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Alpe D'Huez or Chamonix? Or other French Alps possibilities?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
I'm a 20 year old college student who will be in Europe this fall. I've planned my flights so that I leave a week into the beginning of December. I am really hoping to ski a few days in the French Alps before I leave. I know the conditions won't be the best, but I figure it'll be better than nothing - and certainly worth it, if only to say I did it.

Where should I go for the best mid-week skiing the first week of December in France? Chamonix has been suggested, because apparently it attracts a young crowd. I've heard Alpe D'Huez is fabulous. What's the consensus?
post #2 of 19
I don't know about Alpd'Huez, but Chamonix is very unlikely to be open that week.

You'll need to go high, I'd suggest Zermatt (not French, but close, and it's the *most* beautiful place, the Matterhorn is an amazing sight) or the Espace Killy (Tignes will be cheaper, Val d'Isere more swanky and expensive, the area is the same for both)

If I were you I'd wait until the last minute and go wherever the conditions are best - you'll have no trouble getting accomodation at that time of year.
post #3 of 19
I'd go Zermatt dude...reasonable amount of glacier terrain, Matterhorn views, lovely traffic free alpine town and is busy enough to have an atmosphere all the yr round.

Don't know where you got the ADH info from, the skiing is good but by no means the best and the town is purpose built - its certainly not an early season place.

Chamonix rocks but will probably not have snow or be open....
post #4 of 19
Thread Starter 
Zermatt will be open? Chamonix and Alpe D'Huez open up on December 1st. They "fully open" around Christmas. What's the difference?

Secondly, I'm looking for basically just on-piste stuff. I'm a proficient carver and really comfortable on skis, but have never done backcountry - if that matters...
post #5 of 19
Rumour is that it's going to be a good december this year so you may be lucky!

Chamonix is a wonderful place, my absolute favourite, but honestly, it's very unlikely to be open that early. There may be one or two lifts on, the dates are not announced until nearer the time though, depending on the snow.
But even so, they don't generally open till mid december

Zermatt is open much earlier (I've had great snow there at halloween) as it has a big glacier. Ditto for the Espace Killy.

I'd still say your best bet is to go where it's good at the time. Keep an eye on http://www.snow-forecast.com/ to see how it's going nearer the time.
post #6 of 19
Thread Starter 
Well it sounds like Zermatt is the place to go. How's the town for nightlife, etc?

Will a skier like me able to handle it? I've skied mostly at Sugarloaf in Maine. As I said, I'm a proficient carver and I'm generally comfortable on skis. I've never done anything backcountry, but have no problem staying in control, going fast, etc.
post #7 of 19
Zermatt has tons of 1) intermediate groomed runs AND 2) nice restaurants and bars.
post #8 of 19
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Marty View Post
Zermatt has tons of 1) intermediate groomed runs AND 2) nice restaurants and bars.
And no cars. Sounds perfect. I'm a college student, so I need cheap accomodations. I'm sure they exist there, but how hard are they to find, and will there be space available when I go, or do I need to make reservations in advance? Also, weird question, but is there a grocery store in Zermatt? This will be towards the end of my trip (leaving in September), and it's quite possible that I'll be close to broke when I arrive. Thus, finding cheap food is paramount.
post #9 of 19
There will be space available anywhere in the Alps at that time of year. You will enjoy anywhere you go. If you think Sugarloaf was fun then the Alps will be fun times 1,000. Be flexible. Read the travel guides and surf the web for ads on each resort for a while. You'll probably meet some folks during your stay in Europe that might influence your travel decisions so wait until you get there to make your plans. Then, when it's closer to December, make your choice baed on snow conditions. It's all good.
post #10 of 19
I just got my 2007-08 ski.com brochure in the mail. It has good info on Europe. Order one at SKI.COM.
post #11 of 19
Forant, alpe d'huez is awful, encompasses all the worst in a purpose built french resort, the skiing is terrible as well.

a good bet would be val thorens as its the highest, theres loads of cheap accomodation, especially in december..

I cant believe people are recommending zermat, if you go youll be bankrupt..

chamonix is good and a great town, but doubt its the right place for you in december, if you decide to go then put a post on www.ukclimbing.com lot of people in the know on this site as cham is a climbing mecca and no doubt someone will have accomodation ideas, rooms to rent etc etc

good luck
post #12 of 19
I dunno.....I've done Zermatt on the cheap quite a few times - it's quite possible in the first week of December. If you wanted to really do it economically, it's got a very good youth hostel, and you could cook for yourself there.
post #13 of 19
If you are on a budget and consider Alpe d' Huez then stay at places like Vaujany or one of the neighboring villages - much cheaper and lift access is as good as in the main village itself.
post #14 of 19

Val Thorens

Went to Val Thorens about 4 years ago in mid-April, loads of snow up there then so should be in December. Shouldn't be a problem in terms of accommodation, it was pretty cheap (I was a student at the time), there are plenty of grocery stores, and its part of the 3 valleys area - huge amounts of skiing.
post #15 of 19
Tignes or Les Arcs - there are glaciers there.
post #16 of 19
Good advices here (But for Scottish Rockhopper . L'Alpe is not pretty, if not the ugliest but the skiing is excellent)

If you can afford it, stay flexible. Snow will probably be scarce in early december. Zermatt, Tignes / Val d'Isère, l'Alpes d'Huez... are likely to get some snow. Which resort will get the most of it is the real question.
Where will you be ? You may want to check the transport options.
For your program, Chamonix is not a good bet.
post #17 of 19
My understanding is the following:

There is no similar push to open lots of terrain in late November since no similar holiday really exists. Most mega-resorts are not open by Dec. 1 - there is no real economic reason. Most Euros take a firm week and wait till Christmas.
post #18 of 19
You probably want to go to Saas Fe, Zermatt/Cervinia or Tignes at that time of year. They'll all be pretty dead, though. If you go to Cervinia during St Ambrogio, in early December, it will certainly be more lively than other Alpine resorts at that time of the year. More liftlines too. If you don't mind moving a bit toward the East, the Arlberg is worth a look as they sometimes get good early snow. And of course point for point it's the best resort in Europe.
post #19 of 19
Go to St Jean de Maurienne. Take the amazing 45 min back door gondola from the cheap, non resort accomodations to the glacier of Val Thorenns
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