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Lesser known resorts

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
What are your favourite smaller and lesser know resorts in europe? I'm looking for skier focused resorts not used by brit tour operators or heavily marketed with good terrain, excellent off piste/sidecountry with good snow records. Nice town/village a bonus with nightlife unimportant. Monster sized marked ski area isn't important

I'd fed up with costly mega resorts with lots of brits! There must be plenty of places tucked away where you can get the goods and avoid this.
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Glencoe - if you don't mind us Scots!
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narc, There's just recently been a long thread along these lines - can't remember what it's called though. AFAIK in France the big TOs only go to resorts with more than 100Kms of piste. Off the top of my head around here: Les Sept Laux, Alpe du Grande Serre (very small village). La Grave obviously if off piste is what you're looking for.
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I once started an 'amusing' thread once on similar lines.

http://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?p=1076433

I reckon what you're precisely asking for is a bit unlikely to exist. Skier focused with good terrain and a good snow record, but not marketed? Hmm.

For somewhere "lesser known" - i.e. pretty quiet even at half term, more French voices than British, and so on, I could personally recommend Valloire, although it fails some of your other tests (e.g. it has 150km of marked runs). The whole Maurienne Valley seems somewhat unknown actually, compared to - say - the Tarentaise.
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Serfaus has been getting a little bit of good press here in the last few weeks. Good size with a range of terrain, but very few British visitors.
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Resort Z and Resort G in the Valley dA.

However that is already too much information,
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One possibility which has been written about here before is Les Sybelles - six villages in France which are more or less linked up. They claim 300km+ of runs, though it doesn't honestly feel as big as that sounds and the lifts are all pretty slow. What it does offer though is very few Brits and fantastic views, particularly of Les Aiguilles d'Arves and the huge glacier at the back of Les Grandes Rousses. Much of the skiing is centred around the col de la Croix de Fer, a favourite of the Tour de France, and in the past we've found great runs down the course of stream that runs into St Colomban des Villards. This is a really quiet village, well off the beaten track, although Colin B in his write up of the resort (http://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewpost.php?p=277919) recommends La Toussuire if you want some nightlife. I enjoyed Saint Sorlin d'Arves, perhaps the other centre of the resort, which has market stalls most evenings where locals sell their sausage and cheese. This place doesn't rock - it's far too rural for that - but the restaurants are far cheaper than any of the mega resorts and there is plenty of charm. With good snow I'd definitely recommend this place - a friend booked a self catering apartment here for peanuts, and yes the infrastructure is limited but there's more to life in the mountains than fancy lifts.
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That's another vote for the Maurienne then...
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narc, I'm looking at Gerlos and Konigsleiten just now. Seems to be all German and Dutch visitors whilst only a 15 min ride away from UK mecca, Mayrhofen. Matt Brown of www.ineedsnow.com raves about Konigsleiten in particular, as does he about Stuben for the off-piste and excellent snow record. Stayed in Stuben this year for a wee change from St Anton or Oberlech (cause I was skint this year) and sounds like it could fit the bill. We were the only Brits in the hotel - was full of Norwegians, Swiss, German, Dutch and wait for it - French, believe it or not some French people actually skiing outside France wink
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The Montafon. Its not small with 3 major areas- great skiing, mediocre night life, and hardly an English voice to be heard, mind I have not been there for 15 years.
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pretty much anywhere if you're prepared to use your imagination, put a bit of work in and be adventurous (and catch it just after a mega-dump)

x2 on rungsp's suggestion
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Haute Maurienne area is mostly used by French families - very quiet and very cheap. You can stay in Val Cenis - Lanslevillard is better than Lanslebourg - and take the bus to various other small resorts such as Bonneville, at the top of the valley, or Valfrejus, above Modane, which is the hinge of upper and lower Maurienne. The area has good off piste which nobody skis, but much of it you need a guide to find. I think one or two holiday companies may have discovered Val Cenis recently.


