SKI-BUZZ

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Late season skiing; France’s best glacier resorts

It may be unseasonably warm in the UK this week, but even as the temperatures rise in Europe, there is still some great skiing on offer for those who know where to look.

The majority of France’s ski resorts stay open until after the Easter break, and with record-breaking snowfall this season across the French Alps there is plenty of coverage even late in the season.

Snow conditions in France

The weather across France has been glorious over the last few days, with bright sunshine and clear skies. However, long range forecasts suggest a change to potential snowfall from the weekend across the French Alps and also the Pyrenees. To find out the latest predicted snowfall for France, see Crystal Ski’s new snow reports, featuring most resorts in France’s forecast snow for the next 7 days.

Although of course it would be nice, it’s not strictly neccessary for any more snowfall in order to guarantee good Easter skiing conditions.

Many resorts in France, such as Flaine, Chamonix and Alpe d’Huez are reporting 300cm of snow depth on their upper slopes, with Avoriaz, La Plagne, Val Thorens, La Rosiere and Val d’Isere all reporting a metre or more of snow just on their lower slopes.

Stunning sunshine, sunbathing in a deckchair at lunchtime. It doesn’t get much better than spring skiing.

But for many, there is always that pang for some crispy, fresh and fluffy snow. And yes, it can be found – on France’s skiable glaciers. Here is where it’s winter 365 days a year as the snow never melts at these chillier high altitudes.

Here’s our top two suggestions for late season glacier skiing:

Les Deux Alpes – Europe’s largest skiable glacier

Sitting in the Isère region of France, Les Deux Alpes is known for it’s high vertical, top nightlife and great value.

The resort sits at 1650m in a plateau running north-south between 2 mountains. Much loved on the UK market, more and more people are succumbing to the charms of ‘L2A’ as it’s affectionately known – particularly amongst a younger audience who see this as a resort that ticks all the essential boxes – great terrain, fantastic parks, and a un-stopppable apres ski scene.

View over Les Deux Alpes, France

But Deux Alpes is not all about the new. This is actually the second-oldest ski resort in France (the first being Chamonix) – a trip down to the pretty village of Venosc will show you a very different side of mountain life in this resort of contrasts.

Heading out of resort to the slopes, there is 225km of skiing to explore, with a high majority of blue runs. Affectionately known as an ‘upside down resort’, Deux Alpes is unusual in that much of the hardest skiing is lower down the mountain, with blue runs sitting up at altitude on the glacier. This is great news in the spring, when the best skiing on the high altitude runs can be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of ability.

The glacier sits between 3200m and 3600m and is accessible from the top of the Jandri Express through either an underground funicular railway, climbing to 3600m, or a series of T bars (which can be very bracing on a windy day!) Take a look at the ice cave located at the top of the funicular, or join in a ‘White Cruise’ on a specially adapted piste-basher to explore this beautiful landscape.

It’s also possible to access the infamously named ‘La Grave’ off-piste mecca from the summit of Les Deux Alpes – a great day out for expert skiers and boarders, though taking a qualified mountain guide with you is a must.

As the sun gets lower in the sky, people head down the hill to Pano Bar at Toura, which is located near to L2A’s snow parks. And down in the resort itself Smokey Joe’s and the Polar Bear Pub are some of the livelier places, whilst the big nightclub is Avalanche, up near the Venosc end of town.

Last minute skideals to Les Deux Alpes

If this sounds like your kind of place, then Crystal Ski have some fantastic last minute deals to Les Deux Alpes – so you can get away from a sneaky last trip for a great price.

Stay at the Hotel La Brunerie from £567 per person based on 2 adults sharing a room on a half board basis for 7 nights, with flights from London Gatwick on 7 April.

Crystal Ski also have chalet holidays from £393 per person based on 2 adults sharing a room at the Chalet Tetras on chalet board basis for 7 nights, with flights from London Gatwick on 7 April.

Prices are correct at time of publication, but can change due to availability and demand. Please see the Crystal Ski website for up to date prices.

Val d’Isere – 2 glaciers to ski

Along with its sister Tignes, Val d’Isere makes up the other half of the Espace Killy.

Made up of predominantly low rise buildings in typical alpine chalet style, the resort is one of the prettiest we’ve seen.

Looking down on Val d’Isere

There are a choice of two glaciers to ski on, the Grand Motte on the Tignes side, and the Pissaillas glacier above Val d’Isere with 6 runs to choose from. The resort sits at 1850m and currently has a snowdepth of 115cm to over 2 mentres on the higher slopes.

One of the premier resorts in the world, Val d’Isere attracts a rich mix from all over the world including families, party animals as well as the rich and famous who have come to be seen on the balconies of some of the most expensive real estate in the Alps. But Val d’Isere offers good value too – particularly if you stay in the outlying villages of La Daille of Le Fornet. All the resorts of the Espace Killy are linked by an excellent free ski bus service, and all the villages have their own ski lifts straight into the ski area – often much less crowded than the main routes from the resorts’ centre points.

With a total of 300km skiing in total across the Espace Killy, there is never a shortage of runs to explore – and even during busy periods the vastness of the ski area means queues are kept to a minimum. We skied here during New Year’s week and only ever encountered queues waiting to go up the Grand Motte – everywhere else we were straight on to the lift. A large proportion of skiing is at 2000m or higher in altitude, meaning snow stays in great condition all season long.

View from the Grand Motte glacier, Espace Killy

The men’s downhill in the 1992 Olympic Winter Games took place here, and thrill seeking can still take on ‘Le Face’ – a black run all the way down to the centre of resort which is a must-do challenge for advanced skiers. Although not technically difficult (apart from some icy sections), the length of the run is the biggest challenge on tired muscles. And for freestylers, there is easy access to Valpark, the Espace Killy’s huge snowpark.

Val d’Isere’s nightlife is hard to beat, from the afternoon live DJ sets at La Folie Douce on the slopes at the top of the Daille gondola, to apres sessions in La Face Cafe, Le Petit Danois, Le Bleu Note,or the biggest spot in town for a night out, Dick’s Tea Bar.

Other activities on offer include an indoor swimming pool (with free entry with a 6 day lift pass), ice rinks, ice diving, ice climbing, husky rides, skidoos, parapenting, snow-shoeing and a weekly market.

Last minute skideals to Val d’Isere

Crystal have some fantastic accommodation on offer here, including a wide variety of chalets. The Chalet Marsala is a great find – 5 minutes walk from the centre of resort, and even less to the nearest ski lift. Offering great value accommodation, and the services of Crystal’s own chalet team, this is an ideal place for families or groups of friends.

Spend a week in this fantastic resort from just £452 per person based on 2 adults staying at the Chalet Marsala for 7 nights, flying from London Gatwick on 7 April 2012. Prices are correct at time of publication, but can change due to availability and demand. Please see the Crystal Ski website for up to date prices.

This post was written by Amy Fletcher, Online Content Executive for Crystal Ski.

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