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When going on a skiing holiday it can be hard to decide where to go especially if you have never been on that type of holiday before. Regardless of whether you are a beginner or an expert, skiing holidays France are perfect because it offers some of the best skiing in the world.

Apart from the quality of skiing in France there are many different advantages of skiing holidays France. One of these advantages is the fact that it is so close to the UK and there are various different methods of getting there. If you want to get there quickly then you can fly or if you would prefer to make the journey there a part of the holiday then you can drive and take the ferry. Not only does the fact that France is so close mean a shorter travel time, it also means that it is going to be cheaper to get there.

You will be spoilt for choice when you go on skiing holidays France because there are 400 resorts to choose from. This means that no matter what your ability is or what you are interested you are going to find a resort that suits your tastes. As well as this you will find that all kinds of skiing is possible on skiing holidays France. For example, downhill, cross - country, snowboarding and anything else that you can think of.

Although the peak season for skiing holidays France is January to March, the whole season runs from November to April. This means there is plenty of time for you to go on your holiday and you can even go twice if you find that you really love it. Be cautious though that France has school holidays at the end of February and beginning of March which means that the slopes are very busy during these times.

As skiing holidays France are so popular you will be able to find lots of package holidays that provide great deals. Buying everything separately such as lift passes, ski hire equipment, flights and accommodation can work out to be very expensive. However, a package holiday will combine all of these things and will therefore be a lot cheaper.

If you are looking for a holiday with a bit of a twist then skiing holidays France are the thing for you. Exciting and unique this is a holiday that you are bound to want to go on again.

At Inspired Travel http://www.inspiredtravel.net we aim to provide holidays of distinction that are flexible and memorable. Any member of our team will be happy to turn your dream holidays into a reality.

Article Source: Skiing Holidays In France

 
Courchevel is the name given to the ski resort situated in the Savoie region of the French Alps. Courchevel is a series of small villages whose names reflect their height in metres. Part of the three valleys (the largest collection of ski runs in Europe) it offers endless opportunities for alpine adventure. Courchevel 1850 was the first place to be built from nothing (rather than developing from an existing village.

Courchevel 1850 benefits from excellent town planning which places the village at the start and end of ski runs. Created in June 1946 by Laurent Chapis it was the model of the future ski resort and now maintains a reputation as a real jet-set resort that caters to the most cosmopolitan of skiers.

The real draw of Courchevel is its proximity to the vast three valleys ski area. With a magnificent lift system that can transfer skiers to over 600kms of marked ski runs Courchevel really makes the most of what's on its doorstep. The sophisticated ski lift system has developed a great deal from the 1930s when the first skiers used to spend the entire morning climb up the mountain before skiing down.

Faced with this problem Courchevel soon constructed the first ski lift in the Saint-Bon valley. The Ste-agathe ski lift was made entirely of woodland was put into service in 1945.

The three valleys area is suitable to skiers and snow boarders of all abilities. The wide green and blue ski runs are perfect for beginners and intermediate skiers. Advanced skiers will appreciate the steep black ski runs, moguls and couloirs.

The range has enough to challenge even the most adventurous skier or snow board enthusiast and you can conceivably ski a whole season and not visit the same run. In addition to this 8 snow parks cater for those skiers and snowboarders that want to freestyle and there are endless off-piste opportunities.

The villages benefit from a wide range of bars and restaurants and the accommodation in the area is excellent. There are 50 mountain restaurants, 15 bars and two nightclubs in the area. 1850 boasts the lion's share of these hotels, bars and entertainment venues.

There is a regular bus service between 1550 and 1850 that runs all night, so there is no reason to miss out on the nightlife. It is also possible to catch a gondola between the two. There are some great restaurants to be found in the three level township especially for those that are not restricted by a strict budget.

There is also plenty for those looking for an alternative to skiing. Alternative alpine activities include snowmobiling, dog sledding, tobogganing, ice skating and ice climbing. There is also a sports centre where visitors can play squash and for the adrenaline junkies it is possible to try paragliding.

If you are transferring from Geneva or Lyon it takes about 2.5 hours to reach the resort. If you are travelling from Chambery allow 1.5 hours for your journey.

