfers for a speedy snow train: 

‘When you first started skiing, what struck you about the French Alps?  One thing was surely how beautiful and striking the mountains are. But were you also surprised about how long it takes to reach them?

‘Door-to-door, whether you fly, drive or take the train, it always takes a while to get to the snow.

‘It was the airport queues and transfers that first prompted me to look for alternatives to flying, and along with friends I started going to resorts by train, to try to make the journey part of the holiday. We were surprised to find that daytime journeys take little longer than flying – and are so much more enjoyable.

‘In 12 years of travelling this way, we’ve had loads of fun on the train, seen great scenery, met people, bantered, played games, read, and just relaxed.  And we sometimes travel to resorts overnight on Corail sleeper trains to get extra time on the slopes.

‘Though the journeys were great, finding the travel information was always difficult – you had to look here, there and everywhere. So a couple of years back, I set up Snowcarbon to help other skiers and snowboarders find out how to travel to ski resorts by train.

Pierre & Vacances have always shown their support for rail travel to ski resorts, and it is great that so many of the resorts they feature are convenient by train.  Here are ten of the best:


The resort’s car-free, ski-in-ski-out village, at the heart of the 650-km Portes du Soleil, makes a great base for families skiing and intermediates.


This classic resort has always been a magnet for experiences skiers, drawn to its wondrous off-piste terrain, including the incredible Vallee Blanche, as well as a lively, authentic town.

La Clusaz

An absolute charmer of a village set amongst the stunning Aravis mountain range, with great intermediate terrain and impressive off piste, yet relatively unknown to the British. A discovery!

Les Arc

Copyright Manu Reyboz

Les Arcs’ traffic-free villages give access to the epic Paradiski area – a huge playground for intermediates with plenty of challenge and good beginner areas too.

Les Menuires

Les Menuires makes a great base for the Three Valleys, located right at the heart of this huge area. A good-value resort – ideal for families –  with great skiing.


Megeve’s traditional village is proper winter-wonderland stuff and the relatively quiet slopes – part of the 400km Evasion Mont Blanc ski area – are home to some of France’s best mountain restaurants.


A favourite with the Brits for generations, as it has so much to offer.  A buzzing village with lots of wooden chalets,  set at the heart of the 600km Three Valleys.

Serre Chevalier

Four villages all give access to a wonderful wooded ski area in the Southern Alps. The French love it – it suits families especially – and the British are just getting to know it.


Very snowsure and a big favourite with intermediates, as the resort has 300km of pisted terrain, graduating from gentle blues through rolling reds to challenging blacks.

Val Thorens

With a village at 2300 metres, Three Valleys’ Val Thorens is the Alp’s highest ski resorts, with snow-sure skiing, good family facilities and the Folie Douce for après on the slopes.

‘And here are some photos from my train journeys.  Happy travels!’

Snapping scenery from Eurostar Cafe bar, on way to Les Menuires

TGV cafe bar on the way to Megeve

This kid was having a great time on a journey to La Clusaz

Lunch at Gare de Lyon, Paris

A little read before bedtime, on the way to Avoriaz

Corail Lunea sleeper train in the morning

The cheese shop opposite Bourg St Maurice station, near Les Arcs. Whiffy!

Happy family on the train to Chamonix


Après ski cocktail recipes

February 8, 2012 4:20 pm
posted by Rebecca

Nowhere does après ski quite like France!

There’s nothing like a busy day on the piste for working up a thirst.  And there’s definitely nothing quite like that first grande biere or vin chaud for satisfying that hard earned thirst…apart from a cheeky après ski cocktail that is.

Here’s our guide to some of the top tipples you should be tracking down in the French Alps this season, and how to make them at home.

Après Ski

That’s right, what better place to start our mixologist’s guide than with the Après Ski itself.

Make it at home?

25ml  vodka

25ml Pernod

10ml measure green crème de menthe

4 fl oz sparkling lemonade

Shake the vodka, Pernod and crème de menthe with ice, and after that strain into a highball cup with a few of ice cubes inside it. Add the lemonade.  Enjoy with a sprig of peppermint and a piece of lemon.

