Now that the prices of air travel are dropping constantly, skiing is no longer just enjoyed by the very rich. With their world renowned skiing and incredible scenery, the French Alps are a surprisingly affordable choice. Whether you are a veteran skier heading off on their 30th annual trip or a total beginner hitting the slopes for the very first time, you will find something to suit every budget, group size or ability in the French Alps.
Just an hour and 45 minutes transfer from Turin airport, the charming village of Montgenevre is only a quarter of an hour from the Italian border and offers over 400km of skiing. The pistes cover both France and Italy and the village itself is traditional but has plenty to do.
Though best suited to beginners and intermediates with its superb nursery slopes, Montgenevre also caters for the expert skiers out there with challenging red and black runs. Montgenevre is part of the Milky Way circuit which has many varied runs and is perfect for mixed groups.
The snow lovers who benefit the most from Montgenevre’s pistes though, are boarders. There is a dedicated snow board park with cable tow giving access to a pro-jump, quarter-pipe and a gap. There are regular board tests and there is even a weekly contest for you to show off your skills. Night-skiing is organised weekly, very exhilarating and well worth taking part in.
The accommodation in Montgenevre is mainly attractive chalets, but you can also get en piste apartments where you benefit from being able to pretty much ski in and out of your front door!
The Hameau des Airelles apartments are particularly well situated. Chalets are luxurious and you get to be in the lovely setting of Montgenevre’s traditional town, the only drawback is that you often have to walk in heavy ski gear or find public transport to the ski lifts. Some chalets are well positioned though and a few are just a minute or two from the lifts. A week in a catered chalet, including flights, costs on average around €500 per person and this often includes your ski passes too.
The night life in Montgenevre isn’t going to rival Ibiza but after a day’s skiing you won’t feel much like hardcore clubbing anyway and there is plenty of informal and good value apres-ski in the town.
If you have the stamina for a lively night club then ‘Club Blue Night’ has a great atmosphere and is popular with groups of young tourists. ‘Le Graal’ is the most centrally located bar and has a 9-10pm happy hour where you can get a pint of fantastic French beer for just 2 Euros (usually 4 Euros).
For a traditional apres-ski hang out go to ‘Le Pub’. The average cost of a small beer en piste is £2.20 and a cup of coffee will set you back about £1.50 which is excellent value for a tourist area.
There are a good variety of restaurants in Montgenevre and you will find something to suit your budget in the town. ‘Caesers’ offers good value traditional French fayre (including excellent potato dauphinoise) and is located underneath the aforementioned apres-ski bar ‘Le Pub,’ so you can start with traditional French dinner then head upstairs to drink the night away!
For great fondue, the most traditional apres-ski meal of all, head to ‘Le Jamy’ and for good value pizza try ‘Pizzeria Le Transalpin’. If you really fancy splashing out then for the very best food in town head to ‘Hotel Le Chalet Blanc’ which has a menu designed by a Michelin star rated chef.
The fantastic skiing of the Milky Way circuit means you will never be lost for something to do, but Montgenevre’s town centre is full of activities if you fancy a break from the piste.
Aside from a good variety of shops and a weekly traditional market where you can buy local wines and cheeses, just 10km down the road is the historic town of Brianon. Brianon has an ancient medieval fortress which has an interesting history.
The town also has its very own outdoor ice rink. If you would like to explore the piste at a more sedate pace you can go snow-shoeing but for the speed demons there are also skidoo rides and you can even go tobogganing.
The town has a cinema which frequently shows English language films throughout the ski season. Montgenevre plays host to a festival in January (‘Les Januades’) when you can enjoy jazz, a cinema, a theatre and cabarets every evening.
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