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The lure of off-radar resorts by Ed Leigh

Ed Leigh is publishing weekly money saving tips for skiers on his Facebook and Instagram pages which are well worth checking out. is all about finding the best snow in even better locations that may not necessarily be the big-hitting resorts. In the video below, Ed encourages us to consider some alternatives. Of course, always check out our own snow picks giving the best of the forecast and reported conditions before heading out…

The Chamonixs, the Val d’Iseres, the Courchevels and all the other spots that always feature on the Telegraph’s most popular ski resorts list:…/the-top-20-ski-resorts-voted…/

Instead I’m going to tell you about some real hidden gems. Resorts that may not all have vast piste networks, banging nightlife and swanky shops but they also won’t have the big British crowds fighting for those same fresh tracks. Resorts that have a more authentic French feel, and crucially won’t have the same big costs either.

In the Mont Blanc Massif, instead of hitting Chamonix with its hefty lift pass prices and queue lines or Megève Domaine Skiable with its Michelin-starred restaurants and Michelin-starred prices head to Les Contamines or Flumet or Les Saises. You’ll still get the same fantastic snow quality, and jaw-dropping views of Mont Blanc but instead of paying 265 euros for a 6 day lift pass you’ll pay 205 euros in Les Contamines or 170 euros in Flumet

And instead of paying 270 euros per person for a tasting menu at Flocons de Sel in Megeve you can bag a traditional French menu deal for 19,50 euros in Les Saisies…

Instead of the 3 Vallees, home to Courchevel, Meribel and Val Thorens, head to the Haute Maurienne valley a firm favourite with French skiers in the know. It boasts friendly locals, real back to nature vibes, stunning scenery and the slopes are empty so it’s especially good for beginners and intermediates to progress without worrying about knocking into people or being knocked into. Something you can’t say about the more popular resorts. A six-day lift pass for Val Cenis-Haute Maurienne is 190 euros, compared to 306 euros in the 3 vallees. This video shows you how much fun I had in Val Cenis last winter:…/were-live-from…/1820168874893924/

Or if you really can’t resist the 3 Vallees don’t whatever you do stay in Courchevel, where there’s a eight-bedroom chalet that costs a mind-melting 295,000 a week. Stay in Les Menuires, which is on the same lift pass but has far more affordable accommodation options including this new hostel ho36 which has great design & direct piste access. Dorm rooms start at £22 a night and they also have private and family room options Staying at ho36 also gives you quick early morning access to La Masse, one of my favourite off-piste areas in the 3 Vallees. Here’s a Guardian piece on enjoying a non-bling 3 Vallees stay at Les Menuires…/les-trois-vallees-skiing-les-…

Brides les Bains and Orelle are also solid much cheaper choices for 3 vallees access without the accommodation and meal prices.

And instead of Tignes, Val d’Isere or Les Arcs, why not try nearby La Rosiere. I like this resort as it links to La Thuile in Italy so you head there for a gourmet pizza lunch. Plus they have a new freeride area Mont Valaisan that I’m looking fwd to riding this winter. They have some great affordable deals eg this one: seven nights’ accommodation and lift pass from 243 euros per person

Instead of Alpe d’Huez stay at nearby Oz-en-Oisans, it’s connected on the same lift pass and has an awesome little hostel called Moontain, which has beds from 23 euros a night

Finally, in the Tarentaise, also near to Tignes, Val d’Isere and Les Arcs, is my personal favourite and the hidden gem to end all the hidden gems – Sainte-Foy. I love this place. It has just four lifts, but you can pretty much come down the mountain wherever you like, so on a powder day it’s freeride-tastic. And what’s more you’re not scrapping for these tracks as it’s a really quiet mountain. Except perhaps in school holidays. A six day lift pass is just 170 euros, and they also do Saturday deals for just 23 euros a day.

That’s all for this week. Hope I’ve inspired you to look a little off the beaten track this winter. Let me know what you think in the comments below & if you have any hidden gem suggestions of your own please do share them too.

1 Comment
  1. Gaynor Roberts

    17th January 2019 11:06 am

    What about less well known resorts in countries other than France, Ed? I can think of a few that I’ve been to such as Lenzerheide, Saanenmoser and Col des Mosses in Switzerland, Galtur in Austria, Selva and Canazeiin Italy but also Thollon les Memises and the resorts of the Abondance Valley in France, like Abondance, La Chapelle d’Abondance and St. Jean d’Aulps. Some of the French resorts I mention are not connected to the Portes du Soleil but they do have good skiing in their own right. Of course they are cheaper to stay in too.

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