Snow Patrol

Dec 5th 11
By Claire Griffiths

There are more than 700 kilometers of sunny slopes and 15 resorts even before you snow shoe your way across the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (PACA) boundary onto neighboring peaks. There are mountain loads of reasons why you should head for the hills this winter. Here’s a selection of resorts — some near, some far — worth sloping off to when the snow starts falling.

We are Family: Valberg
Close to the coast, less than two hour’s drive away from the beach on the Mercantour Massif, Valberg is the only southern Alps snow resort to be awarded the highly prized “famille plus” label — recommending it as a resort for all the family. Valberg runs the “Club des Piou-Piou” for ages three up, and la crèche des
P’tits Poucets in the heart of the Parc des Oursins for three month olds to six year olds. The resort also operates mini ski chair lifts. Paraski and ice climbing also are available (presumably not for the tots). www.valberg.com

Cross-Country: Le Boreon
Not far from the pretty village Saint Martin Vesubie, a mountaineering center since the late 19th century and nicknamed “The Switzerland of Nice,” Le Boreon is the main resort for cross-country ski along the coast. It has five courses of cross-country (from 2km-7.5km), dog sleigh rides and snow walking. www.saintmartinvesubie.fr  

Bigger is Better: Auron
The largest resort on the Cote  with 130 kilometers of piste, four kilometers of cross country,  the village has more charm than nearby Isola 2000 (although Isola has a higher altitude). Buses are available to Auron and Isola 2000 for 1 euro, one way. Check www.cg06.fr – make sure you book in advance.
www.auron.com

It’s Italian: Riserva Bianca
The resorts of Limone Piemonte, Limonetto and Quota 1400 offer 80 kilometer of ski slopes and 20 kilometers of artificial, but you don’t only go here for the snow. The Valley (Valli del Cuneese) is known for its cheeses, truffles, mushrooms and wine. Limone dates back to Roman times — it’s dead pretty and on clear days you can see all the way to Corsica from Mount Pepino…and it’s accessible by train from Nice. www.limonepiemonte.it

Bungee-ski: St Jean de Sixt
Seven or so hours away on the train from Nice, there are plenty of good reasons to visit the picture-perfect 10th century romantic town of Annecy and the nearby resorts such as La Clusaz (great for beginners) or Le Grand Bornand. Nearby St. Jean de Sixt is (apparently) home to the world’s only bungee ski jump. www.bun-j-ride.com

Snowboard: Avoriaz
Tipped as the one of the top, Avoriaz also was one of the first European snowboard resorts to have a half-pipe. It’s an entirely car-free, ski-in, ski-out resort where the streets are all runs and taxis are horse-drawn sleighs. It has loads of terrain parks, all great as long as there’s plenty of snow, and the Stash snow park was created by the board legend Jake Burton. It has three slopes snaking through the forest for differing levels and there’s also a snowcross course. www.avoriaz.com

For details of snow reports throughout France check: www.france-montagnes.com



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