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Where to go in Europe?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

I am thinking about taking my family skiing in europe over christmas 2012.  I am thinking of flying to Paris then somewhere in France or Switzerland but am open to other countries.  My family ranges from experts to beginning intermediates.  Some of the requirements are that the resort needs to be in a place that has lots to do for my wife who does not ski much.  So a resort that is charming, good for people watching, dinning, shopping etc.  In the US we like Aspen.  Other requiremnts are good snow, easy access to lifts and not too crowded.  From what I have researched, places with good snow are purpose built and lacking european charm.   Any ideas? 

post #2 of 20
Well, go with the classic :
Chamonix in France
St.Anton in Austria
St. moritz in Switzerland
Courmayeur, Cortina or even Madonna di Campiglio in Italy

Runs difficulty vary from place to place but, in all these places you should be able to find all that you require...
post #3 of 20

Zermatt, Switzerland. 

post #4 of 20
Originally Posted by Marty View Post

Zermatt, Switzerland. 

How could I have forgottenit?
Charming and car-free!
post #5 of 20

Val d'Isere is pretty good. The town is nice, they have slopes for all skill levels. Also, it has one important factor going for it: I'll probably be doing a mid-December trip there.


Anytime I go to a resort, the snow conditions the following week are fantastic (usually because of whiteout conditions the last several days I'm there). So, if you go there a week or two after me, you should have great snow.



post #6 of 20

I don't know that I'd class Chamonix as particularly family-friendly. It's a bit of a pain to get around as it's so spread out - from Les Houches to Le Tour is 20km by road! There are not really any decent nursery slopes and the main lifts involve getting buses or a lot of walking. OTOH, its is Chamonix...smile.gif


About the most kid-friendly place I can think of is Avoriaz. It's so easy to get around and there are few places that are as much fun, and though it's purpose built, its odd architecture grows on you!


If you're feeling flush, Megève is nice, as is Courchevel. The trois vallées are astounding if you've not been there before (220+ lifts!), but will get very crowded around xmas.


Nobody's list above is pretty good. Mürren in Switzerland is really charming and a spectacular location. I'd second recommendations for Val d'Isere and Courmayeur too.

post #7 of 20

Oh yeah, given the crowds you're going to see at Christmas, it's probably best to stay away from France. Apparently, 90% of the skiers in the UK are unaware of the fact that there are mountains in other countries. So, you get almost every French and British skier (as well as from other countries) in France.


Maybe look at Italy. If you go somewhere like La Thuile, you should see smaller crowds than you would get elsewhere.

post #8 of 20
Thread Starter 

Hi,  I took a look at Megeve and looks good.  Does it avoid the typical christmas crowds.  For Christmas does it get enough snow typically?

post #9 of 20

Hi there, 


Since you are open to other countries I will suggest Austria, and can absolutly recomend Ischgl  www.ischgl.com  The town is buildt at 1304 meters, and then there are 3 gondolas that take you up to a "platou" where the various 4-8 seters take you further up and around the ski system. Highest liftstation i believe is at 2850 meters. Ergo, really "snow proof". The skiing is varied and fits all except the most extreme ones. The village is quite typical Austrian, but destingguish itselv from the others by beeing very "high end" when it comes to restaurants, bars, shops, style etc. ( i can imagine the style might be somewhat like Aspen, althow i havent been there) 


I have spent 2 full winters there ( including christmas) and it is absolutly magic. On christmas morning i woke up with the best present ever.  On the balcony rail it was about 50 cm of fresh powder ( and that was down in the village) What a day !! 


Up on the mountain there is a number of restautrants with spectacular view and sundecks. The coolest thing is perhaps that the ski system is partly in Austria and partly in Switzerland. Customs officers are actually on duty on top of the mountain. (bring our passport) A cool run is when you ski all the way down th the swiss village Samnaun, where all shops are socalled "tax free" meaning wery affordable prices on everything from chocolate to Breitling watches etc. etc. You take one double decker gondola  up on the mountain again, and ski back to Ischgl. 


There are plenty of activities to fill the days if your wife doesnt want to ski all the day. 


It would be natural to fly to Vienna (from the US) and i would absolutley add a couple of days there. They do arrange numerous christmas markets in desember and are really good at this. Adding all classic sightseeings Vienna has to offer it would be a great alternativ to Paris. Further, the closest airport to Ischgl (and St. Anton for that matter) is Innsbruck, then it is just 1 hr 15 min. transfer time to Ischgl. Train friom Vienna to Landeck (closest station) is also a cool option ( then its abount 30 min. to Ischgl.


Please excuse my poor writing skills, english is not my native language. 








post #10 of 20
Thread Starter 

Thanks, it sounds like I might start looking at austria more.  seems like there may be more choices that combine charm, offslope activities, smaller crowds and great snow.

post #11 of 20

You should add these places to your research list in Austria aswell :


Bad Gastein http://www.gastein.com/en


Saalbach  http://www.saalbach.com/ (somewhat risky snow wise in desember)


Mayrhofen  http://www.mayrhofen.at/


Kitzbuhl  http://www.kitzbuehel.com/en/  (somewhat risky snow wise in desember)


Zell Am see  http://www.zellamsee-kaprun.com/en (if poor snow condition, Glacier skiing available)

post #12 of 20

There are resorts that usually enjoy good snow at Christmas, and have European charm.  I just returned from a family vacation in Obergurgl-Hochgurgl Austria.  The reason for the good snow is altitude, 6500 feet to 10000 feet.  Stayed at the Hotel Austria/Bellevue and had a wonderful experience and great food.

