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Where would you live in EU for great skiing?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
We’re thinking about renting a place in Europe for a year and would like to be near great skiing as well as hiking, cycling and a good social environment.

We enjoy Italy, and have heard great things about the Three Valleys area in France, but haven’t skied in either.

Where would you recommend we look? Not really interested in glitzy/chi-chi scene. Nice town. Nice people. Focus on active lifestyle. Ok for English speakers (I speak some German, wife a bit of French).

Thanks for any tips!
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Depending on finances and being able to afford a place I'd recommend - as I've dreamt of doing this - especially to avoid rampaging, tax-mad Corby/McDonnell government!

These are some of my favourite resorts and where I *could* imagine living and being able to ski in winter, cycle/hike in summer, enjoy sensible living and able to travel, but I have NOT investigated the costs/logistics of purchasing property in detail nor taxation/inheritance and other issues which may sway you depending on personal/family/work circumstances:

a) Verbier - great skiing, proper nice little town which has life all year round, just avoid the merchant bankers! V.expensive. But one could live in Thyon or Nendaz which are part of the 4 Vallees and connect to Verbier but connections are lost in poor weather and they have less atmosphere, being more purpose built.
Verbier is also less than 2 hours from Geneva and airport. Swiss residency and costs are another issue.
b) Val D'Isere - again, proper town, great skiing and some cheaper places to live nearby (e.g. La Fornet)
c) 3v/Trois Vallees - huge area, lots of intermediate skiing, Courchevel 1850 as expensive as Verbier - Val Thorens modern and purpose built, suggest Meribel or lower Courchevel villages but many lack atmosphere, being modern and purpose built.
d) St Anton and other Austrian resorts - great skiing areas ... proper towns/villages - can be charming ...
e) Vail - v. expensive ... great skiing!!!! Big step to go there ... residency difficult to achieve for most UK citizens but you can buy and stay there for quite long periods but have to go in and out.
f) Cervinia - good skiing - connects to Zermatt (bad weather at top can break these) skiing - lifts slowly being improved - nice in summer, Italian food ... cheaper than most ....
g) Chamonix ... big town (10,000 residents?) and many Brits ... but I have mixed feelings about the skiing (5 separate ski areas requiring bus or car to get between), the increasingly built up town and valley up to Argentiere. It's not the most convenient ... getting too big and crowded in town, on the roads and on the slopes in my experience.

You'll notice I've focussed on big ski areas/resorts - on the basis that if living there, I'd be less likely to get bored. But there are many other charming ski resorts in France, Austria, Italy, even Germany, that one could consider depending on budget, residency, skiing frequency/ability and so on.

Hope this (very personal, partial and biased response helps!)
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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?
@Tom_Ski, how far you looking to travel to partake in the activties?
If you dont mind short drive to access different ski resorts, a town in the Aosta Valley would be perfect in Italy, You can buy a season Aosta valley pass that covers all the resorts.
France has a few options also Bourg st Maurice in the Tarentaise youll be in the Les Arc ski area with other big hiting resorts Tignes and Val D'isere les than an hour away
Briancion for La Grave, Serre Chevelier, the via latta(milkyway)les 2 alps and alp d'huez.

Austria you could look at Innsbruck your an hour away from many great resorts there, St Anton and Ischgl to name a couple.
Cant comment on Switzerland as ive done very little there.
cost wise Italy youll get more per € for day to day living
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What level/type of skiing ( e.g. cruising pistes, steeps, offpiste )
What type of biking (e.g. touringbike, roadbike, mountainbike?)
Will you have your own transport?