Last edited by And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports. on Tue 11-08-09 14:04; edited 2 times in total
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Riederalp lovely small place linked with 2 other very small places, in total car fee resort. not massive amounts of sking, but plenty of parks and pipes and stuff like timed runs and ski cross courses to keep you entertained. After the morning rush most slopes are sparsely populated, great views..virtually no nightlife and not a single russian, pole or brit spotted while there
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
narc wrote:
I'm looking for skier focused resorts not used by brit tour operators or heavily marketed with good terrain, excellent off piste/sidecountry with good snow records. Nice town/village a bonus with nightlife unimportant. Monster sized marked ski area isn't important


Folgarida Blush
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
yeah Folgarida, but still a few tour ops go there...how about Marilleva..nto stayed in either, but skied the area...some great tree skiing.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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papasmurf wrote:
how about Marilleva..nto stayed in either, but skied the area...some great tree skiing.

Marilleva ????? YUK - It so ugly it's almost French. Full of concrete block hotels. I ski over there almost every day in the season and can't wait to get the big chair out. The ESF will be moving in soon wink (Hi Stuart, you can wear your furry collar anywhere you like)

papasmurf wrote:
yeah Folgarida, but still a few tour ops go there

I have never seen it avaiable in any UK brochures at Thomas Cooks
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we nearly stayed last year, and that was from a tour op...inghams I think..or maybe a smaller one (rocket or iglu or someone)..but all booked out..so went to passo instead..unfortunately. skied Marilleva\folgarida\madonna and really enjoyed that day..spent 6 hours on skis with no breaks to cover as much of the area as possible.
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papasmurf, Riederalp sounds good. Were you there with kids? Looks very nice from website - where did you stay or where would you recommend?
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Warth and Schrocken are decent resorts in Western Austria. They're over a closed pass from Lech/Zurs and offers similar skiing but because you can't drive through to the Arlberg resorts, they get very little traffic. Well worth a look.
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No not with Kids, but lots of swiss people with kids there. We stayed in an aprtment we found on their website, I understand the hotels are pretty good aswell, the only thing I can recommmend is somewhere near the cable car station, especialy if arriving late. Bettmeralp which is the middle village out of the 3 in the altesch area might be worth a look as its easier to ski the area from the middle. Certainly a great long weekend destination if you want quiet and proper swiss.
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Another area in Austria which isn't so well known is the so-called Schneewinkel in Tyrol, consisting of the resorts St. Johann in Tirol, Fieberbrunn, Buchensteinwand/Hochfilzen and Waidring/Steinplatte (and a couple of smaller areas). Each of these resorts is small compared to areas like Kitzbühel or the SkiWelt (or similar areas in other countries). Of the four mentioned, I find the skiing best in Fieberbrunn. If you want more variety than any one area provides, you can travel between them by bus with a little sweat.
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Pretty much every "larger" ski resort in Eastern Austria (Styria, Upper Austria, Lower Austria). If the storms are coming in from north/north-west the snowpack there can easily (and does regularily) overtake the levels of the Arlberg. Loser / Tauplitz can get as much as 6-8m total height in February/March. Pretty decent conditions if you are mobile (i.e. able to change the resorts day by day). Dachstein-Krippenstein are of course the hot spot (off-piste, steep skiing) there.

Of course, similar regions (i.e. not invaded by large operators, decent off-piste, authentic villages etc.) can be found in France, Switzerland and Italy. Some of these resorts are even quite large. I am not totally sure, but I cannot remember meeting one brit in Adamello (Italy) last February. And Adamello is one of the large Italian resorts (1300-3100m).
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Quote:
I'm looking for skier focused resorts not used by brit tour operators or heavily marketed with good terrain, excellent off piste/sidecountry with good snow records. Nice town/village a bonus with nightlife unimportant. Monster sized marked ski area isn't important


That will be Sedrun / Andermatt wink Or could it be Engelberg ?
Highest snow fall in Europe , and both have some great terrain.

All joking aside - there are somethinbg like 600+ ski resorts in the alps.
British tour ops probably only visit en-mass about 15/20 of them.
Getting off the beaten track usually means better skiing and lower prices Very Happy
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Haggis_Trap wrote:


That will be Sedrun / Andermatt wink Or could it be Engelberg ?
Highest snow fall in Europe , and both have some great terrain.



interested in the highest snowfall in Europe bit - more than the Arlberg areas like Warth/Zurs?
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Interested now.
Is there a part of Europe (with a ski area) that really does get the most snow each year ?
Anyone know ?
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Wayne, one of the rags had an article about that last season.

