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Last week we launched our World Cup blog series with two Southern Hemisphere resorts - Chile VS Australia. Chile came out top, beating Australia with its epic backcountry runs and reliable snow conditions. This week we’re moving a little closer to home, with the battle of two European countries, Switzerland VS France. Both are big favourites for many skiers and snowboarders, but which one will be crowned King of the Alps? We compare the slopes, après and cuisine to find out.
SwitzerlandMost resorts in Switzerland are set at a high altitude, bringing guaranteed snow as well as glacier skiing and good conditions throughout the season. Many of the ski areas provide long runs and challenging pistes, making it particularly good for skiers at a more intermediate to advanced level. There are, however, still opportunities for beginners. The resort of Wengen has a ski school as well as a blue piste and a ‘slow speed zone’ for those just starting out. From stunning scenery to plenty of pistes, backcountry runs and snowparks, Switzerland certainly has a lot of variety. The Graubunden ski area is Switzerland’s largest mountain area, offering a whapping 225km of skiable piste. Head to Verbier and you’ll find your ski area expanded to across the 4 valleys, which includes the neighbouring resorts of Nendaz and Les Collons. If you visit Zermatt you’ll soon spot the famous Matterhorn peak, which is often featured in many photos of the resort. There are some great advanced runs here as well as the opportunity to do some heliskiing for those who are looking for a new challenge. It is also the highest altitude resort in the country sitting at a top height of 3900m. For the adventurous ones out there, Flims Laax is home to 4 snowparks (including Europe’s largest half pipe) and a glacier for spring and summer skiing.
France Much like Switzerland, France also offers plenty of variation, from high altitude resorts to snowparks and glaciers. Snow reliability is high and the majority of resorts offer good snow conditions throughout the season. Les Deux Alps is the highest resort, standing at a top altitude of 3600m. The resort experiences long sunshine hours and boasts 220km of piste, a board park and a halfpipe. There are plenty of linked ski areas such as the massive Three Valleys with its 600km of runs. Portes du Soleil is one of the largest linked ski areas in the world, with lots of ski-in ski-out accommodation which is ideal for families and kids. For your freestyle fix, the Paradiski area has four snowparks and two half-pipes. France caters equally well for beginner, intermediate and advanced skiers. Alpe d’Huez has lots of blue runs, beginners only areas and no abundance of ski schools. If you like backcountry skiing, Tignes has some fantastic off piste opportunities, as does Val d’Isere. There are also numerous glacier resorts in France, including Tignes, some of which offer skiing all year round. Winner: France
Switzerland The après scene in Switzerland is a little on the small side, with not a great deal of après venues on offer. However, each of the bars makes up for it, with resorts such as Verbier known to have some fun and lively nightclubs. As well as nightclubs, expect to find discos, jazz bars and quiet pubs – something to cater for every taste.
France France is home to some well-known après venues, like Rond Point in Meribel and the legendary La Folie Douce, which has bars in Val d’Isere, Meribel, Val Thorens and Alpe d’Huez. Ibiza Rocks the Snow Festival is also held yearly in France, bringing some great partying and music to the mountains. All in all, expect some wild après, live bands every night and quieter venues where you can relax with a drink. Winner: France
St Moritz, Switzerland
Switzerland Switzerland is the home of the delicious Fondue as well as a whole other collection of comforting mountain foods. Enjoy Käseschnitte (cheese on toast), Raclette (melted cheese scraped overmeat, bread and vegetables) or fried potato Rösti’s. To satisfy your sweet tooth, Switzerland is a great place to find Swiss Chocolate and no end of delicious cakes and pastries.
France Most dishes found in the French mountains are cheese, potato or bread heavy. Traditional French dishes include Tartiflette (baked cheese, potatoes and meat), Beaufort Tart (a cheese and pastry tart), sweet crepes and pastries. Winner: Switzerland
Les Deux Alpes, France
Winner: France This one was a very close call – both countries have some excellent skiing, après and food and are both firm favourites for many snowsports enthusiasts. The winning streak came from France due to its ability to cater equally to beginner, intermediate and advanced abilities. It also knows how to throw a mean après party to end the day!
Our staff here at Iglu Ski visited some great resorts during the 2013/14 season, from the epic mountains of North America to the picturesque pistes of the Alps. As a homage to all the good times had, we’ve thrown together a collection of our favourite shots from the Iglu Ski 2013/14 winter season. Enjoy!
We've pulled together our booking data from the 2013/14 season to bring you a selection of the most popular places to go and the most popular months to visit the mountains.
Val d’Isere has been voted one of the top places for winter sports holidays in Europe. With plenty of piste to explore, as well as three glaciers, Val d’Isere is a consistently popular resort amongst skiers and snowboarders. It’s also the home to one of the popular Folie Douce bars, offering great après to complete a long day out on the mountain.