It looks like skiing is your main intent although the season is short (approx 4 months) and some ski towns are ghost towns out of season. I'd be inclined to split up into two locations doing a season in a proper ski town and then heading down to Italy for the sun, sand, food, watersports and grappa.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@Tom_Ski, @Ashridge, we’ve got a place in Verbier and it’s great all year other than May and November when it’s very quiet as most people are on holiday. Although skiing starts on weekends in Nov snow permitting. Season runs until end April so this year where we started 3rd Nov we got 6 months of skiing. Summer is also fab with mountain biking (downhill and CC), hiking, via ferrata, outdoor swimming pool and several events in town - classical music festival, show jumping, e-bike festival etc. It’s not cheap but you can get good deals on full year rentals (as many of the properties are lightly used in Summer) and also have the option of Le Chable in the valley, served by the gondola where accommodation is cheaper. I think Portes du Soleil eg Morzine would also offer an all year round activity base although it’s much lower with the resulting impact on quality of snow.
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I've been staying in a B&B in Le Chable which @BobinCH mentions and it's a very pleasant and picturesque little town.

Few restaurants, supermarket, well located for Verbier or Bruson ski areas and train line links into Martigny for Geneva Airport for when people want to visit too.

Because they will!
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Whilst Morzine is much lower @BobinCH, the snow has been fantastic and Avoriaz is still open for another week.

Morzine is good as a year round option - quiet in May, October and November. When we lived there we skied a lot but also travelled about a lot for skiing and city breaks- went through the tunnel to Italy quite a lot to go to Milan, Turin or the coast. Also used to get to Provence in 4.5hours which was rather lovely. Lyon in 2.5 hours, up to Beaune for some vino, even the Black Forest was do-able.


Last edited by Then you can post your own questions or snow reports... on Tue 16-04-19 8:52; edited 1 time in total
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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!
Somewhere which can take advantage of the multi-resort season passes should be a starting point IMHO

Magic Pass, Switzerland
Tirol Card, Austria
Salzburg Super Ski Card, Austria
Superski Dolimiti, Italy


Last edited by After all it is free Go on u know u want to! on Tue 16-04-19 8:22; edited 1 time in total
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I'd go for aosta itself, you've got the main lift up to pila a 10 minute walk away, la thuile, cervinia and courmayer are all within an hour's drive, there are lots of small resorts close by you could explore, the mountain biking is excellent, the road cycling is good, and the town of aosta is beautiful, with loads of Roman remains to explore.
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As we sat on the shore front of Lake Annecy we decided it would be a nice year round city - cycling, stuff on the lake and proper skiing all around you.
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Mother hucker wrote:


Austria you could look at Innsbruck your an hour away from many great resorts there, St Anton and Ischgl to name a couple.


Innsbruck for me. Proper town, easy access to/from UK, loads more great ski areas within an hour: from Kitz, Ski Welt, Ski Juwel, Oztal with its glaciers, Serfaus, the above, and many more.

Plus, the Austrian Alps are genuinely gorgeous once the snow has gone, something which can't be said for any French resort I've passed through. Haute Provence is lovely but too far from anything else.

Italy has some stunningly beautiful locations and wonderful food, but travel between resorts is slow, (unless you can ski between them). Getting that destination with amenities, good connections and a year round existance is trickier. Maybe somwhere on the rail line that serves Kronplatz?
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
I live in Austria in the Ski Amadé region and I have a season Salzburg Super Ski Card. It think it's 72 ski areas that it covers, travel between areas is easy with a car, although it covers a vast area, from east to west, Tauplitz to Zillertal must be around 3 hours' drive. You also have the city of Salzburg, Salzkammergut, and as many summer activities as you wish.

The only bit I really don't know is how you go about getting a tourist visa for an extended stay.
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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
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Quote:

gorgeous once the snow has gone, something which can't be said for any French resort I've passed through


WTF?? No, the Chamonix valley is horrible in Summer. Not at all.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@Tom_Ski, I've always thought that Innsbruck or Landeck would be great bases to explore the Tirol. Landeck is at the junction of a few valleys/close to some excellent resorts - eg Ischgl, sölden, St Anton and Serfaus. Have never stayed there though so can't comment on it as a town - I'm guessing Innsbruck has a lot more going on than Landeck. Quite a few snowheads based in Innsbruck so I'm sure they'll be able to offer much better advice than me.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
I'd pick a smaller town in Austria close to a major ski area and get a Superski or Tirolcard. My personal opinion is that you don't need the costs of being in a big name resort nor unless you are a culture/shopping junkie to be in a bigger city.

