As the season gets colder, the time to go sailing down snow-capped mountains, eating cheesy fondue and hitting all the best après-ski bars comes closer and closer. Ski season is undoubtedly one of the best seasons of the year, but planning a ski holiday can be daunting at times. For each individual skier, there is a uniquely perfect trip out there, and the trick to getting it right is knowing what your options are. Are you a beginner on the slopes or can you effortlessly tackle the most challenging off-piste runs? Would you rather spend your evenings on the dancefloor or relaxing in a hot tub? Each ski resort will offer a little something different so, whether you’re a veteran looking to go somewhere new this year, or it’s your first time in the Alps, everyone deserves a little help along the way. We’ve taken a closer look at some of our favourite resorts in Europe to give you a head start. All that’s left to do is pick your favourite and pack your salopettes…
Chamonix is often preceded by its own reputation. As one of the most famous ski resorts in the world, it has visitors travelling from all corners of the world to experience the epic runs year after year. The Chamonix town centre, also known as Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, is an endlessly inviting little city with enough going on to entertain skiers and non-skiers alike for weeks on end. For those travelling from the UK, it is fabulously easy to reach. You can drive straight from Calais by motorway and be set up in a gorgeous chalet in less than half a day. Besides, it’s very useful to have a car here as you’ll need to drive (or take the free ski bus) to reach the slopes from your accommodation. If you’re keen on doorstep skiing, Chamonix might not be the resort for you.
The Chamonix Valley encompasses five main ski areas on four different mountains (with easy transfers in between) which means it’s large enough that most visitors never run out of things explore. You can get yourself a single-resort lift pass or one that encompasses the whole valley. If you go with the latter option you’ll even have access to the Italian side of the valley in Courmayeur, with just a small toll charge to pay for the Mt. Blanc tunnel. The wider area encompasses 106 pistes at up to 3842m altitude and unparalleled off-piste runs.
The absolute highlight of a ski holiday to Chamonix is skiing the famous Vallée Blanche. This epic 2+ hour run down Mont Blanc is not too steep but very physically demanding and should always be done with a guide. In fact, most of Chamonix’s ski areas are best suited to those who already feel at home on a pair of skis. Beginners definitely won’t get as much out of this valley as those who are comfortable tackling a black run. But that’s not saying Chamonix is unromantic by any means. There is incredible scenery for everyone to enjoy, from non-skiers to experts, and nature lovers will fall in love with the Chamonix in summer too. Ski season, however, often lasts until mid-March.
Once the skiing is over at the end of the day you’ll still find plenty to keep you occupied in town. There is an excellent selection of restaurants to choose from, ranging from Michelin starred fine dining to street food that will line your stomach for the après-ski (and rest assured there are dozens of great bars and clubs to choose from!) The shopping is excellent too, so make sure you save a few euros to spend in some of the resorts most exclusive boutiques.
Best for: The quintessential experience
Popular villages: Les Houches, Argentière & Le Tour
Airport: Geneva Airport (1h 15min transfer)