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Compact Chambéry Savoie Mont Blanc is a handy little Alpine airport to access some large and popular ski resorts. British favourite Val d’Isère and neighbouring Tignes can be reached in around two hours by road, whereas it’s nearly three hours from Geneva. Both in the extensive Espace Killy, with 300km of pistes, these resorts boast a great snow record and have year-round skiing on the glaciers – weather permitting. Lively après ski includes plenty of restaurants, bars and the caberet-style La Folie Douce, bringing music and dancing to the slopes.
Located below Europe’s largest skiable 3,600m high glacier, Les 2 Alpes is another top draw for British skiers and again is under a two-hour drive from Chambéry. It is hoped that the long-planned lift to link nearby Alpe d’Huez will be completed by the start of the 2022/2023 ski season. Creating a combined total of 450km of ski runs, this will elevate the area to one of the largest in the world. There is plenty to attract snow sports enthusiasts both on and off the slopes. Children and adults alike will love launching themselves in a donut onto a big air bag, while other adrenalin-fuelled activities include snowscoots, electrobikes, paragliding or speedriding, as well as more relaxing spas.
Les Trois Vallées (Three Valleys), the world’s largest ski area with 600km of slopes, is just over an hour’s drive away from Chambéry. Méribel and Courchevel are hosting the final of the Alpine World Championships from February 6-19, 2023, although book accommodation well ahead. Meanwhile, the highest and most snow-sure resort, Val Thorens, makes this the safest bet for excellent snow conditions well into the spring season. Fly to Chambéry in 1 hour and 40 minutes from Southampton Airport with British Airways from December. Book now with British Airways.
Geneva is a busy international hub on the doorsteps of both Switzerland and France, meaning that there is a flurry of choices when it comes to deciding where to ski. At a station below the airport, slick and scenic rail services connect to luxury Swiss ski resorts like Verbier (a favourite of the royals) or St Moritz near the Italian border. The popular French-Swiss cross-border ski area of La Porte du Soleil encompasses 13 resorts and has been awarded coveted Flocon Vert sustainability status for its eco-friendly practices. Reached in around an hour, the family friendly, extensive ski area includes the pretty villages of Les Gets and Morzine as well as high-altitude, purpose-built Avoriaz on the French side, with five small resorts such as Champéry, Morgins, Torgon, Val d’Illiez and Champoussin in Swizerland. Quirky accommodation ranges from glamping “bubbles” and chalets to ski-in, ski-out apartments and hotels.
Pretty Val d’Arly in France, just over an hour’s drive away, is a lesser-known hidden gem with its traditional resorts of Crest-Voland/Cohennoz, Flumet/St Nicolas la Chapelle and Notre Dame de Bellecombe. La Giettaz en Aravis may be linked to upmarket Megève with its luxury hotels, fine-dining restaurants and designer shopping, but ski away from the in-crowd and prices on the slopes and in the Savoyard villages drop to much more affordable levels. Fly to Geneva from Southampton Airport in 1 hour and 35 minutes with easyJet from December. Book now with easyjet.
Stunning Salzburg in Austria is famous for The Sound of Music, Mozart and Christmas markets which make it an attractive destination in its own right. Yet it also acts as a base or gateway to the surrounding mountains, with many resorts under 90 minutes’ drive away. Austria has a reputation for being one of the most scenic, Christmas card countries in which to ski or snowboard. Look forward to pistes lined with pine trees and traditional village resorts, with family-run hotels, wooden chalets and horse-drawn sleighs creating even more charm. Bad Hofgastein is a beautiful spa town, famous for its mineral-rich thermal water lakes. There can’t be a much better way to ease tired muscles after a day’s skiing than in the open-air swimming baths and hot tubs at the foot of the pistes.
The slopes which are linked to the Ski Amade region are best suited to beginners and families, but aren’t so challenging for experts. Kitzbühel is a worldrenowned Tyrolean resort just over an hour’s drive from Salzburg’s international airport or two hours by train. The notorious downhill slope “Streif” (or “Stripe”) is legendary among ski racers, but there is something to suit everyone here. You need to save up to enjoy this destination, though, as prices can be as steep as its surrounding mountains. Fly to Salzburg from Southampton Airport in two hours with British Airways from December. Book now with British Airways.
Southampton Airport – Ski Club of Great Britain