Winter Holiday at the Foot of Mont Blanc
Chamonix, the rakish star of the French Alps, is the perfect spot for a winter getaway where you can get the most out of the snow in every possible way and with splendid views of the highest mountain in Europe, Mont Blanc. Situated just 16 kilometres from Switzerland and 11 kilometres from Italy, this destination draws snow sport devotees from everywhere, as well as those eager to go on outings in the superb natural surroundings, relax in a spa and even do a spot of shopping in the town of Chamonix.
The Best Black Pistes in France
Snow sport enthusiasts will find a veritable paradise in Chamonix as they ski against the spectacular backdrops, either of Mont Blanc or the valley where Chamonix is located. The 115 kilometres of ski runs – 12 for beginners, 26 blue, 20 red and 12 black – are a delight for any skiing or snowboarding devotee. While it is acclaimed for its large number of pistes with a high difficulty rating, suitable only for the most intrepid skiers, it also has areas where young children or learners can enjoy snow sports.
The Aiguille du Midi, at an altitude of 3,842 metres, is the objective of choice for those less fearful of heights, as well as others seeking out the most precipitous down slopes which only specialists can handle safely. It is well worth going up in the cable car and overcoming one’s fear of heights, if only for the superb panoramic views of the French, Italian and Swiss Alps to be had from here. The Brévent-Flégère pistes are more accessible and also afford magnificent views of Mont Blanc.
Those less inclined to do sport can rest assured that you don’t need to ski in order to enjoy the views, which can be reached by going up the comfortable cable cars. Mont Blanc, at a stunning altitude of 4,810 metres and famed for being the cradle of mountaineering, is the main focus of attention for visitors to the area. As mentioned earlier, both Aiguille du Midi and the peak of Le Brévent are perfect vantage points for viewing the scenery. Other panoramas worth considering here are provided by the glaciers. A standout example is Mer de Glace, located on the north face of Mont Blanc, which is 7 kilometres long by 200 metres deep, making it the longest glacier in France.
De Luxe Après Ski
Unlike other Alpine ski resorts, which feature only a few villages with limited aprés ski facilities, after a long, hard day of skiing or scoping the area in search of sensations, Chamonix boasts a whole town full of amenities for rounding off your day. You can go shopping, have a drink while listening to live music, or replenish your strength by trying some culinary classics of the region of Savoy, like raclette or fondue. What more could you want?
Book your Vueling to Geneva, which lies just 88 kilometres from Chamonix, and indulge in a surfeit of snow at the foot of the highest peak in Europe.
Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS
Images by Christian Bertrammore info
Electronic And Snow In the Alps
Who says you have to wait for the good weather to enjoy open-air music festivals? One way of having a final fling at the end of your ski season is by treating yourself to one of the festivals hosted on Europe’s summits, where pride of place goes to music and snow. One of these must-attend events is Snowboxx, a festival which brings both elements together and where musical quality, snow sports and entertainment are guaranteed.
This, the fourth edition of Snowboxx will be held from 18 to 25 March on the fantastic pistes of Avoriaz, in the French Alps, some 80 kilometres from Geneva airport. Basement Jaxx, Wilkinson and Hannah Wants are the highlights of this festival, which also features High Contrast, TQD (Royal T, DJ Q & Flava D), Karen Harding, Yousef, Norman Jay MBE, Bicep, Jax Jones, Charlie Tee and Charlie Swift, among others. So, you’re in for a heady shot of electronic music to see out the season of winter festivals.
But, music is not the only leading light of this festival, as it shares the bill with the snow, and everything you can do in (and with) it. 650 skiable kilometres distributed across 283 pistes (27 black, 104 red, 119 blue and 33 green) and 14 valleys, where you can ski or snowboard – a veritable paradise which any skiing or snowboarding enthusiast can explore. And, there’s more, as Avoriaz also has several snowparks which will wow all freestylers. Oh! And if you’re not a dab hand at sliding on snowbound surfaces, you can always join the mass snowfight organised by Snowboxx, or dance in an indoor swimming pool to the background music of some DJ.
