Think of Nice on the south-eastern coast of France and you’re thinking of a picturesque Italian-influenced city, perched on the Mediterranean and bathed in year round sunshine. Even in the depths of winter Nice remains temperate, and snowfall – on the rare occasions it occurs – is something of a talking point amongst Nice’s citizens. By all accounts, Nice is the perfect destination for a holiday; who can resist the sunshine of the French Riviera, seafront strolls and a wealth of great restaurants, things to see and do and places to stay?
That’s all very well, you may think, but I want a skiing holiday so what use is Nice to me? The good news is that Nice gives you sun, sand and skiing – you don’t have to travel far at all to hit the slopes and to prove it here’s our guide to five great ski resorts that can be reached within ninety minutes of Nice.
1. Isola 2000
If you want to divide your day between skiing and lazing on the Cote d’Azur the Isola 2000, a purpose built ski resort in the southern French Alps is ideal. Just an hour or so’s drive from Nice you’ll notice a temperature drop of about twenty degrees, and before you know it you’ll be enjoying more than six kilometres of ski runs suitable for novice and expert skiers alike. With all of Isola 2000’s pistes at an elevation of more than 2,500 metres snow is a virtual certainty throughout the season, but the resort is well equipped with snow cannon to make up any shortfall. And if the thought of negotiating hairpin mountain roads by car is a little daunting, there are many frequent bus services running from Nice.
A mere ninety kilometres from Nice, Auron is a fully-fledged ski resort with good snow coverage between December and May and boasts forty separate pistes. There are two decent areas for beginners, and a host of red and black runs for the more adventurous. Auron also offers a great opportunity to go skiing off-piste with plenty of challenging terrain and wooded areas to explore.
3. Limone Piemonte
Take your passport with you and you can be skiing in a different country within an hour-and-a-half’s travel from Nice. Just a few kilometres from the French border in the Italian Alps, the historic village of Limone Piemonte sits at the heart of one of Italy’s oldest skiing regions. Recently renewed ski-lifts give access to Limone Piemonte’s forty-six pistes, and once again the resort offers skiing to suit every aptitude. Whilst Limone Piemonte perhaps favours intermediate skiers, everyone will enjoy the resort’s peace, stunning scenery and gentle climate.
A seventy-five minute ride Nice brings you to Valberg, a resort in the Alpes Maritimes region of the southern French Alps which is renowned for its sunshine and its Mediterranean atmosphere. As well as a terrain park for snowboarders, Valberg offers fifty-two pistes spread over a variety of terrain and a vertical descent of almost 1,400 feet. Whilst Valberg may not benefit from quite as much natural snowfall as the other resorts around Nice, snow cannon still ensure abundant coverage. There are fewer runs here for expert skiers, but cross-country skiers will enjoy Valberg’s twenty-five kilometres of cross-country ski trails.
5. Val d’Allos – Le Seignus
Stretching our ‘ninety minutes from Nice’ designation to its limit, Val d’Allos – Le Seignus is well worth the journey. Part of the Espace Lumière ski region, Le Seignus’ winter sports activities aren’t simply limited to skiing and snowboarding; the resort also offers opportunities for quad-biking, ice-driving, sledging and snow-shoeing. Whilst the resort has eleven kilometres of pistes of its own, it is also the gateway to the greater part of the Espace Lumière which features more than 130 pistes in total, ensuring plenty of varied skiing experiences for everyone. And with every piste sitting above the 2,000 feet elevation mark, all-season snow coverage is never a concern at Val d’Allos – Le Seignus.
Amy is a guest writer from Easyjet who offer cheap flights to Nice from London, Edinburgh and over 20 other airports across the UK and Europe