Best town / city close to skiing (not resort)

Sossa

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hi all
I am heading over to Europe for three weeks in late December with my wife, we are looking for a town in either France or Italy to stay in for three weeks with the following criteria:
- reasonably big town, that has a lot of charm and is a year round town rather then a resort, so my wife can do language lessons, wander around, shop at markets when not skiing etc..
- access to good skiing on public transport in 30mins, preferably 2000m+ altitude and medium to big resort size or a number of smaller resorts
- cross country skiing would be a bonus
I have considered the following (let me know if i have got if wrong with any of these)
- annecy (seems more like an hour to skiing)
- bourg st Maurice (lacking charm factor?)
- Bolzano (too far to skiing)
- Aosta (is the skiing good enough?)

Thanks for any thoughts.
 

driz

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Briancon in France for Serre Chevalier - also very close to Italy if that's important. The valley itself is pretty low (but north facing so you can usually ski to the bottom), but most of the skiing is from 1800-2000 to say 2500-2600. The town is relatively large (wikipedia says 11k), and has an attractive old-town section. Also thermal baths etc up the monetier les bains end of Serre Che.

Can't comment on early season snow reliability, although snowmaking is pretty extensive. I think they did well out of the storms early this season but it's no predictor of future performance.
 
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Apresski

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30 minutes travel time is a bit restrictive. Grenoble comes to mind, fills all the criteria, you would have to double the travel time, but you would have some amazing choices for skiing.
Alps d'Huez
Les Deux Alpes
 
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shabu_shabu

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+1 for Grenoble. The resort of Chamrousse (medium sized) which has some very good skiing is only about 30 minutes out of Grenoble. This can be a negative on the weekends because it is the go to resort for Grenoblois. At 1750m, a bit lower than your requirement. The resort website is forecasting a 2 December 2017 opening.

The city itself is great and there is plenty to do: good restaurants galore and as Apreski said, you have lots of the great ski resorts within a couple of hours.
 

Budgiesmuggler

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Geneva? Hour to chamonix
Leon - big town by further to the snow

We stopped in Briancon this year it looks cute (annecy is cuter).

Or even sty in chamonix - it meets your criteria
 

Kletterer

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Brixen/ Bressanone is a lovely town. Short drive to St Urlich/ St. Christina/ Val Gardena. Has a great local resort- Plose with over 1000 vert.To the north is Sterzing resort and Innsbruck about 1 hour.
 

Kieran

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Brixen/ Bressanone is a lovely town. Short drive to St Urlich/ St. Christina/ Val Gardena. Has a great local resort- Plose with over 1000 vert.To the north is Sterzing resort and Innsbruck about 1 hour.
Also Toblach/Dobbiaco a fairly short drive/train ride away for XC skiing.

Actually, if the OP could go with a slightly smaller town, then San Candido/Innichen is utterly gorgeous. Population is only 3000, so it might be a little light on non-skiing attractions, although it's on a great train line, so it's easy to do day trips either way along the valley, either to Lienz, Spittal an der Drau and beyond, or back towards Bolzano. Then you've got XC and alpine skiing on the doorstep.
 
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Rabid K9

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I'd second Merano, though it's mostly German speaking, rather than Italian, if that matters to you. And if it doesn't, then go to Innsbruck.

Innsbruck. More reliable snow options early in season. Beautiful historic city. Plenty to do off the snow. More relaxing than the choas of many of the adjoining Austro / Italian towns / cities over the pass. (Food is better over the border though)
 

Kletterer

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Innsbruck. More reliable snow options early in season. Beautiful historic city. Plenty to do off the snow. More relaxing than the choas of many of the adjoining Austro / Italian towns / cities over the pass. (Food is better over the border though)
Might be just me but i think Innsbruck has sorta lost its warm feel it had years back.
 

Heinz

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Also Toblach/Dobbiaco a fairly short drive/train ride away for XC skiing.

Actually, if the OP could go with a slightly smaller town, then San Candido/Innichen is utterly gorgeous. Population is only 3000, so it might be a little light on non-skiing attractions, although it's on a great train line, so it's easy to do day trips either way along the valley, either to Lienz, Spittal an der Drau and beyond, or back towards Bolzano. Then you've got XC and alpine skiing on the doorstep.

It is a good train line. Just over the border on then way to Lienz there is Sillian and Hochpustertal ski area. Lienz itself is a nice little town with two ski areas accessible by regular town buses (free if you have ski gear).
 

Kieran

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It is a good train line. Just over the border on then way to Lienz there is Sillian and Hochpustertal ski area. Lienz itself is a nice little town with two ski areas accessible by regular town buses (free if you have ski gear).
Yep, and it's got a fairly interesting roman site just outside town (Aguntum), then there's another one just outside Spitall a.d. Drau, which is itself a pleasant town with a ski hill accessible from the outskirts of town and a few pleasant diversions in town.

