During the winter months, I spend roughly 2 weeks skiing. For someone living in London this is already a good rate, considering that skiing also means a lot of travelling and logistics. Luckily, my parents live in the Alpine region which is why I fly home once per month during the skiing season. However, as much as I love the mountains, they have only played a small role on this blog (here and here) which is why I want to dedicate more posts to my biggest passion, all about snow, mountains, winter sports and so on. I have already posted once about my favourite ski resorts, yet, I thought I’d give it an update for Switzerland, Germany, France and Austria.
The snow-safe places: well, the higher the better. Zermatt with its glacier is not only a safe bank, but it’s also an eldorado for skiers (post here). I love Zermatt. Les Diablerets (Glacier 3000) in Switzerland is snow-safe but the glacier is very flat, so if you are looking for some challenges, it’s not the place to go for. The famous French ski resorts (Tignes, Meribel, Courchevel etc.) are high to ensure some good conditions if winter is arriving late, as do Stubai-Gletscher and Sölden in Austria.
The best après-ski resort: there are two countries to experience a great après-ski party – Austria or France. The latter is only true for the big resort like Tignes, Meribel or Courchevel as it’s not necessarily the French, but the English tourists who add the party vibe to these ski resorts. Austrians simply like to have a couple of beers after skiing, some of the best places to go (in my opinion) are Ischgl or St. Anton am Arlberg.
The best family resort: family resorts should be easy to access (no worse than taking the kids up a gondola and carrying their skis), should have a variety of blue slopes and don’t need to have hundreds of kilometers of slope (helpful if you lose the kids). Damüls in Austria will probably be my favourite resort ever as I actually learnt to ski there. Les Gets and Sommand in France are also great places. In Germany, I’d recommend several resorts in the Black Forest or the Allgäu. Eventually, in Switzerland, the Lenzerheide ski resort is a great place to get the smallest one going.
The red & black resorts: I’d recommend to tackle the challenging resorts not one your first day of the season, but I love to be challenged from time to time. In France, Flaine and Les Grands Montets (Chamonix) tick the box as they have plenty of steep slopes. Zinal in the Swiss Valais is a hidden gem as it’s mainly known to locals, whilst Wengen and Saas-Fee are the popular pendants. In Germany, Garmisch-Partenkirchen is no secret gem (meet half Munich on the weekend) but they have the Kandahar FIS slope that is great to test your race qualities.
The best food resort: my Mom chooses here favourite resorts depending on the food choice offered. And there is a significant difference between the countries: Germany and Austria have the best restaurants (Kaiserschmarrn, yumm! Bratwurst, yumm!) whilst France and Switzerland still need to learn a lot. I can’t think of any resort in Germany or Austria that does not have a good quantity of restaurants. In France, Morzine/Les Gets has some great places (Chez Nannon for example), so does Flaine (L’Epicea – but share one their big portions). In Switzerland (well, just accept the high prices), the Refuge hut in Les Diablerets is one the nicest restaurants ever – make sure to get a spot on their sunny terrace. In Champéry, Les Marmottes is where I usually stop by and have a good plateau montagnard. A good mountain restaurant heavily influences the perception of the day, so be wise with your choices and do some research beforehand (tripadvisor for instance).
I will publish a 2nd post on the next couple of weeks that will cover some more great ski resorts.