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Chamonix Courchevel Les 2 Alpes Méribel Val d'Isère Verbier



Chamonix is internationally renowned as the extreme ski and climbing capital of the world. Lying in the valley beneath Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in western Europe, it provides not only some of the most challenging skiing but also breathtaking scenery and impressive views.

The town itself is extensive with a vast range of shops, bars & restaurants. Only a small central area is pedestrianised leaving the outskirts often very congested as visitors recognise the value of having a car to get around the valley. Although unconnected, the "chamski" lift-pass encompasses a number of resorts along the valley including Argentiere, Le Tour, Flegere, & Les Praz. Les Houches, however is only included in the more expensive Mont Blanc lift-pass.

Chamonix is typically visited by advanced and extreme skiers in search of new challenges. However there is plenty to occupy an intermediate skier and with the Compagnie des Guides de Chamonix it is possible for intermediates to experience the thrills of the famous Vallee Blanche.

The year round popularity of this resort is enhanced by its proximity to Geneva airport providing many with the opportunity to experience weekend trips to this spectacular resort.

6 points summary

Transfers: Geneva airport 1hour 30mins
Lifts: 60: 5 Cable cars, 5 Gondolas,18 Chairlifts, 32 Draglifts. Ice gondola & train lift
Runs: Total 150km piste. Black: 8, Red: 13, Blue: 20, Green: 13
6 day pass price: Chamski area 176
Tourist office: Tel: 00 33 450 53 00 24
Hotels: 72: 4 x 4*, 20 x 3*, 37 x 2*, 11 x 1*



Mecca for the rich and famous, this 'oh so chic' resort sits in the most easterly of the Three Valleys. The ski area comprises four individual resorts, each identified by their altitude. These include Courchevel 1850, 1650, 1550 and Le Praz (Courchevel 1300). More recently opened, and almost an entirely separate resort, La Tania also offers excellent access to the superb skiing that the Three Valleys offers.

Courchevel is the only ski resort in France to have been developed on what were once virgin snow plains. In 1946, the developers, rather than look for a village where they could build ski lifts, decided to find an ideal place for skiing, where they could build a village. The result is a resort that not only offers a plethora of wide open, immaculately groomed pistes, together with some seriously challenging runs, but also some of the most reliable snow conditions in the French Alps.

As with Méribel, the lift system is without equal, so that even in high season queueing is kept to a minimum. It must be said that some of the restaurants are extremely pricey, but then if you're on a budget, don't go to Courchevel.

The resort has undergone some major improvements over the last few years, both in terms of its infrastructure and its architecture, and whereas Méribel is renowned for its chalets, Courchevel is without equal in terms of the number of luxurious and in some cases magnificent hotels.

The resorts' nightlife, particularly in 1850, is akin to St. Tropez, so you may well find yourself rubbing shoulders with many a celeb, enjoying the huge variety of bars and restaurants that you'd expect in such a stylish holiday destination.

6 points summary

Transfers: Lyon: 2½ hours; Geneva: 3 hours
Lifts: 67; Arial Tram1 (the largest in France), Gondolas 9, High Speed Chairlifts 8, Chairlifts 8, Draglifts 40
Runs: 102; Courchevel 150km / Three Valleys 600km
 Black 11, Red 36, Blue 29, Green 26
6 day pass price: Three Valleys 198 ; Courchevel Valley 161
Tourist office: Tel: 00 33 4 79 08 00 29
Hotels: 41; 4*: 12; 3*: 19; 2*: 8; 1*: 1; NH: 1


Les 2 Alpes

Situated approximately 1½ hours from Grenoble, Les 2 Alpes is a truly unique resort. Unique because it really is a resort that caters for people of all ages and for all tastes: passionate skiers, snowboarders, mountain lovers in general, and shop-a-holics. Even party animals are not left out, as it offers a varied and exciting choice of night-time venues.

With the largest glacier in Europe, Les 2 Alpes offers access to a wonderful skiing area, and what's more it is linked to La Grave, mecca for off-piste skiers and snowboarders the world over. Since the Glacier is open in the summer, from June until the end of August, Les 2 Alpes is one of the few ski resorts in the world that provides almost year round skiing. During the summer months it also offers over 80 activities to keep you entertained.

Every year the resort caters to a number of world famous events such as the ski mondiale and the snowboarding mondiale which both take place in October.

6 points summary

Transfers: Grenoble: 1½ hours;  Lyon: 2 hours; Geneva: 3 hours
Lifts: Lifts: 58. Funicular: 1 ; Cable Car: 3; Gondola: 3; Chairlift: 26; Drag Lifts: 17; T-Bar: 17.
Runs: 220 km; Black 10, Red 18, Bleue 29, Green 18
6 day pass price: 142.20
Tourist office: Tel: 00 33 4 76 79 22 00
Hotels: 40; 4*: 2, 3*: 10, 2*: 16



Few resorts in the French Alps can lay claim to be as picturesque as Méribel. Originally developed in 1938 by Scotsman Colonel Peter Lindsay, the main ski town is situated in the middle of the Three Valleys, the world's largest interlinked skiing area. With over 30,000 beds in the valley, Méribel offers accommodation to suit all tastes, from luxurious hotels to more functional self catering accommodation.