Sadly, just last weekend, I threw ALL of last season's ski mags that were cluttering my cupboard, into the council tip. Otherwise I'd have a look for you.
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Wayne, from all I see, Warth, next to Lech, has reputation for highest average resort-level snowfall, with Zurs close-ish behind.From experience, they do get a lot of snow there, but I'd be keen to know of other such venues
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Quote:
Colin B in his write up of the resort (http://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewpost.php?p=277919) recommends La Toussuire if you want some nightlife.


Did I? I agree that St Sorlin is a hidden gem. I haven't actually been to La Toussuire.
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Quote:

Getting off the beaten track usually means better skiing and lower prices

It can certainly mean less risk of being mown down by some d*ckhead who can't ski but thinks he's Franz Klammer.
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pam w, Wouldn't necessarily agree with that especially in France in February. There are plenty of d*ckhead Parisians in those resorts too. One on a pair of blades ploughed me down in St Sorlin at half term a couple of years ago and even my attempts at being abusive in French didn't convince him he was in the wrong.
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paulio, According to Daily Mail ski mag Warth/Schroecken in Austrian Arlberg was no 1. Think Andrmatt may have been no 2 and Zurs no 3.
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Khutai (Austria), Arosa (Swiss)
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Colin B, yes, I agree that the Parisian weeks can produce d*ckheads anywhere. But I did only say that ,it means "less risk", not non and I do think that's the case. Unless your French is street-perfect I wouldn't try being abusive in French - a spontaneous outburst of English abuse is probably more effective!
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Paris week should be avoided everywhere in France! rolling eyes rolling eyes
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RandyAlp wrote:
Dachstein-Krippenstein are of course the hot spot (off-piste, steep skiing) there.


Never heard of them. I'm always on the lookout for smaller places with good (and under-skied) off piste / steeps. Tell me more.


Last edited by Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do. on Thu 13-08-09 9:38; edited 1 time in total
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Apologies Colin B for making up quotes about la Toussuire you never made, must have been remembering what someone else said. As for Riederalp, Bettmeralp and Fiescheralp - I thought this area was astoundingly beautiful, and the view along the Aletsch glacier is one of the sights of the Alps. But the skiing is tame, the prices quite steep, and it doesn't really stack up.
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Apologies, Colin B, for making up quotes about la Toussuire you never made, must have been remembering what someone else said.
As for Riederalp, Bettmeralp and Fiescheralp - I thought this area was astoundingly beautiful, and the view along the Aletsch glacier is one of the sights of the Alps. But the skiing is tame, the prices quite steep, and it doesn't really stack up.
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RandyAlp wrote:
Pretty much every "larger" ski resort in Eastern Austria (Styria, Upper Austria, Lower Austria). If the storms are coming in from north/north-west the snowpack there can easily (and does regularily) overtake the levels of the Arlberg. Loser / Tauplitz can get as much as 6-8m total height in February/March. Pretty decent conditions if you are mobile (i.e. able to change the resorts day by day). Dachstein-Krippenstein are of course the hot spot (off-piste, steep skiing) there.

Absolutely agree, and would put Carinthia on this list. (Nassfeld, Heiligenblut, Bad Kleinkirchenheim, Gerlitzen etc.)
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Apologies for another post pimping Snowtrex, but I'm a fan and I personally recommend them, and it's on topic.

They're a TO who almost exlusively deal in (very) cheap, smaller, lesser known, uncrowded areas.

http://www.snowtrex.co.uk/
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FranzKlammer, No problem. To be fair I don't think there's much life in any of the Sybelles resorts, La Toussuire and Le Corbier (especially) are also pig ugly. St Sorlin also has the best skiing in case the links are closed so its's the best all round I think.

pam w, True, less risk! Swearing at a frenchman in imperfect french is somehow satisfying though.
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