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First Alps trip for Aussies - So many Pistes

 Poster: A snowHead
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@Dr John, I realise that, but as he's only done four weeks I've suggested somewhere where he can probably ski most of the runs in the resort and get a real sense of travel. I'm a pretty experienced piste skier, and I don't enjoy the piste skiing in St Anton that much (I've often found it crowded and icy). It's far better for gnarly off-piste experts IMO. Don't get me wrong, it's an excellent resort but maybe not for a lower intermediate. I love Val d'Isere but a lot of the runs are undergraded, same for Ischgl. I think Val and Ischgl are best for very confident intermediates.
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Thanks for all the replies everyone, I've been madly googling the resorts mentioned and have narrowed it down to a few of the big mega areas in France/Austria. It will probably come down to cost and availability in the end as they all seem to have more than enough skiing for us for the week.
At the moment we haven't decided on which week to go skiing, how does Jan/Feb/Mar compare to each other? (December and school holidays are out for us).
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@AussieInMancland, late January is cheap, conditions could be cold/icy or superb. February is a good bet for decent conditions but expensive as clashes with half terms. March could be a bit warm but most likely to be the best balance of conditions/weather/price imo. April (after Easter) can be superb value but you risk being limited to staying high up.

Personally I'd look at mid-March, more likely to have nice weather and a cheap price as long as you can avoid any school holidays.
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@SnoodlesMcFlude At the moment we are thinking the last week of Jan that bleeds into the start of Feb, before the hols and from what I've seen of snow depth charts there should be plenty of snow around.
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Somebody discounted St Anton, Ischgl and Val d'Isere, this is crazy, these are three premier ski resorts with St Anton being my top choice as the link to Lech is now open but you would have a great time at any of the three.

Ischgl has the wildest night life. St Anton has the best bars for that thirst quencher at the end of the day. Val d'Isere [ Espace Killy ] has the most extensive Skiing area.
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I have wen't to Val d'isere,Val Thorens,Les Arcs,Chamonix.

Val d'isere has the best skiing out of them all imo.
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@TQA, I didn't say they were bad resorts, they are not.

FFS he has been skiing four weeks, I suggested a ski area that he would get more out of!! Everyone has ignored this.

St Anton (in particular), Val D and Ischgl all have pretty challenging piste skiing. But yes, you would still have a good time if you went to any of them.

After 12 ski holidays there, I can say Val d'Isere is my favourite resort by far.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@AussieInMancland,
Quote:

At the moment we are thinking the last week of Jan that bleeds into the start of Feb

That's usually a good week to go. It can be popular with UK skiers though, as about half way between New Year and Feb Half Term.
If the snow base in your chosen resorts is already good by then, booking a couple of weeks before departure should give a good balance between choice and price.
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HoneyBunny wrote:
@TQA, I didn't say they were bad resorts, they are not.

FFS he has been skiing four weeks, I suggested a ski area that he would get more out of!! Everyone has ignored this.

St Anton (in particular), Val D and Ischgl all have pretty challenging piste skiing. But yes, you would still have a good time if you went to any of them.

After 12 ski holidays there, I can say Val d'Isere is my favourite resort by far.


Surely most people will be comfortable skiing the majority of runs after 4 weeks of skiing.
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FullyTucked wrote:


Surely most people will be comfortable skiing the majority of runs after 4 weeks of skiing.


Really?!?

I guess it depends on personal ability / athleticism / fitness / etc, and whether the 4 weeks was spent in an intensive training camp (or with a private instructor) or goofing around a blue run.

With St Anton, on a clear day, and good snow, there are plenty of options in the morning for a reasonable intermediate skier. By lunchtime, or on less than ideal days, there are far fewer.

Lech and Zürs have more options, though Zürs in a white-out / flat light would like be a handful for anybody who is a less than an adventurous intermediate.
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Lots of people's own ideas on here. We all have our favourites.

Now Arlberg is linked it it pretty awesome and st Anton offers some serious piste skiing too.
Space Lilly is bigger and offers more, in my op inion for more advanced skiing.
Paradise is overrated as a mega area although Les Arcs is a great resort
The 3V is an intermediates playground and VT is without comparison for snow quality
My personal favourite is the Dolomites but I'm in my forties. If I was in my twenties it would be Espace Milky

What Europe does offer is ambience and charm. Switzerland does this very well but at a cost. Austria also excels here.
The problem with the mega resorts is that charm is Kind of bulldozed to make way for infrastructure.
There are some exceptions, particularly satellite towns to mega resorts.

There are also resorts that offer a real feel of history: Courmayeur, Wengen, Cortina, Megeve, Chamonix, kitzbuel.

The Alps really are a large box of chocolates.
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cameronphillips2000 wrote:

...Space Lilly...
... Espace Milky...


Epsace silly?

Escape willy?
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Meribel.
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So we have done some more looking and we have found some good options in Les Menuires and Les Arcs/La Plagne, and maybe Val D'Isere, some questions about Les Menuires:
For Les Menuires how difficult is it to get around the town itself? The apartments we have seen are at the back bottom end of it and I think we will want to get into the centre to access the better lifts/food (I see there is a bus but not sure how good it is). Also it looks like there is fairly simple access to Meribel and Val Thorens valleys with a couple of lifts if we want to get out of Les Menuires, is that right?