Colonel B

post #13 of 20

Christmas is always a bit of a crap shoot when it comes to snow.  I'd keep to the higher resorts to hedge against that.  In Switzerland, Zermatt cannot be beat for in town charm.  Ski terrain is good.  It's high.  It's not so good in snowy, cloudy weather but then that's the case in most places in Europe.  St. Mortiz is also high altitude and in my book has better skiing terrian and variety than Zermatt.  The town of St. Moritz is over the top glitzy and not particularly charming.  Outlying towns like Pontresina have more charm and lower prices and access to the same skiing.  In Austria, the Arlberg and the higher resorts like Ischgl (big party scene) and Obergurgle (small town, not much for a non-skier/shopper) are your best bets for reliable snow at that time of year.  In the Arlberg, Lech is a good bet for your family.  Charming town.  Great skiing at your doorstep.  Huge area.  All of these are accessible through Zurich.  Zermatt is reachable out of Geneva too (pretty much the same ground travel time as Zurich).  Going into Paris leaves you a long way from the mountains unless you're thinking of France and even then, you're better off going through Geneva.

post #14 of 20

Chamonix Mont-Blanc!

Meters of snow, exceptional this winter

Fly to Geneva,. then 40 minutes of buis, and it is done!

post #15 of 20

Many of the resorts mentioned have pretty questionable snow at Christmas e.g. Megeve(although the terrain only needs a few cm to be skiable because it is pasture), Zell am See, Kitzbuhel. Avoriaz is ugly with not much to do unless you ski etc. etc. Zermatt would be a good choice as would Saas Fee. They are in adjacent valleys. Saas Fee is a bit less expensive and there's lots to do off skis - a dedicated walking and togogganing mountain, wellness centres, a leisure centre, some nice shops etc. Arosa in Switzerland is also good.

Austiran resorts are generally low lying by comparison. There are glaciers at Kaprun, Hintertux, Dachstein, Pitztal and a couple of others. Obergurgl is high without a glacier and some spa facilities. The other thing about Austria is that the beautiful cities of Innsbruck and Salzburg are within easy reach of many resorts. My personal feelings about Ischgl are that it's a brash rowdy place full of drunks.

n France there aren't too many resorts that combine good snow with lots to do. As you mention there are many purpose built areas. Serre Chevalier may be worth a look as the lovely walled town of Briancon is just nearby and even shares a lift link into the system and a couple of pistes.

post #16 of 20

One of the best ski resorts in the world is Courchevel, in France. If you want a cheap ski resort, go to Romania at Straja. Here, you can go to Cabana Zeni for 27 euros for a double room. Also, you will have the girls for free :) if you know how to smile.

post #17 of 20

Why not Val Gardena in Italy? Charming, good snow, lots to do for non-skiers. And if you purchase the 'Dolomiti Superski'-pass, you'll be able to visit 11 other resorts in the Dolomites, including the Sella Ronda-resorts: up to 500 kilometers of prepared runs in stunning natural surroundings. Not too busy either and outstanding Italian food. http://www.valgardena.it/en/

post #18 of 20

 La Thuile is a great area for a mixed bag of skiers, the liftpass means you can directly access the slopes of La Rosiere the other side of the pass whenever it suits you and in addition get a day each in Courmayeur and Pila. BUT I would advise either staying in Aosta itself which will mean either a (short) bus ride to whichever area you wish each day or hiring a car. Or staying down the mountain in La Thuile town. The ski in/out accom is utterly soul less and would mean your wife would either have a lot of walking or bus riding to do in order to anything much.

 Personally I love Are Sweden. Although it is very cold and the days are short, they do do night skiing and christmas celebrations extremely well. There are around 100km of slopes to keep you busy whatever your level. Off piste available, I thoroughly endorse an easy off piste day down the backside of Areskutan to the nearby (tiny) area of Husa.

 For the non skier there is plenty of beautiful views, some shopping, access to the railway to wherever you fancy, husky sled rides, snowmobiles, spa experiences, visits to moose farms, glass factory tours, chocolate factory tours, ice fishing, ice driving, zip lining and probably more I have forgotten. The Swedes speak English too so it is very easy to join in with their friendly banter and after ski parties are frequent with live music etc.. Amazing food  both savoury and sweet on and off mountain. Depending on where you stay your accom could easily be ski in/out. I would suggest the diplomat hotel. It is a 3 min walk to the funicular railway and central to the town and station for the non skier, it also has a pool and spa. I have been to Are many times and love it, if you want any info feel free to PM me. Or google skistar who operate the mountain. The website will come up in Swedish, click on the UK flag for English.

post #19 of 20

+1 on La Thulia, We stayed at Courmayeur for about a week or 10 days which was a very nice little town but did a day trip to La Thuila (as well as a couple of day trips to other areas - Verbier, Cervinia/Zermatt) and enjoyed it a lot, there is a great gondola ride from the parking up to the mountain and it is right on the border so you ski France and Italy, it has been a while so I don't recall specifics of the trails etc. and I was there alone so I stayed on piste) but if you are doing some kind of combination, I'd stay at Courmayeur just to have something to do. The town is interesting with lots of little shop, bakeries, etc etc.and there are plenty of buses servicing the town (with our trip and meanderings we had a car).

post #20 of 20
Hello, I had made a booking in one of the finest hotels in Zermatt for last week of February. But for some reason I am unable to go. If anyone interested, I am selling my booking for a discount (it was a non-cancellable booking but the hotel has agreed to take in any guest I suggest in place of me). Let me know on chandgothia@gmail.com
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