Secret skiing: 10 lesser-known French ski resorts
Wednesday 13, October 2010
With winter on its way, thoughts are turning to snow, and now is the time to book that ski holiday.
However, with skiing and snowboarding now more popular than ever, it can seem like the world and his wife have all had the same idea, and you may be sharing your idyllic winter getaway with thousands of others.
Don’t get lost in the crowd and put up with long lift lines and busy slopes; for unexplored pistes and lesser-known resorts, Hetty Partington of Lagrange Holidays introduces 10 serect French ski resorts.
The French Pyrenees are ideal for anyone looking for a change of scene from crowded Alpine resorts, whilst getting great value for money on their ski break. For nervous beginners or those who prefer gentler slopes, Cauterets offers ideal ski conditions set against a traditional mountain village backdrop.
With quick and easy access to the La Plagne ski area via cable car, and cross country skiing in the spectacular Vanoise National Park, Champagny is perfect for anyone looking for a real ‘mountain’ experience.
Nestled in the Portes du Soleil ski area, Chatel boasts excellent skiing in a village resort atmosphere, and is ideal for any intermediate skiers looking to try more challenging slopes whilst avoiding the people traffic usually found in larger resorts.
4. Les Saisies
A haven for those who are still finding their ‘snow legs’, Les Saisies offers dramatic views and gentle tree-lined slopes, as well as boasting 80km of Olympic cross-country ski tracks for anyone feeling a little more adventurous.
5. La Toussuire
Both family and expert skier-friendly, plus the added benefit of awe-inspiring views, the slopes of La Toussuire rival those in big name resorts in the Three Valleys. Offering an enormous ski area for keen snow bunnies to explore, La Toussuire is an excellent alternative to the huge crowds and high prices of famous name resorts, such as Tignes or Val Thorens.
A real hidden Alpine gem, Sainte-Foy is the youngest ski resort in the French Alps and is celebrating its twentieth birthday this year. Also boasting excellent off-piste opportunities, any skiers hoping to truly escape the crowds and explore a relatively untouched corner of the French Alps will not be disappointed.
One of the original French ski resorts, Saint-Gervais boasts impressive views across the Mont-Blanc mountain range and a traditional nineteenth-century spa town atmosphere and is ideal for skiers hoping to experience an authentically ‘French’ winter break.
A great destination for groups made up of skiers of mixed abilities and ages, Saint-Lary offers some of the best skiing opportunities in the French Pyrenees. This picturesque resort’s slopes offer both more challenging runs for intermediates and gentle slopes to ease in even the most nervous of beginners.
Those seeking chocolate box villages and a traditional Alpine atmosphere should head to Samoens, a beautifully preserved resort tucked in the heart of the Grand Massif ski domain. Samoens is a classified ‘Monument Historique’, ideal for families and beginners. Visitors heading to Samoens during December will find the festive cheer positively contagious, thanks to the Christmas markets and vin chaud on offer in the resort.
Linked to Valmeinier and part of the wider Galibier/Thabor ski domain, Valloire is a charming family resort with slopes to suit skiers of all abilities, whilst still offering a traditional mountain village atmosphere. The resort is also home to an international ice and snow sculpture festival every January, providing entertainment for skiers and non-skiers alike.
Compiled by Hetty Partington of Lagrange Holidays
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