The Must-Read Guide to the Rhône Alpes

Les Saisies. Photo: C. Martelet. Rhône Alpes Tourisme. The Must-Read Guide to the Rhône Alpes.

The Must-Read Guide to the Rhône Alpes

Here I have put together the must-read guide to the Rhône Alpes. It is pretty inclusive so I’ll do it as a bit of a bullet point. But it is a good start where to see all their ski resorts and which ones could tempt you for your perfect ski holiday.
The Rhône Alpes is an extensive area in the Central West of France. From west to east it offers the Auvergne Volcanoes to Lyon and the French Alps and Mont Blanc. This is the roof of Europe at 4,810 meters.
Pointe d'Ireuse. View on Mont Blanc. Chablais Massif. Photo: Christian Matelet. Auvergne Rhône Alpes Tourisme. The Must-Read Guide to the Rhône Alpes.
Pointe d’Ireuse. View on Mont Blanc. Chablais Massif. Photo: Christian Matelet. Auvergne Rhône Alpes Tourisme. The Must-Read Guide to the Rhône Alpes.
 

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How to get there: The Must-Read Guide to the Rhône Alpes. 

 

By Air:

 
  • Paris Airport- transfer to Lyon is 45 minutes.
  • Geneva Airport
  • Chambery Airport
  • Grenoble Airport
 

By Train:

 
  • Paris – TGV (fast train)
  • London with the Eurostar
  • Brussels with the Thalis
 

By Car:

 
  • Lyon airport: 1-3 hours
  • Geneva airport: 1-3 hours
  • Chambery airport: 1-1.5 hours
  • Grenoble airport: 1-1.5 hours.
Sunset on the Grandes Jorasses. Mont Blanc Massif. Photo: Carmen Villa/Auvergne-Rhône Alpes Tourisme. The Must-Read Guide to the Rhône Alpes.
Sunset on the Grandes Jorasses. Mont Blanc Massif. Photo: Carmen Villa/Auvergne-Rhône Alpes Tourisme. The Must-Read Guide to the Rhône Alpes.
 
 

The French Alps – The Must-Read Guide to the Rhône Alpes

 
The French Alps are the most renown ski mountains in the world. Here are some specs to explain why:
  • It has been three times host of Winter Olympic games:
    • Chamonix in 1925 (first edition)
    • Grenoble, 1968
    • Albertbille, 1992.
  • The 3 Valleys is the world’s largest ski area, with 600 km of ski slopes and more than 200 cable cars. Most of the terrain is above 1800 m altitude.
  • There are different connected ski areas, or if you prefer to call them ski carousels.
    • Les 3 Vallées
    • Paradiski
    • Val d’Isère- Tignes.
  • It has the longest snow season in Europe, from November (October for Tignes this year!) to May.
  • It offers summer skiing from June to August at
    • Val d’Isére-Tignes
    • Les 2 Alpes
 
This guide will pinpoint the unique particularities of the different main ski resorts.
 

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The Must-Read Guide of Vail, Colorado

Vail's iconic village with the Gore Range Mountains capturing the sunset in Vail, CO. Photo- Craig Orsini, Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.

The Must-Read Guide of Vail, Colorado- Where to Stay, how to ski the Mountain, Where to Eat and Drink.

Vail is one of the most renown ski resorts in the world. It was one of these resorts I always wanted to visit when I was young growing up in Argentina. Luck struck me and I was able to visit several times, and also worked for Vail Resorts long time ago now. International visitors always want to visit either Vail or Aspen. Those are the famous resorts they know. This made me then put together the Must-Read Guide to Vail to help you organise your trip to this grand resort!

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Vail's 10th Mountain Division skier. Photo: Vicky Galarraga. @vickydevail. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
Vail’s 10th Mountain Division skier. Photo: Vicky Galarraga. @vickydevail. The Must-Read Guide to Vail, Colorado.

The History of Vail

Ute Indians used to settle within this territory in the summer. They used to travel to the most arid lands on the west during winter. The Utes used to call the Gore Range that overlooked the valley the “Shinning Mountains”.
Came WWII and the United States created a training center called Camp Hale. Here the 10th Mountain Division trained for alpine combat. They went on to fight on the Mountains of Northern Italy. When they came back, they were the force to develop the ski industry in the USA.
One veteran of the 10th Mountain Division, Peter Seibert, came back to Colorado. He joined the Aspen Ski Patrol and Ski School. Then he went on to become the manager of Loveland Basin Ski Area. At that moment, Seibert and Earl Eaton start looking on developing a new ski resort in the Rockies.
Eaton was local to Colorado and started skiing when young. By 1940, he was ski racing in Aspen while working for the Civilian Conservation Corps in Glenwood. In 1957, he and Seibert climbed Vail Mountain in winter and realised of its potential as a ski area.
Friends Skiing Groomed Terrain in Vail, CO.. Photo: Daniel Milchev. Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.
Friends Skiing Groomed Terrain in Vail, CO.. Photo: Daniel Milchev. Vail Resorts. The Must-Read Guide to Vail.