Meribel lies at the centre of the Three Valleys ski area, where it is linked by lift to both Courchevel and Val Thorens. Meribel is known for its efficient lift systems, which virtually eliminates the need to queue. The resort offers plenty of great runs, as well as the opportunity for some great off-piste skiing too.
Tignes is part of the large Espace Killy ski area, which is known for its consistent snowfall. The resort provides excellent skiing and boarding for the absolute beginner right through to expert due to its varied terrain. Tignes is also well known for its après ski and party atmosphere.
The resort of St Anton is popular due to its reliable snow coverage and brilliant piste conditions. It’s also well in reach of other ski areas, opening up your choice of pistes. St Anton also has a particularly good reputation for its lively nightlife.
Solden has an excellent lift system, with little to no queues. It is situated at a high altitude, bringing reliable snow conditions and some brilliant off piste skiing opportunities. It is also home to two glaciers, extending the resorts season and making for some great springtime skiing.
Obergurgl is located at a very high altitude, resulting in guaranteed snowfall throughout the season. The runs are never crowded and you’ll never find yourself queuing for a lift. The ski area is very easy to access, with the lift running straight out of the main village where most of the resort accommodation is situated.
Sauze d’Oulx is part of the popular Milky Way ski area. It offers long skiing hours, some excellent runs and great snow conditions. The resort has a traditional Italian village feel to it, complete with some fantastic bars and restaurants, serving up delicious Italian cuisine.
Cervinia is a high altitude resort, bringing great snow conditions across the season. Its runs are particularly suited to beginners and intermediates. For those wanting to experience more advanced runs, the resort is linked to the nearby resort of Zermatt by lift, opening up your choice of ski area.
Cortina is a great resort with a real traditional Italian feel. The town is bustling with lots of shops and the large number of restaurants and bars attract plenty of non-skiers too. The resort has great snowmaking facilities and the pistes are kept in brilliant condition throughout the season.
Soldeau has a relaxed, laid back atmosphere with some great duty free prices and rather large drink measures! The resort is particularly great for beginners and intermediates and it offers fantastic snow due to the majority of pistes being situated above 2000m.
Arinsal has a great ski school with English speaking instructors, making it an ideal resort for first timers. There are some top runs, with many passing through picturesque woodland. The resort is also known for it’s cheap, lively après ski, making it particularly appealing to a young crowd.
Pas de la Casa is one of the highest resorts in Europe, giving it a long season with plenty of good snow. The resort has a French feel to it, as it is situated close to the French border.
Zermatt plays host to the stunning backdrop of the Matterhorn, offering challenging intermediate and advanced runs, heliskiing opportunities and the chance to ski to the nearby resort of Cervinia.
Verbier is part of the vast 4 Valleys ski area, giving guests access to some wonderful intermediate and advanced runs. It offers excellent après ski, but also features plenty of quieter areas, which are well-suited to families.
The resort of Saas Fee boasts three world records – it is home to the highest revolving restaurant, the highest metro train (which runs right up into the mountains) and the largest ice pavilion. It also offers huge amounts of snow, glacier skiing and a large variety of runs.
Whistler offers wonderful skiing across both the Whistler and Blackcomb mountains and receives a whopping nine metres of snow on average each season. Here, you’ll find the famous PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola, offering stunning views across the valley. The resort has something for everyone and is family friendly.
The resort of Tremblant is known for its varied terrain, as well as having the biggest half pipe in Canada. Situated on the East Coast, it is one of the easiest resorts to access for those coming from Europe. One part of the mountain is dedicated specifically to beginners, making it a great choice for a first ski holiday.
Banff is part of the Big 3, along with Sunshine Village and Lake Louise. You can gain access to all three resorts with your lift pass. The resort boasts over 200km of pistes, stunning views and some fantastic après ski and dining opportunities.
Take an uphill gondola ride to this traditional Austrian cabin, which boasts spectacular mountain views. Enjoy a delicious fondue or a tasty gourmet dish plus a welcome drink whilst listening to the live music entertainment by the roaring fire. Hut evenings are held every Wednesday from 6.30pm until 10.30pm and must be booked in advance.
See our holidays to Obergurgl & Hochgurgl.
To book a place, visit the Hohe Mut Alm website.
Every Friday, head up the mountain to Hochgurgl for a spot of night time tobogganing and skiing on the 3km-long track. The session runs from 7.30pm until 10.30pm and the run is well lit by floodlights so you can always see where you’re going! To get there, you can catch a free bus from nearby Solden or Obergurgl. From there, you can then catch a lift up to Hochgurgl.
