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If you could ski anywhere in Europe

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
Where would it be? Now that the ski season is winding down, it's time to start planning next year's big trip. I've had some friends take some pretty reasonable package trips to Europe and they had a great time. Our group will be 4 - 6 skiers and boarders, all of whom are advanced to expert. We would probably make the trip around the last week of February or first week of March. I'm looking for somewhere that has great terrain and reasonably consistant snowfall. I'm leaning towards Chamonix, but don't know much about European areas. Any suggestions? <FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Chronic (edited April 28, 2001).]</FONT>
post #2 of 24
In addition to Chamonix, look into Les Trois Vallees, FR. Consists of Courcheval, Meribel and Val Thorens. The latter being the highest has the best snow conditions--early/late-- of the three. Read the posts here on Chamonix. I also like Val d' Isere. It's much, much smaller than Chamonix will its own charm.
Where ever you go, keep in mind European countries still believe *you* are responsible for *you*. Ski patrols only respon to conduct rescue--which you will be billed for. by & large obstacles/hazards are unmarked. ergo, if you love off piste: get a guide. Not to mention areas like LTV are more than 10 time the size of Vail with some 200 lifts... With a guide, you don't spend half the day trying to decide what exposure to avoid/where the best conditons are. you just follow. you get in many times over the skiing you would with out.
I just took 40 folks to Chamonix in March. E-mail me with spc . q's on either area...

post #3 of 24
I have been to St. Anton am Arlberg. It is amazing. It is linked to 4 other areas, with a ton of terrain. Also, since they just had the World Cup, their infrastructure should be better than ever.
post #4 of 24
I spent my high school days skiing the wonderful and less-well known Saas-Fee Switzerland. It's a large, but not huge mountain (around 5500 vertical feet, I think). The town of Saas-Fee is couldn't be more perfect.

The mountain is smaller than the big guns in Europe (Zermatt, Cham, etc.) but this place was a favorite. Check them out at:

Click on the little "e" for english in the upper left corner if your German isn't up to snuff
post #5 of 24
La Grave - France again.

Makes even Chamonix's off-piste tours looks like Disneyland!
post #6 of 24
I´ve been to Le Trois Vellée and Val d´Isere in France. My money is on LTV.
From what I have heard there can be very long waitng on the lifts in Cham. In LTV, I never had to stand in line for more than 15 min. And I´ve been there when the French schools have had there spring brake= LOTS of people.
La Grave offers graet skiing, but after a couple of weeks without snow, it won´t be that much fun...
ANother thing to consider: Last week of Feb. and first week of March the French schools have spring brake those weeks. There will be alot less people the week after...
post #7 of 24
3 valleys or espace killy, if you like off piste/ more challenging stuff then espace killy. However European school holidays are from the 1st week of feb to the 1st week of march, don't even think about it then as you will queue for more time than you ski. January is the cheapest time, but the coldest. Courchevel is probably the best area (but the most expensive) to stay in the 3v as you can get to higher areas if the weathers good and can paly in the trees if its not, you can't do that in Val Thorens.
post #8 of 24
Chamonix: get a pass for the whole week, and all Chamonix valley resorts(Grands Montets, Flegere, Brevent, Le Tour), this way you will not have to wait for ur pass on each morning, that's pretty important, waiting lines for pass at the Grands montets definitivly suck. In order to avoid crowds, best period is first weeks of January, after Xmas & new year (and after Xmas vacacions).
post #9 of 24
Les trois Vallees : huge, so huge that as mentioned above, even if it's crowded, you will not wait. For beginner/intermediate to expert. Same thing for Val d'Isere Espace killy. (Chamonix is more interresting for expert, limited terrain for beginners / intermediate).
La Grave : oh man !
post #10 of 24
For guaranteed snow...Arlberg. They are the Wolf Creek of Euro skiing...and have had extensive (for Europe) smking installed for the WC in St Anton. I have skied all but one of the others listed, although some 20 years or more ago...they are all fine suggestions! Bon chance!
post #11 of 24
It is interesting to see what you North Americans have to say about our European resorts.

This year I skied Chamonix, Val d'Isere and Verbier.

