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Posts Tagged ‘La Clusaz’
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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!’
Who hasn’t been inspired by the recent resurgence on TV of Torvill and Dean to don their ice skates and perfect their figure skating skills? There’s something rather romantic about the idea of cutting a dash on the ice rink, complete with Argyll sweater, mittens and skates. Especially outdoors, of a winter’s afternoon in the warming sunshine, or of an evening with snowdrops on your tongue and twinkling chalet lights brightening the dusk. And the promise of a hot chocolate or vin chaud when you’re done! Perfect entertainment for all the family.
Why not take the opportunity of your next skiing holiday in France to venture out onto the ice?
Here is a guide to French Alpine resorts with outdoor patinoire (ice skating rinks!).
This south facing, sunny resort of Alpe d’Huez has lots of self catering ski accommodation, and is the ideal place to perfect your figure of eight whilst soaking up some rays.
The ice rink is located on the Avenue des Jeux in the heart of the resort and is open daily from 11.30am to 10.45pm. Figure skating tuition is offered by Alpe d’Huez Patinage Club for ages three and upwards.
Entry costs €6 for adults/ €3 children under 13 or is free with a Visalp ski pass. Skate hire costs €4.
Les Deux Alpes
It comes as no surprise that this international winter sports resort has an Olympic-size outdoor ice rink, located next to the swimming pool on the Rue des Sagnes, close to the central Place des Deux Alpes. The resort is a huge playground for mountain lovers, with lots of self catering accommodation for those wanting to experience the fantastic restaurants the area has to offer.
Entrance to the ice rink is free for all holders of a six day lift pass. There is a small charge for ski hire. Open daily from 10.30am to 12.30pm, 3pm to 6.30pm and 8.30pm to 11pm.
At certain times of the week you can also try your hand at ‘ice gliding’ – bumper cars on ice!
The outdoor ice rink is situated in the centre of this picture perfect Alpine village on Place de la Résistance, surrounded by accommodation with views of Mont Blanc.
It’s open daily from 2pm to 8pm (Tuesday from 2pm to 6pm, special children’s session from 6pm to 8pm). It costs €4.80 per adult and €3.80 per child (5 to 14 yrs). Skate hire costs €3.20, free for children under 5.
There is a brand new ice rink opening in the 2011/2012 season in the centre of this family-friendly resort – which is also the home of Pierre & Vacances. The rink will be open daily from 3pm to 8pm. Entry costs €5.20 for adults and €4 for children under 12, including skates. Holders of a Family Pass can get in for free.
La Plagne has two natural open-air ice rinks situated in majestically high Aime La Plagne and sporty Plagne Bellecôte.
The rink at Aime La Plagne offers fantastic views of Mount Blanc. Open daily from 3.30pm to 10.30pm. Cost is €7 per adult and €5 per child under 12.
The rink at Plagne Bellecôte is located behind the main gondola and is open daily from 10am to 7pm for the same price.
The natural ice skating rink at this world-renowned ski resort is in the middle of the village of Val d’Isere, which is full of family friendly self catering accommodation. It is open every day from 3pm to 8pm. The cost is €6 per adult and €5 per child, or you can buy a child week pass for €20 which includes entry to the rink and skate hire.
Skate in front of the Mont Blonc massif at the natural rink in Les Houches, located in the centre of the village. The best news is, it’s free.
During French holidays, the rink is open Tuesday to Sunday from 2pm to 5pm and from 8pm to 11pm. At other times it is open Tuesdays from 8pm to 11pm, Wednesdays from 2pm to 5pm, Fridays from 8pm to 11pm, Saturdays from 2pm to 5pm and from 8pm to 11pm and Sundays from 2pm to 5pm.
And you can also stay in the view of the Mont Blonc massif in one of Pierre & Vacances’ self catering apartments in Les Houches.
La Clusaz, renowned for cross country skiing, has a 1000 m2 open air ice rink located in the centre of this typically Savoyard village, and is even covered in the event of rain. And if you fancy a stay in one of the most laid back resorts in the Alps, Pierre & Vacances has self-catering accommodation in the area.
The outdoor skating rink in Bruyères, in the heart of Savoie Olympique, is open from 4 pm to 8 pm. So if you want to ski in one of the sunniest spots in the French Alps, check out the self catering apartments on offer!