Must-read guide to Chamonix

Winter in Chamonix- Photo credits: Salome Abrial. OT Chamonix. Must-Read guide to Chamonix

Must-read guide to Chamonix Mont-Blanc

Why visit the Chamonix Mont-Blanc Valley? Well, it should be in every mountain lover’s bucket list! There are plenty of reasons why to go and visit Chamonix Mont-Blanc Valley. That is why I put together a Must-Read Guide to Chamonix Mont-Blanc.

 

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You can summarise why Chamonix is so amazing in seven facts:
1) Chamonix lays at the foot of The MONT BLANC (4810m), the highest mountain in Europe, making of it, a unique spot! (You must have read already my Must-Read Guide to Courmayeur. Courmayeur is on the other side – the Italian side, of the Mont Blanc or Monte Bianco).
2) Chamonix in winter is famous for its freeriding and lots of activities for non-skiers. Plus Chamonix is not only for the daredevil! It offers activities and variety of slopes for all levels.
Ski de Randonnée in Chamonix. Photo: Christophe Raylat. OT Chamonix. Must-Read guide to Chamonix.
Ski de Randonnée in Chamonix. Photo: Christophe Raylat. OT Chamonix. Must-Read guide to Chamonix.
3) Chamonix in summer is amazing, and you can tell that a favourite spot for visitors. There are lots of incredible sightseeing tours to take. And wide range of outdoor activities for all.
4) Chamonix is a year-round destination and a lively Alpine city. This is not a purposed-built resort, people live here all year. That makes the vibe of the place!
Architecture in Chamonix. Photo: Salome Abrial. OT Vallée de Chamonix. Must-Read guide to Chamonix.
Architecture in Chamonix. Photo: Salome Abrial. OT Vallée de Chamonix. Must-Read guide to Chamonix.
5) Chamonix’s heritage. You can find it through its art, culture, architecture and cuisine.
6) Very close to the highway. Chamonix is one of the easiest towns to reach .
7) Chamonix offers a wide variety of accommodation for all budgets. So, it is not only for the rich and famous!

History of Chamonix. Must-Read Guide to Chamonix

Chamonix has a long and fascinating history. Starting from the first explorers to the golden age of winter sports.
The town has an amazing cultural and architectural heritage.
Architecture in Chamonix, painting at the Office of the Mountain Guides. Photo: Salome Abrial- OT Vallée de Chamonix. Must-Read guide to Chamonix.
Architecture in Chamonix, painting at the Office of the Mountain Guides. Photo: Salome Abrial- OT Vallée de Chamonix. Must-Read guide to Chamonix.
You can book one of the weekly guided heritage tours. In these you can discover the architectural diversity of Chamonix. Baroque churches to Protestan chapels. Hotels and palaces from the “Golden Era” to “Art Deco” facades. From traditional farmhouses, to colossal villas passing through chalets contrasting with modern buildings.
1741: Two English men Windham and Pococke discovered “Chamouny” valley and its glaciers. The population at the time was living on farms. These two men lead the first touristic exploration climbing the Mer de Glace glacier.

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The MUST-READ Guide to Lech

Lech Zürs Tourism - Arlberg. Photo by Sepp Mallaun. Will we ski this December?

Your MUST-READ guide to Lech am Arlberg

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Lech is one of these famous resorts in the world that should be in your bucket list. A typical Austrian Alpine village, in the end of the road (at least in winter), at first you arrive, and you think there is a road through it, but you need to see what is on each side of the road. The town is small, as the local law does not allow it to expand- which is great as you feel in a quaint town. Lots of dotted houses and hotels are around the main road and into the sides, pretty much all are near the lifts. The furthest in the valley are around 600 meters from the lifts, but there are free buses to go back and forth.

The Omeshorn towering the picture perfect town of Lech - Lech Zürs am Arlberg by night by Felder- Lech Zürs Tourismus. Must-Read Guide to Lech.
The Omeshorn towering the picture perfect town of Lech – Lech Zürs am Arlberg by night by Felder- Lech Zürs Tourismus. Must-Read Guide to Lech.

