Updated August 2018
The world’s top ski resorts can come with vast crowds and hefty price tags. The alternative? Satellite resorts – smaller mountain villages that are linked to major resorts, but offer a retreat from the masses. They are a fraction of the cost and still have great amenities. Here are seven of the best that Europe has to offer
Links to: Alpe d’Huez
Large French resorts may boast endless skiing and efficient lifts, but their crowds and often dull architecture deter many. Eschew Alpe d’Huez and stay at the nearby picturesque resort of Vaujany, linked to the main area by a huge, two-stage cable car. You’ll benefit from the vast network of pistes during the day and the relaxing ambience of the village in the evening.
How to get there: Vaujany is 55km from Grenoble.
On the run
Vaujany’s slopes are perfect for beginners and intermediate skiers, with 39 green, 31 blue, and 36 red runs.Book flights
Where to eat
To experience the local cuisine in Couchevals’ Le Tania, look for La Ferme at the end of the Folyères piste. Raclette, cheese fondue and fondue bourguignonne (beef cooked in hot oil) are all on the menu.Make a reservation
Ski for less
Book seven-days car hire, plus return flights from London to Geneva (where you can drive to Bruson in under two hours).Book a fly-drive
Links to: Sestriere
This charming Italian resort is the glitzy yet low-key neighbour of Sestriere. From here you can ski the extensive Franco-Italian Milky Way area, which includes the popular Sauze d’Oulx. Pragelato may be small, but it’s in the heart of the Piedmont region, known for its superb cuisine.
How to get there: Pragelato is 85km from Turin.
La Tania, France
Links to: Courchevel, Les 3 Vallées
La Tania was built for the 1992 Albertville Winter Olympics to accommodate journalists. Since then it has transformed into a small, happening resort, linked to upmarket Courchevel. A gondola whisks skiers up the mountain, from where they catch a chairlift on to either Courchevel or Méribel. The tree-lined home run is very pleasant at the end of the day.
How to get there: La Tania is 125km from Grenoble.
Ski lift etiquette
Remember the three golden rules: don’t rock the lift to make it swing, don’t knock snow off your skis onto people below, and do hold on to your rubbish until you find a bin at the top of the slope.Hit the slopes
Links to: Flaine
Skiing in Samoëns pre-dates the First World War, long before the blueprints for the popular resort of Flaine (which opened in 1969) had been drawn up. Many of the old stone buildings – now small artisan shops – have been preserved, and the French describe Samoëns as one of their monuments historiques. The skiing is epic: from the village you can access the vast Grand Massif area, consisting of five separate resorts.
How to get there: Samoëns is 60km from Geneva.
With a cluster of elegant buildings and a handful of restaurants and bars, St Christoph is one of the most picturesque hamlets in the Alps
St Christoph, Austria
Links to: St Anton
If you’re seeking adrenaline-fuelled skiing without the dance-all-night après-ski, make tracks for tiny St Christoph. With a cluster of elegant buildings and a handful of restaurants and bars, it’s one of the most picturesque hamlets in the Alps. A high-speed chairlift whisks you to the heart of the main ski area.
How to get there: St Christoph is 120km from Friedrichshafen.
Links to: Saalbach-Hinterglemm
You can hear Euro pop throbbing in the resorts of Saalbach and Hinterglemm from mid-afternoon – and the party doesn’t let up until late. Keen skiers wanting to avoid the noise can stay in sleepy Leogang, from where they can hop on the lifts first thing and enjoy almost empty pistes until lunchtime.
How to get there: Leogang is 80km from Salzburg.
Links to: Verbier
Until last winter, hardly anyone had heard of Bruson, a tiny village just a stone’s throw from Verbier. Then a gondola was installed, linking it to nearby La Châble, from where you can access the ‘4 Vallées’ area. Bruson has some small ski slopes, which are ideal for beginners, who can then progress to the main area.
How to get there: Bruson is 140km from Geneva.