The French skiing thread

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The ski areas will be busiest during French school holidays - other times of year will be quieter (and cheaper). France is divided up into 3 zones for the purposes of school holidays. The vacation dates for the 3 zones are staggered over 4 weeks, with each zone getting two weeks off.

Zone A : Besançon, Bordeaux, Clermont-Ferrand, Dijon, Grenoble, Limoges, Lyon, Poitiers
Zone B : Aix-Marseille, Amiens, Caen, Lille, Nancy-Metz, Nantes, Nice, Orléans-Tours, Reims, Rennes, Rouen, Strasbourg
Zone C : Créteil, Montpellier, Paris, Toulouse, Versailles

2016:
Zone A: Feb 13 - Feb 28
Zone B: Feb 6 - Feb 21
Zone C: Feb 20 - Mar 6
Week of Feb 6 - Zone B
Week of Feb 13 - Zone A and Zone B
Week of Feb 20 - Zone A and Zone C
Week of Feb 27 - Zone C


2017:
Zone A: Feb 18 - Mar 5
Zone B: Feb 11 - Feb 26
Zone C: Feb 4 - Feb 19
Week of Feb 4 - Zone C
Week of Feb 11 - Zone B and Zone C
Week of Feb 18 - Zone A and Zone B
Week of Feb 25 - Zone A
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Old Nov 15, 11, 2:16 pm
  #91  
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I should be in commune de Saint-Bon for the week of February 18th. Given the volume of equipment there, even during the peak season, it feels like the off season in Les Menuires ...
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Old Nov 15, 11, 3:24 pm
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Originally Posted by kahuna613 View Post
I need some advice. I am planning on going skiing briefly this February in France. I have a ticket to arrive in Geneva late on a Saturday evening and am departing out of Paris the following Wednesday morning.

I am debating between Portes du Soleil and maybe Tignes. PdS is, logistically, a lot easier, but I'm not entirely confident about the quality of the snow and skiing. Portes du Soleil is quite large, and I actually went hiking there two summers ago. Most of the lifts seem a bit older, and the elevations are a bit lower. I really enjoyed the above the trees, in the clouds feel of the upper levels of Les Arcs. Is it worth it to head a bit south towards Bourg Saint Maurice? Basically, since I'm coming from the US, I want to get the biggest bang for my buck.

I have skiied at the following places in the area, for comparison: Les Arcs, Valthorens, Valfrejus, Aussois, and Valcenis.

Also, I will be travelling alone, so I'd like to go somewhere where I can get out and hang out with people. I speak French, so that is not a problem. I have a reservation currently at the Logis Gentiana in Tignes and found a room in Morzine at the Ridge Hotel. Anyone have any experience?
As Stimpy said you should try to avoid school holidays as much as you can, otherwise be prepared to wait in long lines and worse than that, slopes will be loaded with beginners, ski school etc...

i haven't been to les portes du soleil for the last the 20 years and my last time in Tignes was in 1999 so i won't be that much helpfull...if you are looking for THE best resort you can't go wrong with Les 3 Vallées (Courchevel, Val Thorens, Les Menuires...), i know bodory and Jouy31 will agree
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Old Nov 16, 11, 4:19 am
  #93  
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Originally Posted by Mynameismud View Post
As Stimpy said you should try to avoid school holidays as much as you can, otherwise be prepared to wait in long lines and worse than that, slopes will be loaded with beginners, ski school etc...

i haven't been to les portes du soleil for the last the 20 years and my last time in Tignes was in 1999 so i won't be that much helpfull...if you are looking for THE best resort you can't go wrong with Les 3 Vallées (Courchevel, Val Thorens, Les Menuires...), i know bodory and Jouy31 will agree

Indeed

@kahuna613, your choice of a resort will also depend on various factors :
- Will you rent a car between GVA and the mountain? If not, you might also consider going to Switzerland because most resorts can be reached by train from GVA.
- What sort of after ski atmosphere do you like? It will be very different from a resort to another.
- Are you also an off-piste skier or a ski-tourer? Les 3 Vallées have indeed great slopes but Tignes.Val d'Isère offer a large range of wild ski opportunities. Not to mention, again, Switzerland.
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Old Nov 16, 11, 2:15 pm
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Thanks for your advice everyone.

