Ski resorts are measured in different ways, with numbers of trails or sheer size ranking highly, but in terms of one lift ticket and one place, France holds top position. French resorts offer guaranteed snow all winter long, with the ski season generally starting at the end of November and running till early May.
A team of ski and holiday experts from five French ski resorts, known collectively as France Montagnes (or French Mountains, in English) is currently in Australia, making visits to Sydney and Melbourne. The team consists of Aurélie Bornand from Les Menuires; Marithé Crozet from Megeve; Véronique Beulz from Courchevel; Eric Bonnel from Val Thorens and Astrid Mahfi-Zatovic from Val d’Isere (shown left to right in photo above).
Members outlined latest developments to media this week. Sydney’s The Little Snail French restaurant, in Pyrmont opposite the Maritime Museum, provided the perfect venue.
As well as winter skiing, France’s ski territory offers plenty in the northern summer months: gastronomy and hiking being two pastimes in which France excels.
France’s ski area covers the Northern Alps, the Southern Alps, the Massif central, Jura and Pyrenees. Resorts like Megeve, Val d’Isere, les Menuires, Val Thorens and Courchevel are bywords.
A website that comes in handy is: http://en.france-montagnes.com
Lyon or Geneva are the best points to fly into on a French ski holiday and the Australian summer break coincides with excellent skiing in France.
Les 3 Vallées is France’s largest ski resort (and the world’s biggest). It encompasses the villages of Val Thorens, les Menuires, Meribel and Courchevel, offering a total 600km or so of piste, including many snow-parks and half-pipes for fans of winter board-sports. No other linked ski area anywhere comes close to that. Cross-country skiing tracks, prepared and maintained each day, head through breathtaking scenery.
Val Thorens, at the top of Les 3 Vallées, is the highest resort in Europe (2300 metres) and offers the greatest number of open trails in Europe all season through. Val Thorens was voted the world’s best ski resorts in 2013-14, in a vote conducted among one million skiers around the world.
Val Thorens also now offers the world’s longest zipline (or flying fox), running for 1.3km from Les 3 Vallées peak to the Val Thorens crest. It takes one minute and 45 seconds to zip across from one to the other. Val Thorens is also the site of Europe’s newest and highest Club Med: Club Med Val Thorens Sensations.
Val d’Isere offers free slops for beginners. Courchevel has 35 hotels and offers the biggest ski area in the world. Les Menuires celebrated its 50th anniversary in February. The nearest airports for the Northern Alps are Geneva and Lyon.
New innovations on French ski-fields include English and Scandinavian pubs (you can enjoy a different atmosphere every day) and Wi-Fi on the slops, with hotspots dotted around the snow.
Written by Peter Needham