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Head to Courmayeur for great variety

22 December 2011
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There are many reasons why people head on ski holidays every year – some love the snow, some like the challenging runs, while some enjoy the apres ski scene and the chance to meet new people who share a passion for winter sports.

Then there are those who love to do all of the above and much more, and for these people Courmayeur is one of the ideal European ski destinations.

The Italian town and commune is located in the Aosta Valley and nestled at the foot of Mont Blanc (or Monte Bianco, in Italian), the highest mountain in Europe in the Graian Alps range.

Sharing the summit of the mountain with Chamonix in France, it is comfortably the highest commune in Italy and it is therefore easy to see why it continues to be a hugely popular destination with skiers year after year.

First of all, Courmayeur has an excellent snowfall record, with the breathtaking view not only acting as a beautiful diversion, as Monte Bianco guards against southerly weather systems and ensures reliable snowfall, which leads to varied terrain, powder and trees.

Furthermore, unlocking the well-hidden secrets of Courmayeur is well worthwhile, as there are plenty of nooks and crannies for everyone to seek out, with magical tree-lined runs, pillow lines, chutes and cliffs, in addition to long off-piste runs that wrap around both sides of the mountain from the top station, the Arp.

A logical and gradual approach to your exploration will help people get the most out of your time here, while there are many free-riding possibilities such as heli-boarding and taking a guide to the Punta Helbronner on the adjacent mountain, from where you can access the famous Vallee Blanche from the Italian side – though this is obviously only recommended for advanced skiers.

For those with a more conventional winter sports mindset, the pistes in Courmayeur are excellently groomed here, which makes cruising, carving and piste jibbing highly enjoyable, with most runs being wide, smooth and fairly steep, with plenty of side jibs.

In addition, they are far less crowded than some of the other more famous European resorts, which was recently highlighted by the advice site White Lines.

It explained: "There's something special about perfect corduroy, and gunning the first line under the Checrouit, knowing that you've got all day to hunt down the powder, is a memorable experience. For snowboarders it's a top resort, while the scarcity of blue runs just means there are no annoying cat tracks."

Once an energetic day on the slopes is over, there are plenty of opportunities to unwind, with some of the best eateries in the Alps capable of providing a delicious evening meal or a midday snack to stock up on energy.

There is a good reason why Courmayeur is famed for its restaurants, with three in particular proving perennially popular with skiers and snowboarders – Christiania, which provides great pizza quickly, and Chiecco and Maison Vielle, which are slightly more upmarket but well worth a visit for the ultimate Alpine dining experience.

There is very much a common thread running through Courmayeur – that of Italian schnapps (known as grappa), with proprietors very generous with their tasting sessions.

As White Lines explains: "The party normally starts here and after an interesting last run down, the apres ski continues all along the main street. Here you'll find the popular Bar Roma, the welcoming Bar delle Guide (which plays snow flicks) and the American Bar for football, food, wine and music. Italian culture revolves around food and in most places antipasti are served with your drinks."

With excellent opportunities to enjoy the atmosphere both on and off the piste, it is no wonder that Courmayeur is a favourite with experienced skiers, though the unique atmosphere in the resort means newcomers will also find much to amuse and entertain them on their ski holidays thanks to the sheer variety the resort has to offer.

Cheap Ski Breaks in France, Swiss Alps & Italy.

Posted by Kelly HatchettADNFCR-1958-ID-801247517-ADNFCR

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