If the fur-coat-and-Ferrari glitz of Megève is not your scene then drive a few more miles to find rural French perfection in tiny Les Contamines. Think authentic villages, with wooden, stone and slate-roofed chalets and you have it – all set amidst pine forests, glens and dales and dotted with old farm buildings and church steeples. Les Contamines has much more. Guaranteed snow from early December to late April, with breath taking views from Mont Blanc to the Beaufortain region.
So, while you get magnificent views from the high runs, you also get treelined lower slopes, ideal for learners and anyone wanting to enjoy an easy ski. The 120km ski area (between 1,200 and 2,500m) means there’s something for everyone at this resort, which prides itself on the Alpine values of respect for nature, the local environment and traditional architecture. In fact, much of the Contamines-Montjoie area has now been classified as a nature reserve to ensure its lakes and mountains are protected from development. You can enjoy ski touring here, with itineraries to suit all abilities, and with more than 70 instructors in the ski school it’s easy to improve your skills.
Cross-country enthusiasts will find 24km of groomed and sign-posted trails; and there’s also a picnic site in the Nordic ski area, with an open fire and free sledding for the kids. A Kids’ Club also allows two to four-year-olds to benefit from the snow garden in Loyers (1,200m), and its dedicated, secure play area. There are also competition courses for good young skiers who wish to improve their racing skills.
Les Contamines is part of the Evasion Mont Blanc ski area, which includes Saint-Gervais, Megève, Saint Nicolas de Véroce, Combloux and La Giettaz – and animpressive 445km of slopes. Best for intermediates and experts, with a few really steep blacks.