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Mid-December tree line skiing in France?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi all,

Long time lurker here, used this site for the past 3 years to book ski holidays to 3 Valleys, Avoriaz and L2A. Now I need a bit of advice as I'm taking the other half away for here first ski holiday in years.
As most are probably aware, EasyJet released their flights this morning and I got a good price on Bristol - Geneva 15th - 22nd December. I picked Geneva because there seems to be a lot of good options around it for places to ski, also I used BensBus last year, they were good and run a fair amount of transfers, which made me pick Geneva over Innsbruck.

Basically I'm looking to go somewhere that has a pretty good chance of good snow cover at that time of year, but also has enough tree lined runs so that if the weather gets a bit naff, we can still have a good day out. That was the main problem with L2A for me was that as soon as the weather got bad or the wind picked up, the mountain just became a nightmare because of how bare it is. For this reason I was considering somewhere like Meribel so there's lots of trees but is the snow is lacking, we could head up to Val Thorens.

I know we can't have it all ways but any suggestions would be much appreciated! Very Happy
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Hi Swansea, Welcome to SH.

Its a bit of a paradox.
The "Tree-line" in the western alps, broadly speaking is below 2200m.
Most "Snow-Sure" resorts ( Early December ), are snow sure as they have access to glaciers or other areas of high elevation (above 2200m).
But by booking those dates, you might have automatically put yourself in the second group (if you want to book accommodation now), as the official opening for "lower" resorts might not be until the weekend of the 22nd.
You might luck-out, if there is early snow, as lower resorts will open pistes early, but it's not guaranteed.
The thing in your favour is that this week is proper low season, so you can leave it up till the last minute to sort accommodation.
I would sit tight until early December, and then decide from there.
You have done the hard bit and got the flights sorted.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@Swansea,
As above, one of the things about early season skiing is that although altitude is likely to help other things being equal, often other things aren't equal and some areas can have great snow whilst others are poor and it isn't predictable where will have the good snow.
It could be that the pre Alps , portes de soleil etc are drowned in the stuff when the Tarentaise is suffering or vica versa.
There are some seasons when the Southern Alps (Serre Che and south ) have great snow when further north suffers but other years when the south has none.
Though if you are reliant on public transport rather than car hire these are harder to access.
Do not forget that from Geneva Switzerland is accessible by train, Eastern Switzerland although further away an have great snow when the Western Alps suffer.
Personally I would wait untill very late before booking , weeks or possibly days before.
If you feel you have to book early Les Arcs has some excellent tree level skiing as well as high stuff, but I would wait, you may gain a lot in terms of snow conditions and you are unlikely to lose anything in terms of availability at such an early point in the season.
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Another thing to consider is the sort of terrain. Places like the Portes du Soleil (the area I know best) are mainly pastureland so 25cm of snow makes it skiable. Some other areas are very rocky and you need more snowfall to cover the rocks properly. All depends on how the weather comes really.

That week is probably the opening week in PDS and if they have decent early snow would fit the bill perfectly . If the snow is thin or late you might have to go higher which would put you above the treeline.

Late decision on where to go seems sensible
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Thanks all for the replies, it seems the general concensus is to leave it as late as possible. I'll try and contain my excitement as long as possible but I'm sure I'll be itching with a couple of weeks to go!
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 You'll need to Register first of course.
You'll need to Register first of course.
Tree skiing in Europe is lame.

Go to the US, Canada or Japan.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@Swansea, I would suggest you go to Les Coches/Vallandry. Lot's of tree skiing either side of the VE in poor weather and plenty of higher altitude skiing but I recall now that the lower stations and the VE won't open until 21st. So next option is La Tania in 3V which I think will be open.
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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!
@Swansea, leave it late. Not a busy week so you should have lots of choice and probably last minute offers. I’d say Courchevel has better piste skiing than Meribel if you’re going 3V’s. Val d’Isere another good choice if you want somewhere new in France.
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 You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
@Swansea, why does it need to be France?
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
@MichellePfeifferWhitegold, I am not sure Ben's Bus goes there from Geneva.
Maybe you are privy to their December 2019 timetable, and the new inter-continental routes they are offering.
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
under a new name wrote:
@Swansea, why does it need to be France?

