While we’re all familiar with Chamonix, Val d’Isère, Avoriaz and Courchevel if you’ve tired of crowded slopes, shops catering to the tourist trade and never being able to get a seat in your favourite apres-ski bar come seven pm it may be time for something a little different. France, while being a firm favourite with skiers and snowboarders, has much more to offer the winter sports enthusiast than just crowded streets and overpriced ski shops.
If you’ve never been skiing before, or are a bit out of practice then instead of heading to Courchevel where you could spend all day in a queue for a ski lift why not visit Les Saisies? This charming village is located in the beautiful Beaufortain valley, just 30 kilometres from Albertville which once played host to the 1992 winter Olympics. Les Saisies offers two different types of skiing, and although known for its cross-country courses it does have an awful lot of downhill runs that are quiet, gentle and fantastic for beginners. Les Saisies is known as a family resort so the nightlife won’t be too noisy. They also have on site snow gardens, their answer to the nursery slope where you can take a few lessons at their bespoke ski school. As it’s not in the centre of town accommodation is also cheaper, so you’ll find a range of flats, chalets and small family run hotels to choose from as well as having spectacular views over snow covered forests.
Are you a bit of a speed demon? Looking for modern, fast facilities that’ll have you out onto the slopes quicker than anywhere else? Close to the Spanish border, Peyragudes is a sleek, stylish, and super interactive resort having been purpose built it has over 60 kilometres of pistes and over seventeen state-of-the-art lifts. Forget waiting for slow, creaky drag lifts facilities here are expertly maintained and you’ll mostly find chair lifts. It’s not as lively as Meribel which you can check out at PurpleSki.com but nevertheless Peyragudes is all about convenience, hotels and flats are found right next to the slopes and shops, restaurants, and bars are all in one area. Plus there’s no massive palaver walking from your hotel to the ski rental, clumping along in the snow while trying not to whack anyone with your skis. Here, lifts are used instead of steps to transport guests onto the slopes so you won’t feel like you’ve had to walk ten miles first to reach the snow.
This oh so pretty hidden gem of a resort is perfect for couples, families and even solo skiers who are looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the Vallees area but who still want to experience the quieter slopes of the region. Orelle, nestled in the Maurienne valley is a small, village made up of ten smaller hamlets, where you’ll find some of the cheapest accommodation for miles around. Hop on the lift over to Col de Roseal, jump off at Val Thorens and enjoy an fantastic afternoon’s skiing before coming back to check out the evening’s activities at Maurienne.