There's also the Loacker Factory near Sillian, which is less interesting than you might think...
 

piolet

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@Rimey commented when we were in Chamonix in March that if he knew how big the town was he would have brought his non-skiing partner along.
Yeah this, it's a town not a ski resort.

Annecy is stunning and ticks many touristy boxes both in and just outside town. La Clusaz is maybe 30-40mins away. Megeve a little further and Chamonix, of course.

Anyone been to albertville? Didn't they host an Olympics?
 
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Budgiesmuggler

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Yeah this, it's a town not a ski resort.

Annecy is stunning and ticks many touristy boxes both in and just outside town. La Clusaz is maybe 30-40mins away. Megeve a little further and Chamonix, of course.

Anyone been to albertville? Didn't they host an Olympics?


Visited albertville this year. Chamonix has more life.
 
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Zimboo

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Annecy is amaz balls. However, I don't know if I would want to stay there for 3 weeks. Probs takes about 40 odd minutes by car to La Clusaz, but in the bus it's closer to an hour, would become a pain after a few days I reckon.
Chamonix gets my vote. Skiing speaks for itself, and there will be a wide range of French classes available. Just be aware that classes may not start till 2nd week of January due to holidays in 2018.
 

Mike Pow

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+2 for Bolzano and Merano

I've also been looking at Udine, lots of great skiing but 1hr not 30 min

And Venice for an overnighter
 
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Red_switch

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Innsbruck. More reliable snow options early in season. Beautiful historic city. Plenty to do off the snow. More relaxing than the choas of many of the adjoining Austro / Italian towns / cities over the pass. (Food is better over the border though)
Food in Innsbruck is pretty bloody good still. You'd have to really fcuk up to eat badly there.

Have spent enough time in Innsbruck in summer to conclude it would be effing awesome in winter.
 

Rabid K9

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Food in Innsbruck is pretty bloody good still. You'd have to really **** up to eat badly there.

Have spent enough time in Innsbruck in summer to conclude it would be ****ing awesome in winter.

Have spent enough time in Innsbruck winter to conclude it would be wicked in summer also.

Who would you trust with your coffee though, the Austrians or the Italians?
 
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Rabid K9

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Innsbruck (or nearby).

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DVP

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Haven't been on the forums for a while so only just seen this. Had a long weekend in Aosta in March and it is perfect for what you are looking for.

- lovely medieval town with everything you need, great restaurants, pedestrianised area.
- gondola to pilau leaves from the middle of town and takes 20 minutes. Skiing 1800 to 2700 metres and great variety for a mid sized resort (reminded me of a little whistler)
- Aosta is only at 600 metres and on a motorway so shouldn't have issues with getting snowed in.
- can get an Aosta valley pass so can also ski a variety of Other resorts within an hour. Cour mayer about 30 minutes but la Thuile, cervinia, champoluc all not too far. Means can ski to france and suiss while there too
- we stayed in an apartment a 5 minute walk from the gondola and there was a massive supermarket next door as well. Skied pila other than a day trip to courmayeur. Rented a car from Milan linate which was about 2 hours on motorways but turin and geneva also close.

We honestly couldn't believe aosta isn't more on the map. It has become our first choice for "place we want to buy an apartment if we can ever afford it"!

Let me know if you have any questions. You won't regret it as a choice though!
 
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DVP

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Re: it being industrial. I read similar comments before we went there from people who hadn't been into town. We honestly felt like we were skiing in the day and then in Venice in the evening. It's amazing.

If you look on Google maps, the peach coloured area is the pedestrianised area. It's huge.
 
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Sbooker

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Haven't been on the forums for a while so only just seen this. Had a long weekend in Aosta in March and it is perfect for what you are looking for.

- lovely medieval town with everything you need, great restaurants, pedestrianised area.
- gondola to pilau leaves from the middle of town and takes 20 minutes. Skiing 1800 to 2700 metres and great variety for a mid sized resort (reminded me of a little whistler)
- Aosta is only at 600 metres and on a motorway so shouldn't have issues with getting snowed in.
- can get an Aosta valley pass so can also ski a variety of Other resorts within an hour. Cour mayer about 30 minutes but la Thuile, cervinia, champoluc all not too far. Means can ski to france and suiss while there too
- we stayed in an apartment a 5 minute walk from the gondola and there was a massive supermarket next door as well. Skied pila other than a day trip to courmayeur. Rented a car from Milan linate which was about 2 hours on motorways but turin and geneva also close.

We honestly couldn't believe aosta isn't more on the map. It has become our first choice for "place we want to buy an apartment if we can ever afford it"!

Let me know if you have any questions. You won't regret it as a choice though!