Shaun Parker is an expert on travel. For more information on Ski Chalets in Courchevel, visit http://www.powderwhite.com

Article Source: Staying In A Chalet In Courchevel

 
A third of British Skiers and Boarders (350'000) now travel independently to the Alps, so its not something to be wary of anymore. One of the biggest developments in the ski industry in the last ten years has been the switch from large tour operators to smaller companies and independent travel. Here is how to do it best.

Your options are fairly simple: Planes, Trains, Auto mobiles... and Buses.

By Plane: Still the main route to the Alps, flying is often the cheapest and easiest way to do things IF you know how to get the best deals.

Early Early Early. Book everything as early as possible.

Even better, sign up to the airlines newsletters and they will tell you as soon as the new prices are released. This is when you get the £30 flights! - this happens in the summer, normally in July and August for the budget airlines.

If you cant book early, then there is a huge market for last minute deals. These have pros and cons, you can wait and see where the snow is, and grab yourself a real bargain, but it can be a risk of course, and you dont always have the range of accomodation you want. But nothing ventured nothing gained, why not try it?

Common sense- weigh your bags before you leave to save youself the fines and charges. Tie a bit of ribbon or something bright to your suitcases to make them more recognisable. Most importantly, get to the airport with LOADS of time to spare, airports can be stressful enough, theres no need to make it worse. Arrive with loads of time to spare, and things to keep you occupied while you wait.

By Train: Maybe doesn't spring to mind instantly, but its one of the most comfortable ways of getting to your resort.

The TGV network of trains that France has is excellent, 170mph+ means you'll get from Paris to yourresort in 5 hours!

Combine this with the EuroStar, and you can go from London to the Alps in 7 ½ hours, door to door.

French rail prices are fixed, they dont go up last minute like English ones, and they get released 3 months in advance.

The best route for the Central Alps (Chamonix, St Gervais, Megeve, Verbier, Morzine...) goes direct form Paris to St Gervais train station. There are then connecting trains or buses to the nearby resorts.

By Car: Its a long drive, but can be good value. Calais to the central Alps is about 9 hours.

Toll fees will add up to about 100€, and you can add another 100€ or so for petrol, but divide that betweena family of four and it works out great value.

You then also have the option of stopping off on the way, or maybe taking a couple of days over the journey and spending a nice night somewhere en route. -Ferry companies: The most common route is of course Dover to Calais, but don't overlook Dunkirk (Dunquerque in French) or Boulonge as alternative routes that can often provide cheap deals.

Crossings also go from further West, Poole, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Weymouth and Newhaven. You can take an overnight crossing on most of these which can break up the journey nicely too.

Booking ferries is easiest done online. There are price comparison website to find you the cheapest deals, but it may actually be cheaper to contact the ferry company direct.

The EuroTunnel is another excellent alternative, they offer some great deals, its a very quick and painless crossing, and works out cheap for a whole carfull. Its not at all luxurious though, and theres no chance to wander round the duty free. Its function over fashion here.

By Bus: Hours and hours on a bus to the Mountains sounds like many peoples idea of hell, but with new luxury coaches, and some great prices, it's really an option worth looking at.

Companies now offer an overnight drive, so you sleep through the main chunk of the journey, and arrive in resort in the morning fresh.

Prices start from just £94 for a return, or for a little more you can opt for 'Royal Class' for a touch more comfort.

There are also Friday departures, so you can get to resort in time to ski on Saturday!

So there are more options than just the standard airport run, I hope I've helped.

Jamie Forrest is a passionate skiier and chef, who has been running private Catered Chalet Holidays for 8 years. He now runs three in St Gervais sleeping from 4 -10 guests, and offering friendly service and great food. see why 'The Guardian' called him "the sweetest and most devoted chalet host in the Alps" http://www.ski-bliss.com

Article Source: Cheap Travel to the Alps

 
Friends from all over the South Island of New Zealand managed to get together for three days to hike the Wilkin - Young route over Gillespie's Pass. At 1500m right in the heart of Mount Aspiring National Park, this rather taxing hike could only be described as spectacular despite the changeable weather we experienced.

We all met and spent the night at Makarora, a small pastoral settlement on the banks of the Makoara River, there was lots of chat, catching up on gossip and sorting out hiking gear and food. The long term weather forecast was dodgy, but we figured good keen southern women could handle anything.

