Ski holidays aren’t just for France – it’s time to look beyond the old favorite
Let me start with a disclaimer: I have nothing against France. Quite the opposite, in fact. I spent 15 years of my life studying the country’s language and literature at school and university; I did my first ski season working in a chalet in La Plagne, and later (in those fine pre-Brexit days when the EU still gave subsidies for such things) I spent two blissful semesters at the University of Grenoble to improve my understanding of grammar.
In short, I understand exactly why British skiers flock to France in greater numbers than anywhere else every winter. But understanding this choice does not mean that I agree with it, any more than I agree with the recent “scientific” ranking on these pages which places six French ski resorts in the world‘s top 10, thus surpassing large parts of the planet. . Whether it’s a lack of imagination, over-reliance on the wisdom of crowds, or sheer inertia, I’ve long felt the herd was heading in the wrong direction – because there are so many more ski holidays than France.
For starters, France’s popularity creates its own problems. Ski areas like the Portes du Soleil, which stretch over 600km of pistes on the border with Switzerland, are vast and able to absorb large crowds, but there are always pinch points – like anyone who has endured the long queue for the Seraussaix chair linking Morzine and Avoriaz can attest to this.
Sure, you can find queues anywhere at peak times, but France’s status as the default destination for Brits means the slopes are always packed during UK school holidays (despite the clever French policy of staggering their own mid-term breaks). Head to a place with fewer British skiers, like Switzerland, or better yet, Italy, where the unlucky local kids don’t even have holidays in February, and you’ll spend less holidays queuing.