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Nature and adventure

Europe's top ski spots to try

 

If your winter wouldn’t be right without a ski trip, one of these renowned European resorts should do the trick…

When it comes to a brilliant base for a winter sports break, you can’t beat skiing near Geneva. Across France, Switzerland and Austria, a whole host of snow-dusted towns await, all finished with chocolate-box chalets, shops and eateries, plus a good smattering of greenery too.

Geneva skiing is second to none, with everything you’ll need for all skill levels. Areas with nursery slopes for newbies? Check. Mid-level runs for confidence-builders? Also check. And yep, you’ve got it, daring routes and terrain parks for snowboarders are also in the bag. To help you find which is best suited to your style, check out our suggestions…

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Courchevel

Choose to carve up in Courchevel and you’ll be treated to an epic environment tailored towards fun winter activities. It’s a key player in the prestigious Three Valleys area, where you can hit more than 600km of piste and even take on the cross-country zone. There are some seriously slick black runs for the most seasoned skiers, but families with youngsters under five can take advantage of child-friendly ski passes that let them go free around the Three Valleys! Winner!

If that’s not enough, you can sink your teeth into the Aquafun Area, bowling, the cinema, cooking lessons, dog-sledding, ice skating, spas, torch-lit skiing and well-being classes such as yoga. What a list!

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Zermatt

Zoom off to Zermatt for some of the best skiing near Geneva. There’s a reason it’s got a reputation for being one of Europe’s top spots for winter sports. In fact, there are many reasons. The mighty Matterhorn is the area’s focal point – a high-altitude symbol that provides an epic backdrop for skiing and snowboarding. To reach the slopes, head up via cable car, funicular or by using the Gornergrat Railway system. You’ll find a range of pistes to suit all skill levels, plus there’s Gravity Park’s pipes and curved rails for boarders.

When you aren’t on the snow, a horse-drawn carriage ride is a quaint way to see the town. From Italian restaurants to Swiss eateries, cosy bars to karaoke venues, you’ll be well catered for after dark.

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La Plagne

Sitting pretty in the Tarentaise Valley, within the French Alps, you’ll come across La Plagne. The area’s made up of 11 inner villages, with a ski offering that’s split up nicely for beginners, intermediates and pros. But if you’re on the lookout for a challenge, some of the black slopes are unmarked, so you can experience some intense cross-country skiing and snowboarding there. You can also head out under the stars and torchlight, for a slightly different experience.

Nordic skiing, designated fun slopes and tobogganing are also options here, while relaxing wellness therapies have been developed in more recent years. When it comes to leisure, there’s a big choice of fab dining digs and super shops.

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Val d’Isère

Premium winter sports is the name of the game in Val d’Isère. If you’re trying to tick the box for Geneva skiing, this is a prime contender for the best resort around. World-class pistes go hand in hand with a timber chalet village setup, to make one of the dreamiest destinations around. Mid-level skiers will be most in their element, though Oakley ValPark will keep daring boarders happy too.

As the lights go low, trade your skis and salopettes in for glam garms worthy of the chic French bistros and buzzing bars. The scene is divided into upmarket watering holes and more bang-for-your-buck pubs.

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Verbier

It’s hard to verbalise just how versatile Verbier is. This superb Swiss resort is a winner if you’re skiing near Geneva Airport. It’s part of the prestigious Four Valleys network and poses slightly tougher terrain. Mid-levellers and seasoned skiers – unite!

About 100 runs make up Verbier’s map of routes, with far-spanning scenes of France and Italy unfurling to the west and south, respectively. It’s great for honing your skills, while you’ll be able to go snowshoeing, skidooing and snowboarding as well, just to mix things up. An ice rink, pool and wide variety of busting bars, clubs and restaurants round off the setlist.

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St. Anton am Arlberg

Less skiing near Geneva and more in the thick of it in Austria, St. Anton am Arlberg is famed for its snow reliability and great choice of runs. Marked ski routes tally up to 306km and there are 88 cable cars and lifts to get you from A to B. Fancy taking things up a notch? You can opt to try out steep off-piste areas, fun parks and racing circuits as well.

All in all, it’s a modern resort, but it’s still got some rustic old features too. Anyone for a visit to the local museum? You’ll also be privy to tapas bars and Austrian restaurants aplenty, to give you the option of contemporary or classic cuisine.

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Val Thorens

Veer over to Val Thorens for a playground of prime pistes. Layers of fluffy snow make this area reliable throughout the season, but it’s also Europe’s highest ski resort, so it’s tipped for its views as well. Given that Val Thorens is one of the largest in the world too, it’s more than earned its standing.

It’s got something for everyone, whether you want to cling to blue and green runs, try out trickier reds or go full-on daredevil on the black routes. This Three Valleys veteran is the ultimate place to test your skills and learn new ones at the same time. Ready for a rest? Trendy boutiques, hairdressing salons, street markets, festivals and a big range of bars will be all yours.

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Les Arcs

In south-eastern France and flying the flag as one of the main areas of the Paradiski system, Les Arcs is worth leaning towards. In relatively equal measure, it’s great for beginners, intermediates and advanced-level skiers, alongside families with kids and snowboarders too. As for the après-ski, you can’t go wrong with the resort’s range of party-ready bars and clubs.

More than 240 runs make up the whole area, which means you’ll be kept nice and busy throughout your stay. But there are museums, galleries and less energetic sports activities to get stuck into when weary legs kick in.

Think you’ve got somewhere in mind? There’s more handy info at Jet2.com about the best ski resorts to visit and what each one offers.

Posted: 1st Oct 2019.

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