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France: Vast Interlinked Terrain; High-Altitude Slopes -


France offers huge interlinked ski areas combining more than 200 resorts. The vast majority of ski resorts are scattered down the Rhone and Provence Alps on the border with Switzerland and Italy. The remaining resorts can be found in the Midi-Pyrenees on the Andorran border.


The French Alps are predominantly made up of large linked ski areas. The Three Valleys is the largest linked ski area in the world, boasting 600 kilometres of pistes and 338 slopes. It is comprised of the resorts of Courchevel, Meribel, La Tania, Brides-les-Bains, Saint-Martin-de-Belleville, Les Menuires, Val Thorens, and Orelle. Courchevel is a winter playground for the rich and famous, while Meribel is popular with partygoers, and Val Thorens - at 2300 metres - is the highest ski resort in Europe.


Portes du Soleil is a ski area of 650 kilometres and is made up of Avoriaz, Chatel, Morzine, Les Gets, Saint-Jean d'Aulps, La Chapelle d'Abondance, Abondance, and Montriond. Morzine is the most popular and known for its panoramic views, modern lifts, and good variety of hotels and restaurants. The Portes du Soleil ski area also includes a number of Swiss resorts, so why not spend the morning skiing in France and afternoon in Switzerland?


Paradiski (La Plagne, Peisey-Vallandry, and Les Arcs) offers 420 kilometres of terrain. Les Arcs is home to the new Vanoise Express cable car and offers a large choice of wide-open runs and wooded runs. The Via Lattea ‘Milky Way' offers 400 kilometres of slopes and includes just one French resort - Montgenevre - and six Italian resorts.


The Evasion Mont-Blanc area (Combloux, Megeve, Saint-Gervais, Saint-Nicolas-de-Veroce, and Les Contamines Montjoie) combines 420 kilometres of slopes. The famous ski resort of Megeve is also one of the most beautiful in the world.


Espace Killy (Tignes and Val d'Isere) features 300 kilometres of slopes. This area offers plenty of traditional style ski chalets. Val d'Isere is known for its well-kept slopes and reliable snow, and it also hosted the 2009 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships.


Tignes boasts the Le Grand Motte Glacier, set at 3030-3455 metres, which offers a good choice of terrain with blue, red and black runs. It is open between mid-June and the end of August; access to the glacier is via an underground funicular as well as chair and drag lifts.


Grand Massif (Flaine, Les Carroz, Morillon, Samoens, and Sixt) combines 265 kilometres of slopes and provides a good variety of on- and off-piste runs. Les Grandes Rousses (Alpe d'Huez, Vaujany, Auris-en-Oisans, Oz-en-Oisans, Villard-Reculas) stretches across 236 kilometres of skiable terrain. Alpe d'Huez is one of Europe's premier skiing venues and is also one of the largest. It boasts extensive snowmaking facilities and plenty of off-piste opportunities.


Serre Chevalier is a major Alpine ski area (Briancon, villeneuve, Le Monetier-les-Bains) offering 250 kilometres of terrain and 111 slopes. It is known for its pretty tree-lined slopes and reliable snowfall.


The twin resorts of Les Deux Alpes and La Grave have a combined 220 kilometres of slopes. The Glacier du Mont de Lans, situated above Les Deux Alpes, offers slopes up to 3570 metres and is open between mid-June and the end of August. There is also a large terrain park on the glacier during the summer months.


Chamonix is unique in that it straddles different ski areas. The resort lies at the foot of Mont Blanc - the highest mountain in the Alps - and its skiing extends over three main areas: Brevent/Flegere with its south-facing slopes and panoramic views of the Mont-Blanc chain; the Grand Montets' high altitude north-facing slopes which dominate the village of Argentiere; and the Balme area's wide open slopes at the top of the Chamonix valley.


The 20 ski resorts dotted throughout the French Pyrenees tend to be smaller and less developed than the Alps, but offer a friendly, relaxed atmosphere and great expanses of untouched wilderness.


Some of the most popular ski resorts in the French Pyrenees include Tourmalet, Saint-Lary, Piau Engely, Gavarnie, Les Vallees d'Ax, and Cauterets. At the foot of the Pic du Midi Mountain lies Tourmalet, the largest ski area in the French Pyrenees with 100 kilometres of pistes: 23 green, 19 blue, 21 red, and six black.

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