Plus in Austrian Alps you're never more than 90 mins drive from one of Salzburg or Innsbruck.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@Tom_Ski, to add to the info about Innsbruck:

• It's a city, only a small one, but there is a lot more going on than in surrounding towns and villages, which tend to be a bit quiet.
• If you're staying for a year, you'll need to be registered locally. The advantage of this is that you get a residents' discount on your ski pass if you take a Tirol card.
• You'll have a choice of 2 ski passes: Tirol card – winter season only, all local resorts plus most of the bigger resorts within and hour or two (except the Arlberg), Freizeitticket Tirol – residents only, cheaper than Tirol card, lasts all year, generally smaller and local resorts but 3 days each in Ischgl and Arlberg included.
• It's all about the activities. Whatever you think you can do, someone else here is doing it harder, faster or somehow more extreme. However strong, fit or skilled you think you are, you got nothing! Shocked
• English is the second language and widely spoken, especially anywhere connected to tourism.
• Public transport is pretty good, but if you'll probably want a car.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Personally wouldn't want to be stuck in a ski resort for a year, so for me options that spring to mind would be:

- Innsbruck
- Chamonix
- Aosta
- Lausanne
- Annecy?
- Feldkirch
- Bozen
- Garmisch
- Possibly Morzine (probably just about enough going on other than skiing?)

Personally not a fan of Landeck (other than its location)
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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?
Wot @clarky999, said. My wife comes from a small ski village in Vorarlberg. It's fine for a few days, but staying there for a whole season would drive me crazy. I live south of Munich near Starnberg. Good compromise as far as I'm concerned. Garmisch is about 45 minutes drive (on a good day), which is fine for me as far as skiing and MTB are concerned. In Austria I would look at either Salzburg or Innsbruck.
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Bourg Saint Maurice comes to mind. Les Arcs is closest, followed by La Rosiere with possibility to traverse to La Thuile in Italy, then La Plagne (accesibble from les Arcs also, but on road it's further than La Rosiere). 3V is an hour drive, has a train station. But this is just me, not much experience at all.
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Last edited by Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do. on Tue 16-04-19 13:41; edited 1 time in total
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Depends if you want to drive to ski or not. We picked Les Carroz in the GM as opposed to Annecy as we thought we'd happily drive back up on light summer nights after days out but would prefer to be right there to ski on the shorter winter days. LC is a year round village, same as others quiet in May and Oct/Nov. Lots of MTB in the summer and hiking, telecabine and some chairs open as well. Depends which culture you prefer I suppose. Aosta is a good shout as well, and cheaper than France. Can see the appeal of Austria as well, esp if you speak German.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
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Penrith would be pretty good. Its the epicentre of English skiing being only 30 minutes from either Raise or Yad Moss. Nice market town with immediate access to a World Heritage quality National park England's largest AONB, good sailing and excellent walking and cycling. It has a mainline railway station and an uncongested section of the M6. Weekends to Scottish skiing and even day trips are possible. Easy access to the Alps via Manchester, Newcastle and Edinburgh airports. English spoken. Laughing

Alternatively how about Perth, Stirling Glasgow, Edinburgh or the countryside between ?

....and you may not even have to be in the EU Sad
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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!
Nov to Apr = Verbier, Switzerland.
May to Aug = Cortina, Italy.
Sep to Nov = Munich, Germany.
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Aosta, Bolzano, Trento, Merano...
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Innsbruck or Dornbirn
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Innsbruck would be good, too. Also Martigny... close to so much.
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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.
Wow! You guys are amazing! Just scanned through all your replies and am overwhelmed with both your generosity in sharing what you know, and the variety of ideas.

Some of you mentioned the “purpose-built” villages versus the original style ones. Hadn’t thought about that distinction, but it’s an important one for us - being Americans (well, wife is dual - Brit and now naturalized here) we would want to experience the charm of an authentic village. So great point - thank you.

