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Early december french alps - where to go??

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Does anyone know of a resort in the French Alps that has a good chance of snow being on the ground at the start of the season (ie 4th December) and if there is much to do there if you arent a keen skier (my gf is coming, somewhat under duress, but does enjoy cross country so if there are good trails then that would be a bonus) such as shopping (at a guess, I have no idea what else she would like to do but if there is something else there asides from snow that would be a start!).

Any advice gratefully received!

post #2 of 16
This is my call, bit others may feel differently: In Val d'Isere/Tignes the season opens pretty much around November 27th, but last year they were running the Men's Downhill on December 11th, and the downhill course there goes all the way to the resort base. Either way the glacier skiing at Val guarantees some nice skiing once all the lifts from the base are open, which they shoould be by the 2nd week in December. The skiing up high is gorgeous.

I have no idea what people do out there when they don't ski (madness) but I s'pose I've seen a swimming pool, a hell of a lot of overpriced clothing stores (not selling much but skiwear though) some very nice bars and restaurants and a movie theatre, and lots of cool hikes - but it's pretty expensive. It seems like the highest resort with the best snow coverage, and good girlfriend facilities, but at a price. Don't take me as the final word on this, though :>
post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 
Cheers Daisy. Do you know if there are any x country trails there and how about cheap accom? Sounds good, Im keen and if i can get those other two things sorted it is in the bag!

post #4 of 16
its not exactly french alps - but it is close. check out zermatt in switzerland. good, guaranteed early snow - due to altitude and glacier. your girlfriend will love the place. your wallet may not.
post #5 of 16
I was thinking Val Thorens because of high base.
You might try asking on www.snowheads.com, it has a heavy amount of Euro participants.
Does it have to be France? Doesn't Austria have some better glacier skiing, which would be your safest bet at that time, e.g. Hintertux, Kaprun, and Stubai. The latter is near Innsbruck with lots of stuff for non-skiers.
post #6 of 16


yeah, Val Thorens is great, too, but I'm feeling austria more, now, just cos he's right about the glacier skiing. Wish I could elaborate on the x-country in Val but frankly I dunno. I think there's some, but not much. Do you live in Europe?
post #7 of 16
Add another vote to Val Thorens
post #8 of 16
I think Val Thorens is the highest resort in Europe and I went at the end of the season and it was superb. Other snow sure choices I think are Obergurgl (Aus) and St Anton / Lech (Aus), as well as the aforementioned Tignes.
post #9 of 16
What Daisy said.
In France, Val - Tignes is the most snow sure, on average, early in the season. But who can say where the snow will hit first this year ? Not me anyway.
As far as shopping, dining etc are concerned, prefer Val d'Isère to Tignes. But be prepared to pay for it...
Cross country is avalaible in both resorts, but probably desapointing. Definitely not a strong point of the Espace Killy.
Others activities besides what Daisy already pointed out : Ice driving courses, para gliding, ici skating..; the usual big resort stuff. Oh, and a good bookshop, with english material.
post #10 of 16
We are going 10th December. Best to wait till last minute and choose a resort then. Arriving in Geneva the options are Val Thorens, Val D'Isere (but the face will be closed for the downhill on 10 December), Tignes (higher and on the same lift system as Val D'Isere, or Zermatt. Possibly Chamonix but that normally opens up a week later I think.
post #11 of 16
That's a sensible thing to do, NigelS.
But :
1- There's no real difference between Tignes and Val, as far as snow is concerned.
2- The 'Critérium de la première neige', first round of the WC for downhill and superG will be held the 10th and 11th for men and the 17th and 18th for the ladies (with practice during the week), on the Oreiller - Killy (OK) piste, not the Face. The Face has not been use for a downhill race since the Olympics, as far as I know.
The OK doesn't end up in the Village (the main base), but in La Daille, a secondary base, down the road to the valley.
post #12 of 16
hi rob, just back from Tigne - was there over the wkend. The glacier conditions are fantastic just now - got 6" of fresh friday night and skied pow sat morning. Loads of X country geezers going up the train in the morning and there was a massive circuit just next to the Roslin t-bar. If you head to tigne you'll definately get the Grand Motte glacier area in early december - and if you're lucky a lot of the rest of the massive resort will be too (I was there early dec last year and the extensive system of snow cannons kept things topped up nicely - have fun...(and have a drink in the Alpaca if you go - millions of character, brilliant barman and massive Irish wolfhounds for the surreal touch).
post #13 of 16
dg3 - oh man, lucky you. how's solaise looking? did you see?
post #14 of 16
According to Val webcams, the resort is still, hum, green...
post #15 of 16
ha. right. oh dear. hmmm.
post #16 of 16
yip very green I'm afraid daisy lower down....but glacier is easily big enough - mind you i am used to skiing in scotland - as a nation we're renowned for our turning prowess ;o)
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