The skiing is so vast and varied that even an expert will not be able to cover all of the variety of runs on offer. As an added benefit, the lift system throughout the Three Valleys is unrivalled, so that even in high season, the queues seldom take more than 20 minutes. Once you have ascended the mountain, for those prepared to explore, it is possible to find miles of uncrowded slopes, so much so, that in january, you could easily be forgiven for thinking that the pistes are your own personal playground.

Skiing aside, Méribel offers something for everyone. For the non-skiers, there is a network of footpaths, cut into the snow, which meander through the forests to transport you into a world of peace and tranquility. The resort even has its own Alpine airport, from which you can take breath taking tours of the surrounding scenery.

As for apres ski, the huge Patinoire Olympique houses a heated indoor swimming pool and fitness centre, as well as a lively bowling alley and ice skating rink. In terms of bars and restaurants, the choice on offer has vastly improved over the past 5 years, so that the claim that Méribel's nightlife is not as good as some other resorts is no longer applicable. The resort can however seem desperately British, which may or may not suit your tastes.

6 points summary

Transfers: Lyon: 2 ½ hours; Geneva: 3 hours
Lifts: 60: Gondolas 16, Chairlifts 18, Draglifts 18
 Hourly liftiing capacity: 92,500
Runs: Meribel 150km / Three Valleys 600km;
 Black 9, Red 21, Blue 33, Green 11
6 day pass price: Three Valleys 198 , Meribel Valley 161
Tourist office: Tel: 00 33 4 79 08 60 01
Hotels: 23 (Plus 3 Club Med)
 4*: 2; 3*: 13; 2*: 5; NH: 3


Val d'Isère

Few resorts are equipped to rival Val d'Isère in terms of the sheer range of challenging skiing and snowboarding it offers. Set in the legendary Espace Killy ski area, which joins with neighbouring Tignes, it offers a winter haven of over 300km of unadulterated bliss. With two glaciers, the skiing here is almost year round. Each year, the first downhill event, the infamous Criterium de la première neiges, kick starts the World Cup season.

The resort is steeped in history, from well before it became famous for its slopes, and what really does distinguish Val d'Isere from other resorts is the feeling that it is, at it's heart a village, set around the church, which has developed with time. To enter you pass the incredible Tignes Dam, and go through a steep gorge, which for so long isolated the village, until you reach La Daille, start of the resort, and its very modern funicular railway, which whisks a huge number of winter sport enthusiasts up to the top of La Face every day, climbing 1,000 metres at 12 metres per second. At the other end of the valley is the Fornet ski area, and in between a huge array of skiing and such legendary slopes as those of the Solaise and Bellevarde.

The nighlife in the resort is almost limitless, so that the only problem is getting up the next morning for the early lifts. The one downside of the resort is the lengthy transfer time form Geneva and Lyon, but as any serious enthusiast will tell you, it's worth the wait.

6 points summary

Transfers: Lyon: 3 hours; Geneva: 3 ½ hours
Lifts: Funiculas 2, Aerial Trams 4, Gondolas 4, High Speed chairlifts 13, Chairlifts 34, Draglifts 33
Runs: Espace Killy 300km; Black 15, Red 34, Blue 69, Green 22
6 day pass price: Three Valleys 167
Tourist office: Tel: 00 33 4 79 06 06 60
Hotels: 35; 4*: 3, 3*: 13, 2*: 13, 1* ou NH: 6



At an altitude of 1500m, Verbier lies in a sunny bowl in the heart of the Swiss Alps. With all the facilities and infrastructure of a large village Verbier has maintained its charm with traditional Swiss chalet-style properties. Numerous tea-rooms, restaurants & bars offer a wide selection of local specialities including Raclettes with local Bagnes cheese, as well as international cuisine. Renowned for its lively social life as much as for its skiing, bars and clubs welcome partygoers well into the early hours of the morning.

The 4 valleys ski area, which connects Verbier to La Tzoumaz, Nedaz, Veysonnaz & Val de Bagnes, is one of the largest ski areas in Europe offering 400km of almost limitless skiing. At 3330m the Mont Fort glacier ensures fantastic snow conditions all season not to mention spectacular views over the Alps. With new lift systems over the last few years as well as the arrival this year of a new high speed, high capacity lift up from Le Chable, queues in Verbier have been significantly reduced and access to this vast ski area greatly improved.

Switzerland is generally more expensive than its neighbours and Verbier in particular has a reputation for attracting the rich and famous.

6 points summary

Transfers: Geneva: 2hours
Lifts: 95 in 4 Valley area: 5 Cable cars, 12 Gondolas; 32 Chairlifts, 46 Draglifts
Runs: Total 410km piste in 4 Valley area. Black 10, Red 55, Blue 35
6 day pass price: 303 CHF
Tourist office: Tel: 00 41 27 775 388
Hotels: 27: 1 x 5*, 5 x 4*, 15 x 3*, 3 x 2*, Pensions 3