Also overall how would you compare 3V, Paradiski, and Espace Killy?

I've got a full day lesson at Chill Factore on Saturday so I'm pretty stoked to get riding again.
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Bus info for Les Menuires:
http://media.lesmenuires.com/2016/12/navettes-gratuites-2017.pdf
And here's a map of the village, with locations of bus stops (red ones are where the free buses go, the blue one in the middle is the main bus station).
http://media.lesmenuires.com/2017/10/menuires_plan_hiver_2018.pdf
Buses seem to be frequent enough throughout the day, and get around pretty well.

My one experience of Les Menuires was when I missed the last lift to VT, so skied down to Les Menuires, got a free bus to the main bus station, and then a bus back to VT. Certainly from that brief visit the village seemed quite spread out, so the buses will be a useful way of getting around.

You're right about access to Meribel and VT, both very easy from Les Menuires. You also have direct access to the La Masse sector, which had some great skiing.

As for 3V vs Paradiski vs Espace Killy, they're all great IMO. My own personal preference is Espace Killy, which I think has a small edge in terms of piste variety, and has some quieter places, whereas the 3V can get very busy at times, though that's less of a concern for your dates. Very little between the three in any case, and for a week's skiing there's more than enough in each to keep you happy.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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Les Arcs 1950 or 2000 - endless terrain , ski in/out - link to La Plagne and good mix for skiers and boarders. Worth considering.
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If there's a less well designed ski resort than Led Menuires I've yet to see it. The runners up for terrible layout are Val Thorens and Meribel. You get your accommodation the wrong area in any of those 3 and you're facing long steep walks every day.
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Quote:

If there's a less well designed ski resort than Led Menuires I've yet to see it.

Arcs 2000 must be in the running? On a larger scale, Chamonix, a mixture of organic growth and opportunistic design I suppose, is difficult to navigate around. It has many compensations though.
Les Menuires is an unattractive village and not well laid out. But for relatively good value access to one of the top snowsports areas in the world, personally I could put up with that.
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AussieInMancland wrote:


Also overall how would you compare 3V, Paradiski, and Espace Killy?



1. Paradiski
2. 3V
3. EK
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red 27 wrote:
AussieInMancland wrote:


Also overall how would you compare 3V, Paradiski, and Espace Killy?



1. Paradiski
2. 3V
3. EK


The othe way arround wink
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1.EK
2. Paradiski
3.3V

TBQFQ
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1.3V; Huge variety of slopes, accommodation. Every resort in the 3V is different.
2. EK: Great but Val D'Isere can be quite challenging at the end of the day for early intermediated as most the runs home are a tad tricky.
3. Paradiski (though not been to Les Arcs). La Plagne I remember being very strong on cruisy blue runs.

@AussieInMancland, They are, in reality, all great and HUGE ski areas.

Les Menuires I know well-worked there 12 years ago and ski the 3V more than anywhere.
The oldest part and therefore the centre of Les Men (built in the 60s-same age as me and frankly, I am ageing better!) is particularly ugly and is still housed in a giant concrete monstrosity which lacks all Alpine charm. It is easy to get about however, and the bus service is good-when I was there there was a bus every 20 mins from the top at Reberty down to the centre. The walk down was a manageable 15-20 mins.
Great skiing though and the resort as a whole is not as pig ugly as it used to be.
Where are the apartments you are looking at? Bear in mind that cheap french apartments can be tiny and basic.
There is often a decent walkway and sometimes a lift that gets you up and out at the top of a building on the side of the hill so the uphill climb to centre of things may be closer than you think.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
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@AussieInMancland, for your requirements, as outlined in your OP, I'd go..
1. 3V
2. Paradiski
3. EK
My own favourite is EK but not so good for you, for the reasons @Perty, explains.

Within 3V I'd suggest Meribel, Les M, Mottaret and La Tania as good, relatively central bases. Nothing wrong with the other villages for the right deal. But if you stay at either end, eg Val T or Courchevel 1650 (Moriond) it makes it harder for intermediates to explore the full area.

If you go Paradiski lots of villages suit. I like staying near the big cable car, Vanoise Express, giving easy access to both sides. That's Peisey/Vallandry villages. Quiet at night though.

If you go EK, I think Tignes skiing might suit you better than Val D. You can still explore the Val D side from there.

All personal and subjective opinions but based on more than 10 trips to each circuit.
Other good ski areas are available!
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@AussieInMancland Ive skied and Boarded all over the Alps apart from Switzerland, Usually with mates who tend to be competent on black runs but the past few years I've been with the Mrs and our friends so factoring in resorts that cater for the group dynamic of all the mixed abilities was something I had never had to do previously. I must Say you can't go wrong with La Tania in the 3 Valleys for its great location, has a decent resort altitude, lots of ski in/out accommodation and the last run down to resort (folyeres) is just excellent, almost feels like you're in Canada especially if you get a big dump and the tree's are completely white!
If you're thinking Val d'sere go for it. My mate came with us having never been on a mountain, had a couple of lessons and was keeping up with us by the end of the week. based on your 4 weeks experience you won't have any problems although the home runs tend to get a bit icy and crowded coming down in the afternoon.

