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skiing in Austria or France

For my 70th birthday, my wife and I want to ski in the Alps, for the first time, in late January 2022. We have been to both countries numerous times; usually self-guided cycling trips in September (13 in Europe over the past 17 years). We are experienced travelers and skiers (20+ days a year in UT, CO, and Tahoe). I'm looking at St. Anton/ Lech or the Trois Valles. Any thoughts on either resort, or recommendations for others? We have slowed down some, and would prefer intermediate runs with great views and lunch spots to share a bottle of wine and local cuisine. Thanks for any advice, and I'm especially hoping Sam from Green Bay will post.
Larry

Posted by
16941 posts

Let me tell you a sad tale. If not for the pandemic, I would be waking up just about now (I am an early riser due to jetlag) in Meribel, Trois Vallees, ready for another day on the mountain, skiing right out the door of my hotel. But alas, the best laid plans of mice and men oft go astray. It will have to wait until 2023.

I have never skied there before, but was excited to go. The only other place I have skied in France for an extended holiday is Morzine, part of the Portes du Soleil ski circus which straddles the French-Swiss border. That was a great area that ticks the boxes. Morzine itself is a little low in the altitude box, as it was a steady rain on our last day (late January).

St Anton is easy to get to from Zurich airport by train. Take any train from the airport to Zurich Hbf, then a direct Railjet train to St Anton every 2 hours. You could walk to your hotel if you are traveling light. PM me for a great B&B recommendation in the center of town.

Austria has a reputation (well deserved) for wild apres-ski. European indoor smoking bans are loose ("My customers are not buying any beer when they stand outside to smoke."). Dancing on the bar or tables is expected. My experience in Austria is limited a few days in St Anton, a week in Kitzbuehel, a week in Soelden and a week in Ischgl (party central). Ischgl was also the epicenter of the spread of Covid throughout Europe in February 2020. Watch the depressing comedy "Downhill" to get an idea of the atmosphere. Julia Louis-Dreyfus did not need a double for the skiing scenes. Just ask Will Ferrell.

France is not dead in that respect. They did coin the term "apres ski". But it is a bit more civilized. There are plenty of Brits there to keep things lively.

Posted by
1520 posts

European indoor smoking bans are loose ("My customers are not buying any beer when they stand outside to smoke.").

This has changed significantly in Austria since the absolute smoking ban has been enforced.

Ischgl wants to get rid of its bad reputation, earned due to the complete mishandling of the COVID situation by the authorities then, so don't expect excessive behavior during apres-ski anymore.

There are plenty of Brits there to keep things lively.

A very benevolent euphemism, indeed.

Posted by
59 posts

Much thanks Sam. Covid has ruined many trips like yours'. Hopefully we'll get this beaten in 2021.
Of all of the places you've skied in the Alps, where would you recommend for a first timer who wants it all (great skiing/ food/ views/ European charm)? We don't ski more than 4-5 hours now; then a beer or two, hot tub, and relaxing dinner. Places in the states that we enjoy are Deer Valley/ Park City, Aspen/ Snowmass, and Big Sky. Thanks again for your advice.

Posted by
13210 posts

I am betting Sam’s answer will be “the Dolomites.”

Posted by
800 posts

When I was a member of my Bavarian Ski Club we used to do a 4-5 day trip to Obergurgl annually. It was some of the best skiing I've ever had. Fantastic little town and scenery; I do miss it. I also enjoyed Kitzbuhl, but that was always more crowded.

Posted by
1520 posts

St. Anton and Lech/Zürs are exceptional skiing areas by all means: slopes and mountains, first class hotels, and price range.

Posted by
16941 posts

Do you get the Ikon Pass, good at Aspen/Snowmass, Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows, Deer Valley? I see it is also good at Zermatt, Switzerland. That is not a bad place for your first time Alpine (like in the real Alps) skiing. Traffic free town (if you don't count the electric taxis and busses) loaded with Swiss charm. There is a good amount of easy intermediate skiing. Put in views of the Matterhorn and it is hard to beat.

Lola is right, I think the Dolomites, namely Selva di Val Gardena, is the prettiest area to ski. Perfect blend of Austrian and Italian ambiance. Add in that the Dolomitti SuperSki Pass covers over 600 lifts in the region, and you can ski village to village.

Posted by
59 posts

Sam - I do have the IKON Pass, and do use it at the areas you mentioned. One of the reasons I asked about St. Anton/ Trois Valles is the EPIC Pass offers free skiing there this year, and I'm hoping maybe next year too. I'll definitely look into Zermatt. We hiked in the Alpe de Siusi in 2019 after biking in the Dolomites, and spent 2 nights in Cortina, so I'm familiar with the area. The views are fabulous and I've read the skiing is too. Thanks so much for your advice and input. Hope you're skiing this year too.
Larry

Posted by
52 posts

You could also look at Ski Circus area(Fieberbrunn, Saalbach, Leogang). All villages are connected by lifts.

Ski Circus

Another sad covid tale. I would probably be on a flight headed home if not for this situation.

Posted by
5789 posts

We enjoyed cross country skiing in the Fieberbrunn/Pillerseetal valley area of Austria. The five villages and multiple ski areas were connected by free bus service. Our Fieberbrunn hotel's back doors opened to one of the Fiberbrunn downhill ski areas. No car needed. We reached Fieberbrunn by train from Salzburg and used the local bus service to visit the five villages and ski areas.

https://www.kitzbueheler-alpen.com/en/pital/pillerseetal.html

https://www.skiresort.info/ski-resorts/pillersee-valley-pillerseetal/