I'm not planning on renting a car. I see there are direct shuttles from Cointrin Airport to Morzine for about 30 euros. Otherwise, the train from Geneva to BSM is about the same price, though obviously not direct. Also since my flight back to the US is from Paris, my intention was to take one of the two Lunea services that depart from Savoie.

I had considered Switzerland, but the trains are so expensive there. Where would you recommend I go that isn't far from Geneva/Lac Leman? As I said, I went to PdS in the summer and did a hike from Champery to Morgins. I also went visited Les Diablerets which was pretty cool. But in general, Switzerland is going to cost more than France, no?

I am not an off piste skier...I do enjoy cruising on long intermediate runs, but some variety is nice too in terms of more advanced trails. I skied at ValThorens, starting on the Orelle side, one weekend back when I lived in France. The Orelle section was stunning, but on the other side in Valthorens, it was super crowded. And I didn't find the trails in that section to be anything out of the ordinary, tho I didn't make it very far.

I have reserved a reasonably priced room in Tignes. I can cancel with no penalty up to 48 hours before arrival. I located a similar room in Morzine, but they require full prepayment and there is no refund after 60 days before arrival. Affordable lodging with out a weeklong stay requirement has actually been my primary concern. All of the hostels require week long stays during vacances scolaires, so I've been looking for reasonably priced single rooms.

Atmosphere-wise, I don't have a particularly well defined requirement. I just want to go somewhere that is pretty, priced within reason, and is better than what I can get here in WV (in other words, has real snow and lifts that have been built since the 1960's).
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Old Nov 16, 11, 3:56 pm
  #95  
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I mentioned Les Habères earlier in this thread. It should be good for you, with nice long intermediate runs. And it is very near to Geneve. But you would need a car I think. Not sure if there is a bus.
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Old Nov 17, 11, 9:37 am
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Originally Posted by kahuna613 View Post
Thanks for your advice everyone.

I'm not planning on renting a car. I see there are direct shuttles from Cointrin Airport to Morzine for about 30 euros. Otherwise, the train from Geneva to BSM is about the same price, though obviously not direct. Also since my flight back to the US is from Paris, my intention was to take one of the two Lunea services that depart from Savoie.
You might have a look at http://www.altibus.com/index.aspx to see where you can go by bus from GVA.

Originally Posted by kahuna613 View Post
I had considered Switzerland, but the trains are so expensive there. Where would you recommend I go that isn't far from Geneva/Lac Leman? As I said, I went to PdS in the summer and did a hike from Champery to Morgins. I also went visited Les Diablerets which was pretty cool. But in general, Switzerland is going to cost more than France, no?
I was indeed thinking of Les Diablerets. You can also think about smaller resorts in Valais that are connected to larger ones, such as Nendaz. It is true that Swiss trains are expensive but with them you can go to almost any resort in the country. Also, there are some ways to lower the cost of Swiss trains, like the Swiss pass.

It is true that CHF is currently very expensive. But Tignes in France is not the cheapest resort.

Originally Posted by kahuna613 View Post
I am not an off piste skier...I do enjoy cruising on long intermediate runs, but some variety is nice too in terms of more advanced trails. I skied at ValThorens, starting on the Orelle side, one weekend back when I lived in France. The Orelle section was stunning, but on the other side in Valthorens, it was super crowded. And I didn't find the trails in that section to be anything out of the ordinary, tho I didn't make it very far.
The runs are IMO way better in Meribel, which is connected to Val Thorens, albeit the snow is always better in Val Thorens. With Tignes and specially Val d'Isère, you will have some of the longest and most varied runs of Northern Alps.

