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  1. #1
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    Europe Feb/April 2013 with wife

    The wife and I want to go snowboard Europe for our 5 year anniversary. We want to go mainly for riding, but also for the food/culture since she has never been over the pond. I am thinking of flying to Geneva, renting a car and heading to Cham for ~4-5 days, then? We are going for two weeks. I was thinking of heading to Courmayeur from Cham. She really wants to grub on some great Italian food. We would prob ride 3 days, take one off, repeat. I had looked at Zermatt, but most have the Sat-Sat booking policy. So, besides Cham, where else should we go for good riding and great food? Also, are there wacky Euro holidays going on around mid to late feb to early April?

    Edit: I'll see about nekkid pics.
    Last edited by A2thaK; 06-11-2012 at 09:46 AM.

  2. #2
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    Avoid main resorts during la vacances (latter 3/4 of February).
    At that time try the smaller spots around the Queyras or Puy St. Vincent or up in the Col de Lauteret or The Maurienne (Val Frejus/Val Cenis)

    Other than le vacances times, my advice is invariant: Go La Grave-> Serre Chevalier/Briancon-> Milky Way (Montgenevre to Claviere and down through the NE facing bowls in Claviere), then either over to Alagna (only if the snow is good) or Cervinia (if the snow is less good where the skiing is mostly groimers in godly settings, but the food is great).

    My little experience in Central to E SUI is a rare comprehension of what good food is but the skiing is mind blowing.
    Merde De Glace On the Freak When Ski
    >>>200 cm Black Bamboo Sidewalled DPS Lotus 120 : Best Skis Ever <<<

  3. #3
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    Buster-Thanks. Where would you recommmend to stay at Serre Chevalier? It looks like La Salle les Alpes has better access, but maybe not as much apres ski or dining/nightlife? So would you recommend to stay in Briancon?

    How are the roads from Geneva->La Grave->Briacon->Montgenevre->Courmayeur? I think that would be the route we would we take as I would like to possible do a heli tour in Courmayeur then the Valle Blanche route in Cham.

    Thanks again.

  4. #4
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    Serre-Che is Briancon basically. Serre Che streteched 15 miles up toward the Col du Lauteret with Monetier Les Bains being the highest portion of Serre Che.

    Stay up in Monetier. Hotel L'Europe is a very nice 2 * hotel, but don't take half board, there's a bunch of great little snackateria all around there and it's easy to drive down to Briancon proper or ake a bus. Villeneuve probably has the most resources.

    Roads are easy: Basically autoroute from Geneve to Grenoble, then a really decent 2 lane road up through Bourg D'oisens where it gets a little windier, but at least the old tunnels have been widened. The last few miles up to La Grave can be a little tricky in show, but basically do-able in a 2wd. Going from La Grave over the Col Du Lauteret is also fine in 2wd as long as it's not storming.
    The Col du Montegenevre going from Briancon up to the Milky Way is a bunch of switchbacks, but well maintained; just dont try to go around one of the switchbacks if there's a truck around: it's a narrow 2 lane. It's 2 lanes from Montegenervre throght Claviere but then gets a lot bigger/divided highway around Cesana. To get to Cour, you have to go down to Torino and take toll roads around Torino to go up towards Cour.
    Merde De Glace On the Freak When Ski
    >>>200 cm Black Bamboo Sidewalled DPS Lotus 120 : Best Skis Ever <<<

  5. #5
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    Try La Thuile nearby Courmayer. Nice area with a small and atmospheric village which offers great food with reasonable price. Place was quite empty at the end of January but no idea about holiday weeks... Probably less crowded than Cham and Courmayer anyway.

    Piste area is fairly flat but seemed to be nice for some serious piste carving and surroundings offer great touring options as well. Top can be a bit wind affected but theres also some nice tree runs...

    I will definitely go again when im not doomed to make a piste showing for hangovered and drunk engineers.

