Dec 1st, 2017, 11:00 AM

5 Ski Spots Near Paris

By Oliver Edward Ross Henry
Vallee Blanche on Mont Blanc, Chamonix, France. Image credit: Flickr/trailsources
Winter is coming, time to take advantage of it.

This year AUP students have been blessed with not only a Winter Break, from December 20 until January 15, but a two week long Spring break as well. Ironically, this Spring break is February 26 through March 9, dates that are well before the Spring solstice. This means traditional Spring break destinations such as Barcelona or Ibiza might be a bit too cold. However, these breaks are the chance to bundle up and explore the famous alpine country we all forget we live in. 

Val Thorens, Les 3 Vallées

The beautiful Val Thorens Ski Resort is located just outside Tarentaise Valley, in the Franco-Italian Alps. It's a popular destination for experienced skiers as it is the highest resort in Europe, with peaks up to 10597 feet. The resort contains the 3 Valleys giving it 19600 feet of runs, making it the longest ski resort in the world. The season has already begun with 36 runs open, and a base depth of around 30 inches. Tickets here are a little expensive, 52,50 euros, but worth it as Val Thorens is one of the top places to ski in France. From Paris, it's a 6-hour car ride, or else you can catch a train into the city of Grenoble. If flying, Geneva and Lyon have the most convenient flights nearby. Experienced skiers would have a phenomenal time at this resort, but beginners are of course welcome. Cozy lodging and elegant eateries are waiting for you at the foot of the mountain after a full day of exercise. 

Map of Val Thorens. Image credit: IHA.com

Les Angles 

Deep in the Pyrenees mountain range, you can find the world-renowned Les Angles Ski Resort. It is still early season for Les Angles, as only about 12 inches of snow has fallen and so far they've just opened eight lifts and nine runs. As winter progresses, these mountains will get more snowfall, and Les Angles will be opening all 22 lifts leading to 44 total runs. This resort is perfect for beginners and intermediate skiers, having a well-crafted balance of 14 green, nine blue, 14 red, and eight black runs. This resort borders to Spain, making it a loathsome car ride. One would be better off taking a train to Toulouse or Andorra and then driving from there. One could even fly to Barcelona and then a two-hour drive from there. The town of Les Angles is small, with a population of just over 500 people, but it is unique in the Pyrenees as the slopes lead right into the village, with free bus transportation all day. Tickets are 39 euros a day, a great price considering how popular this resort is.

Alpe d'Huez 

Located in the northern part of the Parc National des ÉcrinsAlpes d'Huez is a large international ski hub. It's located directly in the middle of Geneva, Lyon, Nice, and Turin with each city located no more than three hours away by car. Alpes D'Heuz already has a substantial base of snow on its slopes and is scheduled to open December 2 and will be staying open all the way through April. When this resort is fully up and running, it has 70 working lifts. These lifts lead to several mountain tops and a total of 116 slopes. All skiers are welcome here as their resort has a plethora of green, blue, red and black runs, covering all skill levels. Adult passes to this resort cost 52.50 euros a day. If you want to stay near the slopes in a small French town, the town of Oz or Allemond are situated within half an hour of the resort by a lake.

Alpe d'Huez. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons/Simdaperce

Chamonix

Chamonix is one of the most well-known ski resorts in France and perhaps, the birthplace of alpine skiing. Chamonix's steep slopes and scenic views caused it to become the host of the world's first Winter Olympics in 1924. It is located near the junction of Switzerland, Italy, and France, and is right at the foot of Mount Blanc. This winter wonderland has a total of 47 gondolas and lifts leading to all of the cities surrounding the mountains. This resort is not intended for beginners as 40 percent of its slopes are advanced, and 30% are expert level. These runs are steep and also offer opportunities to explore the backcountry and uncharted territory.  This pass is for well-versed skiers and costs 51.50 euros a day. Chamonix-Mont-Blanc is the most beautiful traditional alpine town, and its location offers unique access to nature and outdoor sports. As it is quite a touristy town, Chamonix can be a little more expensive than the average ski resort. If you are on a tight budget, Argentière, 15 minutes due North is less touristic and has much lower prices.


Powder skiing in Chamonix, Mont Blanc. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons/Webwizzard

Le Croix de Bauson

Situated in between Marseilles and Lyon, Le Croix de Bauson is a popular ski resort for inhabitants of the South of France. These mid-sized mountains will act as an intimate resort as crowds don't get too big here. Le Croix de Bauson slopes only have a total of five lifts and nine slopes. Beginners can benefit from runs like these as seven of the nine are blue (meaning the second level of difficulty). This small resort also ensures that no one in the group gets lost. A quaint place like this doesn't hurt your wallet too much either, as day passes here are only 14 euros. The surrounding town is small, so you might benefit from staying in one of the larger towns like Grenoble, Avignon, or Saint-Etienne. As the resort is near the Mediterranean, it hasn't seen too much snow just yet and thus hasn't opened. They plan on opening December 23 and stay open well through AUP's Spring break.