Up and coming snowboarders from all around the world will come together to compete in this junior slopestyle competition. All competitors are under the age of 18 and this is an excellent opportunity for them to break into the industry, getting a taste of the professional skiing and snowboarding lifestyle while showing us their gravity-defying moves.
See our holidays to Ischgl.
This event is the highest downhill glacier race in the world, and it’s not just for the professionals! If you wish to compete then you can register here, choosing from one of four race categories (him &her, solo, team race and a fun team race). For a bit of extra fun, there’s also the chance to estimate your pace before starting – whichever participant comes closest to their estimated pace in the actual race can win a special prize!
See our holidays to Saas Fee.
Visit the website to register.
Party with Krowd Clothing at this fun event and get priority lift access for the weekend. Your ticket also entitles you to discounts on selected hotels. After a day of skiing or snowboarding, continue the party with the big post-ski Saturday night event, featuring DJ’s Revolvr, Robbie C, Michelle C and more.
See our holidays to Lake Louise.
Head to this unique event for a chance to witness some of Ischgl’s most prominent Chef’s competing not just for a culinary title, but also for a chance to be crowned the winner of a downhill ski race. After the race, the chef’s will run over to a special cooking area, where they are given a basket full of miscellaneous ingredients. They must then whistle something up as quickly as possible with what they are given, serving it up to a panel of judges who must pick one winner. There will also be an appearance from World Cup footballer Andreas Brehme at this event.
Celebrate a week of kids going free, with complimentary ski hire, lift passes, lessons, plus a free kid’s meal and childcare, all for those who were born on or after 2008. Kids Week is great for parents who want to take their little ones on a ski holiday for the first time, as well as for those who are looking to help their kids to improve on the slopes.
Enjoy live music in the mountains with Snowbombing Festival, featuring artists such as The Chemical Brothers, The Prodigy, Chase and Status, Rudimental, Tom Odell, Foxes and more! Spend your days skiing and boarding down the mountains, then get your après on for some cracking partying to top your day off.
See our holidays to Mayrhofen.
This acoustic festival features big names such as Aloe Blacc, Katie Melua, Tom Odell and Mick Hucknall performing unplugged renditions of their songs. As well as live acts, you’ll also find an After Show Party, a stage for kids to show off their musical talents and a host of great bars and restaurants to unwind in.
See our holidays to Zermatt.
This event, hosted by Ischgl and Laurent-Perrier Champagne, sees chefs, waiters and other staff from the hotel and hospitality sector come together to compete in two days of fun races. The will be coached by former World Cup skiers and divided up into 2 teams, with bar staff, waiting staff, sommeliers and suppliers in one category, hotel staff and chefs in the other. This unique event is not one to be missed!
Enjoy a combination of live music, skiing, snowboarding and extreme sport film screenings at this mountain festival. There’ll even be a silent disco and the chance to test run the up and coming equipment for next season.
See our holidays to Whistler.
If you fancy a break from your day of skiing or boarding, then take some time out to watch this Belgian ski and snowboard freestyle competition. Head up to the Toura or Lac Noir seats to get the best view.
See our holidays to Les Deux Alpes.
In the aftermath of the recent Winter Olympics, freestyle skiing and snowboarding disciplines are gaining more and more popularity. Head to Val Thorens to watch some of the top freestyle skiers defy gravity and battle it out to win the European Slopestyle Cup. The competition runs between 10am and 3pm.
See our holidays to Val Thorens.
Make the most of longer skiing hours and beautiful Springtime sunshine in the picturesque resort of Whistler-Blackcomb. Between these dates, you’ll find a range of family friendly activities to celebrate the Easter holiday. This event also runs in conjunction with the World Ski and Snowboard Festival.
A fun and exciting children’s festival to welcome the arrival of Springtime. Enjoy arts, crafts, outdoor activities, circus performances and much more. The festival runs between 2pm and 6pm and is aimed at kids between 6 and 12 years old.
Try out next season’s equipment prototypes, get freestyle coaching or even take part in a specialist nature photography workshop. On top of all this you can even get access to early bird skiing, the chance to drive a Pistenbully, avalanche training courses and a technical resort tour, where you’ll see the workings behind the lift systems plus the artificial snow making plant.
See our holidays to Zell am Ziller which is in easy reach of the Hintertux glacier.
See out the season with a bang - with 8 bars, live music, well-known DJ’s, yummy food and even a dance competition, this end of season party is set to be a good one. In the dance competition you can win prizes for displaying the best dance move, or for wearing the best outfit. A great opportunity to get your last taste of après before the resort closes for the Summer!
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"I was so impressed with the way Laura handled my initial call that as soon as I got home I decided to forget all of the other agents and companies and call her straight back and book the holiday. Thank you again Iglu for being so user friendly and more importantly thank you to Laura for being such an asset to your company and the sales profession."