I have also skied Les Trois, La Plagne, Les Arcs, Deux Alpes, Alpe d'Huez, Avoriaz, Soll, Geilo, Whistler, Serre Chevalier and a couple more.


Cham - my favourite. It has the best town with the best atmosphere. The skiing is phenomenal but shame it's so spread out (buses can be irregular out of high season)

Val - Very impressed with the skiing and the lifts. Town is crap. Full of English toffs spending mummy and daddy's money and pretending to be "ski bums". Not a nice atmosphere, poor selection of bars and too many English people acting like idiots. Most of them are called Farqhuar, or Giles, or Tarquin...

Verbier - nice town, great skiing but very antiquated lift system. Way behind France in terms of queing and maintenance. Many of the lifts break down. I get the impression someone in Verbier has a lot of money but doesn't like spending it.

Les Trois - again, a favourite with the upper class idiots. but the skiing is expansive and varied. The towns are pricey, notably Courchevel. Meribel-Mottaret is a cheaper option higher up the middle valley but the pay-off is you aren't in the thick of the night life.

I guess that'll do for now.

When the snow is good, you simply cannot beat Chamonix. You just can't. The village is fantastic and the people are friendly. i also appreciate the fact that you can still find french people there, unlike Val d'Isere (when I was there this year I heard a French lady order a crepe and the guy working there couldn't understand her. I had to do the interpreter bit. That is shameful), and the skiing is spectacular, with steeps, bowls, chutes, the lot...

Just be prepared for the fight to get on the early buses.

As for queues, I don't think any of the big resorts here suffer anymore. Chamonix and Val certainly don't.

hope thhis has been of some interest to someone.

JB the flying Scot

Pass me a bottle, Mr Jones...
post #12 of 24
Johnny Boy,
I'm headed to Les 2 Alpes this summer for probably 10 days. Ever been there in the summer? (I've never been period)

post #13 of 24
Tog, I have never been in the summer, but when I did my academic year in Grenoble, I skied there almost every weekend (for £5 a day!!!!, including bus ride there) as it was only a 20 mintue drive.

It is a good resort, and I think the best skiing is actually up the top on the glacier. I don't know how much of it opens in the summer, but I would imagine you'll find plenty to enjoy. Also, the restaurant at the top has a huge sun deck where there are usually throngs of beautiful french women sunning themselves and looking very very nice. I often wasted my lift pass just gawping at them.

Are you staying in the village itself? If so, you should try "Bar Brazilia" for drinks, I remember it going a bit crazy in there from time to time.

When you are there, take a look from the top of the hill (south I think) and you'll see the top of Alpe d'Huez. There was talk of them putting in some sort of high speed new age lift to connect the two resorts. They are pretty far apart, but if it ever works it will be one of the most amazing feats of engineering, and one of the best ski areas in the Alps.

I'd be interested to know what you think of Les Deux in the summer. Hope you have a good time. If you have a day off the slopes, check out Grenoble. It's an ugly place (Olympics 68 made a mess) but the nightlife is great.

Hope this has been of some interest.


Pass me a bottle, Mr Jones...
post #14 of 24
I can't belive it!!! I forgot to recommend my home mountain!!

You guys want to widen your horizons - forget all about Cham, Espace Killy, Verbier, St Anton - don't be suckers for hyperbole. Just cos they're big don't make them great.

No, my friends, if it's real mountain adventure you're after, come to Scotland. Land at Glasgow, turn left and in 2 hours you'll be at one of the greatest ski facilities in the world - Glenshee.

With two challenging black runs and a handful of reds, this resort has plenty to keep even the most experienced skiers entertained. Then, on the 5 out of six days of your holiday when you can't ski because the wind is blowing you back up the hill, the hail is making you bleed and you have no base left from bashing all the rocks and heather, you can sample the delights of Braemar. There are 2 pubs and a tea shop.


(PS - It's actually pretty damn good if the snow holds. There are some fantastic (small) bowls and chutes etc...)

