Valloire ski resort
Valloire is one of the first generation of French ski resorts, having grown from humble beginnings with a few small hotels and one of the world's first ski lifts in the 1930s, to the major international ski centre that it is today with 150km (93 miles) of varied pistes.
Valloire's history dates back much further than the ski era however, due to its strategic location on the Galibier Pass – one of the highest in France, and the meeting point of the northern and southern Alps. The area is now also an infamous and gruelling stage of the Tour de France cycle race each summer, while every January the resort hosts international snow and ice sculpture contests.
Over the decades the resort has retained its strong French identity, making it a good choice for skiers interested in mixing with local people and observing traditional culture. The resort has merged with 17 small hamlets along the valley road and boasts numerous atmospheric bars and restaurants, local artisan workshops and various quirky shops that have developed around the resort's 17th-century baroque church.
Valloire is located at the heart of the Vallée d'Or on the Galibier Pass, which runs through the Massif de la Maurienne in southeast France's Savoie Alps.
ValloireResort Elevation: 1430m
Top Elevation: 2600m
Base Elevation: 1170m
On the slopes
Valloire is one of the highest traditional village resorts in France and, indeed, the whole of the Alps. Add this altitude to its 80-year history of providing snow sports, abundance of north facing slopes and a growing snowmaking system, and the resort is normally a safe bet for good snow cover all season long.
Valloire offers all kinds of ski terrain, from the wooded pistes at La Sétaz, to the wide open spaces of Gros Crey at 2,594m (8,510ft), with its excellent easy and intermediate runs on sunny slopes. The cable car to Le Crey du Quart allows skiers to explore the twin resort villages of Valmeinier that share the Galibier-Thabor ski area with Valloire proper.
Experienced skiers can opt for the Maurienne Valley pass, which allows a day in any one of more than a dozen ski areas (most of them smaller). Another possibility is to purchase a daily 'add-on' ticket, allowing cheap access to the Trios Vallées (Three Valleys) domain – the region's popular resort of Val Thorens is reached by the Orelle gondola, just a 30-minute drive away.
But good skiers and boarders may not need to travel far for some excitement, as the challenging Olympic run on the Grandes Drozes is close to home; while the resort's terrain park and pipe are also highly regarded.
Cross-country skiers also have plenty to explore, with 15km (9 miles) of trails and a choice of routes suitable for all abilities.