France holds an alluring attraction for many skiers and snowboarders from around the globe. The high altitudes of ski areas such as the Trios Vallées and Espace Killy, offer access to slopes soaring above the cloud line where the snow is reliable, skies are blue and the sun is shining. With a massive 8000km of piste spread over nearly 300 resorts, it boasts the highest number of skiable kilometres in the world! But with so much choice where do you begin in deciding where to go and what is right for you? To set the wheels in motion and give you a head start on the crowds, here are 8 must know tips on what’s good and what’s new for 2016/17.
1. Val d’Isére’s €16million refurbishment
You wouldn’t think Val d’Isére could get much better but with a two-year €16 million redevelopment of the Solaise area underway, this resort is going from strength to strength. Already seeing the benefits, a new beginner area has been created near the summit featuring a covered moving carpet lift, with two additional moving carpets on the far side of the summit. Also, just in time for 2016/17, Val d’Isére will see the inclusion of a tubing area and a day lodge with a café picnic area, terrace and toilets. But the absolute cherry on the cake has to be a new 10-person gondola equipped with Wi-Fi and heated seats, set to replace the busy cable car and quad chair connecting to the village.
2. Alpine Legends Superpass
In winter 2016/17 Skiers and snowboarders will be able to access the legendary 3 Vallées, Paradiski, and Espace Killy ski areas with one mega “Superpass”. For an extra £60-£70 per day to that of a single ski area, this ticket will grant access to an incredible expanse of terrain covering 5 glaciers, 391 ski lifts, and over 1300 km of marked runs. “There simply is nothing else like it on the planet”.
3. Top destination for families
At the heart of the Pores du Soleil area, the resort of Les Gets is conveniently located between Lake Geneva and Mont Blanc. In keeping with its Savoyard heritage, Les Gets offers a traditional warm welcome and excellent services to match.
Accredited as a “Famille Plus Montagne” resort, Les Gets is a children’s paradise. Whilst the notion of family orientated tends to ensue thoughts of beginner chaos, one thing which sets this resort above the rest is its extensive range of quality skiing; bound to impress whatever your ability level may be. Literally ski from your doorstep till your heart’s content and relax knowing your children are in the safe and capable hands of some of the best instructors in the Alps. And for little ones too young to try their legs on the slopes, there are numerous daycare and crèche options. Be sure to investigate the various family activities available in Les Gets as this resort has so much to offer.
4. Courchevel Aqua Park
New to Courchevel last season was Aquamotion: an incredible new swimming complex. True to Courchevel’s lavish style, Aquamotion is no ordinary swimming pool. The building let alone the swimming pool is an architectural triumph in itself, purposefully designed to blend into the mountain scenery with a grass covered roof. Taking advantage of this, the mini grass slope has been maximised as nursery slope with its own drag lift.
The swimming pool is nothing short of impressive, offering a long list of features which include: a 25m lap pool, an outdoor and indoor leisure pool, dive pit, children’s area, 45m waterslide and rapids. And, it doesn’t stop there! In addition, there is an adult only wellness area with a relaxation jet pool, Jacuzzi, sauna, steam room, outdoor pool and saltwater pool. There are also treatment rooms for those seeking something a little more indulgent.
If all that hasn’t grabbed your attention, then perhaps the wave pool will. Trade in the ski’s or snowboard and test your balance on a body board, wake board or mini surfboard. A six-day Trois Vallées lift pass will include a day at Aquamotion, but 30 minutes in the wave pool will cost €25 extra.
5. Dates to avoid the crowds
If you have the luxury in your schedule to avoid school holidays and peak dates, then make the most of it! There is nothing quite like skiing long traffic-free runs, with no lift queues and enjoying leisurely lunches without the crowds. Following the buzz of Christmas and New Year, January experiences a lull and as such you will usually find prices reflect this. Given that Christmas and New Years fall on Sunday this year, bookings for these peak weeks will be extended to an 8 day week, opening up an off-peak short stay opportunity from Wednesday 11th- Sunday 15th Jan across all our chalets.
6. Book early!!!!
Yes, yes you’ve heard before and the intention is always to book ahead of time. Then, one week before your scheduled leave from work, you realise you haven’t actually booked the holiday. You’re left grappling to find reasonable flight times, scanning the shortage of unsuitable accommodation and settling for something far from what you had envisaged. The reality is… the best of the best books up early because it is GOOD! Logically, people re-book to return to their favourite destinations after satisfying experiences that they want to repeat. So don’t be left with the scraps to choose from, book early and get the best. Better still, at this time of year take advantage of our great early-birds deals such our introductory offer on the our newest chalet, Calistoga in Val d’Isére.
7. Chalet, hotel or Apartment?
If you’re tossing up what type of ski accommodation to opt for, here is some good advice to follow.
If travelling as part of group – be it a partner, family, friends or work colleagues – a chalet should be your residence of choice. Take advantage of the warm hospitality and homely atmosphere a chalet provides. It is a must do experience, unique to the Alps. A good chalet will offer a great deal of flexibility, with a personalised level of service that can be tailored to meet the specifications of your party. At the high-end of the market, the competitive league of top private chefs being seen in luxury Chalet’s are taking in-house dining to new gastronomic heights, putting some chalets on the map as a foodie destination in their own right.
For a couple or solo traveller, a hotel maybe a more suited option. However, it is also worth considering luxury apartments. Offering a stripped back level of service to that of a chalet, luxury apartments are well suited to the independent traveller who likes a completely structure-free holiday. Watch out for Consensio Alpine Apartments; the only luxury development to be built in Val d’Isére for 2016. These spectacular new apartments will offer concierge and housekeeping services, accommodating the needs of smaller groups as a self-catering alternative.
8. The very important après ski
If you’re one to spend as much time dancing in your ski boots as you are skiing in them, then being able to navigate your way to a good watering hole for some refreshing après ski beverages will be a necessary perquisite in your ski holiday planning.
Ultimately, your après-ski style is down to personal preference and mood, but the über chic Val d’Isére is the resort with it all. After a long day skiing perfect pistes, the legendary La Folie Douce is an unmissable landmark on the aprés-ski scene. Located at the top of La Daille bubble, Val d’Isére is where the Folie Douce concept was born. Every afternoon between 3-5pm, La Folie Douce electrifies crowds with a spectacle of DJs, singers, dancers and musicians in a mish mash of cabaret meets street theatre. With something for all generations to enjoy, Folie’s good vibes and buzzing ambience is something that cannot be captured in words- it simply has to be experienced!
With more bars per square mile than any other resort in France, Méribel cannot go without a mention as an après-ski destination. With a La Folie Douce of its own located at the mid-station of the Burgin-Saulire lift, the party has started in Méribel before you have even left the mountain. Another favourite is L’Abreuvoir, a French run bar in the centre of town. With an impressive wine menu and delicious tapas, it is a popular spot with tourist and locals alike.