Skiing and snowboarding are popular snow sports, and we're lucky to have so many options when it comes to winter holiday destinations where we can take part in these high-adrenaline activities.
With the Alps just a few hundred miles in Europe, some of the world's finest pistes are practically on our doorstep. In fact, with so many great options to consider, it can be difficult to decide where to go. To help you out, we've made a list of some of the most popular ski resorts for Brits hitting the slopes:
This enormous ski area includes resorts like La Plagne and Les Arcs. With more than 400 km of pistes, there's a wide choice of options for skiers of varying abilities whether you're looking for a beginner slope or some off-piste excitement.
What's more, since it's situated above an altitude of 2,000 metres, it's generally considered a snowsure destination.
This vast ski area comprises eight resorts, including Meribel, Courchevel and Val Thorens, offering hundreds of kilometres of slopes and efficient lift systems.
Meribel, in particular, is a favourite for British snowboarders thanks to its varied terrain and selection of snow parks.
This ski area includes Tignes and Val d'Isere and offers some 300 km of high-altitude pistes. It's known for its varied terrain, and it has some of the best expert skiing in the Alps.
The area is known for its wide choice of apres-ski activities, and it's also a popular choice for families.
St Anton am Arlberg is one of Austria's top ski resorts, and it's linked via lift with other favourites like St Christoph and Stuben. What's more, the lift pass also covers visitors for skiing in Oberlech, Zuers and Lech, providing some 260 km of pistes.
If you're looking for fresh powder, then your best bet is to head to St Anton in the spring. It gets a lot more snow than many other resorts at the same height due to its location.10/01/2017
For visitors to Courchevel looking to get out and enjoy nature, one popular destination is La Rosiere. This beautiful and tranquil nature site is located at the bottom of the Valee des Avals and includes a picturesque lake, as well as campsites equipped for picnics and barbecues. It's also an ideal departure point for a number of hikes suitable for all levels.
If you'd like to go on a hike to explore this region, one option is the Pere Frisch botanic walk, which gives visitors the opportunity learn about the various plants found in the area. The path zigzags along the bottom of the Dent du Villard, passing through meadows and rocky areas, so there's a variety of environments to explore. Along the route, you'll find that many of the plants have been labelled with their names and other information. Be sure to look out for Pyrenean dragonmouth, Ancolie black barlow, Martagon lilies, Gysophilia, grass of Parnassus, Pinguicula and the bird's nest orchid. This walk normally takes around 1.5 hours.
Another option is to you could take a walk to see the Creux de l'Ane. At this spot, an underground river wells up out of the mountain. Follow the stream to a shallow pool, where you can look for tadpoles, frogs and alpine newts. This is a popular activity for younger hikers who like to spot these small creatures.
The refreshment chalet serves a variety of delicious snacks and beverages if you don't feel like having a picnic or barbecue and it also offers a number of exhibits about local flora, fauna and geology. There's even a bit of information about alpine beekeeping and a beehive with a glass cover to provide a new perspective on the busy lives of bees.
If you prefer more vigorous climbing, the via ferrata might be a good choice. The route offers wonderful views of the surrounding area and normally takes around two hours to complete.
Other activities in at La Rosiere include orienteering walks, canoeing and an adventure trail suitable for children aged three to seven.
As any winter sports enthusiast knows, during the winter months, the Alps are covered in wonderful snow. The fresh powder is perfect for a variety of activities, and the region is especially popular for skiers and snowboarders. That's why, in Courchevel, the snow has been nicknamed "white gold" since it has brought large-scale development to the area.
But there's another type of "gold" that has been produced in the location for hundreds of years: Beaufort cheese. During the summer, the mountain pastures above Courchevel are home to herds of Tarine and Abondance cows. Known as the "young ladies with the long lashes," these bovines spend around 100 days at high altitude, grazing on the lush grasses. Their milk is then converted to the fine cheese, which is so popular among chefs and foodies.