Another ingredient of this festival is cuisine, essential for beating the low temperatures and repairing your energy wear and tear. So, don’t hesitate to build up your strength by savouring the local classics, such as raclette and fondue, or warming your hands on a glass of hot wine while you listen to your favourite music.
Avoriaz – A Car-free Area
One of the unique features of Avoriaz, the ski resort which hosts Snowboxx, is that it is closed to all vehicular traffic. That means you can only get there on foot or by any means of transport purpose-designed for gliding on snow, namely horse-drawn carriages, sleighs or skis. This affords you the luxury of being able to walk from the hotel to the ski runs. For those of you who come by car, there are two parking lots, one open-air and the other covered (both pay facilities), where you can leave your vehicle during your stay.
Avoriaz, which has been operating since 1966, is located in the central area of the group of fourteen ski resorts making up thePortes du Soleil.The different sectors are Arare, Lindaret, Chavanette, Té, Chatel, Intrets, Prodains and Super Morzine.
Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS
Images by Snowboxxmore info
The Aosta Valley
In less than 1 hour drive from Turin you can easily reach the area of the Western Alps. A unique place, with a typical alpine scenery, deep valleys, lakes, summits crowned with castles and the beautiful villages of the valley.
The Aosta Valley has many interesting landmarks such as Mont Blanc, the highest point in the Alps and of Europe, and other major mountains like Monte Rosa (4,683 meters), the Matterhorn (from 4810 meters) or Gran Paradiso (4,061 m) at the Gran Paradiso National Park. This was the first italian natural park, which was created to protect the alpine ibex -a symbol of the park- and other alpine species. Here are around 2000 different species of vegetation amongst the 5,600 varieties cataloged of the entire Italian flora.
Cows are the queens of the valley. If visiting in spring and fall, sure you'll be there to witness the "Bataille de Reines" exhibits (battle of queens), that farmers organize in the region to establish the reign of these cattle, which is decorated with bouquets of flowers to distinguish her from the others. It is a fascinating spectacle that locals and tourists enjoy.
We were lucky to happen to be there for a Sunday's battle of queens in the pretty village of Cogne, at the foot of Gran Paradiso. Thousands of people come this far to enjoy a nice day outdoors and admire closely these animals. It's a little shocking of a show for outside but it is a bloodless event for animals.
These cows produce Fontina, a cheese with denomination of origin in the valley. Another typical food of the region is the motzetta, served thinly sliced as an appetizer, accompanied by rye bread. Or the jambon de Bosses, which is seasoned with herbs de Provence.
The Aosta Valley is a place of myths and legends, with magnificent castles that dot the whole place. It has a rich heritage that boasts over 100 structures from medieval castles, watchtowers or churches that can be visited.
And as of the first of November, the ski season opens in the tracks of Cervinia and Valtournenche. Cervinia is known as the "land of many waters" by the many rivers and lakes that surround it. It is also one of the most famous ski destinations in the Italian Alps.
Also Chamois, that happens to be the highest village in Europe, at 1815 meters. A pretty village between idyllic landscapes, with a nearby alpine resort. It has five ski slopes and alpine hiking trails of striking beauty.
One of the most frequent visits made in the Aosta Valley is the ascent of Mont Blanc, starting from the village of La Palud. A funicular ride somewhat intimidating for those who suffer from vertigo, but it's worth to have a 360 ° view over the entire Alps. The ride has two stops: one at 2000 meters, where you have a restaurant to test their culinary specialties in a pleasant terrace. You can also visit the alpine botanical garden. The second stop is the Torino refuge, at 3,375 meters. From the cable car stop, you still have to climb a very steep metal stairs and if you're lucky and the sky is clear, you can enjoy the magnificent views of the snowy mountains.
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