When you head out on a ski holiday, you may not necessarily consider the history of the destination. After all, if you're going for the snow sports snf it's the modern amenities that are probably most important to you. How many lifts are there, how fast are the routes up the mountain and what's the snow like - those are the questions you will most likely ask.
But each resort has its own unique history. Some were quiet settlements for hundreds - or even thousands - of years before the winter crowds started arriving, while others were little more than single mountain huts that became sites for major development during the 20th century. Learning a little about the background of these places can be fascinating.
For example, Avoriaz in the French Alps is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The resort came about after Olympic champion Jean Vuarnet started the skiing area in Morzine. He came up with a plan for creating a new ski area on the north side of the Hauts Fort Mountain and Avoriaz was the brainchild of Gerard Bremont, the son of a leading French industrialist. Avoriaz connected to the rest of Morzine via a series of lifts.
On January 8th, 1967, the resort was officially opened by Monsieur Ravanel, the commissioner-general for tourism. It was hailed as the 'Resort of the Future' and became a popular destination for skiers across Europe.
These days, Avoriaz may not be quite as fashionable as it once was, but it's a popular spot for skiers who like the car-free atmosphere and timeless architecture.
As part of the 50th anniversary celebrations, Avoriaz has teamed up with the French National Audiovisual Institute to create a digital museum featuring 60 new digitised videos. The videos show images and provide commentary about the resort over the years, and will tell the story of the resort - a story about dreams, money, friendships, breaks with the past, celebrations, gambles and human destiny. The museum also displays ideas for the future of the resort.16/01/2017
For many of us, cars are an unavoidable part of everyday life. They get us to work, are part of the school run and a trip to the supermarket would be much more difficult without a motorised vehicle to help bring home the shopping. While automobiles might be a necessary convenience most of the time, one place they aren't needed is on a ski holiday in the Alps - and that's why there's a growing trend for resorts to prohibit cars.
Keeping cars out of the resorts offers a number of benefits. For one thing, it's better for the environment, cutting down on emissions and noise pollution. According to the Association of National Mayors of Mountain Resorts, the body representing winter sports local authorities in France, more than half (57 per cent) of greenhouse gas pollution in the country's ten leading ski resorts came from motor vehicles.
There's also a question of safety. No cars means that pedestrians are free to walk up and down the roads without having to worry about traffic and parents don't have to worry about their children crossing the roads.
Finally, the lack of cars in these resorts tends to add to the charm of the locations. With so many resorts boasting an old-world charm with traditional alpine buildings and picturesque skylines, it's easy to see how modern cars could detract from the atmosphere.
So where do you go if you're looking for a car-free ski resort? There are several options to consider. But it's also important to remember that resorts tend to have different definitions of what "car free" means.
For example, in Zermatt, cars have been replaced with electric-powered buses, mini cars for hotel guests and electric taxis. Several resorts, including Flaine in France, limit the amount of time that cars can be within the resort - giving visitors just enough time to load or unload their vehicles, before having to move them to an off-site car park.
Avoriaz in France calls itself completely car-free and boasts that "children can fetch the bread" since there are no automobiles. Others in France that are listed as car-free include Les Arcs, Le Plagne, and Plagne Soleil.19/12/2016
The start of the winter sports season is an exciting time in the Alps and it's certainly something to celebrate as visitors from around the world head into the mountains. This year, Avoriaz will be throwing a proper party for its opening weekend, with music, activities, happy hours, live shows and plenty of snowboarding action.
Rock On Ultimate 2016 is a three-day festival that runs from December 9th to 11th - and it's a popular event for music lovers, as well as those who enjoy winter sports - particularly snowboarding.
The event is also a big opportunity for brands to promote their winter sports gear - from hats and gloves to goggles and other equipment. A large number of companies are sponsoring the event, with some of the official partners including Adidas, Oakley, Virgin Radio, Burton, Roxy and Ugh Ugh Ugh. A number of brands will have representatives on-hand to show you the goods in person. Experts will also be available to provide advice on everything from gear selection and settings to snow conditions.