It looks an interesting place. If staying in town how do you get to the gondola to Pila? Walk or drive and park? Do the other ski hills (Courmayer, La Thuile etc) have easy parking options? Did you hire your car from Italy and drive it over the border into France?
 

Sbooker

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^^^^^^
More on this please?
Is it practical to travel to Cervinia by car for a days skiing if staying in Aosta? Is there another town in the valley that would be a better base as far as things to do and see off mountain is concerned. Until I did very recent research I had no idea that the western end of Italy had so many skiing options.
Is the area fairly snow sure?
 

Nidecker

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^^^^^^
More on this please?
Is it practical to travel to Cervinia by car for a days skiing if staying in Aosta? Is there another town in the valley that would be a better base as far as things to do and see off mountain is concerned. Until I did very recent research I had no idea that the western end of Italy had so many skiing options.
Is the area fairly snow sure?

Cervinia would be 45 mins ish, the road is great, it would be no problem.
 

DVP

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We stayed about a 5 minute walk from the gondola. If you are there a few weeks you wouldn't want to have to drive 5 minutes just to park at the gondola (at least I wouldn't). On google maps the red line of the gondola doesn't extend far enough - the start is actually at pila (s.p.a) - if you go into satellite mode you'll see it with the massive Gros cidac supermarket next door (good for pastries and juice for the ride up!) If you did need to drive the car park is pretty big and on weekdays you'd have no trouble parking. On the weekend would just need to be there early. Though in that part of Italy if you are there for weeks I would pick the weekends as rest days as they were noticeably busier.

As I said earlier there are several resorts within an hour adding up to a lot of skiing. Aosta is in a deep valley (4000 mountains either side) so there are microclimates in action as well - one day we were at Pila in bright sunshine but could see that Courmayeur (and the whole Mt Blanc massif) was shrouded in cloud. Can see all the way from Mt Blanc to the Matterhorn from the top of Pila! As such can look online in the morning and choose a location.

Our Airbnb was a 2 bed apartment for about 60 euro a night. Set menus at restaurants in town were about 20 euros per head including wine. You really can't go wrong!

Oh and I probably assumed too much when I mentioned France earlier. I meant ski from La Thuile to La Rosiere. Can also ski from Cervinia to Zermatt, Switzerland (the highest skiing in Europe and year round so that covers the reliability question).
Chamonix would be less than an hour drive too though.
 

Sbooker

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We stayed about a 5 minute walk from the gondola. If you are there a few weeks you wouldn't want to have to drive 5 minutes just to park at the gondola (at least I wouldn't). On google maps the red line of the gondola doesn't extend far enough - the start is actually at pila (s.p.a) - if you go into satellite mode you'll see it with the massive Gros cidac supermarket next door (good for pastries and juice for the ride up!) If you did need to drive the car park is pretty big and on weekdays you'd have no trouble parking. On the weekend would just need to be there early. Though in that part of Italy if you are there for weeks I would pick the weekends as rest days as they were noticeably busier.

As I said earlier there are several resorts within an hour adding up to a lot of skiing. Aosta is in a deep valley (4000 mountains either side) so there are microclimates in action as well - one day we were at Pila in bright sunshine but could see that Courmayeur (and the whole Mt Blanc massif) was shrouded in cloud. Can see all the way from Mt Blanc to the Matterhorn from the top of Pila! As such can look online in the morning and choose a location.

Our Airbnb was a 2 bed apartment for about 60 euro a night. Set menus at restaurants in town were about 20 euros per head including wine. You really can't go wrong!

Oh and I probably assumed too much when I mentioned France earlier. I meant ski from La Thuile to La Rosiere. Can also ski from Cervinia to Zermatt, Switzerland (the highest skiing in Europe and year round so that covers the reliability question).
Chamonix would be less than an hour drive too though.

Thanks for the info. I see the gondola goes right into town. I would expect my crew would do this as part of a larger road trip of Austria and Italy (the so we'd only be in that area a week tops so we could do day trips to ski in France and Switzerland (just so we can say we've done so). Maybe a day skiing Pila, a day to La Thuille (Rosierre), a day to Cervinia (Zermatt) and maybe a day to Chamonix.
 

Nidecker

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Thanks for the info. I see the gondola goes right into town. I would expect my crew would do this as part of a larger road trip of Austria and Italy (the so we'd only be in that area a week tops so we could do day trips to ski in France and Switzerland (just so we can say we've done so). Maybe a day skiing Pila, a day to La Thuille (Rosierre), a day to Cervinia (Zermatt) and maybe a day to Chamonix.

Its a bloody awesome part of the world, I lived in Milan for a couple of years, we skied all over that area, you should ski Monte' Rosa if you are travelling. Aosta Valley is just a treat to explore, old castles etc. Some kinda cute small resorts that are fun for the experience. Have a great time.
 
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