Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Top Ski Resorts in France

Author: Travel Guru

French Ski Resorts

The most famous ski resort in the French Alps is Chamonix-Mont-Blanc. Chamonix is both the oldest and the biggest French winter-sports resort. Site of the first Winter Olympics, held in 1924, Chamonix boasts the world's highest cable car (12,000 feet). From the top, the view of Mont Blanc, at 15,700 feet, is stunning.

Chamonix Ski Resort

Chamonix is part of the Ski Pass Mont Blanc Area, and provides access to more than 140 individual pistes, or dedicated ski runs covering more than 94 miles. A dedicated Ski Pass will provide access not only to Chamonix, but Argentière, Combloux, Cordon, Le Tour, Les Contamines, Les Houches, Megève, Passy Plaine Joux and St. Gervais Mont-Blanc as well. A good portion of the dedicated runs are above 8,200 feet, so year-round skiing is guaranteed. Chamonix also has 54 snow machines to provide adequate base and good terrain, and 49 lifts capable of transporting more than 52,000 passengers per hour.

Megève Ski Resort

Megève is built around a medieval heart, but boasts the kinds of amenities all travelers and ski enthusiasts will appreciate. Expensive and stylish, Megève was built in the 1920's as a resort alternative to St. Moritz, and has continued to upgrade and attract discerning travelers ever since. Fortunately, you won't need star status to enjoy one of the luxurious hotels or chalets, though you will need a sizeable vacation fund; Megève is not cheap.

The ski area, 185 miles of marked trails, has 81 integrated lifts - no T-bars for luxurious Megève. If you get there in the right year, you may even be able to witness a World Cup race, hosted on a regular basis (Chamonix was the site of the 2007-2008 race). If you get off on snowboarding, Megève also has two snow parks and a half-pipe (for the unfamiliar, think of a skateboarding park with snow). Megève gets 80 inches of snow a year, making for good to very-good base, and supplements Nature with 175 snow-making machines. Méribel, located in the center of the Three Valleys (the biggest, linked winter sports area in the world), has 200 lifts and 372 miles of dedicated trails.

Méribel Ski Resort

Méribel used to be an intermediate site, but opening up Mont Vallon and the top of the valley have made it a destination-must for extreme skiers as well. The wooden chalets, many owned by British tourists who favor the ski slopes, are tastefully rustic, the language more often English than French. A very popular resort for France skiing holidays.

Morzine Ski Resort

Morzine has easy road access, and is ideal for beginning skiers. Its gently inclined, tree-filled slopes and pleasant atmosphere are non-threatening to those unfamiliar with French customs, cuisine, or skiing. The weather is also typically mild - no need to worry about getting lost in a snowstorm. The one drawback to Morzine is its non-central location and lack of adequate transportation to other ski sites. Morzine makes snow, but not in sufficient quantity to overcome localized snow conditions, which can be disappointing. This makes it ideal for cautious beginners, but a bummer for more advanced skiers, who would prefer Serre Chevalier, with its 50 runs designed specifically for advanced or expert skiers.
Visitors to Chamonix can do more than ski, though. There are conferences, a science fair, fishing and hunting, various music and folk festivals, and an alpine museum. An 18-hole golf course will delight golfers, and three movie theaters provide enough viewing entertainment for even the dedicated film buff. Five dancing spots, or discotheques, will keep the under-30 entertained, while the health-conscious adventurer can indulge in day-sports like cycling, mountain climbing, hiking, horseback riding, swimming, tennis and ice skating.

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