  6. #6
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    You can ski from La Thuile (IT) over to La Rosiere (FR) easily and then get L'Auberge Sur La Montagne ( http://www.auberge-montagne.com/ )to pick you up. These folks run a sweet show and will tour you around Val d'Isere/Tignes, Les Arcs or St. Foy.
    Last edited by Buster Highmen; 06-11-2012 at 12:25 PM.
    Merde De Glace On the Freak When Ski
    >>>200 cm Black Bamboo Sidewalled DPS Lotus 120 : Best Skis Ever <<<

  7. #7
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    So is the first half of March still the holiday time? If so, when else would be the best time to visit?

  8. #8
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    go on snowheads, full of european/british skiers looking to let out apartments at good prices, just post the same thread on there as you've and you'll be swamped

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by A2thaK View Post
    So is the first half of March still the holiday time? If so, when else would be the best time to visit?
    if you don't mind possibly uber-cold, january is awesome because everything is completely empty.

    march is usually good (except for last season, no snow at all!) but the sun is starting to get on it so it can be pretty spring-like if not a complete rapid melt.

    google "french school holidays" you will find sites that show the french holiday schedule. usually it is around the last 2 weeks of feb, first week of march. depends when easter falls.

    as far as where to go, stay flexible no harm in pre-booking chamonix but after that just follow the snow. you might end up in austria instead of france.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ripzalot View Post
    if you don't mind possibly uber-cold, january is awesome because everything is completely empty.

    march is usually good (except for last season, no snow at all!) but the sun is starting to get on it so it can be pretty spring-like if not a complete rapid melt.

    google "french school holidays" you will find sites that show the french holiday schedule. usually it is around the last 2 weeks of feb, first week of march. depends when easter falls.

    as far as where to go, stay flexible no harm in pre-booking chamonix but after that just follow the snow. you might end up in austria instead of france.
    Thanks for the heads up. Don't care about the temps, just want to go when there is the best chance of good snow and a decent base. Second to that is when it is not as crowded. Damn...just looked and it looks like through the first two weeks of March are french holidays. How about The first two weeks of Feb before the holidays start?

    Ross-thanks for the heads up. I've looked around there a little bit. However, I'd rather stay in a hotel then a apt.

    Anyone have any good beta on a decent hotel in La Grave? Doing some interent research, there only seems to be a few places to stay and according to online, they do not have room for the dates I'm looking. I have emails into the Edelweiss and skierslodge inquiring. Would it be best to stay in La Grave or somehwere else close by?

    Thanks again.

  11. #11
    Hugh Conway Guest
    It'd be best to stay in La Grave. I've stayed at the Castillan which was fine enough. across from the lift
    http://www.booking.com/hotel/fr/cast...FSIHRQodCyWqYA
    I highly doubt many places are already booked up, likely a number haven't gotten ready for next winter yet. this isn't motel 6.

    Buster had some really good suggestions. If you are set booking into Chamonix for several days pickup a rental car at the eurocar office in Chamonix; not much need for a car in Chamonix and it'll be more pain than it's worth. The airport pickup shuttles from GVA to chamonix are easy and cheap much better than a jetlagged driving shitshow.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by A2thaK View Post
    How about The first two weeks of Feb before the holidays start?
    should be fine. probably only slightly more crowds than january. a lot of euros don't ski until the school holidays, and waiting out the bitter cold.


    Quote Originally Posted by A2thaK View Post
    Anyone have any good beta on a decent hotel in La Grave?
    i've only stayed at the chalets de la meije. its just across the road and less than 100m from the lifts, apartments, nice place (comparably), get the half board which is good for the restaurant in town (i forget the name) which is excellent if you don't mind eating in the same place every night. my wife loved the food there.

  13. #13
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    On WHEN:
    Early March is a good call.
    By the end of March, the weather/sun is getting warmer.

    February is school holiday month. By March, it's over.
    I have never seen school holiday goers in March, not in CH anyway.
    Easter is the only other holiday to avoid, and sometimes it falls in March.

    January presents the problem of sufficient snow coverage.
    Usually, the snow gets good by end of January.


    On WHERE:
    Zermatt should not be missed. Try and spend a few days there.
    Cham/Mt. Blanc is great, no doubt about it. The Italian side too.
    Verbier is also great. Within 2 hours from Verbier offers an assortment of great places to ski.

    Lavey-les-Bains is worth a night's stay. (And maybe another on the way back.)
    Soak and eat and sleep, and then ski the next day.
    Lavey-les-Bains is in the valley plain, but skiing is all around, within an hour's drive.

