NOW OPEN: Winter
Although we can't travel right now, our sponsor VeronicTravel is giving you a virtual tour of the Alps.
The content of this article has been sponsored by VeronicTravel and was originally written by Véronique. For more information,
contact her at:
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The Alps, a paradise for winter sports
Think cozy ski resorts, beautiful chalets, dynamic slopes, and the most breathtaking mountain views. The Alps spans eight countries, reaching their pinnacle on France’s Mont Blanc. The 15,777-foot high peak (4,808m) is not only the Alps’, but Europe’s highest. The French Alps have been attracting skiers with a century, with powder white snow and dynamic Olympic-grade slopes. In fact, the very first Winter Olympics was held in Chamonix in 1924.
Chamonix and the Trois Vallées’s Courchevel are the most famous ski areas internationally. VeronicTravel can also organize trips to other Alpine destinations including Val Thorens, Val-d’Isère and La Plagne. Wherever you choose, you’ll fall in love with the stunning French Alps.
This region of the Alps has been inhabited for thousands of years. In 118 BC, the Romans Empire forged a road, The Domitienne Way. The French and Italian Alps road incorporated Gaul and Spain into Rome. Skiing was popularized here in the 19th century when the French alpine military brought the new Scandinavian invention of the “ski” to France. Soon the first skiing school opened on the slopes. It was, however, the first-ever Winter Olympics in Chamonix in 1924 that cemented recreational skiing as a sport and put the French Alps on the map.
Chamonix is a lively market town known as both a world-class ski resort and mountaineering destination, known as Europe's capital of extreme sports. Situated in the Haute-Savoie region of France, Chamonix is bordered by Switzerland and Italy and dominated by the incredible Aiguilles de Chamonix mountain chain which peaks at the top of Mont Blanc (4810m) - the highest in Western Europe.
The main attraction that brings tourists to this picturesque town is Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Western Europe at 4810m.
Chamonix has five main separate ski areas as well as an incredible amount of off-piste and ski touring terrain available. The resort's high altitude means that snow is assured to the end of April.
Courchevel is the most western resort of the Three Valleys. It's comprised of 6 villages that are linked by ski lifts and shuttles. They're a playground for the rich and famous, having long attracted celebrities including the Beckhams to the British Royals. The conditions and slopes are suited for beginners and expert skiers alike. Venture out on your own, take some lessons, or hit the impressive slopes with a private guide. Courchevel’s après-ski options are just as dynamic with seven Michelin-star restaurants and many chic bars. There is never a dull moment in this beautiful resort!
Ski vacation at Val Thorens is a must for winter sports enthusiasts It is Europe’s highest ski resort. At more than 7,500 feet above sea level (2,300 meters) it is right in the heart of the ski area with great options for all levels. The area features skiing up to a remarkable 10,600 feet (3,230 meters). Its sun, quality snow, and spectacular panoramas make it a favorite. After an exciting day skiing retreat to a cozy restaurant for a traditional alpine dinner, to your room with a rich hot chocolate or to your hotel’s tranquil sauna.
Explore Val d’Isère’s small streets lined with luxury boutique and stone chalets with flagstone shingle roofs. This chic Savoyard village also has several architectural gems such as the baroque church of Saint Bernard de Menthorn with its roman bell tower. In the evening, discover the delights of the village’s trendy restaurants and bars.
The ski station, which hosts some of the world’s biggest competitions, invites you to show your skills on the 3rd biggest ski resort of the Alps. At the end of the day, sink into a hot tub with views of the endless white mountains. In the evening, enjoy a good book by the soft firelight, your toes hidding in a cosy rug.
Cross bumpy slopes surrounded by majestic mountains, led by your certified instructor, try out snowboarding on some of the world’s best slopes, and safely explore 425 kilometres of ski slopes.
The Alps offer the best whether you're a beginner or an expert
Are you ready to ski down Europe’s largest obstacle-course slope, the Funslope? Designed for both older and younger skiers, it brings fun to every member of the family. Glide through a giant tunnel and release a colourful jump. Slalom around a series of moguls and tight turns. Slide across a gangway and give a high five to the giant hand at the bottom of the run. Once you reach the end, there is only one thing you have in mind – start over!
Celebrate the end of the day with the Mont Blanc in background.
In the evening, keep the temperature high in a warm atmosphere around a fondue then on the dance floor of the Indoors bar.
A fondue is great when it's cold outside...
Many visitors to France will already be familiar with fondue, but it’s just one of many hearty cheese dishes to be tried in the French Alps.
... Although a Raclette is even better!
Raclette is a similar idea where the cheese is melted at the table and served with potatoes and charcuterie. Another favorite is tartiflette, a gratin of reblochon cheese bacon, creme, onions, and white wine.Wine, mostly white, is produced in the Savoie region. Although the grapes are planted at a high elevation they thrive due to a surprisingly warm and sunny microclimate south of the peaks. The Jacquère white and Mondeuse red are the most popular varietals. Seyssell and Crémant de Savoie are recognized as AOP appellations.
Aromatic génépi is a herbal liqueur made in the French and Italian Alps that has a similar flavor profile to absinth, but sweeter. It is served as an after-dinner digestif.
Skiing is possible from early December until late April. Snow conditions are best from January through March. December offers Christmas markets and holiday activities. March is a great time to come, with agreeable weather, nice ski conditions, and lighter crowds. For summer activities, particularly hiking, come in August and September the only months without snow.
By Plane and Car: Fly to Geneva, Switzerland. Reach Chamonix (1 hour) and Courchevel (2 hours) by rental car or private driver.
By Train: From Paris or southern France, the TGV train can get you close to many French Alps resorts. Upon arrival,
you may need a shuttle or driver.
More about the French Mountains. Experience the diverse cultural and gastronomic heritage of the mountains in the ski resorts and massifs.
PYRENEES, between France and Spain, between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, the Pyrenees offer many contrasting views. Whether you prefer old, well conserved villages or ultra-modern ski resorts, snow and ice sports or spa centers, the Pyrenees have something for everyone.
MASSIF CENTRAL, the largest stretch of volcanos in Europe, this region will show you a different sort of mountain. You will of course find all the usual mountain sports: downhill and Nordic skiing, showshoes, huskies and paragliding, plus the pleasures of the table and the discovery of the natural and architectural heritage of the region.
JURA, vast glittering spaces, cross-country trails winding through the pine trees, the winter atmosphere in the Jura is calm and serene. Enjoy the stunning beauty of the countryside, where downhill skiing and different snow sports take on a new dimension.
VOSGES, bare hilltops emerge above vast forests and lakes, and the many kilometers of well-marked snow-covered tracks are exceptionally suited to cross-country skiing. Our family resorts are perfect for skiing, in the heart of a mountain region which combines tradition, gastronomy and a warm welcome.