Ever thought about taking the train to the mountains this winter? Catch the Eurostar to Paris or Geneva and take a connection to the alps this ski season! Here, ski writer and founder of Snowcarbon, Daniel Elkan, has given us his top destination tips.
Best for beginners: Montgenevre, France
Situated right on the Italian border, Montgenevre has a fantastic beginner area with gentle slopes in centre of village where you can find your feet if it’s your first time. Once you’re finished for the day, the resort also has a great ‘front de neige’ – the ski equivalent of a seafront – where you can sit back, relax and take in the sights.
Best for intermediates: Les Arcs, France
If you’re a confident beginner, Les Arcs is a great location to test yourself. The huge area has a wide range of interlinking blue and red runs – including some wooded sections for those after a challenging run. With numerous spots to head to on the ridge, from Arc 1600 up to Arc 2000, the terrain is mixed enough to have something for everyone.
Best for advanced: Val Thorens, France
The highest resort in Europe, Val Thornes is a high altitude base from which to explore the vast 600km Three Valleys ski area. The region is almost guaranteed snow from November to May, so head there for some early or late season skiing. Val Thorens itself is home to 8 black runs, including the 3km Caron run down from the Cime de Caron lift med24horas that is a test for any experienced skier.
Best for charm: Les Gets, France
With more to ski in the area than meets the eye, Les Gets is lovely and friendly Savoyard village that is ideal for families with its gentle slopes and good range of accommodation. The 12th-century village also has a weekly market where local produce is sold, and a little road-train which ferries skiers around the village.
Best for buzz: Verbier, Switzerland
The main resort in Switzerland’s 4 Valleys, Verbier combines exciting terrain with a cosmopolitan atmosphere, and lively evening entertainment. The slopes themselves are best suited to those who are confident skiers, with a limited number of green runs for those just starting out.
Best for gourmets: St Gervais, France
If you like your skiing with a large side order of gourmet food, then the best place to head to is easily St Gervais. As well as a range of 122 runs, the town has a whole host of wonderful cosy mountain huts, such as Sous les Freddy and La Galeta – where you will find Savoyard specialities and wood grilled dishes.
Best for families: Val Cenis, France
The ski capital of the Haute Maurienne valley, Val Cenis has an excellent network of beginner slopes, intermediate runs and advanced drops. While it is not known for its nightlife, the area is a good bet for families who are after a quiet evening after a day of skiing on the very scenic mountain.
Best for scenery: Alpe d’Huez, France
Infamous with cyclists as one of Le Tour de France’s legendary mountain climbs, Alpe d’Huez is also a great destination in the winter months for those who prefer two skis to two wheels. As well as terrain that is suited from beginners to experts, and everyone in between, the resort is also home to magnificent scenery, such as the panoramic view from Pic Blanc, as well as the view from the Dome de la Lauze.
Best for powder snow: St Anton, Austria
Rated among the top five resorts in the Alps, St Anton is located in one of Europe’s snowiest areas meaning fresh, untracked powder on a daily basis if you’re up early enough. For those more experienced, the region also has over 200km of off-piste routes, allowing you to have a unique experience on every run.
Best for value: Valmeinier, France
A bit under the radar in the UK, the resort of Valmeiner offers excellent slopes for a very competitive price. A great choice for a family-friendly, stress-free holiday, the area combines two villages – Valmeinier 1500, which is a charming mining and farming village, and Valmeinier 1800, a purpose-built village 300m further up the mountain that is ski-in-ski-out.