EUROPE has some of the world’s best skiing locations. Alpinism started in the Alps (no big surprise there) and modern skiing took hold here, spread to the USA, and then to the world.
The Alps are known across the globe, but in the countless peaks and valleys, there are still many quiet, undiscovered locations offering world-class slopes and infrastructure. In the rest of Europe, from the Pyrenees to the Scandinavian countries, ski resorts are less in the spotlight, but skiing is a tradition nonetheless, taking a more adventurous or festive tone depending on the custom and on what the mountains offer. Here’s our take on the best of the bunch.
The whole ski and adventure complex of Chamonix, one of the oldest in France, is along a 10-mile-long valley dotted with towering mountain peaks. There are 5 million visitors a year in a commune with less than 10,000 permanent residents, so expect it to be busy. It’s a well-earned fame.
It’s the birthplace of alpinism but they made sure to include a spectrum of activities for any level of abilities. There are two specific family-oriented ski areas, or you can rock-climb over ice-covered peaks. There are two main cross-country skiing areas, or you can go on a hike along snow-covered paths. This scratches only the surface of the sports and entertainment opportunities of the complex.
The heavily-forested landscape turns completely white on a regular snow season, but the little clusters of traditional Alpine houses offer the occasional burst of colors through the timber cladding, flags, and signs, matching the lively activity at its feet — cafés, pubs, pop-up markets, and little stores, as well restaurants, museums, and spas.