Les Menuires ski resort
About Les Menuires
Built in the 1960s boom years of French ski resort construction, Les Menuires was marketed as 'the smile of the Alps' – in part due to its vaguely smile-shaped accommodation buildings.
However, Les Menuires' smile did not last long, with the concrete-based structures quickly falling out of fashion and giving the resort a dilapidated and dated feel – sending skiers scurrying to neighbouring resort.
Thankfully, subsequent renovations and new developments over the past few decades have rejuvenated the resorts grin, with new developments much more keeping with the traditional structures of the region. The renovations not only changed the resort aesthetically but also fundamentally, switching the marketing onus from cheap and cheerful skiing to a family-oriented fun.
But however it may look the major assets that initially made les Menuires so successful remain. For starters, there's doorstep skiing from a snowsure 1,850m (6,070ft) onto the 600km (370 miles) of piste that makes up the world's biggest ski region, the Les Trois Vallées (Three Valleys). Couple this incredible choice of terrain with Les Menuires' growing number of boutiques, accommodation and restaurants, and even the dourest of visitors is likely to leave beaming.
Les Menuires is located in the Belleville Valley of the Savoy Alps in France, within the Massif de Tarentaise. It's also part of the Les Trois Vallées – the world's largest fully lift-interlinked ski area.
Les MenuiresResort Elevation: 1850m
Top Elevation: 2850m
Base Elevation: 1450m
On the slopes
Thanks to its high altitude and a snow-making operation covering half of its vast area, Les Menuires is able to guarantee at least 80% snow cover to resort level throughout the season, which runs from early December to late April.
Being in the midst of the world's biggest lift and piste network, it's no surprise there is a fantastic range of skiing for all abilities. The first decision for many is not really where to go, but whether to buy a pass for the Belleville Valley or the full pass, which also gives access to neighbouring Méribel and Courchevel. But as the ski area around Les Menuires covers 160km (100 miles) and the full Belleville Valley takes in 300km (187 miles), less adventurous intermediates may not feel the need to buy the full Trois Vallées pass, saving around 20% of the cost.
Les Menuires has invested heavily in its facilities for beginners, creating a beginners' area with an easy-to-use conveyor lift, as well as the new, free-to-use Gaston's blue piste at the top of the resort near Reberty.
Intermediate and advanced level skiers will find hundreds of runs from some of the major summits; those with a smartphone can download the Les Menuires app, which shows 15 specially selected itineraries.
Freestyle skiers and boarders will have fun at the BK Park, while there's a boardercross course and the free LM Park for younger freestylers. Cross-country skiers, meanwhile, have 28km (17 miles) of tracks for both skating and classic techniques.