Pass me a bottle, Mr Jones...
post #15 of 24
Living at grenoble, i use to go to 2-Alpes during summer. Skiing is on the glacier of course. Slopes are not really steep, but if you come on July, you might go out of bound and from the top of the tram at right hand, off-piste this is large and steep , going to bottom of surface lift "le signal". On August usually, the glacier is too "dirty" to let you ski it out of the groomed, so on, you might stay on the flat or the park or the terrasse (more ITALIAN women than French ones, as far as they own half of the resort... but hey, cool anyway ! ). Feel free to ask more. Have fun.
post #16 of 24
I'm considering a trip to Europe with my 20year old son the third week of March. Last year we skied Red and Whitwater and did some cat skiing in B.C and I'm having trouble coming up with ideas to top it.

Any suggestions for the perfect week itinerary, including areas that are relatively easy to get to (e.g. only 1 day of travel from NYC), get the best late season snow, are more challenging, without being insane and less crowded? (Red was perfect, and I'm not interested in skiing you have to rappel into.)

post #17 of 24
Hpo a flight to Zurich. Get on the train to Langen am Arlberg. Taxi over the pass. You are now here - www.lech.at
post #18 of 24
Originally Posted by epic View Post
Hpo a flight to Zurich. Get on the train to Langen am Arlberg. Taxi over the pass. You are now here - www.lech.at

There's also the Arlberg Express direct from the Zurich airport to Lech, Zuers, and St. Anton. Might only run on Saturdays, but very convenient, especially if you do a nonstop to Zurich.
post #19 of 24
It has to be Chamonix - Its just a fantastic place to be regardless if you ski or not. Truly stunning scennery. The skiing is world class. Mid week out of school holidays you wont be waiting long at the lifts if at all. Last January I skied for 2 hours without seeing anyone. The buses can be a slight problem but certainly not as bad as some detractors. The off piste is extraordinary. You do need a guide though its a true Alpine environment. Check out the valle Blanche run 22km run through glaciers from 3500m. Also your really near Italy (11kms through Mont Blanc tunnel) or Switzerland just down the road. Can I also recomend a little Burger place called Poco Loco does the best burger Ive ever had make sure you wash it down with a few Amstels.
Also for International Flights Chamonix is only 1 hour from Geneva International Airport.
Bad points are - On Piste Signs and ski patrol non existent, The telepherique will break down at some point in your trip!!! If you are a single man not nearly enough women. If your a single woman all the men will try to chat you up. Avalanches - they killed nearly 300 people last year in the Alps. Not the place to go if you are a beginner of low confidence it can be steeeeeeeeep.
Hope I have persuaded you. Well I persuaded myself I am off to the travel agent to book my flight.
post #20 of 24
I love Chamonix too - and though it can indeed be dangerous, it's not quite that bad - Pistehors.com gives figures of 55 dead from avalanches in France last season.

This is bad enough though - it was by far the highest yet recorded, so let's hope for a safer year this time.

It's true about the ratio of men to women though
post #21 of 24
Great resort recommendations in here for sure, so some words about the snowfall since you asked for consistency on that.

That can be a hit or miss in the western Alps more than in the central ones. If you measure the success on a trip by freshies scored you should stay flexible on your destination up to the last minute. Geneva and Zürich are roughly two hours apart by car, so even if you nail down early booking flight deals it shouldn't deterr you from picking the best spot based on actual snow conditions and weather forecast.
post #22 of 24
Don't forget Krasnaya Polyana http://www.krasnaya-polyana.com/fr/hiver.html in the Caucasus, probably not a tourists place, but if you are a hardcore skier, this is the place. if you look for a more tamed place go to Dolomites or Arlberg.
post #23 of 24
If you are skiing in France, take out Carte Neige insurance when you are there - that will cover to get you off the hill and to the hospital. It does NOT cover hospital costs.
post #24 of 24
Originally Posted by Wear The Fox Hat View Post
If you are skiing in France, take out Carte Neige insurance when you are there - that will cover to get you off the hill and to the hospital. It does NOT cover hospital costs.
An do it even though you think you insurance already covers you. For a small sum, it give you a card the French recognise immediately. There have been some reports on snowheads of real hassle for those injured who do not have it.
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