If you love mountains, we've rounded up the best paces to head for ski and après-ski in the world.
Val d'Isere, France
This resort in the French Alps has the charm of a typical Alpine village, and is linked to neighbouring Tignes to form a ski area of 300km of pistes and 94 lifts - so everyone from the complete beginner to the snow veteran can feel challenged here.
One the largest linked ski areas in the world, Courchevel forms part of the Three Valleys, which boasts 600 kilometres of prepared and maintained pistes. The ski terrain is mostly intermediate, but there are plenty of easy areas for beginners. The clientele at Courchevel is now rich and glamorous and is one of Europe's most sophisticated ski resorts.
One of Austria’s most fashionable ski resorts, Lech offers the perfect combination of traditional charm, pristine ski slopes and brilliant hotels for both couples and families. This charming Alpine village is set beside a meandering river and links to the slopes of Zürs and Oberlech.
Lively restaurants and friendly bars make Meribel a lure for 20-something skiers. There are luxurious chalet-style lodgings, cosy spots for après-ski and a vibrant party scene that goes on well into the night. For keen skiers, Meribel is ideally located close to the biggest ski network in the world.
Verbier has runs suited to everyone from the expert skier to the first-timer. The British-run bars in the resort centre and around the Rond-Point are packed with partygoers in the evening.
St Anton, Austria
340km of pistes, 200km of off-piste itineraries and more than 55km² of challenging off-piste terrain make St Anton one of the top five resorts in the Alps. The area hosts the ski world championships, but also boasts luxury spas by the dozen, romantic sleigh rides and boutique hotels for those looking for a relaxing couple’s getaway.
This incredibly charming ski resort boasts an untouched French flair with some of the best skiing in Europe on offer, with access to neighbouring resorts of Les Gets, Morzine, Avoriaz.
La Cluzas, France
This undiscovered gem of the Alps has long been a popular weekend destination for the French and the Swiss, but Brits are just beginning to catch on. As well as potential for off-piste and extreme skiing, the resort offers brilliant facilities for beginners and intermediates.
Offering 223 miles of runs in four huge ski areas, Zermatt is a quaint Alpine village that lies at the foot of Switzerland’s Matterhorn. As a ski destination, it’s ideal for families - offering skiing, climbing, hiking and biking at reasonable prices.
Head to Megeve for a completely different experience. The traditional Alpine town, made fashionable in the early 1900s by the Rothschild family, has a well-preserved Medieval town with a picturesque church, cobbled streets and horse-drawn carriages. The slopes are set out on three different mountains – Rochebrune, Mont d’Arbois and Le Jaillet – and are mainly wooded, making them great if the weather is poor.
Val Thorens, France
Purpose-built Val Thorens is the highest resort in Europe, meaning you’re pretty much guaranteed snow from November to May. Night Owls should stop by the Folie Douce for music, toffee vodka and dancing on tables.
Les Arcs, France
Located in Savoie in the Tarentaise Valley town of Bourg-Saint-Maurice Les Arcs is made up of several different villages, each at different altitudes with their own character and ambience. It's renowned as a family friendly resort, with a good selection of beginner pistes and ski areas, as well as those for the more advanced skier or snowboarder.
Chamonix-Mont Blanc, Switzerland
Chamonix is one of the greatest accessible mountain ranges in the world. Intermediates should be comfortable skiing all of Chamonix's different ski areas, but the fact that most of the runs are not connected by ski lifts means that it's not a resort for those who like to cover vast distances of well-groomed pistes.
This ski resort is where you’re most likely to spot a Windsor or a Middleton on the slopes - Prince Charles is also a regular guest. Situated in what has remained the rural part of the Prattigau, romantic Klosters stands in stark contrast to the nearby metropolis of Davos.
St. Moritz, Switzerland
Easily one of the most glamorous and exclusive skiing resorts in the world, St. Moritz attracts everything from royal polo matches on the frozen lake to Russian billionaire patrons. With its 1,800-metre altitude, 300-plus sunny days a year, and federal investment in lifts for the Alpine World Ski Championships, the area is one of the best-maintained and easy-to-use ski spots in the world.
And now for something completely different
The unlikely location for a new year-round ski track is the sloping roof of a state-of-the-art green power plant near Copenhagen. When planning to build the waste-to-power incinerator plant, the Danes decided to move away from the usual monolithic, industrial look. Instead, they sought to make the publicly owned facility an attraction in its own right – clad in shiny aluminium, surrounded by parkland, and with one of the world’s longest artificial ski slopes on its roof.
The vital numbers for skiers are that there will be a 440-metre-long slope offering four levels of difficulty: easy and moderate runs plus a 180-metre black run pitching at up to 45%. The top of the ski runs will be accessed by elevators running up through the interior of the plant.
With thanks to the Evening Standard for the skiing article and to the Guardian for the final alternative skiing option.
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