British skiers have always favoured France for their winter holidays and well known resorts such as Courcheval. Meribel, Val d’Isere and Tignes regularly top lists of most popular European ski resorts. There are, however, quite a few lesser known resorts that still offer great accommodation and skiing but for some reason seem to fall under the radar.
The queues in these largely undiscovered Alpine gems don’t exist for most of the year and even through peak periods never exceed those that you can find in Courcheval on a single day. Add into the mix the lower costs in resort and the very relaxed atmosphere et voila the charm of this hidden French Alps resorts become even more appealing.
Below is a selection of Pierre & Vacances’ recommendations of the best ski resorts to head to in 2013/14 for those looking to take advantage of short queues, friendly traditional atmosphere and great value:
Serre Chevalier 130km from Turin Airport – approx. 2 hours
Best feature? Woodland runs are plentiful in Serre Chevalier. Unlike the towering resorts of Les Arcs, Tignes and Val Thorens, this picturesque resort has runs under the tree line. As well as making for exciting skiing as you glide past trees and perfect quick turns, the trees also provide better visibility when the weather takes a turn. This year a new gondola replaces the old cable car from Chantemerle to Serre Ratier, giving fast access to some of the best of the tree-lined runs in town.
Where to stay? The Residence L’Alpaga is ideally located in the heart of the resort, close to lifts and the village shops, bars and restaurants. Ranging in size from studios sleeping 4 up to 2 and 3 bedroom apartments catering for up to 8 people, they all have balconies or terraces and were renovated recently . Prices start at £427 for a studio apartment sleeping 4 (early booking 20% discount offer until 31st October, £342).
Valmorel 95km from Chambery Airport – approx. 1 hour
Best feature? Designed with families in mind, the resort has been awarded with the Family+ recognition from the French government cementing its place as one of the top family ski resorts. Testament to this is the new lift pass available for families with children aged up to 21. These passes start at 682.40€ (approx. £580) for a 6 day pass for 4 people.
Where to stay? The Residence Athamante et Valériane is smack in the centre of this attractive Savoyard village. Adding to the village’s family-friendly appeal, there are regular free activities on offer for 6 to 12 year olds. Apartments range in size from studio apartments sleeping 4 up to 2 and 3 bedroom apartments for up to 8 people. Prices start at £661 for a 1 to 2 bedroom apartment, perfect for families of up to 6 (early booking 20% discount offer until 31st October, £529).
Valloire 150km from Turin Airport – approx. 2 hours
Best feature? For an added ‘je ne sais quoi’ this season, the 23rd International Ice Sculpture Contest will take place in Valloire over 4 days from 14th – 17th January 2014. 20 of the best sculptors in this frozen field will converge on this characterful village resort for the event that is set to conclude with a musical, lightshow extravaganza. Aside from this icy event, the village exudes traditional alpine appeal, with a 17th century Baroque church as the village’s centrepiece.
Where to stay? The Residence Les Chalets Valoria blends harmoniously with the resort’s traditional alpine ambience, enjoying an ideal location right at the foot of the slopes. The residence, which received a 2013 Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence, has apartments ranging in size from studio apartments sleeping 4 up to 2 to 3 bedroom apartments for up to 8 people. Prices start at £419 for a studio apartment sleeping up to 4 (early booking 20% discount offer until 31st October, £335).
Isola 2000 70km from Nice Airport – approx. 1 hour 15
Best feature? The views from 2610m upon the summit of Sistron are magnificent, even by Alpine standards, and the Mediterranean can even be seen from this lofty position. The snow record is equally as impressive, even topping the monthly charts within the past 6 seasons, as would be expected from such high altitude skiing.
Where to stay? With every apartment boasting a terrace or balcony, the Residence Les Terrasses d’Azur is ideally equipped to enjoy the fantastic views it commands across the Chastillon Valley. A mini tram funicular ensures the village itself is also easily accessed from the Residence. Apartments range in size from studio apartments sleeping 4 up to 2 to 3 bedroom apartments for up to 8 people. Prices start at £519 for a 1 bedroom apartment sleeping 4 (early booking 20% discount offer until 31st October, £415).
For more information on holidays with Pierre & Vacances and further ‘French unknowns’ to explore this winter visit www.pierreetvacances.co.uk or call 0870 0267 145