As for type of skiing - I’ll ski almost anything we have here in the US, except for narrow double-black diamond chutes and big mogul fields. Trees, steeps, powder are all good - so looking for somewhere that would have more than only intermediate terrain. And open to experiencing guided/backcountry stuff European style - haven’t done that here though. I recently retired, so I am aiming to rack up as many days as I can - got 26 in this past season, and nearest resorts are 3 hours away. So hoping to find a group of like-minded skiers there to play with.

Wife doesn’t ski, and is content to explore on her own as well as x-c skiing and snow shoeing. We both enjoy mountain biking (they say it was invented in the next town over from where we live, on Mt. Tamalpais) as well as short cycle trips to run errands in town rather drive a car.

Thank you, again, for all your replies - you’ve certainly given us a lot of options to consider!
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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
@Tom_Ski, having read what you and your wife like to do, and with the proviso that I don't know Austria very well in general, so can't comment on Innsbruck for example, I would plump for Chamonix, I think.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Innsbruck
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
I just started my skiing and snowboarding. Iceland is the best place for me, I'm bias of-course. Laughing
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Maybe Bourg St Maurice to be thrown into the mix too....
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
I'll just leave this here: https://www.innsbruck.info/en/biking.html
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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?
@Scarlet, You got one yet?
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Kitzbuhel would be worth a look. It's just big enough to not be a village and have some options for a non-skiing wife - and small enough to tick the easy access to the hills boxes. You get some quality racing thrown in every year. And probably just the right side of not too glitzy, chi-chi. I thought Garmisch was a good shout as well.
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@Tom_Ski, What are your preferred resorts in Tahoe? That might give us even more of a steer. Bearing in mind you'll struggle to get the same tree lined chutes as Kirkwood or the mellow glades of Northstar but might have a lot of terrain that looks like Headwall or Sibo at Squaw.
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@Markymark29, No chance! I'm a few grand short on the old dineros, unfortunately Sad
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@Peter S, nice try. I consider the Good Friday I spent at Raise one of my finest ski experiences - not because of the quality of the snow but because of the location and the welcome from the regulars but it'd be hard to pin a season around - maybe if you're also into winter fellwalking and muddy mTBing.
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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!
@Tom_Ski, There is sort of a bit of a "you'll have fun wherever"but that's too simplistic Happy

My own preference would probably be somewhere like Chamonix (which is where I live so I am obviously biased) - but it is a proper town and handy for Geneva airport. The skiing is extensive and intensive but does incline (sic) towards the off piste.

I don't really know Austria so can't comment on that.

I think my off the top of the head suggestions other than Cham would include Aosta, Verbier (or Le Chable), Morzine (PdS).
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German the main language in Wolkenstein / Selva in the Dolomites near the Austrian border. Large (1200k) ski area with super UNESCO scenery, Italian prices, Italian food .... worth a look but is winter for skiing & summer for walking / mountain biking etc etc ...
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Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
@Tom_Ski, What are your preferred resorts in Tahoe? That might give us even more of a steer. Bearing in mind you'll struggle to get the same tree lined chutes as Kirkwood or the mellow glades of Northstar but might have a lot of terrain that looks like Headwall or Sibo at Squaw.


Sounds like you know Tahoe areas, @DaveOTM. Since I’m on the Epic Pass my Tahoe resorts are Heavenly and N*. Kirkwood is also on the Epic now, but I’ve never skied there. I love Squaw - that’s a skier’s mountain, imho, but not on the Epic - and I’ve skied the Headwall there and enjoyed it.

At N* I like the Backside. Those runs are fun on a groomer day, and the glades are amazing when there’s fresh powder (Ok, Sierra Cement). Was there a week before last with some fresh snow in, and even though it was a bit heavy the tree skiing was excellent. At Heavenly I like to ski the whole mountain, starting on the Nevada side and working my way back to California - mostly on groomed blue and black cruisers. With a big dump of snow Mott Canyon is great fun.

In general I have fun on steep groomers, carving big GS turns. Throw in some steep, longish headwalls to mix it up a bit, and I’m having fun, even if there isn’t a big dump of fresh. As I said, I have no experience in the backcountry, but if that’s what’s on in Europe, I’d be game to give it a try.
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