Europe’s hidden ski resorts

Ben Clatworthy for The Club magazine

Photography by Milos Jokic / Getty Images

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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

Vaujany, France

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 34 miles Grenoble.

  • A skier hits the slopes in Alpe-d’Huez, Vaujany © Ross Woodhall / Alamy

    On the run

    Vaujany’s slopes are perfect for beginners and intermediate skiers, with 39 green, 31 blue, and 36 red runs.

    Book flights
  • Reward yourself after a day on the slopes with the Savoyarde classic, raclette © @grubstreet / Instagram

    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
  • The pretty town of Verbier © @ajgpalmer / Instagram

    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

Pragelato, Italy

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 53 miles 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 77 miles from Grenoble.

  • Cable cars over snowy mountains in Megeve, France © Martial Colomb / Getty

    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

Samoëns, France

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 36 miles 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 74 miles from Friedrichshafen.

Leogang, Austria

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 50 miles from Salzburg.

Bruson, Switzerland

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 53 miles from Geneva.