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For every Verbier, Meribel and Chamonix there is a smaller, often snowier counterpart which gets largely overlooked by those who fall for the glitz and glam of big-name resorts. Perfect for those on a tighter budget or keen to avoid Tom, Dick and Harry, we’ve picked out the pistes without all the people.
With 150km of slopes, Baqueira-Beret in the Pyrenees has some of Europe’s best snow, with the Atlantic ensuring consistent coverage from November through until April. Since opening in 1964, it has become the go-to spot for Spanish Royalty wanting to shed their crowns and shred the slopes. For every intermediate run at Baqueira-Beret there exists an exhilarating off-piste option, while heliskiing is relatively cheap.
Just an hour by road from Turin, Champoluc is the westernmost valley of the Monte Rosa ski area. Italy’s answer to the Three Valleys, this laid-back resort offers 180km of groomed runs and is far less busy than neighbouring Aosta.
Sainte Foy, France
A favourite among ski instructors on their day off, you can ski the entire mountain at Sainte Foy which has become kryptonite for those seeking sleepier slopes. Relatively undeveloped, this is not place if you’re more interested in the après-ski scene, though you will find a few bars scattered up and down the piste.
Pralognan La Vanoise, France
Pralognan la Vanoise at the heart of Vanoise National Park isn’t just about the skiing. Thanks to the park, you’ll be truly immersed in nature – spend chairlift rides playing spot the chamonix/ibex. With runs appropriate for all abilities, it’s a good option for mixed groups and families.
When it comes to ski resorts, short airport transfers are few and far between. Folgaria however is just 2 hours from Bergamo (BGY). Combine that with low prices and over 100km of piste, and Folgaria is the perfect place to pack up and relocate to this winter.
Val d’Anniviers, Switzerland
Despite the recent cable car link between Grimentz and Zinal putting the spotlight on Val d’Anniviers, over half of its visitors remain Swiss locals. The valley boasts 225km of pistes which, thanks to the altitude, remain pretty powdery all season long. Queues are virtually non-existent, the views are spectacular and the mountain restaurants are exceptional.
Away from the crowds at Arlberg, Warth offers good value for money, plenty of powder and a charming Austrian village. With a reputation as one of the snowiest resort in the Alps and largely overlooked by all but the most adventurous skiers, it remains something of an intrepid paradise, with off-piste runs which are hard to beat.
Despite the season not officially starting until mid-February, Riksgransen’s USP as the most northerly ski resort means you can ski under the midnight sun in May, while the Northern Lights are visible most days. The slopes aren’t particularly strenuous making it accessible but less good if you’re looking for a challenge.
While small in size, Macugnana more makes up for it in affordability and amenities – yet for some reason remains relatively undiscovered by the masses. Spend days practising parallels on uncrowded slopes before hitting the town for ice skating or a spa session.
Le Grand-Bornand, France
Unlike many small resorts, Le Grand Bornand is abound in après ski activities, offering top-notch restaurants, lively bars and welcoming locals. Just an hour from Geneva and 35 minutes from Arvais, there is also plenty to entertain any non-skiers in your party.
A great option for beginners thanks to its gentle slopes, Pamporovo in Bulgaria makes for an affordable skiing experience. Deals are relatively cheap, cost of food and drink is low and a six-day ski pass is estimated at around £87.
Wedged between Austria, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic, Slovakia is gaining traction as the go to Eastern European ski destination. Jasná, located in the Low Tatras mountains, offers striking vistas and well-groomed pistes for all levels of skiers and snowboarders. While après in the resort itself is limited, it’s seriously cheap – beer is €2 a pint on the mountain.
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