It doesn't have to be France necessarily, I just went with Ben's Bus and they only offer transfers in France. If I could get a good deal on transfers elsewhere I don't mind but most places seem twice the price Sad
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
I've used AlpyBus twice this season to go from Geneva to France (Chamonix) and would happily recommend their service and price!

Worth having a look at their website and getting an idea of which areas they cover as shuttle service and which they don't.

I stayed in a chalet within Portes du Soleil which I found (found me) on Chalets Direct who I would also recommend.
Not sure of site rules regarding advertising so need to check that before I link to them.

And this week I ended up taking train from Geneva to Verbier this week and my limited experience of Swiss rail service was excellent. Just to open up more options for you Very Happy
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
jebroni3_16 wrote:
I've used AlpyBus twice this season to go from Geneva to France (Chamonix) and would happily recommend their service and price!

Worth having a look at their website and getting an idea of which areas they cover as shuttle service and which they don't.

I stayed in a chalet within Portes du Soleil which I found (found me) on Chalets Direct who I would also recommend.
Not sure of site rules regarding advertising so need to check that before I link to them.

And this week I ended up taking train from Geneva to Verbier this week and my limited experience of Swiss rail service was excellent. Just to open up more options for you Very Happy


Thanks mate, not sure how I'd feel about rail transport but AlpyBus looks great, definitely opened up some more options for me!
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
I'd strongly agree with the consensus. Decide last minute.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Agree with pam w, and all others suggesting Wait-and-See.
Where and When the snow falls is hit-and-miss. And sometimes super snow falls in November, and then gets washed away by December rains.
In recent years the week before Xmas in La Plagne has varied from Wonderful (2017) to Tricky (2015).
Sometimes snow falls in Austria but not France, sometimes the other way round. Sometimes lots in southern alps and nothing in north. And vice versa.
Hence the weather thread is buzzing from Autumn onwards.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Swansea wrote:
Thanks mate, not sure how I'd feel about rail transport but AlpyBus looks great, definitely opened up some more options for me!

You're very welcome.

And I promise I don't work for them, but was very impressed to learn from a lad I was on a freestyle course with in Verbier on Monday that when he got into Geneva late on Sunday, and he was the only person booked on the direct service there, the bus still ran and it was effectively a private transfer for the cost of a shared. Plus, it was a door-to-door service which they do offer to some areas!

My own personal concern with shuttle services has always been what if they just choose not to run it if I'm the only one booked, or try to charge more, but that certainly wasn't the case for him. And them having a desk at Geneva, and someone to actually deal with in person, helped allay some of my fears.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Whitegold wrote:
Tree skiing in Europe is lame.

Go to the US, Canada or Japan.


Point 1 - agreed.

Point 2 - daft comment when the OP has booked to fly to Geneva.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Bergmeister wrote:
Whitegold wrote:
Tree skiing in Europe is lame.

Go to the US, Canada or Japan.


Point 1 - agreed.

Point 2 - daft comment when the OP has booked to fly to Geneva.

Actually both points are a bit silly, if he'd read the OP where he is asking about tree level skiing for weather protection rather than looking for glades to ski through.
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@Swansea, why would you have any hesitation about rail transport?
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@Bergmeister,

While I'd agree that IN GENERAL tree skiing in NA is better than Europe. There are areas of Europe with EXCELLENT tree skiing. One example that comes to mind is Via Latea. There is lovely tree skiiing around Sestriere and Sauze d'oulx - lots of it, nice tree spacing etc. A lot of places in the Alps the trees are a bit low and tightly spaced for really good conditions - not so in that area and there is a huge amount of treed terrain to go after. In no way "lame"! Even closer to where I normally ski, there is really nice tree skiing around St Gervais and Megeve but the scope is a lot more limited than Via Latea.
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In response to the OP, I'd recommend Les Arcs. High enough to be (relatively) snow sure for an early booking and if the weather closes in you have the Peisey Vallandry area to enjoy significant tree lined skiing.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Another vote for Les Arcs, staying in either Vallandry, Arc 1800 or Arc 1600. Some really nice pistes through the trees if the weather closes in, and plenty of terrain above 2000m if early season conditions aren't great. Plenty of options for transfers from Geneva. That's the first week of the season in Les Arcs and it's very quiet, although most things will be open (although perhaps not the Vanoise Express cablecar to link to La Plagne).
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