My husband decided to come along as the token male at the eleventh hour for which I was pretty happy about, as a cold front was washing up the country, his life long mountain experience wouldn't go amiss. The possibility of off loading some of my gear on him is a plus. Plus it's always good to have a man about the house.

We were all pretty keen to climb up to Lake Crucible a small mountain lake on Mount Alba; this would be a full day side trip. To save a day we elected to take a fixed wing aircraft into the Siberia Valley early in the morning, dump our packs at the hut and go 'DO' Lake Crucible that day, and we would leave a car on the other side of the Makarora River for our return journey.

After a good sleep and a healthy breakfast we took the 25 minute flight into the remote Siberia Valley and surprise, surprise, the valley did not at all resemble its name, no austere grey rocks and rubble, no salt mines, bogs and stunted undergrowth. The valley floor was a mass of wild flowers; the rugged mountains soared high above us, with many hanging valleys and glaciers. A delightful mountain stream gurgled its way across the valley to drop down the steep mountain side to the Wilkin River far below.

This had to be heaven - until we took our off boots to wade the cute little stream that intercepted with our nights accommodation - wow! It was colder than cold. After warming our numbed feet we dumped our packs on bunks in the hut and set off along the valley floor absorbing the sheer beauty of the place.

The markers turned abruptly up out of the valley into the beech forest for the 880m ascent. The steady up hill seemed relentless; I had just finished a stint of night duty so wasn't on top form, all body functions were ass about face, this was the hardest work I had done since I had had my babies, whilst my school teacher daughter loped effortlessly uphill I figured the relevance of age. Oh yeah - I had been in denial.

Coming out of the forest at the tree line gave us all a new lease of life. The sky was blue, the midday sun was beating down, the boulders got bigger and the scree became more unstable. Over a moraine mound and there was Lake Crucible, and wow! It had real ice bergs, no need to do that Antarctic trip that was on the wish list. This was a photographer's heaven. We settled on a hot rock to enjoy lunch surrounded by this amazing panorama, crickets croaking around us the alpine grasses smelling sweet, Kea's circling high in the sky eyeing up a free lunch, sorry guys not today.

What an amazing day on top of the world - tired and weary we made our way down the steep mountain side, along the valley floor to our very welcoming mountain hut and yeah we had it to ourselves. And the very best thing about the husband coming along, besides his great company and mountain experience, is that he loves to carry in red wine, I myself would do water and hope it would turn into wine, but somehow that doesn't happen.

The next morning we woke to rain pattering on the tin roof - 'damn' the cold front had come through. Wrapping up in all our wet weather gear we looked up into the mist shrouding the steep route up to Gillespie Pass and it did not look at all welcoming. During the 550m ascent from the hut, the rain continued pelting down turning to sleet the higher we climbed, snug under all the layers of poly prop, gortex and water proof boots we plugged on into the mist and on reaching the summit where it was zero degrees the cloud dispersed long enough for us to take a few snap shots of the great views of the Southern Alps. Stunning is all we could say mainly because we were slightly short wind.

Over Gillespies Pass we plodded and down the 550m descent into the Young Valley, the rocky track wound its way down the mountain side awash with Alpine flora, gentians, ourisias, buttercups, the Mt Cook Lillie's had just finished blooming but their dead heads stood tall on healthy stems, small ferns grasses and mosses mingled with the rivulets of water running down the steep mountain side all good enough to drink.

The Young Hut was so welcoming set on the valley floor surrounded by soaring mountains, 100 pictures later we wrung out our wet top layers and hung them up to dry, which they didn't, warming up we cooked up some truly gourmet instant soup followed by packet pasta, but sadly no wine tonight girls.

A few games of cards by candle light, lots of jokes and gossip - we hadn't run out yet, we turned in for the night. Only to be woken by crashing thunder followed by flashes of lightening. The bounce rate off the mountain side had a wow factor. It was consistent and so loud you felt the mountain side would crumble.

The next morning was a valley walk out to the Makarora River where we had left our car on the other side. The forest was magnificent, the ferns and mosses thriving in this wet environment. The thunder and lightening didn't let up as we trundled down the track over gushing streams holding hands terrified of being swept into the raging river below.

Around midday at the insistence of our lone male we stopped to have hot soup and soggy bread and 4 hours later we arrived tired, wet, hungry and happy at the swirling mass of water, the Makarora River - no way could we wade across. There was a small shelter with only a roof so we decided this was it for the night, not quiet the Hilton - but we all had excellent down sleeping bags.