Since the Middle Ages, monks and village communities have produced cheese from milk produced by cows grazing in the mountain pastures. The result was originally known as "Vachelin'. The name "Beaufort" started to refer to this cheese in the mid-19th century.
Beaufort cheese was given an Appellation d’Origine Controlee (AOC) ruling in 1968, meaning that the authenticity of the cheese is guaranteed and there are strict specifications that must be adhered to. For example, the shape of the cheese is recognisable due to its concave "hoop side". The cheese must also have been produced in a specific geographic area and with local traditional methods.
Even the stages of production are specified in the AOC ruling - from the amount of time allowed for the milk to arrive at the dairy, through to how the starter bacteria and rennet are prepared.
If you'd like to learn more about how the people of Savoie continue the tradition of making this delicious cheese, why not visit one of the high alpine farms around Courchevel?
The Ferme de l'Ariondaz offers guided visits every day, as well as tastings. And, of course, they also sell their locally produced products. To get to the farm, access is available along the Belvedere path. You can also watch cheese production at the Fromagerie des Avals.
Part of Les Trois Vallees in France, Courchevel stands proudly as one third of the largest linked ski areas throughout the world. For this reason it tends to be a very popular choice for families and large groups of travellers and snowsports enthusiasts, as you can easily swap between it and the other resorts of the region. Remember though that you'll either need a special pass to access the slopes in all three areas, or else you will have to buy a separate one when you go somewhere new. Luckily, there are plenty of packages available that will see you be able to enjoy the best of all the resorts available to you.
Although it's known as Courchevel 1850, the resort's altitude is actually 1,747 metres, but it has been rounded up to compete with its nearby rival Val d'Isere. However, the Jardin Alpin area of Courchevel is actually around 1,850 metres, which means that it is an area with extremely high slopes - perfect for those who are more adventurous when they're on a skiing or snowboarding holiday. Not only this, but the highest ski lift reaches 2,700 metres, so there's lots of extra piste space available to you.
There aren't many events or activities in the area, as the resort is currently closed but know that when the season starts again this region is known for getting the best snow out of the resort's five villages. Several of the main pistes run straight through the 1850, which means that Courchevel also has an abundance of ski-in/ski-out lodgings. As a result, you get to spend optimum amounts of time on your fancy rental equipment, instead of having to carry it from slope to house. There are around 150 km of local slopes and the terrain is varied, as well as being extensive; these include some wooded runs and snow making, which is used to enhance the natural snow cover.
Although this sounds short and rather unlike a test of endurance, don't be fooled because it covers a vertical ascent of 1,000m over the race distance. In winter this is done on skis and in summer it's done on foot, which is arguably a bit easier, as you have less equipment to contend with. However difficult this event is, it's surprisingly popular and it speaks to the kind of person who loves snowsports and is looking for a brand new challenge. It's held on various dates throughout the season in Courchevel, but the next one is on Friday 18th March - further dates are yet to be announced.
The race starts from the La Praz Tourist Office in the resort and it's from there that you'll be charging your way up the mountain to the summit of La Loze. There are several hotels and chalets close to the ski lifts that will take you up to this mountain, so you should be able to find somewhere handy to stay if you want to take part in this event. A particular draw of the Plum KV is that it's suitable for just about anyone, as amateurs are more than welcome to take part in the fun. As this is a slow-moving race, there tends to be quite a lot of atmosphere and camaraderie between the climbers. Of course, you can expect there to be specialist walkers who will be racing against each other to beat their records.
If this sounds like the type of thing that you would enjoy doing, then you'll need to make sure that you bring a head torch - if you're taking part in one of the evening sessions. The rest of your equipment can be hired from most of the sport shops in Courchevel and it costs only €10 (£7.80) to enter, which is very little when you consider there is prize money of up to €1,000 up for grabs! Registration for amateurs and professionals is in the Le Praz Tourist Office on the day of the event between 5pm and 6:45pm.