Buses also connect you hourly with St Christoph and St Anton. But you can also access them via the Flexenbahn gondola since the season before last. The Flexenbahn links Zürs and Stuben/Rauz. Skiers and boarders can go anywhere in the Arlberg on skis and snowboards. The ride takes 6 minutes with panoramic vistas from the gondolas, to the Klostertal valley and St Christoph. The addition of the Flexenbhan made the Arlberg the largest ski carousel in Austria and one of the 5 largest ski areas in the world. On top of the Flexenbahn, three other cableways have started operations on the winter of 2016/17 – the Trittkopf cableways I, II and the Aldonabhan cableway II have cemented the Arlberg as a bucket list destination.

Getting there:

You can easily get to Lech from the main airports in central Europe, such as Zürich (196 km) in Switzerland, Munich (248 km) and Friedrichshafen (128 km) in Germany, Innsbruck (120 km) and Salzburg (294 km) in Austria.

You can take the train from these airports and go to Langen am Arlberg train station, which is 15 km from Lech (if coming from Zürich or Friedrichshafen) and take a taxi from there or the local bus – check the times, the buses runs once an hour or every two hours, depending the time of the year.

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Zermatt Must-READ Guide

Zermatt Village - Photo copyright: Leander Wenger - Zermatt Tourist Board. Zermatt is a high-altitude resort that will not suffer much in the future with less snow thanks to its altitude. What does Climate Change will mean to a Mountain Nation such as Switzerland by 2060.

Zermatt Must-READ Guide

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Zermatt’s History:

Zermatt is all what you have thought of and more….it is a chocolate-box village – quintessentially Swiss, that have been hosting guests for many years – mainly those trying to reach the peak of the Matterhorn. The area had human traces from 8,000 to the 1,800 BC with the “Schwarze Tschugge” shelter at Schwarzsee, a cup-marked stone at Ofenen, above Zmutt and a stone axe blade from the Theodul Pass. The Theodul Pass was used as a crossover and trade route for the Romans for finding coins and the Romanised Celts.

Zermatterhof in Dorfstrasse - Old Zermatt.
Zermatterhof in Dorfstrasse – Old Zermatt.

On the 8th century the Alemannic took possession of Upper Valais and German replaced Latin. But speed the time forward to 13th August 1792 when Genevese scholar Horace Bénédict de Saussure climbed the Klein Matterhorn. From the Theodul glacier, he determined the height of the Matterhorn to be 4,501.7 m (today 4,477.5 m) using a 50-foot-long chain spread out on the glacier and a sextant.

In 1813 the Breithorn is the first four-thousand-metre peak to be climbed.

In 1839 Zermatt surgeon Lauber opens the first inn (hotel Cervie) with three beds. Today is Hotel Monte Rosa.

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Crans-Montana Must–Read Guide

Denis Emery - photo-genic.ch- Courtesy Crans Montana Tourism Office.

Crans-Montana Must-Read Guide

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Check no more! Here is your must-read guide to Crans-Montana:  Crans-Montana is a world-renown ski and summer resort in the Valais area of Switzerland, celebrating its 125th year this year. Easily accessible by train and a funicular, the resort has two big towns, Crans and Montana that are almost now linked into one bigger town.

Crans-Montana is a lively town, with lots of people that live there year-round. This is not the classic resort that opens only for the season and then nothing happens anymore; it is pretty big and busy.

Crans-Montana unique selling point is its vista and the sunny terrace where the valley is sitting.
Crans-Montana unique selling point is its vista and the sunny terrace where the valley is sitting. Your must-read guide to Crans-Montana.

Crans and Montana are located in a wide sunny valley, perched at 1500m, with magnificent south views of the mountains of the Rhône Valley in Valais, from the Mont Blanc to the Matterhorn- 19 peaks over 4,000 meters are facing Crans-Montana.  Hotels and condominiums are dotted in town amongst hotels, from 3 stars to deluxe 5 stars with all the services.

Crans-Montana has been a magnet for stars, from Roger Moore who had a house there, Alain Delon and Jean-Paul Belmondo, who used to stay at the Grand Hotel du Golf & Palace. The Kennedy’s family and Mr Bourvil used to holiday in Crans Montana. Also David Guetta comes for a discreet winter holiday to Crans-Montana.

People go to Crans-Montana for the vistas, they are magnificent; for it’s skiing, with nice sunny pistes to all type of skiers, and in the rest of the year for its golf. With an 18-hole golf course by Severino Ballesteros and a 9-hole by Jack Nicklaus, and many hotels offering direct access to the golf course (or the cross country trails in winter), it is the best you could get in Switzerland! Plus the biking is pretty big now, lots of hiking and water sports around, to make it a year-round resort.

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