High-altitude French ski resorts are eyesores
When it comes to high-altitude French ski resorts, the aesthetic is often not pretty.
Concrete tower blocks from the 60s and 70s jostle with purpose-built squares to supply huge demand in Tignes (2,100m), Avoriaz (1,800m) and Les Arcs (2,100m). The appeal of these Brit-crowded resorts can quickly wear thin... at which point it is time to move towards prettier Alpine pastures. The picturesque Savoyard village of Samoëns, perched at 1,600m, is attached to 265km of pistes belonging to the Grand Massif ski area.
The ancient village is classed as a monument historique and in the quaint mountain eateries you will find that the majority of the customers are French. The old cheesemaking village of St Martin-de-Belleville is lower than the neighbouring Trois Vallées resorts of Méribel and Val Thorens but speedy lifts get you up the mountain in a flash.
Take the lift over Col de Rosael from Val Thorens to get to Orelle, a cluster of 10 hamlets in the Maurienne valley. You have the best of both worlds here: access to the Trois Vallées slopes but far enough away for some peace and quiet.
Traditional architecture abounds at Les Saisies. Nestled in the Beaufortain valley, the village boasts stunning views of Mont Blanc. Known as a cross-country resort, its gentle inclines are ideal for families and beginners.
If you enjoy a hearty meal after a day on the slopes, try Serre Chevalier in the Ecrins national park.
With 250km of ski slopes and a dozen idyllic villages, this is where to find roaring log fires and a typically cosy mountain atmosphere.