It was then that we spotted a red button on the side of the structure and a worn out notice saying "ring this buzzer and the National Park Office will answer"!! With fingers crossed that they hadn't closed early, we rang that buzzer, and lo a human voice, no music, no press one for a jet boat hire, 2 for human resources and 3 for bookings. They could send a jet boat up for us but were so sorry it would cost $40.00 each, I'm sure we would all have paid ten times as much to get to the other side. The 'other side' had taken on a new meaning, hot shower, dry clothes, good food, and the all enticing warm dry bed.

The trip back down river was scary but our trusty boat driver was so experienced and confident we merely clung onto the rails till our fingers went numb and rolled with it; the boat was tossed like a match box in the ocean. But a hot shower changes everything, with renewed energy and zest we devoured huge steaks and salad washed down with no not pure organic mountain water, but beautiful mellow truly palatable New Zealand Merlot.

Elaine and Richard Bryant are born and bred Kiwis, experienced in the natural outdoors and love overseas adventures. They are independent and fun loving with a passion for finding that idyllic corner of the world sometimes overlooked by those seeking outdoor adventure travel experiences. http://adventurealive.com

Article Source: Hiking Gillespies Pass in the Southern Alps of New Zealand

 
It seems as though more and more people are getting bored of beach holidays, and more often they turn to the mountains for their summer holiday. However, whereas a week on the beach in the med can be quite easy to pack for (swim wear, flip flops, sun cream), there are a few more things that you should consider bringing on a summer mountain holiday. This list should help to get you started:

1) Sun Protection: because mountain resorts are often at altitude, the sun can be a lot fiercer than at sea level. It is therefore a very important to pack high factor sun cream and good sunglasses. Also, don't forget that if you go hiking on a glacier, the snow will reflect back the sun in all directions, so you may get sunburnt in areas you weren't expecting (for example under the chin).

Also, don't forget a good after sun balm, so that you can help your face recover from a day of fierce sunshine and dry air.

2) Waterproofs: Although the weather is usually sunny & warm in the French Alps, because of the geography of the area, it is not uncommon for late afternoon thunderstorms to build. It is better to be prepared and protected!

3) Pack clothing layers: part of the attraction of holidaying in the mountains is the ability to do things such as jump on cable cars and get whisked up to the mountain tops. It is often cooler at the top of the mountains than at the bottom, so it is good to have a few layers in your back pack so you can adjust your clothing accordingly. Also, evenings can sometimes be a bit chilly which means that sleeping in a hot room isn't a problem, but it is worth having a sweater handy so you can continue to sit outside after the sun goes down.

4) Speedos (for men only): If you are holidaying in France, don't forget that French swimming pools don't allow swim shorts, and will only allow "Speedo" type swimwear. So if you do want to cool off in a French swimming pool, forget your baggies and don the tight shorts instead. You never know, you might enjoy it! If Speedos really aren't your thing, there are plenty of mountain lakes which don't restrict bathing costumes.

5) Water bottle: when hiking in the mountains in warm weather, it can be very easy to get dehydrated. Avoid this by carrying adequate water, either in a water bottle or in a hydration pack.

6) Sturdy walking shoes/boots: You don't need to by stiff leather walking boots, but if you are planning to do some walking in the mountains, it is worth having some decent walking boots/shoes/trainers. Goretex will stop your feet from getting a soaking in case of being caught in an unexpected thunderstorm.

7) Mountain rescue insurance: This is very important, and often overlooked on summer holidays. If you are on a trail on the mountain and twist an ankle, the only way down may be by mountain rescue helicopter. If you don't have travel insurance which covers mountain rescue, this could be a very expensive flight! Don't worry if you haven't got mountain rescue insurance, most resorts offer this for about a euro a day (usually under the Carte Neige scheme).

The mountains do make wonderful summer holiday destinations, and there is none of the boredom which can set in after day two of lying on the same beach in the med!

White-Peak Holidays (http://www.white-peak.com ) offer ski holidays and summer mountain holidays in France. For ski holidays in other countries, All Mountain Holidays has a wide range of ski holidays (http://www.allmountainholidays.com ) and ski chalets direct worldwide.

Article Source: Summer holidays in The Alps - what to pack

 
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