I myself am looking into La Plagne/Les Arcs this winter for a mixed group but have never been to any of these resorts.

Have a good one!
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@BearGroves,
Quote:

If you're thinking Val d'sere go for it. My mate came with us having never been on a mountain, had a couple of lessons and was keeping up with us by the end of the week

Very Happy was your mate attached to you with a bungee?

Agree with your La Tania comments.
La Plagne/Les Arcs good for your group too, especially if you've never been before.
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We are currently looking at an apartment option that looks good at Les Arcs 1800, fairly close in the village and near the transarc 1 gondola. I think at the moment my mate and I have been kinda splitting hairs when anywhere we go should be pretty awesome.
Anyone been to Arcs 1800 and have an opinion on it?
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@AussieInMancland,
Quote:

Anyone been to Arcs 1800 and have an opinion on it?

Yes, purpose built, handy for lifts, buses, good newish leisure/swim centre, should suit fine.
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@intermediate Laughing fortunately for us he was that kid who could get into any sports team, it was quite annoying at school but worked out well on the mountain. We still had to wait around for him but he was usually not far off the pace and we didn't mind waiting. Quite unbelievable really! Val d'sere was also my first experience at the age of 14, well La aille and managed the whole week without any lesson's. It was my mates dad and his mates that got me through it.

Yes, Paradiski seems to have a good mix of tree and high altitude skiing and plenty of gentle cruisers for the less experienced.
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@BearGroves,
Quote:

fortunately for us he was that kid who could get into any sports team

Respect to Mr Cool! He must have nerves of steel.

Paradiski - I prefer Les Arcs side skiing. La Plagne has plenty challenging stuff too. I find connecting lifts and runs on La Plagne side a bit slow and tedious...but good for steady cruisers who like a good rest between runs. If snow good, staying in Peisey/Vallandry, or Les Coches/Montchavin has advantage of good access to either side, via spectacular Vanoise Express cable car.
Do you do self catering apts, hotels, chalets?
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@intermediate Nice, Ill have a look into them!

I have soft spot for catered chalets tbh, done hotels but never apartments. That is actually an idea that has been thrown around amongst the group as I climb in the Dolomites during the summer and always rent an apartment so was interested in doing something like that for a ski trip.

What about yourself?
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@BearGroves, usually catered chalets or sometimes H/B hotels, rarely apartments. I know good chalet-hotel and also a hotel on the Les Arcs side. One in Vallandry, the other in Arcs 1600.
Keen to ski Dolomites this season. Any recommendations for best villages on or near Sella Ronda to stay in?
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@intermediate What are their names?

I always base myself in Cortina. I have ventured west to Selva di val Gardena to climb some via ferrata which is stunning however I have never skied in the dolomites. Its a shame because that area is probably one of the most spectacular areas in the Alps.
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@BearGroves, I've sent you PM about hotels. Cortina looks great but get impression it is expensive - an 'old money' resort like St Moritz, Megeve, Wengen, etc.
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intermediate wrote:
@BearGroves, usually catered chalets or sometimes H/B hotels, rarely apartments. I know good chalet-hotel and also a hotel on the Les Arcs side. One in Vallandry, the other in Arcs 1600.
Keen to ski Dolomites this season. Any recommendations for best villages on or near Sella Ronda to stay in?


I have had recent trips to Kronplatz a which is a 20 minute bus ride to the Sella Ronda on and on the same pass DolomitiSuperSki, the village St Martins was very quiet though.

You access the SR at Alta Badia/Corvara and as a base Corvara is decent for both the Sella Ronda and the Great War Ski tour and Marmolada. There are some great cruising blues out of the 'back' into San Cassiano. I can't recommend this area highly enough, but it depends what you are looking for as it's not a lively apres scene or if there is I haven't found it
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AussieInMancland wrote:
... near the transarc 1 gondola...


Be aware that the Transarc was recently voted the World's Worst Gondola by a panel of experts (i.e. on here) because it's one of those bizarre circular designs that has room for 8 back-bottoms to perch on the little shelf-seat round the edge but only 5 pairs of knees'n'skis in the middle.

This leads to an unpleasant combination of discomfort and annoyance.

1800 is not the best location by any means. Far better to stay in Paissey-Villandry (sp) or Les Coches as to get the best out of Paradiski you need to stay near the middle of it.
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@Uncle Rico, thanks, useful advice. I give priority to skiing, not bothered about apres any more.
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@red 27,
Quote:

1800 is not the best location by any means. Far better to stay in Paissey-Villandry (sp) or Les Coches as to get the best out of Paradiski you need to stay near the middle of it.


Like you, I prefer staying in Plan Peisey/Vallandry area, but I don't think Arcs 1800 is a bad location at all. Doesn't take long to get to Vanoise Express, then across to La Plagne side. 1800 also has a bit more life going on, a good sports/swim centre and better bus connectivity. All depends what you want.I do think the Transarc gondola needs replacing!
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