On the piste? 

For true glitz and glamour head to Courcheval 1850 and the Parisian style cocktail bar, Purple Cafe.


Fancy a local French twist on the Mojito?  Try the Chartreus’ito, substituting rum for the herbal Alpine liqueur. Guaranteed to warm those cockles.

Chartreuse is one of the oldest and most mysterious spirits around…with nearly 400 years of history and the added kudos of being produced by Carthusian monks.  Allegedly only three monks from the order know the secret recipe – each hold one third of the recipe and have taken a vow of silence.  Its origins are said to be as an elixir of life!

Make it at home?

Mix 1/4 lime and sugar in a glass

Add fresh mint leaves and ice cubes

And 50ml Green Chartreuse

Top up with soda

Stir and serve with straws

And what could be better than a sunny day on the slopes?  A Chartreuse Soleil!

1 part Green Chartreuse

6 parts orange juice

Over ice

On the piste? 

You’ll find Chartreuse just about anywhere in the Alps and L’Alpe D’huez is one of the closest resorts to the spirit’s Grenoble home.

Toffee Apple

Meribel and Val d’Isère have become synonymous with toffee vodka.   This can be enjoyed as a fiery shot but why not linger over a long drink such as the Toffee Apple.

Make it at home?

50 ml Toffee Vodka

25 ml apple schnapps

25ml apple juice

12.5ml lemon juice

Over Cubed ice

One spoon of grenadine

Add to shaker Toffee Vodka, apple schnapps, apple juice (the sharper the better) and lemon juice.

Shake and pour into a Collins glass with cubed ice, then add one bar spoon of grenadine to create that marbled look and garnish with a piece of fresh apple.

On the piste?

Head to be Meribel or Val d’Isère, the home of Thunder Toffee Vodka.

St Germain Cocktail

Another local speciality, St Germain is made from elderflowers grown in the French Alps and makes for a very refreshing cocktail.

Make it at home?

Champagne or dry sparkling white wine

25ml St Germain

Topped with club soda

Fill a Collins glass with ice.

First, add St Germain, then champagne, then club soda. Stir well, and garnish with a lemon twist.

On the piste?

Where better to sip a refreshing cocktail than the heart of Paradiski at Plagne Soleil with its sunny climate and spectacular views of Mont Blanc.


Génépi is the general term in the Alps for a home-made liquor featuring local mountain flora (the herb, Artemisia).  For a warming aperitif try it mixed with spirits and apple juice for a long drink.

Make it at home?

In a shaker filled with ice, pour:

25ml Génépi

50ml vodka

Apple juice

25ml syrup blue Curacao

Shake for 10 seconds and serve in a tall glass.

Or go for something a little more frisky…

The Powder

25ml Génépi

25ml peach cream

6cl orange juice

25ml cassis liqueur

Place 2 ice cubes in a tumbler and pour the ingredients in the order of the recipe.

On the piste?

You won’t have to search far in Avoriaz to find a bottle of Génépi behind the bar.

Black Forest

The title of this suitably fruity cocktail may remind you of skiing off-piste…

Make it at home?

ke it at home?

25 ml crème de cacao

25 ml cherry liqueur

25 ml cherry brandy

25 ml cream

Shake ingredients together and pour into glass. Add a little more cream on top, then add a cherry to garnish.

On the piste?

For a twist on the traditional recipe, head to Jack’s Bar in Meribel where they serve it with raspberry liqueur, white crème de cacao with hot chocolate and Chantilly cream. Yummmmy!

Hot Bunny

Also known as the Ski Bunny or Snow Bunny, this is ideal when you want a hot chocolate with an edge.

Make it at home?

25ml Triple Sec

1 Cup Hot Chocolate

Top with Whipped cream

Heat mug.  Pour in hot chocolate, add Triple Sec and stir.  Top with whipped cream or marshmallows. Sit by the fire place and enjoy.

