Go wild in the mountains. Great restaurants. Val Thorens the highest ski resort in Europe
CHARMONIX: This valley is the heartland of big mountain skiing, next to MountBlanc in the French Alps. Especially Vallèe Blanche, reached by two-stage cable car. Beauty, winter sports and after-ski, all are a part of what draw visitors and they re not disappointed. Access from Geneva airport, and by car and train. For some areas a guide is recommended.
Val Thorens, Les Trois Vallees. This is the highest ski resort in Europe and has one of the longest seasons the Alps, from late November to early May most years. It links into other ThreeValley resorts such as Courchevel and Meribel. Many of Val Thorens are north facing so the snow is normally in good conditions from the very start of the season. Good terrain for everyone and great range of quality hotels and restaurants. Val Thorens is hard to beat.
Meribel just ok
One of the best for partying in the French Alps. The after-ski is always lively at endless of bars. Try the Folie Douce bar and Dick’s Tea Bar, the famous nightclub. Thankfully, the skiing is not too challenging.
Not so attractive
Le Deux Alpes is one of the highest resorts in France. Last season the resort had the biggest snowfall since the winter of 1982, covering the 220 km of slopes. The glacier opened in October and the main season starts in December. Not the most attractive French resort.
Arc 1950 At the heart of the Alps, a car free village set at 1950 meters and a very special setting. This place has alpine charm and the ski area is perfect thanks to the Paradiski and links to La Plagne. A magical landscape to be explored in both summer and winter. www.arc1950.com
Best for families
Les Gets. One of the best for families in the Alps. The village centre has ice rink, almost no queues for lifts and great ski schools. Only one hour transfer from Geneva.
Morzine Avoriaz Morzine is a long-established French resort, popular for its easy road access, traditional atmosphere and gentle tree-filled slopes, where children do not get lost and bad weather rarely causes problems. For keen piste-bashers wanting to travel the Portes du Soleil circuit, the main drawback to staying in Morzine has to take a bus and cable-car or several lifts to get to Avoriaz and the main circuit. Morzine’s local slopes can suffer from poor snow conditions. www.morzine-avoriaz.com
Vallorcine. Ideal base for the Mont-Blanc region and more glamorous Chamonix just 20 minutes away by train. A large beginner’s area and ski school, this resort is superbly for families.
For the adventurous
Tignes. The appeal of Tignes is simple: good snow, spread over a wide area of varied terrain. Tignes and Val d’Isère together form a Mecca for experts, and ideal for adventurous intermediates. And in many ways Tignes makes the better base: appreciably higher, more convenient, and surrounded by better intermediate terrain, with quick access to the Grande Motte glacier.
Le Praz. Le Praz is an overgrown, but still pleasant village, La Tania and 1550 quieter and good for families, 1650 has more of an old village atmosphere than it seems from the drive through, and the posh bits of 1850 are stylishly woody. But overall the resort is no beauty. Well, nothing’s perfect. The lowest altitude of the Courchevel villages (1,300m)
In France, this is one of the best places for those seeking adventures, food and parties. But you don’t have to be particularly adventurous to enjoy the resort, and the village ambience has improved greatly in recent years. Huge area linked with Tignes, with runs for all standards. Not the most distinctively French of French resorts and disappointing mountain restaurants. But no resort in the Alps has so many restaurants with Michelin-stars as Val d’Isère.
Tignes. If you are looking for a gorgeous chalet, located in a properly French Alps village and linked to a giant ski area, then look no further. Charlet de la Cloche is just few meters from the bottom of the home run in this charming hamlet. It is far away from the crowds of Val d’Isere and Tignes perfectly placed to access the giant Escape Killy ski terrain.
Paris, Dictrict 11; Wine in Heaven Eleven