What's more, you might just spot some of the world's top snowboarders at Rock On Ultimate and you could find yourself rubbing shoulders with national champions, Olympic athletes and other snowboarding icons. Who knows who might be giving you pointers on the best local runs and new techniques to try?
An outdoor stage will be the setting for musical performances all weekend, with a range of DJs and bands including like Perretta, Mike Rock and Igloo Banana. On Saturday night, French musical duo Cassius will be performing, giving fans the chance to hear their legendary I Love You So in person, as well as the rest of their new album, Ibifornia.
If you're heading to Avoriaz with your family, don't worry - there will be plenty for the kids to do as well. In Ringlet Park, there will be free snowboard initiations provided by experienced instructors. There will also be various competitions throughout the weekend for various age groups.22/11/2016
If you're headed to France for a fun-filled getaway in the snow, you probably want to spend most of your time out on the pistes - not stomping around from one place to another in your clunky ski boots. Let's face it, it doesn't matter if you've found ski boot hire with the most comfortable footwear imaginable: ski boots just aren't made for walking around.
So, instead of spending your time travelling to the piste, why not head to a destination that offers ski-in ski-out accommodation? With this option, you can step out of your hotel or chalet and immediately start sliding down the mountain. And at the end of the day, you can ski right up to your front door without having to carry your skis or board across the resort.
If this sounds like a dream come true, then it's simply a question of finding a ski-in ski-out destination - and there are plenty of options in the French Alps. These include:
●Avoriaz - This is a purpose-built resort above Morzine in the Portes du Soleil ski area. It offers a variety of ski-in/ski-out apartments, as well as five terrain parks and a superpipe.
●Val Thorens - At an altitude of 2,300 metres, this is the highest resort in Europe. Since it's so high up, a good level of snow cover is generally available from November to May. All skill levels are catered for at Val Thorens, but it's particularly popular for intermediates. There's also a world-class terrain park.
●La Plagne - Comprising 11 separate villages, La Plagne is a big ski area and includes several ski-in ski-out resorts at various altitudes. Many of slopes here are wide and undemanding, but they tend to become steeper below the tree-line on the south and north faces. It's a great destination for beginners and intermediates
●Les Arcs - With a number of purpose-built ski villages, Les Arcs is an attractive option for those seeking ski-in ski-out accommodation. It links to Les Arcs via a double-decker cable car, and together the two resorts form the enormous Paradiski area.14/10/2016
With their high altitude and chilly winters, it's no wonder that the Alps are best known for their snow and icy conditions. And that's why they're such popular destinations for skiers and snowboarders in the winter months. But what if we told you that you could enjoy a balmy, rainforest-like atmosphere on your next visit to Avoriaz?
Aquariaz is a tropical paradise that gives a unique, indoor experience in Avoriaz, which can contrast strongly with the conditions found outside. Featuring lush vegetation, a warm river, and plenty of rock features, this attraction allows visitors to enjoy a relaxing day playing in the water, while imagining themselves in a tropical climate.
The Chill-out Space, which is part of the central pool. It comprises a gently flowing river with bubbles, jets and sections where the current runs faster or slower. Along the route, you'll find waterfalls, rope swings, two areas of bubble-massage seats and a 1.2-metre deep pool, which sits below a climbing wall.
The Water Playhouse is a colourful space for younger children. It features geysers and pouring-water play equipment and includes water slides, water guns and a tipping bucket that pours out several litres of water at a time. This extends into a large paddling pool.
Another option is the Slidewinder is like an aquatic halfpipe and is for the most adventurous visitors who are looking for a rush of adrenaline. You start more than ten metres up, sitting in a rubber tube and then slide down the halfpipe, and up the other side. Then, you ride back and forth along the water feature before eventually stopping at ground level.
In addition, the facility includes massage benches, an open-air spa heated to 34 degrees and an outdoor Jacuzzi that offers uninterrupted views of the valley.
Aquatic exercise classes are also offered throughout the week, including Aqua Zumba, Aqua Step, Aqua Palming, Aqua Punching and Aqua Slim.
Aquariaz is located on the Route des Rennes in Avoriaz and is open daily. Passes can be bought for single days or a week.