Originally Posted by kahuna613 View Post
I have reserved a reasonably priced room in Tignes. I can cancel with no penalty up to 48 hours before arrival. I located a similar room in Morzine, but they require full prepayment and there is no refund after 60 days before arrival. Affordable lodging with out a weeklong stay requirement has actually been my primary concern. All of the hostels require week long stays during vacances scolaires, so I've been looking for reasonably priced single rooms.

Atmosphere-wise, I don't have a particularly well defined requirement. I just want to go somewhere that is pretty, priced within reason, and is better than what I can get here in WV (in other words, has real snow and lifts that have been built since the 1960's).

I do prefer the traditional atmosphere of Morzine rather that the newly built one of Tignes. But that is a personal choice of course.

If you found a decent lodging in Tignes, I would however stick with it since I understood you want first to enjoy the ski experience. Espace Killy is a must do in any skier life.

Anyway, I hope you will have great time, snow and weather in the Alps.

Btw, I was totally unaware of skiing opportunities in WV !
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Old Nov 17, 11, 3:19 pm
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Thanks for keeping the advice coming. I guess I do have a lot of options. The hotel in Tignes is the Hotel Gentiana, which is is Lac de Tignes. It's 100 euros a night for a single room and includes breakfast (and maybe dinner...the hotel website says half board includes dinner and the booking site mentions only breakfast). It also has an indoor pool and hot tub and 50m from the lift. That sounds pretty good to me. I just looked and it has totally booked up that entire week...glad I got a reservation in.

It seems like the Altibus site has not yet been updated for all of the routes for this winter. I was trying to look for buses from Morzine down to Cluses; the prices are there but not the schedule.

I was also looking at Seez...I might be able to squeeze in a half day at La Rosiere.
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Old Nov 18, 11, 4:42 pm
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You know...I was taking a closer look at Switzerland. The train really isn't that expensive if you are staying near the eastern end of Lac Leman. Verbier looks awesome, actually has affordable lodging, and could still permit me to take the sleeper train on my way back, through Chamonix (to save on a night's lodging). Lift tickets are quite a bit more though, but the lodging savings would make that not matter. Oh well, this is prolly better posted in the Swiss skiing thread, if there even is one.
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Old Nov 21, 11, 3:09 am
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Originally Posted by kahuna613 View Post
You know...I was taking a closer look at Switzerland. The train really isn't that expensive if you are staying near the eastern end of Lac Leman. Verbier looks awesome, actually has affordable lodging, and could still permit me to take the sleeper train on my way back, through Chamonix (to save on a night's lodging). Lift tickets are quite a bit more though, but the lodging savings would make that not matter. Oh well, this is prolly better posted in the Swiss skiing thread, if there even is one.
Yes, you can go directly to Verbier from GVA by taking one of the trains that go to Visp. They usually stop in Martigny where you can change and take the regional train to Le Chable. Then there is the gondola.

And if you like beautiful sceneries, your choice to go back through Chamonix is a good one !
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Old Nov 24, 11, 9:20 am
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Unless I find a chalet for rent in Bernese Oberland, I might be in the 3 Vallées between Christmas and New Year.
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Old Dec 8, 11, 8:38 am
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The snow is there !
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Old Dec 19, 11, 10:06 am
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Originally Posted by bodory View Post
The snow is there !
Yes it is here and it looks nice (news from a friend living in the Tarentaise)
Hope it will last and we will get more than last year
Anyway i will have to wait until end of january to taste it...
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Old Dec 19, 11, 2:42 pm
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I just drove through the Jura and the hills (I'm not even talking about mountains) were well covered in snow.
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Old Dec 20, 11, 9:27 am
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Record amount of snow falling across the Alps : http://www.merinet.com/reports/news/...-the-alps.html
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Old Dec 20, 11, 4:37 pm
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Originally Posted by bodory View Post
Record amount of snow falling across the Alps : http://www.merinet.com/reports/news/...-the-alps.html
Great news,
i had a quick look while considering going to the Alps at the end of this week, but there is not any car available at LYS airport...
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