    After that, you could be driving a long distance to get around/through the Alpes.
    Good planning with the cars on train tunnels will save time.
    For example, from Visp/Brig, you can get to Murren/Grindelwald easily.
    Ski, Bike, Climb.
    Resistence is futile.

  14. #14
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    no probs A2thaK, not sure of the exact routes youre thinking of taking through the alps, but the 3 valleys has a lot to offer and VDI is worth skiing the alps are your oyster, just one thing your wife, maybe i could make some better suggestions if you were to post some naked photos of her,

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by A2thaK View Post
    Anyone have any good beta on a decent hotel in La Grave?

    http://www.hotel-edelweiss.com/

    http://www.skierslodge.com/
    Merde De Glace On the Freak When Ski
    >>>200 cm Black Bamboo Sidewalled DPS Lotus 120 : Best Skis Ever <<<

  16. #16
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    Thanks again for everyone's input...I think I have gotten a decent itenerary set up:
    Land in Geneva Feb 3, drive to Montier les Bains
    Stay in Montier for 3 nights, snowboard Serre Chevalier 2 days. Drive to Montgenevre.
    Stay in Montgenevre for 3 nights, snowboard for 2 days. Drive to La Thuile.
    Stay in La Thuile for 3 nights, snowboard for 2 days. Head over to Courmayeur.
    Ride the Valle Blanche the first day, then do the two day Off Piste/Heli package with the guides out of Courmayeur. (http://www.guidecourmayeur.com/monte...iscovery-.html) Anyone ever rode with this guide/heli op? I can't find anything on TGR about them.

    Drive to and fly out of Geneva on Feb 16. According to a google search, French school holidays start on the 16th.

    Of course all this is weather dependent.

    Opinions?

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by A2thaK View Post
    Opinions?
    You will forever kick yourself and be thought of as an infinite schmuck if you drive to Monetier and don't stop to ski/ride La Grave. Stay there a couple of nights.

    I'd recommend Claviere over Montgenevre for charm; very cool chapel there.

    The drive from Monetier to Claviere is at most 2 hours, so you could ski/ride a full day @ Serre before driving up to Claviere. Similarly for the drive from Claviere to La Thuile.
    Last edited by Buster Highmen; 06-14-2012 at 02:28 PM.
    Merde De Glace On the Freak When Ski
    >>>200 cm Black Bamboo Sidewalled DPS Lotus 120 : Best Skis Ever <<<

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buster Highmen View Post
    You will forever kick yourself and be thought of as an infinite schmuck if you drive to Monetier and don't stop to ski La Grave. Stay there a couple of nights.

    I'd recommend Claviere over Montgenevre for charm; very cool chapel there.
    I had originally planned on La Grave, then the Mrs saw some pics from some TRs and got scared that it's too gnarly for her.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by A2thaK View Post
    I had originally planned on La Grave, then the Mrs saw some pics from some TRs and got scared that it's too gnarly for her.
    It's not that gnarly if you just ski the main routes down from the top of P2, Le Vallon.



    Most of le Vallons is like an advanced intermediate run that's packed out by skier/riders. See above. And it's easy to traverse out to the sides as shown on the left in the sun above to get some untracked. Email Pelle @ skierslodge for more beta on advanced, not gnarly stuff there.

    Anyone who really loves to ski/ride has to do La Grave.

    If there's no storm it's at most 30-40 minutes to Monetier from La Grave, so if you were to stay there for a couple of nights but wifey freaks over the more mellow terrain there (which I really doubt she will if she can ride any kind of advanced "Blue" terrain), you can always just drive over to Monetier after the second night and ride there.
    Last edited by Buster Highmen; 06-14-2012 at 03:18 PM.
    Merde De Glace On the Freak When Ski
    >>>200 cm Black Bamboo Sidewalled DPS Lotus 120 : Best Skis Ever <<<

