Now that winter is suddenly upon us (it’s bloody freezing outside and I’ve had to crack the furry coat out of the cupboard), my mind has been turning to that awesome season I spent out in the snowy mountains back in 2013. It’s been a while since I’ve had my feet strapped to a board, head encased in a helmet and bruises on my knees and bum. Oh how I miss it. A friend of mine is heading out on her first ski season this week, and it got me thinking about all the awesome resorts out there where you could spend a winter playing in the snow and getting paid for it! So here are my Top 4 resorts for a ski season in France.
1. Les Arcs
Ok, so I’m a little biased here, seeing as this is where I actually spent my season, but it really is a pretty great place to be. While it might not have the biggest parties, or the ‘wow’ factor of other, larger resorts, it does have something for everyone. Les Arcs is situated over 4 mountain levels – 1600, 1800, 1950 and Arc 2000, all of which offer something different. 1600 is the closest to Bourg St Maurice, 1800 has the nightlife, 1950 is the ‘posh’ bit, and 2000 gets you the quickest access to the top of the mountains (and it’s where I lived). But the best thing about Les Arcs? Every one of the 4 resorts has doorstep access to the Paradiski area, ‘one of the most extensive and varied ski domains in the world’, which is the combined skiing areas of Les Arcs and another resort, La Plagne, together.
Tignes labels itself as the ‘sportiest ski resort’, so if it’s a bit of action your after then Tignes is the place for you. Opening earlier than any other resort, Tignes has its own snowpark, boardercross and even a half-pipe, so you can practise your tricks to your hearts content. While not the prettiest of resorts, it does have some fantastic nightlife and there are also endless events and festivals, as well as some excellent activities over Christmas and New Year, so if it’s a good time you’re after, then Tignes is the place for you.
Méribel was the resort I used to go to when I was a kid, in fact I think it’s the very first place I learnt to ski, and I remember loving it! It’s a very family friendly place, with mountain runs big and small to suit every age, style and ability. So whether you’re a talented skier or boarder, or are using your season to begin your relationship with the snow, you won’t have any trouble in Méribel. There’s also an Olympic Centre, with an indoor swimming pool, water slide, climbing wall and indoor ice-rink for those times when you’ve had enough of the mountains. Oh and it’s also part of the 3 Vallées, the largest skiing area in Europe.
4. Val Thorens
Voted Europe’s best ski resort of 2014, Val Thorens is the highest ski resort on Europe and, like Méribel, is part of the 3 Vallées. Everywhere is ski-in-ski-out, it has an awesome atmosphere and there are great bars, clubs, restaurants and shops… something for everyone – whether you love the big, scary runs, or are more of a chilled skier, who likes to enjoy the aprés life.
Where do you like to ski or snowboard in the winter? What’s your top snowy mountain destination?