Avoid the Crowds at these Quieter Alpine Villages


Alpine resorts such as Courchevel, St Anton, Val d’Isere or Verbier are known across the world for the quality of their slopes, the vibrancy of their après ski scene, or their suitability for families with children. But away from those perennially popular mega-resorts, there’s a whole host of more peaceful alpine destinations where the lift queues are shorter, the pistes quieter, and – perhaps more importantly – the prices are lower.

Here, we delve into the Alps to unearth a few lesser-known gems for groups of skiers and snowboarders keen to escape the tourist trail and explore a more peaceful and quiet side of the Alps. From standalone villages nestled away from the bright lights to interlinked base-towns just a stone’s throw from the action, we hope you’ll find a little inspiration for your next escape to the snowy slopes.

Within easy reach of Meribel

If you’re aiming to enjoy the snowy slopes of Meribel, but keen to avoid the higher costs and noisier bars for which the resort is known, there are plenty of alternative bases nearby with wonderfully swift access to the same Three Valleys slopes. St Martin de Belleville, for example, lies just two ski lifts away from the mighty Tougnete peak in the heart of the Three Valleys – one way down to Meribel and the other to les Menuires and Val Thorens. This traditional farming community offers all the convenience of Meribel, but without the busy crowds and rowdy bars. It’s also worth noting, St Martin de Belleville is these days home to a beautiful range of traditional chalets – many of which offer all the luxuries and conveniences you’d expect from top-flight properties.

Peaceful St Martin offers wonderfully easy access to the snowy slopes of Meribel

Peaceful St Martin offers wonderfully easy access to the snowy slopes of Meribel

A few lifts from Verbier

With sweeping slopes, vibrant après ski scene, traditional character and chic bars and restaurants, Verbier is widely considered among the finest resorts in Europe – and the pistes can get busy. For skiers and boarders aiming to explore the famous Four Valleys without the associated price tag, the neighbouring villages of Bruson and Nendaz are ideal. Nendaz sits to the north of Verbier and offers a pace of life far removed from the popular medga-resort. And when fresh snow falls across the Four Valleys or cloud cover descends over the main slopes, the forested glades and snow-covered pine trees of Bruson are the perfect place to head!

Enjoy Ischgl with peace and quiet

For many years, Ischgl was little-known in the British ski holiday market, but in recent seasons that has changed, and the resort today ranks among the most popular in Austria – and with good reason! But where to go if you want to ski the slopes and hit the parks of Ischgl, yet avoid the busy bars? Samnaun is ideal – with a peaceful atmosphere and a great range of traditional hotels to choose from. Aside from this, it’s also a great place to stock up on presents – its duty-free there. As for ski access, it couldn’t be easier – Samnaun links in with the Silvretta Arena Samnaun / Ischgl ski area, offering visiting skiers and snowboarders a staggering range of terrain alongside beautiful Alpine scenery.

The rolling pistes of Iscghl attract skiers and boarders from across the world

The rolling pistes of Iscghl attract skiers and boarders from across the world

Escaping the crowds in Stuben

Of all Austria’s many and varied ski resorts, few tick the boxes among visiting skiers and boarders more than St Anton. It’s great for après skiers, advanced skiers, and groups of families alike, and boasts more charm and character than many other resorts of its size. But it does get busy, especially over peak dates like Christmas of half term. Nearby villages such as Stuben, St Christoph, Lech or Zurs are ideally placed, however, to offer visitors the best of both worlds. Ski the sweeping slopes of the Arlberg at your leisure, and escape the rowdy bars for a more peaceful experience outside St Anton. Bliss!

Neighbouring Courchevel

The Three Valleys offer visiting skiers and boarders a breathtaking range of groomed slopes, off-piste itineraries and pristine snow parks to enjoy, and this ski area ranks among the very largest interlinked domains in the world. As such, the crowds can be an issue, but the area is large enough to offer something for all. Outside Courchevel for example, nearby villages such as La Tania offer just as easy ski access yet without the inflated prices or 6* luxury hotels. And to many fans of the Three Valleys, there’s nowhere better to base yourself! La Tania offers a relaxed yet welcoming après ski scene, with a good range of catered chalets both with and without UK flights and transfers rolled into the package. Moreover, the village offers wonderfully hassle-free access up to the ridge between Courchevel and Meribel – and that’s a fine choice for any skier or boarder to have to make each morning!

The Chamonix valley

With a swift airport transfer time from Geneva, bags of traditional Savoyard charm, and a reputation as one of the best places in the Alps for challenging outdoor adventure, Chamonix certainly packs a punch among France’s ski resort offerings. If you’re keen to explore Chamonix’s diverse terrain and challenging off-piste, yet escape the crowds attracted to the town from across the world, you’ll find plenty of options within the Chamonix Valley. Peaceful villages strung out along the valley floor – such as Argentière, Le Tour, Les Bossons, Les Houches, and Les Praz – offer traditional alpine charm with none of the fuss. Whilst it may be true that access to the slopes can be time-consuming, public busses service the entire area.

Last but not least

We couldn’t talk of our favourite out-of-the-way alpine villages without making special mention of Vaujany and Chatel. Vaujany lies over the valley from Alpe d’Huez and is linked by cable car and gondola lift to the Alpe d'Huez ski area. Two runs drop down into the valley from the ski area above, and a short connecting lift from each run takes skiers to the village. And the historic farming village of Chatel links in with the expansive Portes du Soleil ski area, which spans France and Switzerland. From here, visiting skiers and boarders can enjoy peace and quiet – with easy access to some of Europe’s loveliest skiing terrain.

For advice on the travel and accommodation options that may suit your party in these quieter alpine destinations, we’re on hand and happy to help. You can reach us by phone on 020 3080 0200 or find us through our online chat service


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