  20. #20
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    i would chime in that if this is going to be your only trip to europe to ski before family, career and all that gets in the way then go to the meccas: chamonix, zermatt, verbier, st moritz, arlberg, etc. not only do you get great terrain for any level but interesting towns with great food, shops, bars, and so on. sure la grave has lots of gnar terrain but the town is small and you will be totally bored staying there for any length of time and the same with many of the smaller places i've seen listed here. those towns are fine if you don't have any money to spend and just want to ride.
    also i would recommend not making non-refundable hotel reservations and going where the snow is good when you get there. obviously booking airfare with conditions in mind is a little trickier so if you think the west alps will be best fly into geneva, eastern alps either zurich or innsbruck, south then milan. also i would recommend taking trains instead of renting a car but that's just my preference. if you have lots of gear that can be hard to do but i've never had troubles on trains with my ski bag, boot bag and backpack. you get to enjoy a lot more scenery that way and the train routes are epic, especially the glacier express. to save money get a swiss pass if just traveling in switzerland, it will also get you to chamonix from the swiss side with no extra charge. with the 4 day pass you can go from geneva to zermatt, then to verbier, then to chamonix and then back to geneva. and of course you can always get off the train for a couple hours anywhere that strikes your fancy just as long as you make your destination in the same day.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by duffski View Post
    those towns are fine if you don't have any money to spend and just want to ride.
    uh-huh....
    Merde De Glace On the Freak When Ski
    >>>200 cm Black Bamboo Sidewalled DPS Lotus 120 : Best Skis Ever <<<

  22. #22
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    Lots of great info here. I've been to all the places mentioned, and this area is a great place to take the wife. I think part of the charm is the smaller sized towns visited, and being welcomed into the smaller restaurants etc.
    Also seconded going to La Grave. Plenty of non-scary stuff, like get in a guided group to ski to St. Cristophe, Mrs. PB:
    Well maybe I'm the faggot America
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buster Highmen View Post
    It's not that gnarly if you just ski the main routes down from the top of P2, Le Vallon.



    Most of le Vallons is like an advanced intermediate run that's packed out by skier/riders. See above. And it's easy to traverse out to the sides as shown on the left in the sun above to get some untracked. Email Pelle @ skierslodge for more beta on advanced, not gnarly stuff there.

    Anyone who really loves to ski/ride has to do La Grave.

    If there's no storm it's at most 30-40 minutes to Monetier from La Grave, so if you were to stay there for a couple of nights but wifey freaks over the more mellow terrain there (which I really doubt she will if she can ride any kind of advanced "Blue" terrain), you can always just drive over to Monetier after the second night and ride there.
    She is a very capable boarder, just lacks confidence. We ride Silverton pretty often as well as the BC around here in the San Juans. I had already emailed skilodge, so I will wait to hear back from them. Not really interested in tracked out terrain, we love to chase the powder. I will look back into La Grave. Would it be worth it to stay in Monetier and drive to La Grave one day?

    Thanks again for all the help and advice...if you are in any of these areas when we will be I'd love to buy you a beer or ten.

  24. #24
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    You can day-trip to La Grave from Monetier and Monetier does have some benefits over LG esp if you are looking for some compromises to keep the missus sweet - eg. the bains and just a bit of a sunnier, less austere situation

    much as i love LG, I'm not sure I'd recommend it to a not-super-confident boarder. the main routes have long bump traverses which are a bit of a pain on skis, but must be really hard work on a board
    fur bearing, drunk, prancing eurosnob

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by plugboots View Post
    Lots of great info here. I've been to all the places mentioned, and this area is a great place to take the wife. I think part of the charm is the smaller sized towns visited, and being welcomed into the smaller restaurants etc.
    Also seconded going to La Grave. Plenty of non-scary stuff, like get in a guided group to ski to St. Cristophe, Mrs. PB:
    You hit the nail on the head exactly. The small charm and culture is exactly what we are looking for. I've been to Switzerland and Austria riding growing up, but my wife has never really left the states, minus Mexico and carribean. So we want the good riding, but also the culture, charm and food. If it was just for riding, we'd probably do a cat-skiing op in BC.

    PS, that pic rocks. I'll show the Mrs that one...that will definately get her to change her thoughts on La Grave. If I was going to change one of the earlier posted locations for La Grave, what would you choose? I'm thinking maybe skip Montgenevre for La Grave? So La Grave-Monetier-La Thuile-Cour

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