On the piste?

You’ll need a Hot Bunny after tackling the slopes of Europe’s highest ski resort, Val Thorens.

French 75

Arguably one of the most sophisticated cocktails, the French 75 is said to have originated at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris in 1915, created for returning World War I fighter pilots.  The combination was said to have such a kick that it felt like being shelled with the powerful French 75mm howitzer artillery piece.

Make it at home?

1/2 oz lemon juice

50ml gin

25ml Cointreau


Pour the lemon juice or gin and Cointreau into a cocktail shaker with ice cubes.

Shake well.

Strain into a chilled Champagne flute.

Carefully add the Champagne.

On the piste?

If you’re going to drink a classy cocktail then where better than Chamonix.  Head somewhere like the Clubhouse for some of the best cocktails around.

Which is your favourite post-piste tipple? Come and tell us on our Facebook page!


Summer holidays go live with Pierre & Vacances

December 26, 2011 6:48 pm
posted by Rebecca

Book early for savings of up to 35 per cent!

You can book summer holidays at over 45,000 apartments throughout France and Spain from today (December 26, 2011) with the launch of the new Pierre & Vacances 2012 brochure. Early-bird booking discounts, a new waterside residence in Brittany, as well as improved facilities plus new regional activities added to its soon-to-be re-branded Pierre & Vacances Resorts, are among the exciting developments that you will be able to experience in 2012.

Bargain breaks in France and Spain should be snapped up early with 35 per cent savings possible by combining long-stay and early booking discounts.

Early booking and long stay offers

The early bookings offers are available for up to 13 night stays for bookings made before 31 March 2012 for holidays from April to August and until 31 May 2012 for holidays from September to November. Long stay discounts are valid on stays of 14 to 20 consecutive nights. Discounts are as follows:

–     Maeva- up to 20 per cent off for early booking/ up to 15 per cent off for long stay

–       Pierre & Vacances Residences– up to 20 per cent off for early bookings/ 10 per cent off for long stay

–       Pierre & Vacances Resorts– up to15 per cent off for early bookings/ 10 per cent off for long stay

–       Pierre & Vacances Premium– up to 15 per cent off for early bookings/ 10 per cent off for long stay

The offers exclude peak holiday dates of 14 July- 24 August 2012.

The Pierre & Vacances summer portfolio offers exciting new additions and discounts for 2012. Full details of the summer portfolio from Pierre & Vacances can be seen here.

 New residence

Le Coteau et la Mer in Douarnenez, Brittany is the latest addition to the Pierre & Vacances summer portfolio. The waterfront residence is located 50 metres from Les Sables Blancs Beach and has 64 one to two bedroom apartments, sleeping up to seven people, many of which have panoramic views of Douarnenez Bay. Guests will have access to the residence’s heated swimming pool which faces the sea and a solarium. There is also a Thalassotherapy centre just a few minutes walk from the apartments where treatments can be pre-booked.

Highest waterpark in Europe

A brand new water park, Aquariaz, is to open in the Alpine resort of Avoriaz –  the birthplace of Pierre & Vacances – in May 2012. Designed by Center Parcs Europe, it will be the largest water park at high altitude in Europe.

The conservatory style aqua park will cover 2,000 metres squared with large swimming pools, flowing rivers, hot tubs, water slides, a wading pool and a climbing wall. The entire area will be decorated with plants and trees to invoke a tropical atmosphere and floor to ceiling windows will allow panoramic views of the Portes du Soleil area.

New ‘Holiday Village’ branding

From January 2012, Pierre & Vacances 13 Resorts across France and Spain will be re-branded to Holiday Villages with the aim of providing guests with further on site facilities, à la carte services and integrated regional activities.

Key new features include a five free activities pass available per booking ranging from bike hire to discovering circus skills and more free activities for the whole family including fitness sessions, sports tournaments and evening shows. Pre-bookable children’s clubs are offered and improved baby kits will be available including items such as a night light and mosquito net. Further details on the Holiday Villages can be seen at here.